“She’s quite a musician and played the piano a lot before,” President McKee said. “We’d put her hands on the keyboard so that she could feel the keys and we put our fingers on top of hers and pressed them down so that she was playing the scales and some songs.”
Even amidst the difficulties as Sister McKee slowly came to, her family found joy in serving and seeking out the positive.
“They (the children and grandchildren) were all there for Christmas Eve and she was kind of coming out of the comatose state,” said President McKee. “I was just so sad and we went downstairs and we ate breakfast and I said, 'We’re going to go sing to all the other people here.’ So we just took the kids and sang on every floor in the hospital, and I think there were like six or seven floors. We walked down every corridor and sang, and some of the kids said it was the best Christmas they’d ever had.”
By late December, Sister McKee’s health had improved to the point where she could transfer from the ICU to a regular hospital room. She began walking with people supporting her on each side or with a walker, breathing on her own through a trach tube and speaking in full sentences.
President McKee marveled as her sense of humor began to return.
“The speech therapist came to test her for a baseline of what her mind could do," President McKee said on his family blog. “The therapist was asking her simple questions like groups of words and counting. She raised her pen up and said, 'What is this?’ Sister McKee replied, 'a pen.’ 'What do you do with a pen.’ 'You write with it.’ Then the therapist asked, 'What do you do with a broom?’ Sister McKee boldly responded, 'You hand it to your husband and tell him to sweep the floor.’ We all burst into laughter and the therapist looked up at me and said, 'Well I guess this testing is finished.’ ”
In the following months, Sister McKee experienced great pain and setbacks, but her health also continued to improve. Her recovery impressed family, doctors and nurses. The McKees enjoyed teaching many of their nurses about the message of Jesus Christ.
“One of the nurses would come in there and say, 'I just need a little bit of Jesus today, I just have to come in and sit by you,’ ” President McKee said.
One of President and Sister McKee’s sons, Jared, is a physical therapist, and he worked extensively with his mother after her strokes. The family constantly had someone with her to ensure that her brain developed a mentality to follow through with its desires.
“While in the hospital, if Sister McKee wanted to get out of bed, the medical model did not have the resources so she would not be allowed to get out of bed,” President McKee said on the family blog. “We would stay by her night and day and make sure that if her brain wanted to do something that we assisted her instead of telling her that she could not do that. This allowed us each day to expand her brain and encourage it to follow through with the drive that was behind it.”
After 70 days of hospitalization, including 37 days in the ICU, Sister McKee was allowed to return home. She continued to attend therapy three times a week and began meeting with an eye doctor to help her left eye align.
While many call her recovery miraculous, she is not fully healed yet. She continues to struggle with balance and dizziness, and in June she had another surgery to have a defibrillator inserted for her heart.
President and Sister McKee use this experience to teach their missionaries. At one zone conference, she taught about the importance of companionship unity between missionary companions.
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