Judging from my email and twitter traffic, people are opening up (actually they do not even need to do that) their New York Times this morning to the shocking and tragic story of my client’s, Stephanie Smith’s, struggle with a severe E. coli O157:H7 illness linked to Cargill hamburger.  It is a difficult read.  A few weeks ago another shocking and tragic story of yet another client, Linda Rivera, was on the front page of the Washington Post.  Linda, who now has been hospitalized for 155 days is also struggling with a severe E. coli illness, this linked to Nestle Toll House Cookie Dough.

Senator Reid, I hope you have read both articles.  I would also ask you to read the below:

Subject: Linda Rivera Condition 10-2-2009

10-2-2009 @ 11:15pm PDT

Linda’s condition is improved though she is still seriously ill. She is still on the breathing machine (ventilator) but is being weaned off of it. Room air to supply good levels of oxygen in our blood is about 22% oxygen. Linda needs 30% to maintain the same level of good oxygenation. Just a few weeks ago she required around 50% and above, so things are looking good and improved. She is taking more of her own breaths with backup mandatory breaths being delivered. She has a tracheostomy to which the ventilator hose is attached.

She is able to move her left extremities more so than a few weeks ago. Her blood pressure is stable and low normal without any special medications to keep it up in the normal range. She has occasional fevers. She tries to talk, is now moving her mouth to attempt word formation, moves her hands, shows thumbs up or thumbs down as appropriate to questions or statements, and is moving her head. She is unable to speak out loud due to the tracheostomy, which must eventually be fitted for a special tracheostomy tube that will allow talking while it is in. Alternatively, but unlikely, she will eventually have the tracheostomy closed first before she can speak. To qualify for the special tracheostomy tube called a fenestrated tracheostomy tube, she would have to be able to breathe on her own while the tube is in. This will happen further on down the road.

Overall her condition has improved from critical, to now, serious condition. Her prognosis is guarded, not as poor as a few weeks ago. Richard is quite happy with her progress. Hopefully as her strength improves and she is more independent of the ventilator, she can become more communicative. I would think they should be getting her out of bed and into a chair for brief periods. Perhaps they can wheel her out of her room and into a more open area with a not so monotonous views.

I am encouraged at what Rich has told me. Perhaps the biggest threat to her is hospital acquired infection. There is room for cautious optimism, however, with prayer sealing the deal.

God Bless,
Ron R