Marlene Lerner

I am a healthy mother of two and I am a second grade teacher. Strangely enough my story begins with the fact that I was I was wearing a new under wire bra that was rubbing against my skin and causing an irritation. When I looked at the irritation on Monday it was about the size of my thumbnail. I put some antibiotic ointment on it and went to bed. When I woke up the next morning, I noticed that the irritation had grow slightly and that it hurt to touch it. I thought that I might have an infection, but since I was already running late for work and I had no other symptoms (Yet!) I went to work. At about 9 am on Tuesday, I suddenly started to feel faint and I had chills, fever, and my lower back and legs hurt as though I had the flu. I felt as I had felt ten years ago when I had a breast infection from nursing my son. I remembered the flu like symptoms and decided that I needed to go home and call my doctor. I quickly arranged for a substitute teacher and told my second graders that I was not feeling well and that I needed to go home. They kids sensed that I was shaking and that I was pale and covered me with their sweatshirts as we waited for the substitute to arrive. When I got home I called my doctor and was advised to come in. I had an excruciating headache and I had noticed that the infection had grown to about the size of my fist. When the Physician's Assistant at my doctor's office saw the infection she gave my a shot of a very strong antibiotic, advised me to return the next day for another shot and sent me home with a prescription for another antibiotic. I thought that I was on the road to recovery. I went home and tried to relax, sleep, and get rid of my headache by putting a cold washcloth on my head. The headache felt like a migraine which I hadn't had since college. Unable to sleep I phoned my husband and my Mom and told them both that I was worried that my headache was persistent. My husband wanted to take me to the emergency room but I insisted that he take my son to an awards dinner that he was expected to attend. My husband and son attended the dinner while I stayed at home with our daughter. My daughter noticed that I was having difficulty making sense and that I was slurring my speech. When my husband arrived home he called the on-call physician who advised him to take me to the emergency room. He took me to Swedish Medical Center, a hospital in Denver. Upon arriving at Swedish I was examined and then admitted to their ICU unit. The attending physician assessed that I probably had NF and told me that he was going to call in some specialists to assist in the diagnosis. He told me that this bacterial infection was dangerous and that I would more than likely need surgery to remove the infected tissue. At this point I was frightened, yet optimistic. After reviewing my case the doctors made the decision to have me moved to a larger hospital that specializes in NF, Presbyterian Saint Luke's in Denver. Due to the serious nature of my condition and due to the fact that my blood pressure had dropped to 70/40. I had to be air lifted by helicopter to Presbyterian Saint Luke's. This was the best possible move for me and I thank the doctors at Swedish for having the foresight to send me to the hospital that would save my life. At PSL I was greeted by a team of very caring and very knowledgeable doctors who recommended Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy. This therapy would allow me to be flooded with 100% oxygen as I sat in an oxygen chamber. This treatment along with intravenous antibiotics caused the infection to stop spreading. The abrasion now the size of about three hands was very red, tender, and painful to touch. For four days I sat in the oxygen chamber for two hours as my family and friends waited anxiously for news that this treatment would do the trick. Fortunately the treatment worked and the infection began to clear up and the idea of surgery, which was always a possibility had the treatment had not been successful, began to fade. The many doctors, infectious disease specialists, internal medicine, and Hyperberic specialists concurred that surgery was not necessary and that if I continued to receive antibiotics I would make a full recovery without surgery. I was released on the following Tuesday. I hope that my story will give people the knowledge to go to their doctor at the first sign of a problem.