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Chicago Teacher Bounces Back From West Nile Virus To Picket With Union

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(CBS) – A Chicago Public School teacher is defying the odds, after bouncing back from West Nile Virus.

A year after slipping into a coma and losing her ability to walk and talk, Catherine Wolksi has been on the picket line with her fellow teachers.

CBS 2’s Courtney Gousman has the story of her extraordinary turnaround.

Over the last year, Wolski has been working hard to reclaim her life, even taking to the picket lines, earlier this week.

She is thankful for the little things, like being able to wrap her arms around her grandkids.

Last summer, the 56-year-old started running high fevers. Within weeks, she had lost her ability to move from the neck down.

After being hospitalized, doctors would discover she had contracted West Nile Virus.

“I could hear somebody talking to me, one of my kids. I was in bed, but I didn’t have the strength to answer or open my eyes,” Wolski says.

She was hospitalized for several weeks and doesn’t remember a lot about the whole ordeal. She was in a coma for more than a week.

“They didn’t know if she would make it, to be honest with you,” daughter Joan D. Wolski says. “It wasn’t looking very good.”

Her mother endured grueling therapy sessions to regain her motor skills and speech.

“My goal was to get my life back — and I have,” Catherine Wolski says.

Wolski and five others were honored by Advocate Christ Medical Center on Friday for their remarkable recoveries.

Her family says they are now very cautious about going outside without some sort of protection from mosquitos.

Wolski, a Head Start teacher, tells me she’s looking forward to returning to her classroom at Azuela Elementary, once a teacher contract is worked out.