After an ordinary vacation, a woman noticed her hands and feet were aching quite a bit. Then, she was shocked as they actually began turning black. Doctors were forced to amputate all four of her limbs, and the reason for her condition is frighteningly simple.
Jo Rogers is a fun-loving woman who loved her dogs, hiking, and nature. But, her life completely changed after her husband Keith Rogers took her to Natural Falls State Park, close to the Oklahoma-Arkansas border. There weren’t many waterfalls in Oklahoma, but Jo wanted to see one. “When we came back, she started feeling sick, and she thought she might have the flu,” Keith recalled.
Headaches turned into fevers that then became aggravated with vomiting and dizziness. Although his wife thought that she was coming down with a severe case of the flu and initially resisted going to the hospital, she was so lethargic a week later that “she wasn’t making any sense,” Keith said, so he took her to the emergency room. As her health deteriorated, doctors did rounds of tests on her, including tests for meningitis and West Nile Virus.
Jo Rogers had a serious infection from an unnoticed tick bite. They eventually discovered that she had complications from Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF), but she was already developing gangrene on her limbs. “She was shaking her hands because they hurt, her feet hurt,” said Rogers’ cousin, Lisa Morgan. “Her hands and feet were turning dark blue and black. It was crawling up her limbs,” she explained.
The 40-year-old mother-of-two from Shawnee, Oklahoma, had to get major parts of both arms and both legs amputated due to the serious infection. “After things started going bad and she went into septic shock, the blood flow cut off to her limbs, and her hands and feet started going black,” her husband explained. “They had to cut off her right leg just above the knee, her left leg just below the knee, and both her arms about mid-forearm.”
One tiny bite was all it took for Rocky Mountain spotted fever to flood into the woman’s bloodstream and wreak havoc on her body. RMSF is a potentially fatal tick-borne disease caused by the bacterium Rickettsia rickettsii, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The symptoms — fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, and rash — can mimic a lot of viruses.
The intensity of Jo Rogers’ case may be rare, but these infections, unfortunately, are not. Few people die from Rocky Mountain spotted fever anymore, since it can be effectively treated with antibiotics, but treatment should start in the first five days of infection. Jo sadly missed that time-frame, dismissing her symptoms as an intense case of the flu.
Keith Rogers visited his wife every day at the hospital as she battled other complications from RMSF, including blood clots in her lungs that necessitated a tracheotomy. “Every day is a new challenge,” he said. “I go in there, sit and talk to her and show her pictures of how our two boys are doing. I show her videos of her two dogs back at home. I try to keep it normal, but it gets very hard because she’ll want me not to leave, and it’s so hard because I can’t take her with me.”
Lucky for Jo Rogers, her family is sticking by her side and making sure she has everything she needs to get through this difficult time. Although the adjustment is going to be tough for Jo, her cousin Lisa Morgan told her, “You’re still with us, you’re going to get to watch your boys grow up, and you’ve got a lot of people pulling for you.”
Although it was an extremely rough recovery process, Jo Rogers has since made her way back home. Jo is determined to be independent and is grateful for her life. She was moved to tears by all of the cards, comments, prayers, well-wishes, and generosity from everyone. She believes the love and support of family, friends, and total strangers have given her the strength to work so hard.
Even though she is dependent on a wheelchair to get around, her family and friends are just glad that she made it out alive. I’m sure her boys are more than happy to still have their mother, even if she can’t do all the things she once could. No one could possibly imagine what this woman is going through right now, but it’s nice to see that she has a very good support system in place for her as she adjusts to life outside of the hospital.