IV drug abuse

This patient is a 35 year old who came to the ER with sepsis and inability to move her arms or her legs. She was essentially paralyzed from the neck down and incoherent. We took her to surgery after seeing that her MRI showed a bad infection in her neck, pushing on the spinal cord.

I’ll never forget the look on her parents’ faces as I explained her situation after her first surgery. I didn’t know if she would walk again. The years of worry and frustration were evident as they were dealt yet another set back. They were loving and caring parents dealing with the tragedy of drug addiction in their daughter.

Our patient struggled. She wasn’t happy with us, with her caregivers, with her life, really with anything for sometime. However, she made it to rehab. Her spinal cord function improved. The infection went away. She stopped using heroin. She discontinued the narcotics. She got a job.

Last week was her 1 year follow-up. She thanked us for saving her life (finally!). She has been clean for several months now. She described how she was going to start teaching dance again. She looks good. She has no neurological deficits. She is content with life again.

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