Alabama teacher recovering from surgery, amputation after COVID-19 diagnosis

Alabama teacher recovering from surgery, amputation after COVID-19 diagnosis

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After a hard week and a hard year, an Alabama teacher has overcome COVID-19, amputation and lung surgery to finally be released from the hospital Monday. Amber Gilliland needed prayers. Only 39 years old, the wife, mother of two and longtime teacher had several fingers on her left hand amputated at University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital.It started with COVID-19 “fingers.” Circulation problems followed.In January, Amber’s sons Carson and Kiefer contracted COVID-19, and then later her husband Ric. Amber was the last to contract the virus, and she found herself in bad shape.How bad was it? Amber was placed on a ventilator, and then an ECMO machine, a treatment that uses external machinery functioning as the heart and lungs. She was placed in a medically-induced coma for two months.More than once her family members were told to say “goodbye.”She spent four months in the hospital and somehow climbed back 126 days later in another world.Gilliland underwent lung surgery last Monday after developing emphysema. Then on Friday, several of her fingers were removed.”I was hoping that doctors would only take part of my fingers, but they had to take all of my pointer and ring fingers on my left hand,” Amber said. “I haven’t seen my hand yet, seeing how I’m all bandaged up.”Gilliland is staying strong after having her index and middle fingers totally removed, and parts of her thumb and ring finger removed. Yet through all of her pain, she remains hopeful and this dedicated teacher is looking ahead.After coming so close to losing her life, coming back from being in a coma and being on a ventilator, undergoing lung surgery and a series of amputations, Gilliland has her mind on one thing.”I plan on returning to Bankhead Middle School to teach come January,” says Amber. “I know that I can teach and love my students again — I’ll just have to do things a little bit differently.” Gilliland is thinking only of when she can get back to teaching. When she can get back to loving the kids. And when she can get back to changing lives.

After a hard week and a hard year, an Alabama teacher has overcome COVID-19, amputation and lung surgery to finally be released from the hospital Monday.

Amber Gilliland needed prayers.

Only 39 years old, the wife, mother of two and longtime teacher had several fingers on her left hand amputated at University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital.

It started with COVID-19 “fingers.” Circulation problems followed.

In January, Amber’s sons Carson and Kiefer contracted COVID-19, and then later her husband Ric. Amber was the last to contract the virus, and she found herself in bad shape.

How bad was it? Amber was placed on a ventilator, and then an ECMO machine, a treatment that uses external machinery functioning as the heart and lungs. She was placed in a medically-induced coma for two months.

More than once her family members were told to say “goodbye.”

She spent four months in the hospital and somehow climbed back 126 days later in another world.

Gilliland underwent lung surgery last Monday after developing emphysema. Then on Friday, several of her fingers were removed.

“I was hoping that doctors would only take part of my fingers, but they had to take all of my pointer and ring fingers on my left hand,” Amber said. “I haven’t seen my hand yet, seeing how I’m all bandaged up.”

Gilliland is staying strong after having her index and middle fingers totally removed, and parts of her thumb and ring finger removed. Yet through all of her pain, she remains hopeful and this dedicated teacher is looking ahead.

After coming so close to losing her life, coming back from being in a coma and being on a ventilator, undergoing lung surgery and a series of amputations, Gilliland has her mind on one thing.

“I plan on returning to Bankhead Middle School to teach come January,” says Amber. “I know that I can teach and love my students again — I’ll just have to do things a little bit differently.”

Gilliland is thinking only of when she can get back to teaching. When she can get back to loving the kids. And when she can get back to changing lives.

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