RI woman endures meningitis treatment

Tricia Schmiede-Knecht is one of the Rhode Islanders who contracted meningitis from tainted steroid injections last year.

She's still fighting the illness.

"Unimaginable. Who would think that such a horrible thing would happen to me?" said Schmiede-Knecht.

Schmiede-Knecht, a teacher, said she misses her students at Nathan Bishop Middle School in Providence. She's been out of work, sick, for a long time since being infected with fungal meningitis.

It was after she received some letters that she knew something was wrong. She had been getting injections to help her with back pain.

"On Oct. 28, I was admitted into the emergency room at Miriam Hospital with meningitis," she said.

"Fourteen thousand of us received this contaminated medicine. Right now, 733 are sick and 53 of us have died, and that's CDC's update as of April 8."

Schmiede-Knecht spent weeks in the hospital. Her husband had to stop working to care for her.

"There was tremendous pain. She was on Dilaudid and morphine every four hours. She dealt with incredible pain and incredible sickness and things of that nature. And people, they don't realize what these people are enduring and are not able to escape from," Shmiede-Knecht's husband said.

Schmiede-Knecht requires care around the clock. She has to hook up to a machine four hours every day for two hours of hydration and two hours of anti-fungal treatment. She likely won't be in the clear until the end of November.

The medical bills keep piling up too.

"Yeah, I'm angry. Very disgusted because this fungus is black, yucky stuff, and it's in my system," she said. "And who knows if it's going to go away, because nobody knows for sure."

A fundraiser for Schmiede-Knecht is being held from 3 to 6 p.m. Friday at The Parlour in Providence.