Heat-Related Mortality — Chicago 1995

There is a lot of talk going on in Chicago lately about the 20 year anniversary of the  heat-related mortality that took place here in 1995. To total number of recorded deaths in Chicago that were certified heat-related was 1177 between July 13-21. The statistics I had to look up, but nothing else about that time will I EVER forget. On July 11, 1995 my sister Mary Lynn  gave birth to her fourth child, also her fourth boy. Within 48 hours she went into septic shock. What I expected to be a joyous homecoming with bouncing baby turned out to be a frantic rush to the hospital to find my sister in ICU at Silver Cross Hospital, already on life support. For three weeks, the same days span of the 1995 heat wave in Chicago, we waited and we watched. We watched the constant news coverage of the heat wave and we watched the machine breathe for her. The prayers prayed Novena’s which were repeated many times over. Two weeks slipped by with no change. It was hard to keep it together. The hardest part being when my Mom started to lose hope after the hospital sent a spokesperson to tell us they did everything they could. Never did I ever think I would ever have to hold my Mom up. But there we were. After two weeks waiting we finally had a glimmer of hope in a Doctor Clarence  Gantt. He had been on vacation for three weeks and when he returned to work at Silver Cross, my sister-in-law Kim who worked with Dr. Gantt, pleaded with him to help. He prescribed dialyses since Mary Lynn’s kidneys had stopped functioning two weeks ago, and she was carrying 60 extra pounds of fluid. Every day I would stop by the hospital for a few hours on the way to work and again on the way home, hoping for a change but there was none. Then finally, on July 24th, 1995 my 34th birthday, I entered the room on a wish that today would be the day that I would get my big sister back, and there she was smiling at me. It was the first day of a lengthy recovery where she had to learn to crawl, then walk, feed and dress herself again. Since then I don’t really ask for anything special on my birthday, I guess I feel I’ve already received the best birthday present a girl could ever ask for. I really don’t need anything else.

 

my big sister Mary Lynn

my big sister Mary Lynn

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