By Patti Samar
Post Sponsored by:
Visiting Nurse Association and Blue Water Hospice
Anikka Witting of Marine City, cannot wait to get old.
So old that her skin is thin and wrinkled.
So old that her fingers are gnarled, and her knuckles out of alignment.
Witting, 36, has been literally fending off death, and beating the odds, since the day she was born.
“I was born with a heart condition where my heart is on the wrong side of my body,” she said. “I had my first surgery at four months old, and got my first pacemaker at four years old.
“They told my parents I’d never make it to five years old. I did. Then when I became an adult, they told me, you’ll never have kids. I did. And my daughter is 17 now.”
In 2017, Witting found herself in the fight of her life when her breathing became so labored that she spent weeks — that turned into months — in various hospitals.
While in surgery for a medical procedure, she nearly died.
“I coded on the table three times, but they were able to bring me back. I remember seeing my grandfather and my cousin and they told me everything was going to be okay,” she said. “I saw them clearly. And they passed years ago.”
When she was finally able to return home, very much alive, her prognosis was grim.
“My doctor put me on hospice,” she said.
That was when Visiting Nurse Association and Blue Water Hospice, of Port Huron, Michigan, was able to step in and provide some relief and assistance for Witting.
“They didn’t expect me to live,” she said.
But she did.
“I had a couple of different hospice nurses from VNA,” said Witting. “Stephanie was easy to talk to because she was my age, and we could relate. And Dawn was someone I’ve known for a long time because our daughters were in school together, so that just made it easier. She was great.”
Because Witting has struggled with her health throughout her entire life, she wanted to help others, as well.
“When I was a kid, I wanted to be a cardiologist because of what I’d been through,” she said. Though she didn’t end up becoming a doctor, she did go into the medical field.
She attended St. Clair County Community College and became a licensed practical nurse (LPN).
Though her health condition forced her into an early medical retirement, she understands the importance of good, quality healthcare and knows the care she received from VNA/BWH was exceptional.
In addition to her cardiac issues, her lung capacity is still diminished, and breathing is difficult. Walking even short distances – to the back of her back yard, for example – is an exercise in exhaustion.
Witting is fortunate in that she has a strong support system in her husband, James, and her daughter, Kaylynn, a senior at Marine City High School.
Kaylynn wrote in a school assignment:
“Almost losing my mom really changed me. I never thought that something like this would happen, but it has definitely affected me for the better. I learned to appreciate her making my dinners every night and watching movies with me. I realized my family is more important than having a ton of friends or being popular. Now, my mom and I are much closer. We spend much more time together, when we used to only talk when needed. She is less of a mother figure, but my best friend. Even my view on life has changed. I worry less of myself and care more about others. I’ve learned to be more considerate and spend more time with the people I love and care about.”
Witting doesn’t take anything in life for granted.
“My husband and I were watching TV recently and an arthritis commercial came on,” she said. “I told my husband, ‘I can’t wait to have wrinkled hands like that,’ and he said, ‘Why?’ and I said, ‘Because it means I lived that long.’
“I told him, ‘I don’t want to give up. I want to keep fighting.’”
To learn more about the various stages of caring provided by the “original” Visiting Nurse Association and Blue Water Hospice, please call 810-984-4131 or visit their website at www.vnabwh.com.