Wife of Bedford Man With Meningitis Talks About Experience

Lynchburg, VA- A Bedford man who got an epidural steroid injection from one of the two facilities that used the tainted drug, now has meningitis. He's being treated at Lynchburg General, and Friday, we spoke to his wife.

Patrick Johnston went in for a steroid injection in late August. It's something he's done many times. A couple weeks later, the symptoms started showing up, and he knew something wasn't right.

"He went to the doctor for what he thought was an ear infection. And the doctor gave him medicine, ear drops and stuff," said Patrick's wife, Terri Johnston.

But the medicine didn't help.

"He was in such severe pain he couldn't open his eyes, he couldn't walk . His head felt like it was going to explode off of his neck," she said.

A routine visit to the doctor, turned into a nightmare.

"It's been a terrible experience and I hope no one has to go through anything like this," said Terri.

Five deaths have been reported so far, including one in Virginia. And the number of people falling ill from the tainted drug keeps growing. Doctors are stressing this type of fungal meningitis is not contagious and is extremely rare.

"Thousands of epidural steroid injections are done for back pain and patients obtain great relief. The complication rate is very rare. It's one in 100,000 and death is extremely rare," said Dr. Martha Donegan, an anesthesiologist at Virginia Baptist Hospital in Lynchburg.

Doctors and patients are still shocked this could even happen. Both are targeting their anger towards the compounding center that distributed the drugs.

"This is also a tragedy for the physicians who thought they were obtaining medications from a safe and reliable source," said Dr. Donegan.

"To see him lying in the hospital bed hardly able to move--there is a lot of anger," said Terri.

There's anger, but there's also worry. Terri says all she can do is hope for the best.

"We hope. It's all we can hope for."

Terri says Patrick was still in extreme pain Friday, but he is making progress. Doctors have told her he should be home in about five days.