Maureen Bolchoz

Maureen and Manning Bolchoz met in the Shem Creek area of Charleston some time ago. With their families living just three doors down from each other, they attended primary school together and quickly became inseparable. Mr. and Mrs. Bolchoz even shared their first kiss together! “We were behind a building at the Stella Maris Catholic Church’s Bazaar. We waited for another couple in our grade to finish their kiss behind the shed,” Maureen recalls, chuckling. “After our ‘turn’–and what was just a simple peck on the lips–I felt like I had a ‘Scarlet Letter’ on my chest.”

“We were officially boyfriend and girlfriend at that time, we even exchanged silver identity bracelets” Manning said with a large grin on his face. The Bolchoz’s continued to date through 7th and 8th grade as well. They split up over the first two years of high school. After reuniting their junior year of high school, Mr. and Mrs. Bolchoz continued on to Clemson University together. They studied together for a year before Manning transferred to West Point Academy. Upon his graduation from West Point they were wed.

“That was 40 years ago this year,” Manning noted. Manning and Maureen celebrated their marriage and his graduation from the academy this year by going on a trip across the country. They left at the end of April to attend Manning’s 40th class reunion. Along the way, they stopped in Tampa, North Carolina to visit their grandkids.

During the trip, Maureen noticed something had changed. She was unwell on the trip, and went to see the doctor. The physician dismissed her concerns, sending her home with a few medications. Even after finishing her prescriptions Maureen didn’t feel herself and Manning became very concerned. A few days later, the Bolchoz family decided it best that Maureen go to MUSC.

She was admitted just in time.

Maureen’s health quickly spiraled out of control. The doctors attempted to stabilize Maureen, but her health was diminishing all too quickly. Some four days after admittance Maureen was intubated. Shortly after, doctors would place a chest tube, feeding tube, and gallbladder drain all in the name of saving Maureen. “There were so many tubes, I didn’t feel like a real person,” Maureen said.

“This was the saddest time of my life,” Manning recounted somberly.

After 50 days of ups and downs, the doctors at MUSC were able to stabilize Maureen enough for transfer. At Vibra Hospital of Charleston, Maureen and Manning were welcomed with open arms. “We were hesitant to transfer to Vibra because we had been through this before with another long-term acute care facility,” Manning said. “We came with some significant concerns and trepidation.”

At Vibra, Maureen was placed on the SPCU unit to keep a close watch on her condition. And keep a close watch they did. “Dr. Sapp was in to see me just about every day. He is a fantastic caring doctor,” Maureen said. Manning added jokingly, “I felt at one point Dr. Sapp and Maureen had a fling he stopped by to see her so much! Joking aside he really did set Maureen up for success.”

Maureen’s health seemed fleeting at first as she struggled to recover. The concerns over her failing kidneys were front and center during the first month. “Maureen would have panic attacks during dialysis because her private room was crowded with the dialysis equipment,” Manning stated. “The nurses were nice enough to move us to a different room so that it was not as crowded. That seemed to help.”

During even the darkest of times Manning and Maureen both noted the timeliness and the helpfulness of the entire staff. “When the call bell rang everyone was there to help. Meredith, the speech therapist, even came when I made a mess and got me all cleaned up.”

As the weeks came and went, more tubes were being removed from Maureen. Every one was a small victory. The biggest victory however, was the return of Maureen’s memory. “In August, I woke up,” Maureen noted. “I can’t recall anything that happened before then, from the time I was at MUSC through my transfer to Vibra.”

With her memory returned to her and her spirits high, the day came finally for the trach to come out. Maureen was very hesitant. “Barb, the respiratory therapist, came to take out my trach and I was very nervous,” Maureen noted. “She tricked me and took it out before I could react! It made the experience much more bearable.”

Then, Maureen was unstoppable. With no tubes to hold her back she was able to more actively participate in physical and occupational therapy. After all of this time, and all of her struggles, Maureen’s body was not strong. All her muscles had atrophied and she could not stand. That didn’t stop her though. After another month, Maureen was strong enough to walk on her own two feet with the help of a walker. Maureen discharged soon after, and things settled into their new normal.

“I know we came here with some concerns, but the whole experience exceeded my expectations,” Manning said. “The responsiveness of the staff was the main step up. They were thinking about sending us to another facility. I would have gone out of my mind.”

Dr. Sapp helped facilitate Maureen’s transfer home so that she could be in the care of the one she loved the most. Maureen agreed that it was a great move on the doctor’s part. “Manning waits on me hand and foot,” she said. “Dr. Sapp really set us up for success.”

With the transfer home and the restoration of Maureen’s autonomy now complete, the Bolchozs now spend their quality time on their boat, surrounded by their friends, much like it was before Maureen fell ill. True love, great medical care and an indelible positive spirit made this story happen. After all the hard work, Maureen and Manning Bolchoz now truly deserve their ‘Happily Ever After.’