Amanda Pieshala was known for her generosity, her sense of humor and her ever-present smile. Things changed forever for Amanda, however, on Oct. 6, 2012. The 36-year-old suffered a brain injury and was found unresponsive in her home in Woodside.
"The people at Lowe's called us and said she was two hours late for work and she'd never been late before," said her father Rich Pieshala. "Sherine Sharp [Amanda's co-worker] met [ Amanda's mother], Dee, and I there. Amanda wasn't responsive, her eyes were open but she wasn't responsive."
Amanda's brain went without a sufficient flow of oxygen for a period of time before her family found her. This resulted in an anoxic brain injury, her doctors told her family.
Doctors are still not sure what caused Amanda's condition, Rich said. At first, they suspected that it was related to her diabetes, which Amanda was diagnosed with five years ago, however doctors have since determined that was most likely not the cause.
When Amanda was found she was first taken to Kent General, where she spent a week. She was then flown to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, where she spent eight weeks being seen by a team of doctors. They ran a barrage of tests on Amanda but weren't able to discover the cause of her condition. They simply concluded that she had suffered an anoxic brain injury.
"They've tested for everything, they even sent her tests to Spain," Rich said. "They aren't testing any more. Now they're just trying to treat her symptoms."
Amanda remained in a coma for her entire stay at Kent General and for part of her stay at HUP. After eight weeks in Philadelphia, she was moved to Bryn Mar Rehab Hospital in Malvern, Pa. While there, Amanda made a lot of progress.
"At Bryn Mar she was walking with help. She was sitting on a mat on the side of the bed," said Dee Pieshala.
Amanda's progress was short lived though. According to Dee, the family had to leave Bryn Mar because the insurance company didn't feel that Amanda was healing fast enough. The family moved Amanda to the rehabilitation center at Milford Memorial Hospital, which is where she is currently being treated, but moving isn't easy on her.
"When you have a brain injury it takes a while to get used to your surroundings," said Dee. "When we moved her to Milford she took two weeks to adjust. At first she did nothing. She had to get used to sounds, the sites, the voices and the smells. It's like starting over each time she moves. Now she's starting to sit up and can stand with assistance. We're hoping walking will come with time.
Page 2 of 2 - Amanda is set to move again soon. Once her father finishes an addition onto the family's Camden-Wyoming home, she will be moved there.
One of the family's biggest struggles at the moment is health insurance. Amanda's health insurance ran out recently and the family is currently wading through a mountain of paper work and fighting to get her on Medicaid.
"It's sad when you have somebody who depends on you so much, but you have to spend time battling insurance companies or the government instead of devoting time to helping them," Dee said.
Despite all of the hardships that the Pieshalas have faced, the family knows they aren't in this alone.
"I'm just totally overwhelmed," Dee said. "We've always known that we have great friends and neighbors but once this happened it was amazing to us how many people are willing to step up and help however they can, whether its staying with Amanda so we can go do something or helping at the house volunteering. And the people doing benefits are putting in a lot of time."
Two benefits are currently in the works on Amanda's behalf. One is being planned by Sherine Sharp, one of Amanda's co-workers from Lowe's. The event will be held at the Camden-Wyoming Fire Hall from 4 to 8 p.m., April 19. Tickets are $12 for ages 12 and up and $8 for ages 6 to 12, with children younger than 6 admitted for free. There will be a cash bar, DJ and silent auction. For tickets, call Sharp at (302) 270-4738.
A second benefit for Amanda is being planned by Linda Iverson, Pam Bauer and Sam Hummel. That benefit will be held on May 4 at the Felton Fire Hall from 6 to 10 p.m. It will feature a cash bar, a silent auction, a 50/50 raffle, dinner and dancing. Tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for children ages 6 to 12. Tickets can be purchased at Some Guys Bagels, Vision Quest Eye Care, Mary's Country Cuts and Wyoming Millwork's Camden and Milton locations.
Funds can also be donated to help support Amanda's medical needs by visiting www.gofundme.com/29bpjw or making a donation to the savings account set up for the Pieshalas at the First National Bank of Wyoming.