Fighting for Tori
by Sheryl Wilde
I need the kinda love that can outlast the night. *
When resident Tori became ill and needed to be checked into the hospital, the Mountain Shadows Family did what it always does – it went deep into Because I Care mode.
Tori has cerebral palsy, severe mental retardation, is blind and uses a wheelchair. Perhaps more importantly, she loves life, and loves, LOVES music, especially the song “Dance Monkey”.
Says Eulalia “Lupe” Ramirez, QIDP/A, Elm & Fig Houses, MSCH – San Diego, “Tori dances and shakes her hands in the air to the music. She’s always so happy.
“Whenever I see her, I say, ‘Hey, Tori!’ And she recognizes my voice right away and she starts throwing me kisses.”
While many may see only Tori’s limitations, Lupe and the Mountain Shadows team that cares for her, see her differently. “Every time I see Tori, it’s a special moment. When I talk to her, she understands. I know she does. She reacts to what I say. She’s very happy and just starts throwing me kisses!”
But, when Tori became ill, she developed an infection, which turned into sepsis. She then developed pneumonia, and then was diagnosed with a kidney stone. She was in the hospital for a prolonged period and became depressed and stopped eating.
“The doctors wouldn’t release Tori from the hospital because she wouldn’t eat. They were planning to send her to a skilled nursing facility. Honestly, they were considering putting her on hospice.
“Tori’s mom asked if we could go to the hospital to encourage her to eat. So, we went and talked with Tori, and told her, “You need to eat so you can come home. You need to eat so you can see Elena!
“Maria Elena works with Tori at Mountain Shadows Outreach. Tori loves Elena!”
“When Tori was sick, it was really bad,” says Elena. “I was so sad. I wished I could take her home with me. She’s awesome. She’s a beautiful soul – the most beautiful soul I’ve ever seen! We’re the same. We’re both a little crazy. We’re about the same age and like the same music. The music was our connection. We clicked right away.”
“When we talked with Tori, we just kept reminding her how much we wanted her to come home to Fig House and how much we missed her,” adds Lupe.
The visit from her Mountain Shadows Family was exactly the kinda love Tori needed. It wasn’t long before she ate everything on her plate!
“A few days later, Tori was able to come home to Fig House and she was just so happy,” says Lupe. “She was like her normal self again – always throwing me kisses.”
Unfortunately, though, Tori recently developed complications.
I need the kinda love that is willing to fight.
“Tori is hospitalized again now,” continues Lupe. “And the same thing has happened. Tori stopped eating. So, we went to the hospital again to see her.
“And I said to her, ‘Hey, Tori! It’s Lupe! Are you ready to come home?’
“And Tori just lit up and started throwing me kisses!”
Still, though Tori was uplifted by the Mountain Shadows staff visiting her in the hospital, this time her health has continued to decline.
When the going gets tough,
And my strength’s not enough,
I see you showing up like never before.
“Mountain Shadows had a plan of care meeting with the hospital team, and they were considering hospice for Tori again,” continues Lupe.
“But, what I saw happen proves to me that Mountain Shadows is family. They really treat the residents as family. They advocate for them. They really do care.
“We – Stacy Sullivan, the nurse and myself – had a meeting with the hospital team. And Stacy, she was able to fight for Tori, to give her a chance. Stacy was like, ‘Hey, there is a way for Tori to return to Mountain Shadows, if we do this.’
“Mountain Shadows always fights for the residents. We advocate for them. And Tori will always have someone fighting for her.
“Right now, her situation is being reevaluated, and, hopefully, after she is finished with some medical procedures she needs, she will return to Mountain Shadows, to her home at Fig House.
“That is my hope for her, to come back home, so we can give her the quality of life she deserves.
“We fight for our residents to be able to do as much as they can, no matter their situation.
“This is the first time I’ve had to handle a situation like this and it’s tough. But, I’ve had great support from the upper management at Mountain Shadows. I see how they really do care for the residents. They spoke up for Tori when she couldn’t speak up for herself. I think that’s pretty awesome.
“I also think this shows the residents never forget how we treat them. Just the thought of coming home to Mountain Shadows encouraged Tori to eat and get well enough to come home to Fig House.”
You will never stop fighting for me
When I can’t fight for myself
Every word is a promise you keep
‘Cause you love me like nobody else
You stand up for me in the darkest night
When my faith is weak, you’re still by my side
You will never stop fighting for me.
As we stand at the dawn of a New Year, Tori’s future is still uncertain – but one thing remains crystal clear – we will never stop fighting for her, or any of our Mountain Shadows residents, because we believe they have a right to live their best possible life, for as long as possible.
As part of the Mountain Shadows Family, please send Tori your well-wishes. And know that in return, she will be throwing you kisses!
*Lyrics from Fighting for Me, by Riley Clemmons