Disease delays Sterling Heights couple’s wedding

STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich. (AP) — A bride-to-be’s near death from a sudden onset of a brutal bacterial disease postponed but didn’t nix her and her fiance’s big day.

Jessica Bagnowski’s wedding scheduled for Aug. 17 had to be pushed back two months after she contracted Legionnaires disease, for which she went into an induced coma for eight days. She was expected to be released from Henry Ford Macomb Hospital in Clinton Township following 17 days facility, including nine days in the intensive care unit.

“It was terrifying,” her fiance, Adam Hussein, told The Macomb Daily of Mount Clemens ( http://bit.ly/13AsCmw ). “But I knew she would beat it. I just had a feeling. She’s strong.”

“I prayed like I’ve never prayed before,” said her mother, Linda Bagnowski. “It was horrible. You never want to wish this on your worst enemy.”

When Mom learned her middle daughter of three would be OK, “I cried big time. It was such a relief. A weight was lifted off my shoulders. My baby girl is going to make it.”

Bagnowski, 28, a Roseville native, is expected to make a full recovery by her new Oct. 19 wedding date, but will have to give up smoking for good and attending bonfires for a year.

The Sterling Heights couple believe she was exposed to Legionnaires during a one-night, seven-hour stay July 13-14 at a northern Michigan motel as part of a canoe trip. Hussein, his 17-year-old nephew and Bagnowski stayed in the room, but only Bagnowski showered.

Dr. Kevin Lokar, medical director at the Macomb County Health Department, said a showerhead is among the common spots where Legionnaires breeds. Other typical locations are some air conditioning units, humidifiers and cooling towers.

Legionnaires disease bacteria most often form in standing water and can be contracted by breathing vapor from the contaminated water. It produces pneumonia or a respiratory illness that resembles influenza. It cannot spread by person-to-person contact. It can be fatal.

Legionnaires disease takes its name from an outbreak at the Pennsylvania American Legion convention in Philadelphia in 1976.

Dozens of Legionnaires cases are reported in metropolitan Detroit each year, but this year there has been an increase, according to Angela Minicuci, spokeswoman for the Michigan Department of Community Health.

Seventy-nine cases were reported in Macomb and Wayne (including Detroit) counties in June and July combined, compared to 15 those months last year, Minicuci said Friday.

“We have seen an uptick in cases in the metro Detroit area,” Minicuci said. “We’re looking into it. Nothing has stuck out as far as being a cause.”

In Macomb County, there have been 18 cases reported this year, which is more than last year when 15 were reported, but about on pace with 2010 and 2011 when 33 and 28 cases were reported.

“It usually spikes in the summer,” Lokar said, when air conditioners are in use. “Eighty percent of the time they’re categorized as sporadic.”

Bagnowski’s Legionnaires took four days for the doctor to diagnose, Hussein and Linda Bagnowski said. Jessica began experiencing symptoms the night of July 14. She stayed home from work the next day and that night went to the hospital emergency room but was told she had the flu and returned home. Her vomiting, fever, chills, dizziness, migraines and extreme exhaustion got worse so she returned to the hospital in the middle of the following night, when she was admitted. Her doctor tested several other conditions or diseases before arriving at Legionnaires, Hussein said.

She was given multiple antibiotics, induced into a coma and had a feeding tube installed, Hussein said.

Hussein said he has hired an attorney because Bagnowski is uninsured, and her hospital bill likely will be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. They already received the first bill, $2,100, for the first emergency room visit.

“I think it’ll be a half-million dollars,” he said.

Hussein and his wife-to-be work at a recently created business of his family, a sandblasting company in Fraser, he said.

The couple met at the Cloverleaf Bar and Restaurant in Eastpointe where Bagnowski worked as a waitress and Hussein ate pizza and drank sodas.

The wedding, meanwhile, will take place without a hitch. The outdoor ceremony will take place at Hussein’s brother’s home in Schwartz Creek, and the reception will be held at Monte Carlo Catering and Banquet Hall in Shelby Township.

“We didn’t really have a hiccup with anybody,” Hussein said.

Monte Carlo operators allowed the couple to change the reception at no extra costs.

In addition to the new date, the only other change was a different pastor will lead them through the marriage vows. Jessica requested the Rev. George Oberle of St. Mark Lutheran Church in Roseville after he visited her five times during her ordeal.

The decision to postpone the wedding and the task of informing his fiancee, however, were the hardest parts for Hussein, he said.

“It took me four days to make the decision,” he said. “I was more worried about what she was going to do to me more than anything else. I figured she’d be pissed off but she’d understand.”

He and his future mother-in-law agreed that they would rather that Jessica be able to enjoy the day.

“I wanted her to enjoy her wedding, not walk 3 feet and need an oxygen tank,” he said. “Realistically, it’s her day. We’ll make do with changes we made and it’ll still be a good day.”

“She’ll be able to dance and laugh and talk to people and enjoy her day,” Mom added.

Bagnowski begrudgingly agreed with the decision, although she wished that she was getting married in two weeks from Saturday instead of two months from then.

“It’s bittersweet,” Jessica said from her hospital bed. “I’m glad I’ll be able to make it through the day. I won’t have to sit down and take breaks. But I thought it would be two weeks (from now).”

She broke into a smile that her mother and fiance savored.


Information from: The Macomb Daily, http://www.macombdaily.com

This is an AP Member Exchange shared by The Macomb Daily (Mount Clemens).

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