thumb Verna Blair 2013Verna Corbett's recovery updates from post surgery complications since September 21, 2009. Verna is cofounder of Ark of Hope for Children and she has been in and out of intensive care and rehab/nursing homes for seven of the last 16 months. This stems from an operation that was to improve her life hat has had serious complications time and again. Your prayers have been so felt by the whole family, and she has become the "cat with nine lives," quite literally. We are blessed and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.


thumb_Corbetts_2007-600 thumb Blair and Verna Small


May 8, 2012- Verna Walked 100 feet today! First time into triple digits. She is stylin' in some new clothes finally after having lost 246 pounds since this fiasco started on September 21, 2009.

April 24, 2012- Verna's first time standing without any assistance besides the wallker itself. Notice same day as below... movin' and shakin'.


April 24, 2012- Verna's first time walking with a walker! She didn't know this was going to happen this day. Her physical therapist knew she was ready after a few moments on the parallel bars. Woohoo!! Go Verna!!


April 10, 2012- Verna's longest walk yet along the parallel bars. She eventually walked the whole length before moving on today.


April 3, 2012- Verna having fun at physical therapy. Fashion statement and a one handed grab and slap... errrrr grab!

March 29, 2012- Verna first steps using the parallel bars at physical therapy. So proud of her! This was such a big deal and we were all so excited.

February 23, 2012- Verna standing from wheelchair exercise followed by weight shifting to see how ankles and knees handle weight on one leg.

January 19, 2012- Verna stands for the first time in a year after surgery complications almost took her life multiple times beginning on September 21, 2009 

December 23, 2011- Verna plays catch for first time with exercise ball to test hand coordination. 

December 7, 2011- Verna'a first time on an exercise bike. She got up onto the bike using a transfer board from her wheel chair, which was much lower. Now maybe she can get into oour family mini van again. 

November 2011- Verna is finally able to begin outpatient physical therapy at Shands Magnolia Park in Gainesville, FL. She is ble to get in and out of son Bennett's car with help of a transfer board from her electric wheelchair. We cannot transfer the elctric one so we transfer to a manual wheelchair once at the rehab center.

September 23-24, 2011- Verna and family attended daughter Stephanie's and son-in-law Kevin Johnson's rehearsal, dinner, wedding and thumb Stephanie wedding-2011.09.24reception. What a beautiful weekend! It was quite a team effort for the family to work together, using slide board and electric wheelchair to transfer Verna to and from son Bennett's car. A close friend lent their pickup truck for the weekend to transport the electric wheelchair. Many relatives travelled in for the weekend and spent much time with Verna, not having seen her since one year ago when she was expected to die in the hospital. God is good!

September 13, 2011- Verna is making strides being able to stand from the electric wheelchair. Her goal is still to be able to stand and pivot to get in and out of our minivan by September 21, 2001 to share in our daughter Stephanie Corbett's wedding. The wedding is September 24th so pray we don't have to rent a special handicap van at $150 per day.

August 3, 2011- Verna transferred to her electric wheelchair with only family assistance for the first time today. She ventured out to make bread for the first time in two years! Her fingers have greatly improved and she was able to need the bread herself. We are all so excited and encouraged!

August 2, 2011- Verna transferred to her electric wheelchair for the first time in months at home with the assistance of her physical therapist and her family. She traveled through the house and outdoors to take in the sun and visit the family garden.

July 26, 2011- Verna stood almost completely with the help of her physical therapist and family members! The time up on her feet fully was short due to pain in her ankles, but this was a huge accomplishment!

July 1, 2011- Verna has been exercising and making great strides, thanks in large part to a wonderful Christian woman who was a physical therapist for years. She found out about Verna purely by accident when seeing what her chioldren's ministry could do to help Ark of Hope. She comes out twice a week with her husband and children. Verna sits up on the edge of the bed a few times a day now and is able to get completely up by herself! We are so excited for her. Transfer to wheel chair and freedom from her bedroom is hopefully right around the corner.

April 14, 2011- Verna is already on a regular food diet in smaller portions, six times a day! A slightly pulled back muscle is preventing her from sitting on the edge of the bed right now, but upper and lower body exercises continue.

April 12, 2011- New fluoroscopy has shown that Verna's intestinal tract is clear and intact. No new surgeries! Clear liquids by mouth have begun for first time in six months!

April 8, 2011- Tests have shown a yeast, fungus growing in Verna's blood plus a bad urinary tract infection. Surgeons are considering moving up tests once planned for may 6 to see if intestinal tract is healed enough to begin liquids and foods by mouth over a long period, or if a surgery to fix the old hole in her intestine is needed.

April 4, 2011- Verna has entered Shands hospital through the E.R. once again with persistent fever, sometimes hitting 102.6.

March 2011- A brief 4 days stay at Shands once again. Verna was supposed to get only a new PICC line, but E.R. doctors were stubborn in demanding iv antibiotics even though no infection had yet to show in here blood from previous blood cultures. This was frustrating because we were warned not not allow antibiotics in her unless infection is identified so her system does not become resistant to them due to so many past blood infections.

February 6, 2011- A blood infection has brought us back into Shands Hospital. We are told these blood infections are very common, unfortunately, due to nutrition be fed through her veins using a PICC line. The PICC line has been removed to see if it is the source of the infection, which it most normally is, they say. The iv nutrition called TPN is a breeding ground for infection, should any arise. Sigh... Once the infection is cleared for 3 days or so from her blood, a new PICC line will be inserted in one of her arms. They tried to inserting an arterial line 4 times during this visit but were unable to find a vein. We finally stopped this very painful process, even though they have difficulty getting a good blood pressure on her.

October 26-30, 2010- Fluoroscopy showsVerna’s fistula ismidway up intestine meaning no shortcuts in healing process. From what we understand, the fistula is like a tunnel so to speak which was caused by a leak (hole) in the intestinal wall. This tunnel in her case now goes right to the outside of her body. They must not allow anything to travel through the intestine until the tunnel (fistula) fills itself in by the body’s natural healing process. Large belly wound which is approximately 3” deep, 1 foot high (at tallest point) and 2 feet wide will also have to heal itself layer by layer. To cover it now would create a man made abscess which would become immediately infected. Healing of these wounds could take many weeks up to 10 months. IV feeding will be only form of nutrition or fluids until fistula is healed over. Surgery 6-10 months out will repair hole in intestine. Skin graft may eventually be used to cover belly after internally healed. Rehab places to go to locally have been narrowed down to only one that will manage TPN intravenous feedings. It is Park meadows Health and Rehab. They will assess to be sure they can meet Verna’s needs.

October 25, 2010-Verna is having 2 CT Scans and a “fluoroscopy” this morning. Fluoroscopy is with contrast to locate the origin of the fistula within the intestine. BP flirted to very low levels over night once again. Fluids were increased to try to raise it more naturally.

October 24, 2010-Verna Corbett upgraded to intermediate care status. She is talking and hoping for visitors which keeps her mind focused on healing and not on how she got here, or the long road ahead. Intestinal fistula and the large open belly wound must now heal themselves at this point. She is in lots of pain, as higher doses of pain meds decrease blood pressure. Latest estimate is she will be in hospital 2+ more weeks, then a rehab place, and then home with possibly months of wound care. Keep praying it works. Verna is having 2 CT Scans in morning. One dry followed by one with contrast to locate the origin of the fistula.

October 17-23, 2010-Two plus viruses are working within the new wound areas that have been identified as VRE and another. They must receive two full weeks of appropriate antibiotics. Breathing tube removed from throat successfully, followed by removal of belly drain coming through her nose. Verna is alert and very responsive although in soft speaking voice. BP flirts in and out of low to dangerously low areas without pressure meds. She is moved to Surgical ICU as she is not considered a trauma patient any longer. Doctors are trying to find the delicate balance to maintain BP at acceptable low levels, while increasing nutrition through her veins. Normal feeding through feeding tube or mouth cannot be done at this time due to the fistula, however good nutrition is what is needed for her body to heal from these serious wounds.

October 16, 2010-Verna made it through surgical clean-out and is responsive to family, nurses and doctors. Doctors removed a large patch of skin on belly area, approximately 1 foot tall and 2 feet wide, and a lot of fatty tissue. By God’s grace, the bacteria had not yet affected her organs or abdominal wall. An intestinal fistula has formed, which basically is a connection between the intestines and another organ. In Verna’s case the other organ is her flesh which will allow intestinal contents to escape from the new tunnel like opening. She will remain off food and drink for quite some time in hopes it will heal itself. Surgical repair is not a good option at this time we are told. BP has returned to dangerous levels.

October 15, 2010- White blood cell count up again after extended family leaves to their respective homes in other states. A rush CT Scan of belly area shows Necrotizing Fasciitis, a fast moving “flesh eating bacteria,” is causing death of cells and fatty tissue. These bacteria kill muscle, flesh and organs so Verna is prepped for emergency surgery as they can kill within 24 hours. As doctor said, if this were and arm or a leg, it would often be amputated. In this case they will remove everything the infection has touched including intestines and outer skin if necessary. Due to the bacteria a series of surgeries will likely follow after the first cleanout depending upon the extent of damage.

October 12-14, 2010- Verna began waking up today as infections have been c coming under increasing control. BP more manageable, although still low and white blood cell count decreasing.

October 10, 2010-The ten “children” (aged 16 to 26), extended family members and friends filter through. Plan to stop ventilator and BP meds is set for 2:00pm Monday, October 11, 2010. At 11pm two children return to hospital from Houston to see their mom still in a coma. They join a meeting with the attending physician to talk of their decision to “pull the plug.” This doctor feels that is now premature, with no signs of harm to Verna’s extremities. Previous plans for Monday are now postponed with great relief and hopefulness.

October 9, 2010-Blair is advised that such high doses of BP meds WILL cause her extremities to lose blood and begin to die. He is advised to sign papers allowing them to “pull the plug” at a time of Blair’s choosing. Since losing fingers, toes, feet, etc would be something Verna would never want for herself children all agree since professionals say “death of extremities is inevitable.”

October 6-8, 2010- Husband, Pastor Blair decides no heroic measures should be taken such as shock paddles or CPR should another heart attack occur. Ten children agree including 2 and a wife that traveled by car to Houston from Florida for ministry. EEG’s and scans are done for cause of coma. Lesions are found on brain but they appear to be old and reacting to the mass infection and there is brain activity.

October 5, 2010-Co-founder of Ark of Hope For Children, Verna Corbett admitted to Shands Hospital in Gainesville, Florida in a coma following more complications and infections from gastric bypass operation on September 21, 2009. Verna is considered to be in septic shock again and she was taken to Medical ICU to treat multiple infections in critical condition. Thus begins her third long term visit to ICU in 13 months. A dangerously low blood pressure problem develops and massive doses of blood pressure meds ensue. Verna had a heart attack sometime after admission.


April hrough June, 2010 Verna has a long hospital stretch with more time forced by Shands at  Nursing home / "Rehab" facility before se could return home again

April 10, 2010- Verna is extremely weak which has been building for a while.

December 2009 - March 2010- Verna improved slowly but surely. Able to maintain on the greatly reduced diet due to the gastric bypass. By the end of February she was walking about 200 steps a day with Blair and her walker. Sores on her legs were way out of control as they had continued to spread. At first the doctor was convinced it was a severe staff infection so he prescribed heavy doses of an oral antibiotic. The sores continued to get worse so upon close examination he decided it was psoriasis that was way out of control with horrible large sores covering most of her legs and climbing her body. Verna's personal physician put her on Methatrexate to fight it. It began to help which was relieving. We continued having her blood levels checked every week throughout these months to monitor blood thinning levels.

November 25, 2009- Verna is discharged but this time we demanded she go home for increased and healthier care, and so she could have Thanksgiving with her family. She was barely standing or trasnferring to a wheelchair or bedside commode, but with 10 children, most in their twenties, we knew we were up to the challenge. Blair gives bloood thinning shots daily.

November 19-25, 2009- Treated with antibiotics for pneumonia. Drain tube in chest was removed once no fluid was draining.

November 18, 2009- We arrive back at Shands Emergency Room in the afternoon. Blood tests show rhespiratory failure, including pneumnia and a collapsed lung. Verna had been comlaining about weakness and trouble breathing for a few days and was being ignored as a complaining patient. How could they not have seen something at GHCC before today. Arrgghh The place is mostly like an old persons home. How do those people get the care they need? :-( verna is of course admitted once again. A chest tube is placed to drain fluid from the lung.

November 18, 2009-Verna is extremely lethargic and complaining of feeling very sick inside. The night before she fell asleep without removing false teeth, and the nurse put her cpap mask on without paying attention to the teeth. On the 18th upon trying to wake her they found the teeth dislodged into the mask itself blocking some airflow. The Dr who is visiting GHCC that day gives her a rare personal check-up and agrees something is not right. We have told him of her problems with increased co2. The physical therapy person also discussed with the doctor that Verna has been increasingly weak and is concerned that her weakness is much greater than that of a patient that not want to exercise. The Dr called to have Verna transported across the street back to Shands hospital HOWEVER the head of Nursing for the facility decided to block us being able to leave unless she went for blood tests and returned to GHCC. Once I, Blair, found out aout this I got extremely upset, as she was controlling the hand of a dr who wanted Verna to get a checkup. The Head Nurse, to avoid heated confrontation with Blair, finally allowed for the E.R. checkup. Upon leaving on the stretched Verna was very weak, lethargic and sick with apparent co2 poisoning.

Early November, 2009 - Physical therapy team is keeping up with daily room visits, while Blair works with keeping Verna moving as well. Yet Shands doctors have decided that Verna cannot go back home since no professional therapy is available there. This upset Verna greatly, but she felt forced into it and hoped the place would be good and helpful towards her returning home quickly. They made us select a "rehab" center in Gainesville that would accept Medicaid. With no direction or real advice from Shands, we chose Gainesville Health Care Center. The center proves to be quite an experience. They do allow Blair to stay with Verna at the center, even providing him with a bed. This is arranged to keep Verna calm and focused.

October 28- **, 2009 - Verna has been placed on blood thinners and being monitored. They have discovered more "contageous" infections in her blood. They treat her for the infections on antibiotics. During all this period of hospitalization Verna leg's have weakened dramatically.

October 27, 2009 - Normal exams by Verna and Blair alarmed them greatly for blood clots in her legs. Areas were red and hot to the touch. We went again to Shands Hospital Emergency Room. We waited for well over 8 hours with Verna in her wheelchair the entire time, even though we feared blood clots in her legs. Tests confirmed blood clots in both legs and another in her neck area. Upon admission, doctors performed what they considered fairly routine surgery to insert a filter which would prevent blood clots from raching her lungs. Post surgery she was transported back to her room as Blair was told she was returning to the room. By te time Blair arrived at the room panic has set in amongst the entire floor because she was non-repsonsive and unable to awaken. She was rushed back down to the E.R. recovery area, as many doctors, interns and nurses, along with Blair, tried to waken her. Quite a while later Dr. John Downs diagnosed that Verna had hypoxia, or hypoxic drive. This is seen, rarely to this extent, in patients with COPD. Verna uses a cpap machine at night for sleep apnia as her system would breathe very irregularly. Dr Downs realized that procedures they used, with greatly increased oxygen, allowed for Verna's system with Hypoxia, to not think it needed to breath as much on its own.This caused greatly increased levels of carbon dioxide, leading to carbon dioxide poisoning, which is why she could not wake up. It was decided that unless for extreme reasons, oxgen for Verna, whether by nose canula or CPAP should NEVER  be set above the level of 3. Numerous times over the next 1 1/2 years of hospitalizations Blair had to aruge with nirses and doctors to check her charts to turn oxygen down before they brought on co2 retention problems.

October 10, 2009 - Verna is released with more equipment being brought to the home like special wheelchair and bedside commode. Since medicaid refuses to pay for home physical therapy, the large Corbett family is taking on the task of her rehab.

October 5-10, 2009 - Verna has been moved to normal patient rooms. She continues to recover, but is itching and has a lot of spots all over. Also, psoriasis that was once under control on her lower legs is spreading dramatically. Psoriasis has been tested and confirmed that is what it is, but the rest is allergic type reaction to one or more of the antibiotics.

September 29 - October 5, 2009- SICU- Blair was allowed visitation from 11am until 10pm which was standard procedure for the hospital, but heart wrnching for Verna, Blair and their famly. During this period Blair would eiher drive back and forth to his home roughly an hour away, or sleep between chairs in a surgery waiting room. Verna improved slowly as they tackled infection but the drugs given were causing her some extremely paranoid episodes. This was exasterbated by the amount of time they would tie her hands so she would not pull out the ventiltor tube that was down her throat. On some days, depending upon the nurse on duty, Verna was permitted to have hands untied while Blair was at her bedside during visitation times. Every evening before Blair would be forced to leave, sleeping medicines were administered to sedate her enough show she wouldn't cry in fear that Blair would have to leave.

September 28, 2009- CT scan showed "severely dilated proximal jejunum adjacent to the stomach suggestive of a proximal small bowel obstruction" and was admitted to the Minimally Invasive Service. Once she was admitted doctors infomed us of the need to have another surgery to repair any blockage in the small bowel. After this operation Blair was informed they had repaired a perforation in Verna's small bowel. This had allowed bacteria to leak into her abdominal area. They informed Blair that a JP drain had been inserted, that Verna was being taken to Surgical Intensive Care and being treated for Sepsis. Also called Septic Shock, this is a condition where bacteria and/or infection has been identified within the abdominal area and around the internal organs. This can cause any organ to begin to shut down as it is in affect attacked by infection or bacteria. Verna was now intubated and drugged and a feeding tube inserted in her side as well as the drain tube in her belly button area.

September 27, 2009- Blair and Verna returned to Shands Hospital through the Emergency Room in the early afternoon. We informed them of her surgery less than a week before, and of her continuous vomiting which went on while we waited. They said they would get her to a room shortly, but we waited at least 8 hours before being taken to an exam room. A ct scan was performed in the early hours of the following morning before admission.

September 24-27, 2009- Verna continues to vomit usually small amounts as often as 8 times an hour. Initially her strength was pretty good, and she was walking around and caring for herself in the bathroom. We became more alarmed and upset as she became more weakened and grainy, coffee ground like substance was in the vomit.

September 22-24, 2009- Verna is awake and responsive. They began her on a liguid only diet. Even liquids will not stay down. She is vomiting almost as if burp reflex mutliple times an hour. We have been assured that this can happen from the shock to her system and all. Doctors kept her a little longer than normal to monitor the vomiting, but eventually decided she could go home as long as we communicated with them if it continued.

September 21, 2009- Dr. Ben David had previously informed us that due to Verna's weight, there was a good chance she could not undergo full gastric bypass. If he deemed it necessary a gastric sleeve would be inserted for now, and once enough weight was lost from that, she could have the full bypass.

Laproscopic Gastric Bypass scheduled for early a.m. at Shands Hospital at U.F. in Gainesville, Florida, Did not begin until early p.m. began around 1 p.m. and told should take 2.5 to 3 hours. 4 1/2 hours later Blair was notified surgery was done. Dr. Ben David came from the surgery to the waiting room to inform Blair that it was harder than he anticipated, but he was able to complete the full gastric bypass. He said he had to stretch the colon so far in such an awkward way that he didn't know until well into the procedure if he was going to have to use a sleeve instead. He assured me the procedure was however complete and expected a full recovery and for Verna and I to be very happy with the results.

September 14, 2009- 7:45  Colonoscopy as standard procedure to be sure all is ok in prep for Gastric Bypass operation next week. Performed by Dr. David R. Nelson MD. Referring Md Dr. Kfir Ben David MD. Recommended ok for surgery and for another colonoscopy in five years.

Share This Page