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Survivor Story: Penny Tingley

Posted by Pete Visintin on

Written & Contributed by Penny Tingley


I have been a single mom of two children for 22 years and have never really been sick besides sinus problems or a cold.  That's why on the night of October 28th, 2016 I thought I had just caught a stomach bug.  


I didn't realize how sick I really was.  I finally was able to get some sleep and woke up the next morning feeling a little better but not 100%.  We had a trip with the Girl Scouts up the river road.  When I woke up my leg was really sore, hot, and swollen, but I didn't think anything of it because we had a trip to take.  


Needless to say we didn't make it the whole trip, and I came home early.  My leg hurt so bad I couldn't get comfortable, so I made the decision to go to the hospital.  I called my mom, and off I went on a journey I didn't expect.



The ER staff couldn't believe I had my shoe on let alone walking and standing.  My leg was huge (below the knee was the size of a watermelon), and I was worried I had a blood clot.  After what seemed like forever they finally decide to admit me.  


I was told I had a really bad case of cellulitis and what they call lymphodemea.  They had me on fluids and antibiotics, but my white blood cell (WBC) count would not come down.  They called in an infectious disease doctor to help keep track of my WBCs.  


I was pretty scared and very worried about my daughter who was in the middle of her third term at Hickey Vet Tech Institute and had to stay home and take care of the household chores.  



The doctor on staff called in a surgeon to look at my leg; they thought an abscess was forming.  After a few ultrasounds the decision was made that I had to have surgery to drain the abscess.  I was in the hospital almost 2 weeks the first time.  


Once I got home I had a home health nurse to help change the dressings.  However, my body decided it wasn't done, that incision became infected.  I was so sick I felt like I was dying.  After my second surgery to debride my wound I had to stay 4 more days in the hospital .  Once I was released I thought I was on the the road to healing.  


Nope, not yet, my incision was still infected, so I had to have a third surgery.  This time as I laid in recovery, the wonderful nurses from wound care came and put a wound vac on my wound.  My daughter said it looked like a shark bite.  With the last surgery I had infected tissue around the initial incision that the doctor had to get, so I ended up with a wound about 11.5 cm long with about 4 cm tunnels all around it.


Luckily, since I have had the wound vac I have been healing and not infected.  Now the bills have started to come in, and it is so overwhelming.  There are radiology bills, doctor bills, hospital bills, anesthesia bills, bills for the wound vac, etc...  



I thank God for insurance because without it, oh man!  Still with the insurance the out-of-pocket expenses are bad.  Especially, since some of the surgeries were in 2016 and the rest in 2017 the insurance deductibles started over, and I am now responsible for twice the amount I originally thought I would have.  I worry about how they will get paid especially over the Summer since I don't work.


What I thought was going to be a quick trip to the ER has turned into a 4 month and counting ordeal.  I have been unable to return to work and hope to be able to return before my leave runs out.  


I thank God everyday for letting me live and still be here, not only for my children, but also for my grandson.  I didn't realize how close to not being here I was!




More than 50% of the proceeds from all Fight the Fight purchases made between May 16th, 2017 and May 31st, 2017 will be donated to Penny to help pay for medical-related expenses.


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