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Trinity Shores thinks back to her eight-month ordeal battling a life-threatening illness during an interview Monday, Aug. 27, 2018, at Starbucks in north Cheyenne. Shores, 15, came down with the flu in January and nearly died several times. She was recently discharged from Children's Hospital Colorado and will be starting her sophomore year at Cheyenne’s Central High. Blaine McCartney/Wyoming Tribune Eagle

CHEYENNE – Trinity Shores started feeling sick Jan. 10.

The school nurse at Cheyenne’s Central High sent her home with a 100.1 degree fever, and her stepfather, John Weaver, took her to the doctor.

“The doctor told me in three to five days, she’ll be better,” he said.

Weaver made Trinity a bagel with cream cheese for breakfast around 10 a.m. Jan. 12, and he said she seemed OK.

But by 1 p.m. that afternoon, it was a different story.

“She was just looking at me with a blank face and just didn’t know who I was,” he said. “She would do what I would tell her to do, like walk or move, but she was just, like, catatonic.”

Trinity said, “My lungs were filling up with fluid, so I wasn’t getting oxygen to my brain.”

Doctors determined Trinity had developed influenza B. She spent nearly eight months at Children’s Hospital Colorado in Aurora. Following a medical miracle, the hospital released her Friday.

Today is more than just the first day of sophomore year for Trinity. It’s a long-awaited return to her life.

Trinity’s mother, Lisa Weaver, and stepfather said Trinity is one of just seven people worldwide and three in the U.S. to survive her condition. Making her even rarer, no one who has survived spent as long hooked up to the special life support system Trinity depended upon.

“For the first three months, nobody would tell us if she was going to be OK. Some doctors weren’t convinced she was ever going to be OK,” John Weaver said.

Doctors eventually determined around six months in that Trinity would recover, he said.

Lisa Weaver added that Trinity still has a long road of recovery ahead of her, but doctors expect a 100 percent recovery.

When John Weaver took Trinity to Cheyenne Regional Medical Center on Jan. 12, they sent her to the Children’s Hospital by ambulance. The weather was too bad for an airlift.

Upon reaching the Children’s Hospital, doctors placed tubes through Trinity’s neck to hook her up to an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machine.

“Her lungs were so deteriorated from being sick that her lungs weren’t functioning,” Lisa Weaver said.

The ECMO machine rotated all Trinity’s blood out of her body to have oxygen added before returning the blood to her body, keeping her alive. Trinity spent six months hooked up to the ECMO machine.

John Weaver said, “The first two months, when she was asleep, every single day, every single hour was (an) emergency.”

Trinity spent the first 2½ months of her hospital stay in an induced coma.

John Weaver said doctors put Trinity on so many medications that her kidneys started to give out and she ended up needing dialysis.

Lisa Weaver said Trinity had strep throat a couple of weeks before she caught influenza B, which may have meant her immune system wasn’t as strong. She’d never had health problems before.

In addition to her eight months in the Children’s Hospital, Trinity had open-heart surgery three times, as well as suffering from pneumonia, an MRSA infection and sepsis.

MRSA is a type of staph infection. Sepsis is an infection of the bloodstream.

Lisa Weaver said Trinity had her first open-heart surgery Feb. 21 to perform central venous cannulation, which replaced the tubes in her neck with tubes through her stomach to hook up directly to her heart.

Four hours later, they conducted her second open-heart surgery to flush out her chest, Trinity said.

Doctors performed a tracheotomy, a surgery to create an incision in a person’s neck to create an airway, in February or March, Lisa Weaver said. Trinity finally got the tubes out of her stomach July 14, one day before her 15th birthday.

John Weaver said Trinity had more than 50 major procedures throughout her time in the hospital, but the care she received was top-notch.

Lisa Weaver said, “Her body de-conditioned in the two months that she was lying in bed. She couldn’t raise her arm. She couldn’t do a lot of stuff.”

Trinity said she underwent physical therapy and occupational therapy, during which they stretched her muscles and then had her take small steps toward learning to walk again, starting with moving her bed into a sitting position.

“I remember I did it one day, and it was exciting because I could look out the window,” Trinity said.

Trinity visited Central High on Monday to talk to administrators and counselors about her schedule this year.

She studied math and language arts with a teacher at the Children’s Hospital, but she’s still behind from missing the entire second half of her freshman year.

John Weaver said Trinity’s schedule depends on how she feels. She might do half days as well as working to catch up on credits and possibly working with a homebound teacher, he said.

Lisa Weaver said Trinity will be all caught up in credits by her junior year and will graduate on time, despite this setback.

Before she caught the flu, Trinity was a cheerleader and played competitive soccer. She can’t do those things this year because her lungs aren’t fully healed and she still is recovering from surgery.

But Lisa Weaver said one of the cheerleading coaches is allowing her to manage the dance team, so she still can be involved.

Trinity said her life is both better and worse being out of the hospital. It’s worse because people stare at her, likely because of the oxygen she wears and the long scar left from her open-heart surgeries.

But her release also brings her a lot of comforts she hasn’t had in months.

“I get to sleep in my own bed, see my dogs, see my family,” Trinity said. “And I guess see my friends,” she joked.

She made a lot of friends at the Children’s Hospital, as well.

One of her nurses rode in the Courage Classic bicycle tour, a fundraiser for Children’s Hospital Colorado, with a picture of Trinity on her bike, in addition to the phrase Trinity’s nurses and doctors picked up from her: “Try harder. Stop whining.”

Lisa Weaver said Trinity told all her caregivers to try harder and stop whining, and taught them strength as she learned the extent of her own.

“I feel like I know how strong I am now,” Trinity said.

She added that her main goal for the future at this point is: “Be the best me that I can be.”

Kristine Galloway is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s education reporter. She can be reached at kgalloway@wyomingnews.com or 307-633-3184. Follow her on Twitter @KGalloway_WTE.

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