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E-mycin (Erythromycin)

Other names: Eryc, Ilosone, P.c.e.
You drift awake. Lights fill your eyes. It’s hard to see the faces peering down at you. You can’t remember exactly what happened a few minutes ago – or was it hours ago? You cannot lift your hands. Your legs don’t respond either. You are totally paralyzed. Terror grips your mind.
Slowly, you realize this is no nightmare. This is real. Then they tell you: Two weeks ago . . . auto accident . . . barely made it…neck is broken…can’t tell yet whether you can walk.
And, as the weeks go by, the full reality hits: You will never walk again; never use your arms, hands, or fingers. You can’t control your bladder or your bowel.
How would you react? Most people say they would not want to live.
In the past, the victims of injury to the brain or spinal cord lived but briefly. Consigned to back rooms, they soon fell prey to deadly infections, kidney failure, or pneumonia. Today, new medical techniques keep them alive and productive. Thousands live busy, even happy lives.
Leslie Brumagin of Emmaus, Pennsylvania, was paralyzed from the waist down in an automobile accident in 1983. She couldn’t think or remember. “With treatment, Leslie attended college, drives a car, skis, goes gliding, and even plays tennis from her wheelchair.
“I didn’t know much about life before the accident,” she says. “I just wanted to be popular. Now I am just beginning to live.”
Combined, spinal cord injury and brain trauma inflict a stupendous burden on our medical and social systems. According to the National Head Injury Foundation, auto accidents, falls, and flying objects send 500,000 Americans to the hospital each year with injured heads and wounded brains. One in 10 of them dies, and 50,000 more are permanently disabled. More than a million head-injured Americans are struggling with brains that don’t work properly.
The National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research estimates that 14,000 Americans suffer spinal cord injuries each year. Forty percent die, most of them almost immediately. But about 8,000 to 10,000 are left paralyzed and in need of care. In this country alone, 300,000 paraplegics and quadriplegics are trying to forge new lives for themselves in wheelchairs.
Estimates of the bill for all this – mostly paid in tax dollars – have been placed as high as $4 billion a year in health care costs and lost productivity.
At the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems in Baltimore, the shock trauma center springs into action on spine or brain injuries four or more times a day.
Dr. Fred Geisler, clinical director of neurotrauma at the institute, says 95 percent of patients treated there survive. He adds, “So far, doctors have done a good job of keeping patients alive, but we haven’t been able to help in the long term.”
Beyond the emergency phase, medical and psychological advances help patients. The National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research lists 13 model hospitals nationally where the spine-injured get top care. Craig Hospital in Denver is one.
Leslie Brumagin went to Craig Hospital in 1983. “I was convinced that I would walk again,” she says. “It took me a while to get it through my head that, actually, I would not get miraculously better.”
Says Dr. Dan Larnmertse, medical director at Craig: “The resiliency of the human spirit is incredible. People dig down and come up with inner strength to get through. But some never get over their anger.”
In 3 to 4 months, the staff members squeeze every bit of function out of whichever nerves and muscles still work. They teach paraplegics how to get in and out of bed, on and off the toilet, how to dress and bathe. They constantly fight infection, kidney shutdown, and pneumonia. Many quadriplegics cannot breathe without mechanical respirators.

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