Pandasmom's Blog

living with PANDAS, not the furry ones…

I don’t understand strep May 16, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — pandasmom @ 3:04 pm

Until last year, I thought strep was really just a step above a cold in the realm of sicknesses.  Today, I think it is a seemingly benign sickness that is anything but!!!  The word strep strikes fear into me as much as diseases that the general population are terrified of. 

Has anyone heard about this story below?  It is from AOL News.

(May 14) — After his wife was seized by a rapidly advancing infection shortly after giving birth, a Texas man agreed to have her limbs amputated in a last-ditch effort to save her life.

On Feb. 10, 41-year-old Katy Hayes delivered a baby girl, Arielle, at the Kingwood, Texas, home where she lives with husband Al and their two other children.

"She was in a lot of pain after the birth," family friend Michele Dykstra told KIAH News. "It was a home birth, no drugs, eight hours of labor, almost a 10-pound baby. So a little pain is to be expected, but the pain kept getting worse and worse."

By Feb. 14, Valentine’s Day, it had gotten so bad that Al took his wife to Kingwood Medical Center. There, doctors confirmed a diagnosis of invasive group A streptococcal disease, a rare variant of the bacterial infection known as strep throat. But while the latter can be successfully treated with antibiotics, the type of infection Katy suffered from is far more dangerous and, if left to develop, much harder to treat.

Within hours of arriving at the hospital, Katy suffered massive organ failure; on Feb. 15, she lapsed into a coma.

"Her doctors told me that she had less than a 5 percent chance of surviving," Al told ABC News, "and that ‘nobody comes out of this,’ because once the snowball effect happens of organs shutting down, there is nothing medical science can do to reverse it."

The only hope of saving his wife’s life required a terrible decision: to authorize doctors to remove her uterus, where the infection had begun, as well as all four limbs.
There was no guarantee the drastic measure would work, but it was the only choice Al felt he really had. So, he pushed ahead.

"I decided that I loved her so much that the risk was worth it," he told WFAA News. "That if we came out and I had to spend a lifetime taking care of her that the risk was worth it, to not say that I gave up on her."

In the end, doctors were also forced to remove Katy’s ovaries, as well as portions of her colon and stomach.
On Feb. 24 she was airlifted to Parkland Hospital in Dallas, where a special burn unit could help tend to her skin, which had also been ravaged by the infection.

Spending virtually every moment at the hospital as his wife underwent a seemingly never-ending series of follow-up operations, Al started a blog called Katy Is Strong to keep friends and family updated.

"I hope that everyone will understand why I did this," Hayes wrote on the blog on Feb. 27. "I hope Katy will forgive me. I hope that I can forgive myself."

Katy’s condition experienced ups and downs, all of which Hayes chronicled on his blog. Eventually, on March 12 she regained consciousness. The last thing she could remember was giving birth.
"My baby doesn’t know me yet," she told her husband.

"That’s why we’re fighting," Al responded, according to the Houston Chronicle.

As Al tends to his wife’s daily needs in Dallas, Dykstra is caring for Arielle while Betta Phelps, Al’s sister, helps with the couple’s other children, Amber, 16, and Jake, 6, at the Hayes home.

With luck, Katy will continue on her path to recovery, and her doctors say she should eventually be able to be fitted with prosthetic limbs.
Before the illness and its myriad surgeries, Katy was a self-employed massage therapist. Al works as a freelance music teacher, but neither has health insurance. Through his blog, Al has reached out to strangers for financial help.

Fundraising events have helped raise money to pay for the daunting medical bills, and the pop band Maroon 5, who heard about Katy’s story, donated a guitar and $2,000.

"The community has really stepped up, really come together," Phelps told KIAH News.

As to the question of whether Al Hayes made the right decision, his wife has an answer.

"I’m so grateful. I wouldn’t be here for my kids, you know, if they hadn’t taken the arms and legs," a tearful Katy told WFAA News, adding, "I’ve got three beautiful children, so I’m doing good."

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