ABBOT, Maine — An Abbot woman who has spent the last seven years helping families cope with the loss of life is now recovering from a near-fatal illness.
For Cheryl Morin, the concept of asking for help instead of giving it is uncomfortable. “At this point in my life, I’m just thankful I’m here,” Morin said.
Morin and her husband, Victor, started the JD Foundation in 2007, two years after their son William “Jody” Day took his life at age 19. They have traveled statewide to convey their message that suicide is preventable, but it is vital to know the warning signs and how to deal with them.
After one of those trips in February to Sanford High School, Morin said she had “flulike” symptoms and thought a few days rest and home remedies would cure it. But when she didn’t snap out of it, she went to a doctor, who prescribed ciprofloxacin — commonly known as Cipro — an antibiotic used to treat bacterial infections.
But Morin’s symptoms got worse. She spent two days at C.A. Dean Hospital in Greenville before she was transferred to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor. She spent 15 days there, including 12 in the intensive care unit.
For nine days, she was in an induced coma. “As it turned out, I had ARDS [acute respiratory distress syndrome]. Fluid had built up in my lungs so badly that no oxygen could get in,” Morin said. “They had to put me on a ventilator and eventually an oscillator.” While a traditional ventilator physically inflates and deflates the patient’s lungs, the oscillator keeps lungs permanently open and sends in air at a high pulse rate.
“ARDS is very difficult to fight,” said Victor Morin. “Patients often come down with it while they’re hospitalized. Thankfully, she was in good hands when it happened. She doesn’t remember too much because of the induced coma.”
But her five siblings, three children and husband were at her side throughout the entire ordeal. “We counted 63 people who came through the waiting room to see her at EMMC,” Victor said.
As expected, the medical bills “are staggering. I can’t even add them up,” said Cheryl. The couple, who run the JD Foundation out of their dining room, doesn’t have health insurance due to the high cost of coverage.
So Monica Applebee of Camden National Bank, who serves as volunteer treasurer of the JD Foundation, has set up a GoFundMe website to help raise money for Morin. “I had no idea she was going to do this and it’s difficult to ask for help,” Cheryl said. “But I’m so grateful for the support we’ve gotten.”
It may be six to nine months before Morin is back to normal, but she’s determined to keep the JD Foundation running. She will be conducting three online seminars for the Veterans’ Administration next month and hopes to be back on the road by September.
In the meantime, the major fundraising event for the foundation will take place on Friday, July 5, “We used to have a huge yard sale, but we’ve switched to an auction,” Cheryl said. “It’s a lot easier to set up; and last year, [state Rep.] Paul Davis was kind enough to serve as our auctioneer.”
In the fall, the JD Foundation also collects and distributes warm clothing to needy families.
For more information about the JD Foundation, call 876-2295 or visit www.thejdfoundation.org.
Cheryl Morin’s GoFundMe website is www.gofundme.com/88krak.