Family speaks as loved one battles rare meningitis - WSMV News 4

Family speaks as loved one battles rare meningitis

Posted: Updated:
NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

For many of us, the story of the fungal meningitis outbreak seems bizarre. It's a mystery disease for which even health experts couldn't pinpoint the cause, let alone a cure.

But for the family of Janet Russell, a personal connection only makes it worse.

As Russell rests in intensive care at St. Thomas Hospital, her family watches and wonders how a matter of weeks could change so much.

"Upset. Frustrated. Angry. Just pick your adjective," husband Robert Russell said.

Janet Russell received an epidural injection at an outpatient St. Thomas clinic on Aug. 30. A week later, a headache started. Now, a month later, doctors in intensive care watch her around the clock as her family tries to do the same.

"We're hanging in there, and we make sure someone's there," Robert Russell said. "We try to encourage her to get better and try to encourage her to eat, but right now it's not easy to do."

The Centers for Disease Control confirmed on Thursday there are now 35 cases nationally, and additional cases are still expected. All affected patients received steroid injections used mostly for back pain that have been traced back to a specialty pharmacy in Massachusetts, which has ceased operations.

"I would encourage anyone who has been treated with this medication to not take anything lightly," said daughter Teresa Russell.

The CDC echoed the same advice Thursday. It also announced progress with a potential cure but cautioned the affected patients could face months of treatment.

"This doesn't happen in America. I mean, it doesn't. But this is something that is real," said daughter Tracy Barreiro.

It seems at least one local family in the midst of struggle may not find relief for quite some time.

"We want our mother to get better, and it's very difficult to watch my mother lay there and suffer. The amount of pain that she has had to endure is unexplainably difficult. To watch my mother shake and grab her head in pain should not happen," Teresa Russell said.

Officials also said Thursday a fifth person, the third in Tennessee, has died from the rare form of meningitis.

People close to the most recent victim, Diana Reed, 56, of Brentwood, said she had been hospitalized with the illness and died Wednesday.

Reed was a key part of the Wayne Reed Christian Child Care Center, which she founded with her husband. The nonprofit targeted at-risk children, and on its website someone wrote of her:

"She prayed continuously for those children, their families, the staff and the greater community served by the center. She also was an avid reader who believed in promoting literacy among very young children. Her friends will miss her broad smile, hearty laugh and vibrant personality. Her death has saddened us all."

The state has not broken down the 25 Tennessee cases by the three clinics who received the tainted injection, but as of Thursday, St. Thomas Outpatient Neurosurgery had the most, and Specialty Surgery Center in Crossville had at least one case.

A third clinic, PCA Pain Care Center in Oak Ridge, does not appear to have any cases.

And, once again to be very clear, this form of fungal meningitis is not contagious. Only those patients who received the injection are at risk.

Copyright WSMV 2012 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

More News

SIDEBAR: Bacterial Meningitis Outbreak

Updated:

Students affected by meningitis at Franklin schoolMt. Juliet student dies from form of bacterial meningitisMTSU fraternity holds benefit for meningitis victim More>>

  • Recent HeadlinesMore>>

  • Murfreesboro groups spread messages of love ahead of planned white supremacy rally

    Murfreesboro groups spread messages of love ahead of planned white supremacy rally

    Saturday, October 21 2017 11:01 PM EDT2017-10-22 03:01:05 GMT

    One week from today, League of the South -- a white supremacy group -- plans a White Lives Matter rally in downtown Murfreesboro. Several counter protests are in the works. Local faith based groups and community organizers say they want to promote a positive message of love and inclusion. 

    More >>

    One week from today, League of the South -- a white supremacy group -- plans a White Lives Matter rally in downtown Murfreesboro. Several counter protests are in the works. Local faith based groups and community organizers say they want to promote a positive message of love and inclusion. 

    More >>
  • Rep. Jim Cooper talks legislation to help DEA fight against opioids

    Rep. Jim Cooper talks legislation to help DEA fight against opioids

    Saturday, October 21 2017 10:50 PM EDT2017-10-22 02:50:24 GMT

    Tennessee lawmaker speaks about his crusade to give law enforcement the power it needs in its fight against drugs. Congressman Jim Cooper is trying to right the wrong of legislation. The DEA claims prevents them from freezing, and red flagging large shipments of opioids.

    More >>

    Tennessee lawmaker speaks about his crusade to give law enforcement the power it needs in its fight against drugs. Congressman Jim Cooper is trying to right the wrong of legislation. The DEA claims prevents them from freezing, and red flagging large shipments of opioids.

    More >>
  • Multiple people wounded during shooting at Edgehill Homes

    Multiple people wounded during shooting at Edgehill Homes

    Saturday, October 21 2017 9:23 PM EDT2017-10-22 01:23:05 GMT
    (WSMV)(WSMV)

    Police responded to a shooting at the Edgehill Homes apartment complex near 12 Ave South around 5:30 p.m. Saturday. Four male teens were non-critically injured after exchanging gunfire with other individuals in a car. It is unknown at this time how many people were in the car, and if any were injured.

    More >>

    Police responded to a shooting at the Edgehill Homes apartment complex near 12 Ave South around 5:30 p.m. Saturday. Four male teens were non-critically injured after exchanging gunfire with other individuals in a car. It is unknown at this time how many people were in the car, and if any were injured.

    More >>
  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Police: Son shoots, kills mom’s friend for flirting with imaginary girlfriend

    Police: Son shoots, kills mom’s friend for flirting with imaginary girlfriend

    Thursday, October 19 2017 12:49 PM EDT2017-10-19 16:49:32 GMT
    (Photo: Pasco County Sheriff's Office)(Photo: Pasco County Sheriff's Office)

    New body cam footage has been released which shows the moments after a Florida man shot and killed his mother’s friend for flirting with his imaginary girlfriend.

    More >>

    New body cam footage has been released which shows the moments after a Florida man shot and killed his mother’s friend for flirting with his imaginary girlfriend.

    More >>
  • Thong jeans are just the latest weird fashion trend

    Thong jeans are just the latest weird fashion trend

    Friday, October 20 2017 11:27 PM EDT2017-10-21 03:27:11 GMT
    A model display creation of "thibaut" by Japanese designer Meiko Ban during the 2018 Spring/Summer Collection at the Tokyo Fashion Week in Tokyo, Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)A model display creation of "thibaut" by Japanese designer Meiko Ban during the 2018 Spring/Summer Collection at the Tokyo Fashion Week in Tokyo, Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

    Thong jeans. (Theans? Jongs? Thonjeangs?) Whatever you decided to call them, they’re weird and the internet is going crazy.

    More >>

    Thong jeans. (Theans? Jongs? Thonjeangs?) Whatever you decided to call them, they’re weird and the internet is going crazy.

    More >>
  • Chicago freezer death was a 'sad' accident, police chief says

    Chicago freezer death was a 'sad' accident, police chief says

    Saturday, October 21 2017 8:12 AM EDT2017-10-21 12:12:40 GMT

    Authorities have closed the investigation into the death of a young Chicago woman whose body was found in a hotel's walk-in freezer, saying it was accidental and there was no reason to suspect foul play.

    More >>

    Authorities have closed the investigation into the death of a young Chicago woman whose body was found in a hotel's walk-in freezer, saying it was accidental and there was no reason to suspect foul play.

    More >>
Powered by Frankly
WSMV
Powered by WorldNow CNN
All content © 2017, WSMV; Nashville, TN. (A Meredith Corporation Station) . All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.