By Darlene Casten
Two years ago Verna Marzo was completing feats many only dream – traveling all over the world, bungee jumping, cage diving with great white sharks.
Fast forward a year and Marzo was learning to walk again, recovering from a near-fatal infection that required her arms and legs to be amputated.
In January 2017, she was diagnosed with endometriosis. Two months later, Marzo was taken to emergency, where they found a cyst. She ended up having a hysterectomy and then developed sepis, a serious infection, and her arms and legs had to be amputated.
“I went into shock,” Marzo says. “I was on dialysis for 24 hours, 7 days a week.
My heart was not beating. My lungs collapsed. I was on life support. I had blood clots all over my body. The infection went to my brain. I became blind.”
The prognosis was bleak. Her doctors only gave her a two per cent chance of surviving.
However, after six days, Marzo came out of her coma and her long road to recovery began.
It’s a time Marzo has no recollection of.
“April, May, June – it was all erased,” she says.
Her last memory was sitting in the Peter Lougheed emergency room and her next memory was months later at the medical unit in Foothills Hospital.
She was told she would spend six months in the hospital, but was released two-and-a-half months into a care facility. She regained her sight and began rehabilitation.
Her miraculous recovery, she says, can only be attributed to God.
“I believe a lot to do with my faith,” she says. “I prayed a lot, my family and friends prayed a lot.”
Recovery included learning to walk again and how to use prosthetic arms and legs.
“I do a lot of physical and occupational, recreational therapy,” she says “I exercise a lot, morning and afternoon. I’m a fast learner with the prosthetics.”
Last month she won hard to get tickets to watch Ellen DeGeneres in Calgary by submitting a video of herself dancing in her prosthetics.
Marzo says she is working hard to reclaim her life, which was full of adventure and athleticism.
“My friends and sister usually come and pick me up when they have time,” she says.
“They take me to the mountains because I love the mountains. Last weekend I was walking around Lake Minnewanka. I’m doing things I like to do, just being normal. I’m practicing on walking on pebbles and grass. Getting ready for hiking.”
One goal is to get back into running marathons, she says.
“I used to join charity marathons,” Marzo says. “I really want to do that again, but the blade running is really expensive.”
Finances are an issue now, she explains.
The former businesswoman can no longer work and she’s living on AISH, a monthly government payment for severely disabled people.
She sold her home and plans to live with her sisters when she’s released from the care centre.
A GoFundMe account has been set up in her behalf at www.gofundme.com/VernaMarzo
Marzo says she is looking forward to the future.
“I’m excited actually,” she says. “I’m not sure what’s ahead, but I’m sure there is still adventures ahead of me.”