A seasonal flu outbreak – a strain of influenza that has spread 99 percent of all flu cases this year – has caused thousands of people across the country.
In Portland, this left two young girls without a mother when he killed a 37-year-old woman and the unborn child.
Stephanie Schroeder received the swine flu in October, as she often did at the beginning of each flu season, said her husband, Lee Shradar. He and their daughters, aged 7 and 5, arrived immediately afterwards.
While Stephanie was older to a pregnant woman, she had two uncomplicated pregnancies with her daughters and took care of herself. Her third child, a girl, was supposed to fall in the fall.
So I did not think of it when Stephanie started to feel sick on Monday. Their daughter Vera, too, was sick.
Stephanie went to work at her architectural firm on Monday. The next day, she stayed at home because she felt worse. Lee came home for lunch to check her, and eventually ran to the Age Aid to get a new thermometer to make sure they could accurately measure the temperature Stephanie had started to run.
She was only measuring 101.5 degrees, so she took Tylenol, drank some gatorade, and put down the rest of the day.
Stephanie also called the women's clinic in Providence, where she took care of her regularly. Vendors there took a flu medication she took on Wednesday afternoon.
It made her a bit sick, but Lee said Stephanie was following extreme rule for such things, and so following the label on the drug.
By noon, Lee was optimistic that Stephanie was getting better. She went down to the sofa to see old episodes of "The Office" on Netflix. He gave her soup and went back to work and took the girls to a school event, just to come home at 8:00 to find her energy level dropped and her face and eyes began to swell.
They consulted the women's clinic and Lee's mother, a former emergency room nurse, and decided to go to the emergency room.
Stephanie never came home.
Even healthy people are at risk
Stephanie looked in the emergency room within an hour. X-rays showed her chest was fine. It was attached to IV to get fluids and medication.
Lee went home to sleep around 2 am and was not too surprised to find the next morning that Stephanie had been admitted to the hospital for the night.
"She's sick and she's pregnant and it will take some time to jump back," Lee thought then.
Pregnancy weakens the immune system so that the mother's body does not fight the baby growing inside it. So, despite being vaccinated with flu this year, she faced an increased risk.
Last year, the flu flow did not receive much protection against influenza A, which has contributed to its spread and severity since mid-February.
Starting in recent weeks, almost every country and region in the US has reported widespread flu, so far Oregon has reached the seasonal levels of 2016-2017 and has risen to a year earlier than last year.
Nearly 99 percent of people in Oregon who received the flu this year were flu a. A Friday report from the Oregon Health Authority said one child died of flu in the first week of March. The report of Stephanie's week and her baby's death has yet to come out, and Oregon health officials have refused to say how many children died this week.
Nearly 140 people were hospitalized that week and 150 people were hospitalized last week.
While most people who are hospitalized for the flu tend to be over 65, it is also important for healthy people like Stephanie to seek early treatment if they have a weak immune system.
Pregnant women should seek medical attention as early as possible if they have flu symptoms, as a small fever can lead to birth defects in the baby, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The daughter was born on the anniversary
Lee summoned the work the next day and spent most of the day with Stephanie, taking breaks to take the girls to school and pick them up. She was in constant pain on Friday and wanted Lee to put damp towels on her head, on her legs and on her chest, feed her ice chips and adjust the bed.
He had to eat it for a lunch of soft food, and she wanted him to do the same for dinner.
But until he arranged the care of the children, bought groceries and returned to the hospital, her condition worsened.
She was swollen and needed help to get to the bathroom.
That night, she admitted to the intensive care unit, where nurses struggled to get blood pressure reading because her heart was so weak.
"It was when the bottom began to fall," he told me.
Until then, her parents had flown from their vacation in Arizona to Portland.
Stephanie showed up for a while, but at 10 am, doctors came out of her room to tell Lee and their parents that they had lost the baby's heartbeat.
Lee and Stephanie waited until the last few weeks to tell their daughters, Vera and Isley, that they would have a new sister to come soon. They were careful because they knew complications might arise.
They were a bit unsure about the new baby. Stephanie wanted a bad third child, but I was worried about time and loss of sleep and being the parents of the baby for the first time in five years.
But they were cheerful, if not a little dizzy.
Lee was devastated by the first death. But he found that at least the loss allowed everyone to focus on the laser at Stephanie and what she needed.
"We were really hopeful," he told me.
But it did not last long. The doctors walked down the hall to get water and juice for Lee and Stephanie's parents when an alarm code was announced for Room 36 – Stephanie's room.
They watched the staff and heard the machines honking. The hospital chaplain arrived.
They sat in shock and watched the doors open and close, opening and closing.
Then a doctor came out of Stephanie's room and told Lee that they had lost his wife's heartbeat for two minutes. They performed CPR and managed to get it back.
"We just got into the flu, you see," he told me. "She was strong, she was healthy, she did everything she was supposed to do, we just got into the flu."
Pneumonia had overtaken Stephanie's lungs in the past four hours. During the day or two days later, she was intubated, placed on dialysis and received dozens of drugs to try to maintain her blood pressure and reduce her pain.
Li's mother and brother were in town on Saturday morning.
They all exchanged Stephanie's hand and whispered how much they loved her.
"We were a team and we were always a team," Lee told her. "I had to fight, and she did it, she fought."
On Sunday, her body delivered the baby naturally – a good sign, the doctors said. Lee chose the name Alice May because Stephanie offered Alice and both of them liked it. May was chosen by their daughters.
It was March 10 and 18 years to the first day of Lee and Stephanie I as the first 19-year-old at the University of Kansas.
But Stephanie was not able to get through the placenta, which meant that the program was in place for a first operation in the morning.
Lee spent most of the night without sleep in the room above Stephanie. Restless and apprehensive, he crept down to hang out with her and the nurse at night while everyone slept.
His mother came to pick him up in the morning, and when they left the room to meet Stephanie's parents downstairs, the nurse hurried to say that another alarm had disappeared into Stephanie's room.
The doctors tried several times to keep her heart beating, and finally the family agreed to a last effort.
At 8:25 Monday, a doctor told them that Stephanie had died.
"She would like to be a defense attorney,
A week later, Lee was still unthinkable that this vital woman he had spent his whole adult life was gone because of the flu.
Stephanie was young, healthy and positive, he told me. She was committed to a successful architectural career and felt she was thriving in her current workplace. After running a dog for years, they just adopted a puppy last year.
I know how it is to lose a parent. His father died when he was 8, almost the same age as Vera. And now I had to give her and her sister the terrible news.
He said he was surrounded with friends and family, support and love. A family friend began to raise money for the future education of Vera and Isley. Lee said he did not want them to miss the college or more than losing their mother.
"I want to be able to provide what my parents have provided us with our girls," he told me.
And he hopes that at least Stephanie's death can help raise awareness.
"I think she would like to be devout to people who get help when they need her and do not wait too long."