By Agrippina Fadel
When Johnny Montanez was rushed to Broward Health Coral Springs on March 3, the doctors did not offer his family much hope. In critical condition for days, hooked up to the ventilator, feeding tube, and dialysis machine, Johnny fought for his life every hour.
Nevertheless, he survived.
Johnny’s fiancé Gabriella Gonzales was the one who found him unresponsive at the couple’s home near Forest Hill Elementary, where they live with their 6-year-old son Uriel.
She said nothing seemed unusual that morning. The Coral Springs native went to work at J&L Property Management, like any typical day. However, when she did not hear from Johnny by lunchtime, something told her to rush home.
Finding her fiancé still seemingly sleeping, she tried to wake him.
“The blinds were still shut, and the room was pitch black. I called out his name. He lifted his head, and his eyes opened a little but in a strange way, and he seemed to go back to sleep. No matter how much I yelled, he did not respond,” she said.
Johnny, who works at Insurance Care Direct, was rushed to the hospital.
“I was praying my heart out, asking God not to let this be the end. I could not believe it was happening. We have a child. How would he be able to handle this?” said Gabriella.
According to Gabriella, when the family was able to see Johnny that evening, he was hooked up to machines and not able to breathe on his own.
The doctors explained everything in his body was shutting down, and he may have suffered a stroke, but they needed to run tests to know more.
In critical condition for several days, Johnny was under the supervision of six different doctors, recalls Gabriella. His kidneys, liver, and lungs were failing. A diabetic, he was put on dialysis and had pneumonia in his left lung.
The doctors needed an MRI to get the answers, but Johnny’s oxygen levels were deficient, and the ventilator was doing all the work to keep him breathing.
“They were basically telling us to prepare to say goodbye to him. We did not know what to do. This was all a nightmare we wanted to wake up from,” said Gabriella.
As the days went by, Johnny’s oxygen levels slowly improved, and his left lung was getting better. Eventually, he was taken off the sedatives and could open his eyes.
“That was the best day ever,” Gabriella said.
The doctors finally shared a diagnosis: Johnny suffered multiple strokes: a few smaller ones throughout the head and a big one in the back of the brain. The medical team told the family that Johnny’s coordination and cognition might be affected.
Gabriella said doctors were shocked to see his progress after believing he would not make it and called him “the miracle man.”
A few days later, when the medical team took Johnny off the ventilator and removed his feeding tube, he greeted Gabriella with a simple “hi.”
“I broke down in tears and thanked God. It was amazing to hear his voice again,” she said.
After almost a month in a critical care unit, Johnny was moved to intensive care. Then on March 28, he was discharged from a hospital to a rehabilitation center, where he had to relearn how to walk.
Gabriella and Johnny’s family finally celebrated his return home on April 29 and have planned a fall wedding.
“It’s been a rough, scary time, but he is here with us, and we thank God every day. It’s a new beginning for all of us,” Gabriella said, adding that the doctors and nurses’ team at Broward Health Coral Springs were amazing in taking care of him and helping the family get through this experience.
She said that little by little, he is getting back to the hang of things. He can’t move his right arm well and is doing outpatient therapy.
“Johnny is one hell of a fighter. He’s been through a lot in life, but this was the scariest thing that’s ever happened to him, and he came out as a warrior. We are so blessed and happy to have him home.”
- Agrippina Fadel grew up in Siberia and received her master’s in journalism from Tyumen State University. Agrippina is also a writer and editor at Draftsy.net. She has been a US resident for over ten years and speaks English and Russian.
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