DALLAS – Friends and family can't quite process what happened to Crystal Whitley, 35.
"[The doctor] said if she recovered from this, she could live a pretty normal life. She wouldn't be able to run any marathons. But he didn't know if she would pull through it," said Christy Lewis, Whitley’s friend.
Whitley, a special ed teacher in Mullin, Texas, is on a life support at Baylor Scott & White in Dallas.
Two weeks ago, she contracted both strains of influenza, then got pneumonia in both lungs and picked up MRSA, a bacterial infection that's resistant to many antibiotics.
“We told her she couldn't give up. She had to keep fighting, and she just kind of gave us that look - that Crystal look like, 'What do you think I'm doing,'" said Lewis. "She was able to mouth the words 'I love you' and she kind of puckered her lips a little bit and blew me a kiss.”
Like many cases this season, what’s so hard to understand is that Whitley got the flu shot in October after giving birth to her son, River, she’s physically active and has no underlying medical conditions yet was stricken down by influenza and is on life support.
More than two weeks after arriving at Baylor, Whitley is now making some progress. She’s now able to sit in a chair and came off the ventilator for a couple hours on Wednesday.
"She's making all of this progress, but [doctors] keep telling us she is still very ill. She is still critical, and she is still on life support,” explained Mary O’Connor, Whitley’s mother.
Doctors told O’Connor that her daughter likely faces a lengthy hospital stay.
"I asked them yesterday, and I said, 'I know you don't know for sure, but what are we looking at?' They said, 'It's probably going to be months,'" added O’Connor.
In Dallas County, 62 people have died from the flu, according to the county. The most recent victims announced on Friday were 90 and 98-years-old and had high-risk health conditions.
The Texas Department of State Health Services reports that 2,897 people have died from influenza and pneumonia since the flu season started on October 1, 2017. While it’s not the deadliest year on record, it is one of the most active, according to the state.