West Coast surgery makes for holiday

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 2, 2004

Bonnie Bearden, who lives with her family near Plantersville, exclaimed Wednesday: &uot;I just got Christmas and New Year’s all rolled into one.&uot; Recently returned from San Diego, where she underwent life-saving surgery to remove a clot from her lung, Bonnie Bearden is rejoicing, even as her lung heals, and says she is gradually getting her strength back. &uot;My New Year is going to be great!&uot; she said.

Facing unexpected surgery earlier in December, things did not look so great for Bearden. Her husband Tracy had been dispatched to Kuwait in April with his unit, Alabama National Guard E Company, 131st Aviation Battalion. Not long after, she learned she had a blood clot that had gone from her leg to one of her lungs. Doctors told her that if she did not have the clot removed she would die.

To add to that she was trying to hold together her family, consisting of two sons, Morgan, 13, and Dayton, 2.

To top it off, Bearden was faced with substantial unreimbursable expenses in order to get to the doctor who could do the surgery at University of California San Diego Medical Center in La Jolla.

Her family and her husband’s family, together with her church, Plantersville Baptist, and a number of others in the area rallied and a Bonnie Bearden Medical Fund at South Trust Bank was established.

She got to San Diego on Dec. 1 and had the surgery on Dec. 8.

Her husband was able to join her there courtesy of the U.S. military for an R&R so that he could be with her during and after surgery.

Bonnie Bearden had a host of people &045; mainly family members &045; to meet her at the Birmingham airport upon her return from San Diego on Dec. 22, including her husband who paid a little extra to make it back in time for her arrival. Also present were her father and stepmother, Barney Skipper and Patricia Deason-Skipper, her two sons, Stacy’s parents Vina and William Bearden. Also present was Dawn Williams, the family coordinator for her husband’s National Guard unit who, along with parents, provided Christmas gifts for her children, she said.

According to Bearden, the surgery was very successful, and she is pleased that Dr. James Farrington, who had been a resident at Selma Family Medicine had worked with her here, could be with her in the operating room there. He has since completed the program and is moving to Alaska where he will practice medicine, she said.

Stacy Bearden has returned from Kuwait to Fort Stewart, Ga., where he is being cleared for his return home, possibly as early as this weekend, she said.

She’s improving every day. She has seen her personal physician, Dr. Monica Newton at Selma Family Medicine, who is happy with the progress of healing of the damaged lung.

Bonnie Bearden wants to thank everyone who helped out during this time of family crisis, and that will be difficult, she admitted, without leaving people out. Nonetheless she wanted to extend special thanks to Pat Summerlin who is a client of her stepmother, her husband’s parents and his sister, Wanda, and Bonnie Bearden’s parents and stepsister Veronica. Veronica and Bearden’s stepmother have been at the family home helping out, awaiting Stacy Bearden’s return.

Bearden said her children’s joy at her homecoming was greater than the excitement of Christmas Day.

In two to four weeks, Bearden hopes that the lung will be basically healed &045; she’s using oxygen some &045; and that she will begin to get her strength back.

Bearden is especially proud of her &uot;been-there, done-that&uot; T-shirt which she received in San Diego. It reads, &uot;Pulmonary, Thrombo, Endar, Ectomy, No. 1,678.&uot;