Blood drive planned for woman with unusual illness
by Shaunna Watson
Oct 11, 2012 | 2971 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Most of us, at one time or another, have been diagnosed with the flu.

We take our medicine, rest, and return to work picking back up right were we left off, not thinking anything else about the illness we left behind but for one Cleveland resident, treating flu-like symptoms was just the beginning of a trying battle and an extended stay in the hospital.

"One morning, after arriving at work, I started feeling sick. I went to the doctor with flu-like symptoms," said Natalie Oglesby Weeks of Cleveland.

After being diagnosed with an upper respiratory infection, she was sent home with antibiotics and orders to rest.

The symptoms subsided for a few days, and she felt better, "until all of a sudden they returned with a vengeance," Natalie said.

She went back to the doctor, this time, requesting lab work.

"The flu test was negative, and my labs showed a slightly elevated blood count, but nothing to be concerned about. Once again, I was sent home with medicine," she said.

Two days later, she noticed drainage from a pen size hole on her upper leg.

The pain became more noticeable and seemed to have traveled to her side.

"It was to the point that I did not have any energy to walk. There was so much pain in my lower abdominal area even when I sat. I eventually went home, " said Natalie. "My sister called and later came by to check on me. That is when she noticed a black bruise on my side and insisted I get to the emergency room as quickly as possible."

Natalie's husband, Chris, rushed her to North Sunflower Medical Center.

By the time she was examined, the NSMC staff could see the infection in Natalie's upper leg was spreading down her leg.

Cultures were taken but it would be another 24-48 hours before results would be returned.

Natalie's temperature spiked and she continued to get weaker.

She was admitted to the hospital, and scheduled to see a surgeon the next morning.

"The next morning the surgeon came in, looked at my leg, and told me it needed to be cut on, but he was leaving to go out of town," said Natalie, "so they transferred me to Bolivar Medical Center."

When she arrived at BMC, she was seen by Dr. Blake, who gave orders for her to be rushed to the operating room.

Natalie was diagnosed with necrotizing fasciitis, also known as the flesh-eating bacteria syndrome, a rare, quickly progressing infection of the deeper layers of the skin and subcutaneous tissues that can attack people with a weaker immune system.

Natalie underwent three surgeries at Bolivar Medical Center to remove the infected and dying tissues, each followed by a blood transfusion.

She was then placed in ICU.

"My husband said they removed a pretty good bit of tissue," Natalie said.

After her third surgery, Natalie's family decided to have her transferred to Crossgates River Oaks Hospital in Brandon.

"Dr. Blake did a wonderful job here in Cleveland but I come from a very strong, very family-oriented family. They figured I'd have a better chance in a bigger hospital that had seen this before and were familiar with what we were dealing with," she said.

While in Brandon, Natalie endured five more surgeries and five more blood transfusions, the last being at the beginning of September.

She was also given rounds of antibiotics to combat any remaining infection.

After being bedridden in the hospital for a month and a half, she is now at home with her sister and slowly regaining strength in her legs.

She progressed to a walker, and is now walking without one as much as possible.

She is also completing her last set of antibiotics.

"My family and coworkers have been really good to me. My nieces are such a wonderful help in getting me everything I need and everyone at work is ready for me to come back," said Natalie. "They just want me to take my time and get well."

Natalie said she is unsure when she will be returning to work.

Her husband was told it could be seven to 12 months before she has recovered completely.

"I am on the road to recovery, but I still have a ways to go. Normal doctor visits will probably keep me in check at this time. They tell me they got it all, so I am not looking for a relapse," she said.

The Mississippi Blood Services Coach will be parked at the Cleveland Wal-Mart from noon to 7 p.m. on Friday for a special blood drive for Natalie Oglesby Weeks.

"I am glad the Mississippi Blood Service was able to provide me the blood I needed. I have a rare blood type and if it was not for them being able to provide the special blood that I needed, the situation could have been much worse," Natalie added.

"I really want people to understand this can happen to anybody. Please donate as much blood as you possibly can. If it weren't for the doctors, the donors, and the Mississippi Blood Service, I would not be here."