St. Joe Co. Clerk recovering from tainted steroid shot

The fungal furlough is over for the elected Clerk of St. Joseph County. Terri Rethlake is back at work.

“I’m feeling much, much better. I’m tired, I get tired very easily, I’m still on the medicine, don’t know how long I’ll have to be on that medicine, it wipes you out,” Rethlake told News Center 16 today.

On September 20th, Rethlake received a tainted steroid shot linked to a nationwide outbreak of fungal meningitis.

While the Centers for Disease Control concluded that she did not contract a full blown case of meningitis, Rethlake did test positive for the fungus in question.

“And I couldn’t sit, or lay down, all I could do was walk because the pain was just too bad,” said Rethlake. “I couldn’t, I couldn’t handle it, and so I was just pacing around the house.”

Rethlake was admitted to the hospital on October 15, where she stayed for six days. “There was a time that I thought, ‘Lord, am I going to die?’ What’s going on here? Because the drugs they were giving me gave me hallucinations and I couldn’t sleep. Every time I closed my eyes I would see things, I would hear things, yeah, there was a time when I asked the doctor, ‘am I going to survive this?’”

Rethlake also spent six weeks recuperating at her father’s house. “The side effects for me were horrible, I mean I was taking medicine for the side effects and then that medicine was making me throw up, and it’s not a good weight loss plan, but I did lose 20 pounds.”

Rethlake continues to take medicine twice a day, although her dose has been backed down from 1600 milligrams to 600.

The tainted shot was only the second that Rethlake had ever received, and she says she feels frustration, more than anger. “I was frustrated hearing all the news stories about what the facility looked like and how it wasn’t clean and that kind of stuff, and that it wasn’t inspected or anything like that, had previously had, you know, a violation, that kind of thing, yeah I was pretty disgusted about it.”
The main goal Rethlake set for her recovery was to be able to sing at her church on Christmas Eve. That’s a goal she accomplished. Rethlake first returned to work last week for two days. “I’m not angry per se, but they took three months out of my life, that I’ll never be able to get back.”

Rethlake has a legal claim pending against the company that produced the tainted steroid.