Samantha Lewis

I say Samantha's mother, because Samantha was 5 years old at the time, and she was in a drug induced coma most of the time and she is now 19 years old, and most of what happened was so traumatizing, that she does not remember anything. I can remember the day she first showed signs of the illness, it was on Dec 7th 1994, and Samantha said her ankle was sore and she kept on playing. Samantha had experience mild leg cramps before, and her Doctor said it was growing pains, so I dismissed this as growing pains, but on thursday, december 8th, Samantha had little red blotches that looked like ring worm on her arm and leg and she was scratching them, I took her to the Doctor and was told she had "Chicken Pox". The next day samantha was complaining of pain in her left ankle and she would not walk on it, I had to help her to the bathroom, I took her temp and it was 102.5, So I called the consulting nurse who said if the fever goes up to take her to the emergency room. About an hour later her temp was 103.3 and I had already given her tylenol, So I took her to Children's Emergency room, and after waiting to be seen, the doctor examined her and found a little swelling and they brought her fever down and sent her home with a diagnosis of "Re Active Arthritis" which they said was common with Chicken Pox. On Saturday December 10th, the next day, Samantha would not bear any weight on her ankle, she was barely eating or drinking anything, I tried juice and soup, crackers, but she would not eat anything, she was sleeping in between the pain, and I was so concerned, I called the clinic again and the told me it happens with the chicken pox, but Samantha did not act like a child who had chicken pox alone, there was something terribly wrong with my baby and I did not know what to do. I kept giving her the Motrin ib for fever and pain, but she was getting worse, she would not bare weight on her left leg and she was barely going to the bathroom, or sleeping, she was lethargic, and getting worse, I spent the whole weekend not sleeping and trying to make her feel better. On Monday I took her to her Doctor, and they had to use an office chair to take her to the exam room, they started an IV right away because she was so dehydrated, and they took blood and than her Doctor told me to take Samantha to Children's Hospital where they could take an X-ray. By the time I got home about 3 pm, Samantha was in so much pain if you touched her leg and she was like a zombie, she was barely speaking. Her Doctor called me at 8 pm that night and told me to take her to Children's Emergency Room that the blood test revealed an infection in her leg that was so aggressive it was eating the blood cells. I went directly to Children's Hospital and they took Samantha in to a room where they decided to exam her over and over again, and they gave her morphine for pain and did a fluid to fluid test, by 12 midnight, Samantha had an MRI and a Fluid test, but between the test her leg had swollen up to three times its normal size and was bluish red in color, but the Doctors insisted on asking 10 million more questions and take more test, I had already been up for 48 hours straight and I was really getting iritated, my baby was in pain and they could not figure out what was going on with her, and she was slowly slipping away. at 4 am after numerous Doctors examined her and it was determined that they did not know what was going on, they admitted her to the Hospital but still wanted to run more test. I am telling you that I was either very tired or just in shock, because my patient was long until about 10 am on tuesday morning the 13th of December, I had been up for almost 64 hours with no sleep, I was so worried about my baby and wanted the whole nightmare to be over. It was about 11 am on Tuesday, December 13th 1994, after all that we already went thru, that this nightmare really began, The Specialist on Samantha's case sent the nurse down to get Samantha to have another test, and by now I was ready to pack up my child and go home, I told the nurse she did not need another fluid test, her leg had plenty of fluid in it. By now her leg was 4 times its natural size and purple. The nurse asked Samantha to get on the gurney, but I looked at the nurse and said she cannot move her leg it is very painful, I proceeded to lift Samantha carefully and place her on the gurney and as I laid her down, her leg dropped and her hands went out and she was having a heart attack, I heard code blue, code blue, and my heart sank, I went to grab for samantha and my friend, who came from no where grabbed me and pulled me away, and I remember feeling the most empty and awful feeling way down in my belly, and I knew at that moment that these Doctors let my baby die, and I was screaming that they let her die, and before I knew it, there were at least 20 people in the room and they were trying to revive Samantha, she had died on that table and they were doing cpr and giving her electric shocks, and after what seemed like a lifetime and after they took me out of the room, I heard Samantha scream Mommy, and I wanted so bad to get her and take her home, but I knew she needed help, and I was faced with the Chief of Staff who was a transplant surgeon urging me to sign consent forms for emergency surgery, but I asked him "How can I put my trust in you and you guys almost let my baby die". He looked at me in urgency and promised he would not let my baby die, and looking back, I know that was hard for him, but I have to say now that I loved Dr Sawin, He was so kind and so patient during our ordeal and never to busy to answer my needs or questions. After a 4 hour surgery, I went to the waiting room and was met by 6 Doctors, and Dr Sawin did the talking, He said "Samantha is the sickest child in this hospital" and the next 24 hours will be crucial, they said she had "Necrotizing Fasciitis" but she had a rare form that only strikes adults, and they did not know if she would make it thru the night, they removed almost a 1/4 of her calf muscle which was dead and her major artery, her blood was she had toxic shock syndrome from her blood being poisoned so they gave her a blood transfusion, and her kidneys shut down, she was in a drug induced coma and they were giving her 5 types of anti biotics and 3 pain medications, she had 2 iv poles and a central line for constant monitor of her heart. The next day when Samantha was still hanging on they said she needed a Hyperbaric chamber to put oxygen back in her body because her lungs collapsed and she developed "A.R.D.s and was having trouble breathing on her own, so they put her on a breathing machine, by the way ARDS is Adult Respiratory Deficiency Syndrome, so they transported Samantha to a nearby hospital with the chamber and on the way back she went into septic shock, and again they gave her 24 hours to live, if she survive, they had to take her back to surgery to remove more of the bacteria that was eating her flesh, but a new problem came up, her fever spiked up to 104.6 and they put a cooling blanket on her, but it climbed to 105.8 and they did not know what to do, the checked her appendix and thought that was a problem, so they removed it. I guess I should say that I am on December 15th now, which is the 3rd day and Samantha's 6th Birthday, but after coming out of surgery for more debridement and appendix removal, her fever was still 104.5, so they increased her anti biotics to 6 types and on December 16th they found the start of all this problem and the cause of the high fever, the flesh eating bacteria started in the ankle bone and that was the main bacteria infection, so they removed part of the bone and more muscle, by the time christmas came, samantha was still on the breathing machine and induced by 2 drugs, and being giving 3 pain killers. Samantha would take 1 step forward and 3 steps back, everyday was a struggle for her to live, she had a total of 10 surgeries and was on the machine in icu for 15 days, on December 28th, they decided to take her off the machine because they feared pneumonia, and the slowly took her off the drugs, but kept her on the anti biotics, she was being slowly weaned off the drugs and started coming around slowly, they finally moved her out of ICU on Jan 4th 1995 and moved her to the Infectious Critical Ward, She spent two weeks there just recovering, at one point the Doctor in charge stopped her drug and he body went into convulsions, but I called Dr Sawin and restarted her on the drug, for slow removal. Samantha had trouble standing at first without pain, but after 3 months on the rehabilitation Ward and several therapy appointments a day, she was able to go home, I stayed with her for the whole 3 months in the hospital, and on Feb 28th 1995, she was released to go home, but she had 3 therapy appointments a week for 1 year and than only 1 appointment a month for the next year, so by December 1997, Samantha was done with therapy, but the struggles ahead were minimal but hard for her. I know this story seems long, but I felt in order to know the extent of the trauma that my daughter and I experienced, you would have to know her whole story from beginning to end, actually I left out 1 important factor, the fact that the Doctors thought the only way to stop the bacteria from eating her leg alive was to amputate, I would not allow them to do that, and Samantha stands on two legs today. Truly I hope this story encourages someone, it was an uphill journey, but we did SURVIVE!!!