NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A 72-year-old Nashville woman is the latest meningitis victim to sue the company responsible for distributing the tainted medication.
Joan Peay is asking for the New England Compounding Center for $5 million in damages, as she tries to come to terms with the fact her life will never be the same.
"It has been very emotional," said Peay. "At first you hear about people dying, and you don't know how far along you are. That can be scary."
Peay received a tainted steroid shot for back pain at Saint Thomas Outpatient Neurosurgery Center September 7. Weeks later, she started experiencing intense back pain, a headache and nausea. She returned to the hospital on October 2, and a spinal tap revealed she had fungal meningitis. Treatment started immediately, and she stayed in the hospital for two weeks.
"The last day in the hospital I hit rock bottom," said Peay. "It was really depressing."
Now Peay is resting at home, but her treatment continues. She self-administers an IV drip twice a day, and her doctors say she will likely have more spinal taps to ensure the virus doesn't return.
"I sleep a lot," said Peay. "I wish they could put me in a coma, and I could just wake up six weeks later."
Peay said she holds the NECC responsible, and hopes a lawsuit sends a message.
"I'm really angry that companies that would be so callous with their business that this could happen. There should have been actions in place to prevent things like this."
While Peay said she is grateful to be out of the hospital and back home, she knows she still has a long road to recovery ahead. She will continue to use the IV for several more weeks, and then switch to oral medication. She said there is a possibility of future liver damage.
"There have been a lot of prayers from family and friends," said Peay. "I try and be optimistic. I know it (the meningitis) might not, but I feel it will probably get better."
The meningitis outbreak has resulted in 70 cases and nine deaths in Tennessee, and 328 cases and 24 deaths nationwide.