Finding Inspirations in the Trials of Life
In 1989, Jan was stricken with pneumococcal pneumonia, the same disease that killed Jim Henson, the creator of The Muppets, in 1990. First she started experiencing flu-like symptoms, but knew it was more serious when her fingers began to ache and the pain began to move through her body. She was taken via helicopter to Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis where she was put on full life support. Her family was told that she would not survive. She was in a deep coma for one week and, since her spleen had been removed earlier, her resistance to infection was lowered. Due to lack of blood circulation, her limbs developed gangrene and needed to be amputated. Throughout the ordeal, Jan never considered giving up. The first eight month of 1990 were spent at Sister Kenny Institute where she learned how to use her prosthetic arms and legs. When she returned to Willmar, she continued her rehabilitation at Rice Hospital as an outpatient. Jan was a music teacher at the Willmar Community Christian School before her life-changing illness. She continued teaching music for two years, but since she was unable to play the piano, trumpet and guitar with prosthetics, she decided to return to college and earn a degree in speech communications. She also became an ordained minister for interdenominational churches.