A 24-year-old woman who lost four limbs and nearly her life, after she was infected by flesh-eating bacteria, is refusing to take painkillers during some procedures because of her beliefs about holistic healing, her father said.
Aimee Copeland is still in serious condition and remains in an Augusta hospital where she has been since falling from a zip line on May 1, which led to her developing a rare condition called necrotizing fasciitis.
Aimee's father, Andy Copeland, wrote in a blog post that she despises the use of morphine in her treatment, despite it blocking most of her pain, because it makes her groggy and confused and gives her unpleasant hallucinatory episodes.
Andy also said that because part of Aimee's graduate school thesis is focused on holistic pain management techniques, taking the pain medications makes her feel like a "traitor to her convictions".
Last week, Andy wrote that his daughter had 'struggled mightily' sharp-shooting pains in her hands even though they had been amputated.
"Although her condition had improved significantly, her pain has been considerable. Phantom pain now plagues her 'hands," he wrote in a blog post.
The University of West Georgia psychology graduate student had to have her left leg amputated, her right foot and both hands in order to save her life after a cut to her leg became infected.
On Tuesday, doctors had upgraded Aimee's condition from critical to serious, "a major victory that cannot and should not be diminished," Andy wrote Friday on his blog, where he has been posting regular updates on her progress.
The progress came after Aimee had her first successful skin graft.
"The area of her wound, which I saw for the first time on Sunday during a dressing change, is massive," her father wrote in Friday’s update.
Since her infection, Aimee has crossed several milestones. She can now breathe and eat on her own and she no longer needs dialysis.
While her major organs are all functioning well, she still needs supplemental nutrition though a stomach tube.
Aimee had been kayaking along the Little Tallapoosa River in Carrollton, Georgia, last Tuesday when she stopped to take a ride on a home-made zip line. The line had snapped and she suffered a large cut on her left calf, which took 22 staples to close.
Doctors had initially told her to take Motrin and Tylenol for the pain, and after being turned away from doctors who gave her nothing more than some antibiotics and pain killers, they were horrified to discover that aggressive flesh-eating bacteria had invaded her leg injury and were quickly invading the rest of her body.
Necrotizing fasciitis, commonly referred to as 'flesh-eating disease,' is a rare but extremely aggressive bacterial infection that develops when the aeromonas hydrophila bacteria enters the body, usually through a small cut or scrape. The bacteria quickly multiply and release toxins that destroy tissue and block blood flow to the area it infects.
Symptoms of the infections include small, red lumps or bumps on the skin, rapidly-spreading bruising, sweating, chills, fever and nausea, organ failure and shock. Infected patients need to be treated immediately to prevent death because infection spread quickly throughout the body causing sepsis.
Patients are treated with powerful antibiotics and surgery or even amputation to remove the dead or infested tissue.