Patricia Hallenbeck

Hello my name is Cathy and I am a survivor of this horrible disease. I had the infection in my neck, face and head. I am lucky to be sitting here, as they have NEVER seen this infection in the area that I had it in, and live to tell about it. My husband was deployed over seas for 6 months and I was alone with the 2 boys, ages 5 and 15. I went to the dentist because I had a impacted and infected wisdom tooth. I had been to a dentist earlier and they looked in my mouth and said that I needed a oral surgeon because the tooth was so badly infected. I did not know of any dentist so the girls that were looking into my mouth said that there was a dentist that was new in town and that he was "networking." I sat there while the lady made me a appointment. He had a opening and I went straight there. He seemed really nice and the office staff was also nice. Little did I know. When I got to the back he looked into my mouth and said, "oh yeah, that needs to come out!" So 10 minutes later I was in the back getting shots to numb the area. He pulled my tooth and gave me a script for pain and sent me home. I did not know that a heavy antibiotic should have been given before any extractions. The next day I realized that I had developed "dry socket," which is also very painful. I had to go back to the dentist to get packings with cloves. This went on fro about 5 days. As the days went on, so did the pain. However, alot of the pain was from the top wisdom tooth, above the one that he pulled. I returned to see him again. At that time he stated that he wanted to pull that one as well, because it too was infected. He pulled that one that day, with no antibiotic and sent me home. 2 days after I started to feel really bad and I was back and forth from ER's to his office, begging them to help with the pain. Everybody sent me home with just pain pills, yet again with no antibiotic. After 5 days I could hardly stand the pain. I don't really remember Christmas day, probably at that point I had a severe staph infection. I kept going to the ER's and they kept sending me home. Later, I found out that they were talking to the dentist and he was telling them to send me home that I was a "pill head" and they listened to him. I don't remember anything beyond bits and pieces of Christmas. as my mom and best friend would later on tell me that I spent the next 3 days on the couch without even moving. Finally, I called 911 on the evening of December 31st, 2007. They picked me up and took me to the local hospital. My face was swelling and they said that at that point the pain was unbearable. I am a military wife, so the navy hospital came and picked me up. I don't remember anything until I woke up in the spring. When I woke up I had a trach, feeding tube, catheters, my throat was slit from ear to ear and ear to collar bone, I also had IV's in both arms and one going straight to my heart! I was hooked up to all these machines and didn't know what had happen. I knew it was bad when I saw my husband there. I had contracted NF and had suffered thru staph, MRSA, gangrene, and finally NF. My family told me that I was given a 2% chance of living when I went to the hospital. This was because of the area that I had this in. I was in ICU for 3 months then moved to step down and finally went home, with a home health nurse, who changed my packings in my throat everyday. I was still hooked up to 2 machines. Words cannot describe what I looked like, I cannot show pictures or tell names, there is a medical malpractice suit going on right now. I was bed ridden for almost 2 months. The swelling in my face was horrific and I did not want to see anyone. My husband took great care of me. He was at my beck and call for all that time. God bless the military, for they let him stay at home with me. I have had some major set backs in the healing process. I have stayed at the hospital numerous times since I came home. Today is Tuesday March 12th and I was just in there for the pain that is constant in my neck area and face. The swelling has gone down and my face is back to normal and you cannot see the scars, I have long hair and I wear it to the side. I lost 1 vocal cord and I only talk with one. My juggler and muscle are gone on the left side of my neck. After each debriment I would also go into the hyerbaric. The saddest part of this story is what that dentist did to me. I should of been given a antibiotic before he pulled any teeth, I know that now. What he put my family and friends thru! My 5 year old didn't see mommy for a couple months. When he did finally come to see me in ICU, he did not recognize me. When they said that I was dying and would not make it thru the morning and that they need to come say goodbye, my 15 year old fainted. That is the saddest part. Also, the dentist went back and changed the medical record and deleted alot of stuff to cover his own hide!!! That my friend sealed his fate. He didn't care what happened all he cared about was himself. I am so sorry that anybody would get this horrific disease. You know they call me a miracle girl. NF was in my core area, very vital. I am here and I really think that divine intervention stepped in. I have my life back now. It's been a long road but I am traveling on it. I do everything that I did before now. I go to the beach, waterpark, etc. I live in a resort city on the east coast and you don't want to sit around and I don't . My prayers go out to all the people that have this. Be brave, stand tall and my god look at the doctors who didn't care when you were telling them that something is wrong!!!! UPDATE from NNFF.org: We are sorry to report that Cathy has passed away March 5, 2010.