r By Deborah Goodman
Admitted to the hospital in the middle of January 2018, Springville resident Tiffany (Fonohema) Kirkman King was diagnosed with viral and bacterial pneumonia. Exacerbated by immunosuppressant drugs prescribed to help with her genetic arthritis, the pneumonia quickly worsened and she became septic. After being comatose for several weeks, it became a question of whether her doctors would save her life or her limbs. They couldn’t save both.
Now, over three months later and after having undergone a total of nine surgeries to amputate her arms and legs, King, a mother of six, is learning what she calls her “new normal.”
When visitors come to her hospital or rehabilitation room, they find optimism and a sense of humor. This frame of mind has helped in her healing, as has her viewpoint of the people around her. She says she “loves everybody. Everybody has good qualities.”
“I have to stay positive. I do have down days. I cry. I get over it and then I go on,” King says.
After spending months in the hospital, King is currently staying in a hospital rehabilitation center, where she is involved in physical therapy. Using prosthetics requires a lot of physical strength, so she is doubling up her efforts in training. Once she is strong enough and her skin grafts have sufficiently healed, she will return to the hospital where she will undergo a different kind of treatment: intensive therapy to teach her how to be independent in her new life while using prosthetics.
She won’t be using just one set. The processes surrounding prosthetics are so complex that she will eventually need a succession of several different types and sizes of devices. This will enable her to work up to optimal usability and comfort.
King’s historic Springville home has been completely gutted to make it wheelchair accessible. She is hoping to be able to return home in July, if all goes as planned. A non-profit organization, The J.R. Way, is working on the reconstruction of her home. There have also been several fundraisers, including a GoFundMe page, an online auction, as well as a live event at Strap Tank Brewery and Restaurant on Monday, May 14 from 6 PM to 10 PM. “I’m overwhelmed by the kindness and love everyone has given me. There are good people still,” says King.
King is looking to her future with big goals in mind. Never one to sit still for very long, she is anxious to progress in life: “I’m too busy for this; I’ve got things to do.” She wants to continue raising her kids to “be good people.” She will someday walk down the aisle to marry her fiancé and biggest support, Moe Fonohema, whom she’s known since they were in seventh grade together in Orem. And, she dreams of writing a book and becoming a motivational speaker to help inspire others.
To assist in Tiffany’s recovery, please visit the following sites: