Skooter reports 12/08/12
A Monmouth woman is struck by a mysterious illness and doctors in Portland are trying to find out the reason. The woman was recently confined in the hospital and her life is in danger.
Tabitha Schulke, 18, in the last couple of weeks has lost her lower legs to amputation and was clinging to life. On thanksgiving, she became ill, her aunt said. Right now she is in critical condition.
Schulke’s appearance now is unrecognizable from the bubbly, lovely teenager that she was before the onset of the illness. She is puffed-up, powerless, tarnished and breathing with a ventilator in a hospital bed.
Doctors believe Schulke developed gangrene as a result of toxic shock caused by a staph infection, but what caused the illness is still unknown. Patients with toxic shock have a 50 percent chance of survival, according to the National Institute of Health.
To help determine what caused Schulke’s illness, it needs several Lab tests.
Meantime, family members are overwhelmed over what has happened to a young woman who was a Sunday school teacher and plan on helping others as a missionary.
Schulke’s aunt, Katie Zimmerman said that her niece is beautiful on the outside, but she's even more beautiful on the inside.
The flu-like symptoms that upset her led to gangrene on Schulke’s feet, Zimmerman said. They looked like they were out in the snow, they were just getting black, Zimmerman said. The gangrene spread, prompting surgeons to amputate Schulke's legs just below each knee.
When she came in, said Dr. Eric Chang with Legacy Emanuel Hospital in Portland, she was near death and she's come very far, so that makes us very hopeful for the future.
Her aunt is certain Tabitha will recover. She can still realize her goal of becoming a missionary, Zimmerman said. But at this moment, that’s secondary to her family’s goal of simply getting her out of the hospital and return home.
Besides Tabitha's serious medical conditions, her family is also facing with other challenges. Her brother is suffering from brain tumor and is inoperable. The family lives more than an hour away in Monmouth, trips to the hospital is time-consuming and expensive.
However, they are getting donations and other assistance from fellow members of the Independence First Baptist Church.