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Wife, Mother Recovering From Life-Threatening Group A Strep Infection

A story about how Karen Thieken recovered from a rare bacterial infection.

On April 15, my wife Karen Thieken from Dacula, Ga., contracted a rare bacterial Group A strep infection which almost killed her. The bacterial infection my wife contracted has two strains: the one Aimee Copeland from Snellville, Ga., contracted and the one my wife contracted. 

My wife's strain of the infectious disease shut down all of her organs which resulted in her being  put into a medically induced coma. Not only did she contract the Group A strep infection, but while she was in a coma, she developed pneumonia, cellulitis and went into a severe septic shock. To this day, I cannot believe my wife of 17 years and the most incredible mother of my two daughters went from helping me do yard work to being in a coma within 18 hours.

The ICU staff told me on the evening of April 15, they didn't think she was going to make it through the night and I should call her family and have them come to the hospital. As I sat all alone outside her ICU room crying, all I could think about was how was I going to tell our two daughters, Katie (age 7) and Colleen (age 4), that their mommy died. I didn't know what to think or how to feel so I decided to pray for many hours. I relied on my blind faith that she would get better and that I would soon be talking to her again.

We are very fortunate today that she is still alive because every medical professional I spoke to then and now told me they are absolutely shocked she is still with us. Whomever I spoke to told me they thought she was going to die on the very first night. Even our primary care doctor told us my wife is a walking miracle and he gets emotional every time he sees her. I fully believe it was my blind faith and the power of prayer that kept my wife alive.

Even after five months, Karen is still recovering. She has permanent hearing loss on her right side, she cannot drive, and she is suffering from what we feel is PTSD and is dealing with lots of pain throughout her entire body.

After dealing with this situation, my life and my family's life has forever changed.  We want to help people understand how life can change on a dime and make more people aware of rare infectious diseases since three cases of rare bacterial infections occurred within the past four months and we all live within 15 miles of each other.

We would love to be able to help others through our experiences of this awful time. To see my wife's complete story and the thousands of people who prayed and helped us through this difficult situation, you can go to  www.caringbridge.org/welovekaren.

 

Paul Thieken

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Kristi Reed October 04, 2012 at 01:25 AM
Paul - Thanks again for sharing your story. I hope Karen's recovery goes well and that you and your family can continue to heal after going through such a traumatic experience.
Mandy H Kuhn October 04, 2012 at 03:27 AM
Praying for your wife's continued recovery and strength for everyone in your family to get through this difficult time. Thank you for sharing your story!

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