Lois Herbst

My best Christmas gift ever was my mom surviving this terrible infection! Here is a summary of one non-forgettable weekend in my family's life: I've been in a whirlwind since 5pm cst Wednesday 12/14/05 when I got a call from one of mom's girlfriends that mom had been hospitalized in Riverton, Wyoming that afternoon with a blood infection she got from a scratch on her hand Tuesday afternoon. Mom said the scratch bled only a pin head of blood at the most! I finally spoke to our family doctor, Dr. Stockton at 11pm cst Wednesday night and he told me it was sepsis and if I could get home I should. So I got up next morning switched my xmas flight to get out at 12/15/05 at 10:30am. While flying up, another friend that now lives in my deceased brother's old house on the ranch, called while I was on layover in Denver and said they had put mom in ICU due to low blood pressure that meds were not helping raise; that it is a strep infection. Dr. Ford, the orthopedic surgeon, said she plain has a nasty bug and her body is fighting it-they will cut into her hand to try and drain off the huge amount of swelling that has shown up there. This may have come from her work going through old stuff in her garage. No telling where she's picked it up. I landed in Riverton around 4pm and get to the hospital and doctors and nurses were all around mom and she looked so weak and ill and had her right arm in a sling hanging from the air and all kinds of tubes in her etc. This girlfriend really scared me with all she told me when she took me to the waiting room---they had to cut a huge patch of skin out of mom's arm as it had been eaten by the strep bacteria and Dr. Ford had told her how fatal this could be etc. I was panicked! Then Dr. Ford finally came in and talked to me in a more detail. He told me my mom had a very rare and could have been fatal infection had she not come to town Wednesday for the monthly tea/coffee with other women as that is where she came down with severe flu like symptoms and her neighbor took her to Dr. Stockton who immediately sent her to the hospital for check in and blood tests. Mom could have easily gone home and curled up in her bed thinking she just had the flu and would have been dead Thursday morning when her blood pressure dived. Dr. Ford told me she has Necrotizing Fasciitis - a group A strep. Dr. Ford assured me he thought they caught it with round one of surgery Thursday afternoon-took a top layer of skin and fat off-good thing it was not in her muscle- And they have not had cases of this before in Riverton hospital!! I felt like I was in a sci fi movie or Art Bell radio show!!!! She's talked coherent to me ever since I got in but was in a lot of pain Thursday night and Friday morning before 2nd surgery. My family on her side hurried and emailed me google info on this to my blackberry Thursday night and mom had a text book case and the doctors responded in text book fashion! Fast and on it thank god! She was on ancef and clindamycin antibiotics early on. And I've had people tell me of 6 incidents they know of just since Friday! He took her back to surgery Friday to take out more dead flesh "Debride" as we've come to know-if necessary. My grade school-college -adulthood friend Peggy Jarvis's parents were in ICU waiting with me Friday when the Dr. Ford came out of surgery and told me how little more dead flesh they found and how pleased he was with what he saw-so much that he didn't have to go in Saturday for more surgery. I just hugged the doctor and fell in Peggy's mom's arms sobbing!!! Mom also sobbed when the doctor told her too-she even looked better after surgery. She got a blood transfusion due to a little anemia Friday night. Mom came out of surgery at 11:30am Sunday. No more signs of flesh eaten but the cut area wasn't healing like Dr. Ford had hoped so he grafted left thigh skin on that and will look at it in 10 days (12/28). She was zapped of strength but following doctors orders to EAT for strength to fight infection. News to her will be its going to take at least 2 months to get on her feet-get strength-i.e. No Denver Stock Show, no National Cattlemen's Convention in February. By Monday am she was out of ICU and in a private room and a lil cranky all day! She was real nauseated and only felt best when she was sleeping so I worked overtime to keep company out of her room and let her sleep! Tuesday was much better than Monday!! Tuesday she was resting comfy and not as grumpy as Monday. Ate some lunch and dinner and got up for a walk after lunch which is all a vast improvement over Monday - when she was resting if I could get the staff to appreciate why her door was closed!!!!! They all come barring in like it's a pool hall!!! They gave her lasix for fluid build up in lungs and that has disappeared. As I left that night I hope she's strong enough to go home by xmas. I hope!!!!!! Wednesday-we are told in the am we get to go home once Dr. Miller (her 3rd overseeing doctor) signs orders-which didn't happen until 6:45pm but we got home now and I tucked her in bed. One of mom's girlfriends was in this afternoon and asked when the women friends could start bringing in meals- to which I said "Now would not be too soon!" (I don't cook!). At 5pm Dr. Miller still hadn't signed us out -- so she had to eat one more hospital meal -when the nurse came to pick up the tray- I said "Now can we go?" Thursday 12/22 -Tuesday 12/27 even when I left she has just rested, eating more (including steak!) Still has to take it easy on the couch due to blood pressure problem that came on with/ this and still taking antibiotics via home health nurses ending 12/28. Very grateful she is bouncing back so quickly. Wednesday am 12/28 she had the stitches taken out---the skin graph will take more time to heal but the Dr. was pleased with what he saw and doesn't want to see her again till Jan 2 in the am. I am so amazed it affects humans so fast and awful. Our family has dealt with dirt and grime and all kinds of nasty nasty ranch situations---delivering baby calves, swamped feed lots when the snow melt or the rains came etc ---we've never seen an animal deal with something so rapidly debilitating! www.nnff.org is a great site and I've encouraged all my friends and business associates and family to go out and read about this terrible killer - we all need to know how fast it can affect any of us!!!! It's not just because she is on a ranch. I've told them to watch cuts and scratches and subsequent infections-there is nothing you can do when you get a scrape-we asked! Just watch for fast moving odd symptoms as detailed on www.nnff.org. Mom had awoken early Wed am at 1 am with the hand and arm hurting quite a bit but really thought nothing of this. This stuff rides a fast horse!!!! And coincidentally-all 3 of her doctors are cowboys that have come and helped us work cattle in the past including when my dad and brother were alive. COWBOYS SAVE THE COWGIRL! Happy New Year to everyone who spends time on this site! I got my best XMAS present-my mom alive!