Stacey and Wendy Lee are shown as they were about to depart from the inpatient physical therapy rehab in Grand Forks. The couple was heading home! (submitted photo) A pancake benefit to help defray medical expenses for Wendy (Stacey) Lee of Badger, Minn., will be held at the Badger Community Center on Sunday, February 17, 2019. Sponsored by the Greenbush-Badger Lions Club, serving will be from 9:30 a.m., until 1:00 p.m., and will include pancakes, ham, ice cream, strawberries, juice, milk, and coffee. Freewill offering – everyone is welcome.
It’s been five years since Wendy Lee was first diagnosed with diabetes.
“I had been on insulin for a few years and felt horrible,” she remarked. “I was having difficulties … I began getting shaky, disoriented, having headaches; had swelling of my fingers and ankles. I took myself off of it (insulin) – I probably should have went in earlier to the doctor than I did.”
This summer, in early June, Wendy was walking down the hallway in her home when she heard a ‘snap’ and felt pain on the outside of her left foot. She didn’t think much about it at the time.
“Over some time the top of my foot became swollen and it began to swell underneath the arch of the foot and it was getting harder and harder to walk on. Then one day I stepped down and the bottom of my foot was wet … something had busted.”
Seeking medical attention at the Roseau hospital, an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) revealed a broken metatarsal bone linking to the little ‘pinky’ toe. That one was infected and so were three or four bones next to it.
“They called it osteomyelitis (inflammation of bone or bone marrow).”
Wendy continued. “They told me then that I had two choices – amputate or I could have the bones removed and the foot could be reconstructed which would involve months of IV antibiotics and there would be no guarantee that I would walk again. After discussing the options with Stacey, we came to the same decision – to amputate. The reason was clear; there was a better chance of getting rid of the infection faster and with (having) the chance to walk again by getting a prosthetic.
“On August 8 I was put on antibiotic that, because of side effects, was causing problems. Within a couple of days I couldn’t urinate.
“What was going on? They switched me to another antibiotic. My kidneys were already on the decline so they tried to flush them out with saline and I had to drink a lot of water. Within four days of being in the hospital, I gained 33 pounds of fluids, my kidneys went from full function down to seven percent!”
She was terribly sick, she hurt and had the chills. Wendy remarked that she was so nauseous she couldn’t keep any food down and any food she did manage to eat tasted like Fireball whiskey.
“The doctor decided that I should be transferred to Altru hospital in Grand Forks with the thinking that I needed to go on dialysis.”
It was Sunday, August 12, 2018, when after a two-hour transport by ambulance,Wendy Lee was at her destination.
“Once I was settled in my room, eight doctors swarmed in. It was decided to put me on IV Lasix (form of a water pill), the reasoning was it is much easier on the kidneys than dialysis. They believed the kidney failure was only temporary. They limited me to drinking only one liter of fluid a day.”
The test would be to give a small dose of Lasix intermittently to see if it would take fluid off. The first night Wendy lost one pound. She was then placed on a 24-hour drip. In three and one-half days she lost 34 pounds!
“Wendy looked so much better!” Stacey said with a wide grin. “We now knew her kidneys were starting to function.”
About a week prior to her leg amputation the infection caused cellulitis (when bacteria enters a break in the skin and spreads).
By August 21, Wendy’s kidneys had recovered to 40 percent function. It was enough to go ahead with the amputation of her left leg below the knee. At 7:00 a.m., she entered the operating room; by 11:00 a.m., she was back in her room.
To see the complete story, read the February 6 issue of The Tribune in print or online.
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