Below – Linda Rivera and the Rivera family a few months before Linda was stricken with E. coli O157:H7.

Below – Linda Rivera and her husband, Richard, in the hospital where Linda has been since May 1, 2009 struggling for her life.  To date, medical bills at over $1,500,000.  She has lost her job and is now on COBRA insurance coverage.  She has suffered through kidney and liver failure and the removal of her large intestine and pancreas – she is now being weaned off a ventilator and she fights other infections.  One tough lady – the family hopes and prays for her recovery.  Here is an update I received a few moments ago:

Linda continues to remain in serious condition. They are trialing her on non-ventilator support, or independent, breathing. She is only modestly successful in that she stops breathing after some hours, probably from both respiratory fatigue and continued lung disease. She therefore requires mostly ventilator assisted breathing for now. Impaired respiratory muscles mechanics, muscle wasting, and lung tissue disease in the setting of severe nutritional deficits makes it difficult for her to maintain adequate independent, reliable, respiratory physiology.

Linda’s liver remains impaired. She is jaundiced and the liver enzymes remain elevated. Serum proteins are decreased, indicating that her liver’s ability to assemble dietary amino acids into sequences that results in specific proteins for essential body functions is impaired. This impacts her immunity, fluid balance, blood clotting ability, and drug clearance of all the medications required to treat her successfully.

Linda has a large decubitus ulcer on her buttocks. This is also known as a bed sore. Her bed sore is large and potentially deep. This can be an entry way for serious infections and must be brought under control. With nutritional deficits and poor regional blood flow to an area typically compressed by the weight of her body on her buttocks while in bed, progression of the ulcer (bed sore) tends to be greater than regression unless the wound care team at her hospital aggressively treats it. This ulcer is perhaps one of the greatest threats to her otherwise relatively stable condition.

Linda is moving both upper extremities but has very limited left leg movement. With all the muscle disuse and impaired nutrition, it hurts her to move her extremities. Linda is being trialed on a special “talking tracheotomy” tube that allows her to talk. Richard says she is able to speak but apparently only perhaps single words. Using one of these tubes requires a good respiratory reserve in a recovering patient. Linda has almost no real reserve to make this tube a realistic part of her care. Nonetheless, they will continue to train her for it. Rich said that she was a bit shocked to hear her own voice. She is oriented to her place and person, but obviously time is a big blur to her. The stroke of a few months ago seems improved.

S 510 is sitting in the Senate and needs to be passed.  Senator Reid, Senator Ensign, how about a bi-partisan effort for one of your constituents?  Move S 510 to the floor for a vote.  Get it to the President before Thanksgiving.