A Beautiful Life

The Carol Decker Story

FF_606DetailIn June of 2008, Carol Decker of Enumclaw was like any other expectant mother: full of anticipation and eagerly awaiting the arrival of her second child. But in a matter of hours, a massive infection had her fighting for her life. The infection resulted in the amputation of three limbs and blindness. For four years, Carol has battled intense pain, despair and frustration - but now she is embarking upon a new career as a motivational speaker helping others deal with similar challenges. Full Focus presents A Beautiful Life: The Carol Decker Story. We'll meet Carol, hear from some of the people who helped her along the way and learn how a tragedy became a truly inspiring story.

Maryn McKenna at SELF Magazine did an article about Carol that deals with the phenomenon of sepsis in detail.
http://www.self.com/health/2012/01/saving-carol-decker?currentPage=1

The Mayo and Cleveland clinic's websites contains several fact sheets about sepsis.
http://www.mayoclinic.com/print/sepsis/DS01004
http://my.clevelandclinic.org/disorders/sepsis/hic_sepsis.aspx

Carol received in-patient treatment at Swedish and Harborview medical centers.
http://www.swedish.org/Default.aspx#axzz1yNp8UmTK
http://uwmedicine.washington.edu/Patient-Care/Locations/HMC/Pages/default.aspx

Denise Tremblay, the Occupational Therapy Assistant program director at Bates Technical College, arranged for Carol to speak to her occupational therapy assistant students and told KBTC about the story.
http://www.bates.ctc.edu/OTA

Producer's Note
by Tom Layson


Carol is goofier and laughs more than she does when she knows she's on camera. Running a hidden camera on her to capture this seemed a little unfair - although it was tempting. Just the other day at her prosthetist's office she told me how somebody came into the office asking whose car was left running in the parking lot. Sitting there with her cane, she didn't miss a beat and told him it was hers. "You know what I mean" and "right?" can be fit into just about any sentence. She calls what's left of her amputated left arm her "lucky fin" and cackles when she laughs. With that said, despite her triumphs, things are not easy for Carol. Putting on her prosthetic legs, as an example, is a true athletic event. I watched her struggle with just about all of her daily routine, but like everything else, she got it done. Bits of food waste in the sink may go un-rinsed and items drop or are misplaced during her day. But when the observer stops to focus on what she can do, instead of what she can't, the magnitude of her accomplishment becomes that much more impressive. Carol also struggles with her technology. Computers and cell phones have come a long way to help the disabled, but after spending a day with Carol, it's clear that voice interactivity, software and artificial intelligence features still have a long, long way to go. Carol is most grieved by the loss of her sight and along with the rest of the family hopes stem cell therapy can restore the nerves that serve her otherwise healthy eyes. It was an honor to tell this story. I hope to follow up with her - perhaps when she's back on the slopes snowboarding. I have little doubt she'll do it.

Update, March 2014
Carol Decker did indeed make it to the slopes to participate in her old passion for skiing. Carol is taking part in the Outdoors for All adaptive skiing program, and you can see it in the last segment of this Northwest Now program.