Wednesday, May 22, 2013
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Tabitha Schulke's condition had improved in late December before a severe infection returned.
January 08, 2013
MONMOUTH -- One step forward, one step back -- that's been the unfortunate routine in recent weeks for Tabitha Schulke, the Monmouth woman battling a life-threatening infection.
The health of 18-year-old Schulke, who's been hospitalized at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center in Portland for a month and a half, seemed to be improving just before Christmas.
Swelling caused by septic shock that had made her nearly unrecognizable had gone down considerably. She could speak in short whispers.
A recent photograph shows her sitting up in her hospital bed, managing a smile.
And in late December, the setback.
According to recent posts from Schulke's family on Caringbridge.org, her infection has returned, she's experiencing a severe blood clotting problem and has been moved back to intensive care.
Her condition "is not to the (poor) extent it was when she first arrived at the hospital," said Christina Bunnell, a friend who's been in regular contact with the family. "The doctors found an infection source -- but not `the source' -- in her right leg and the swelling is coming back."
Schulke was hospitalized with flu-like symptoms a few days after Thanksgiving. That was followed by a swift-moving infection that swelled her body with fluid and caused her organs to begin to fail.
Her legs have been amputated near the knees to preserve blood flow and it's believed she's suffered some brain damage.
Bunnell said doctors have indicated that should Schulke's condition stabilize, it will still be up to a year before she can leave the hospital.
Her mother and siblings have been living in a nearby hotel to be close to her. While insurance is covering her medical treatment, the family is trying to find temporary housing in Portland to be close to Tabitha.
They've also been primarily living off donations, which are still sorely needed, Bunnell said.
In a Caringbridge update, Schulke's aunt, Katie Zimmerman, said on Jan. 2 that the teen was able to go off her ventilator.
"They are now getting some new doctors involved," Zimmerman said. "They have called in a rheumatologist and a dermatologist.
"She already has many general surgeons and doctors and infectious disease doctors, cardiologist, neurologist and so on."
You Can Help
* Tabitha Schulke's family is looking for a lead or assistance with finding a short-term home in Portland so they can be near her during her treatment in the coming months. Anybody who wishes to help is welcome to contact the family by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
* The family needs help with living and travel expenses. To assist, visit tabithaschulke.chipin.com. Funds donated at the site will go directly to a PayPal card the family is using. For more information: www.caringbridge.org/visit/tabithaschulke.
* Cards and well-wishes can be dropped off at First Baptist Church in Independence for a display that will be delivered to Tabitha Schulke.