What Happened To Karen

During the last week of September Karen (Karen Gotcher) started to develop a sore on her lower right leg.  I did not know that it was about that time Karen was only taking ½ of her prescribed water pills, the reason being they were causing her to go to the restroom all the time, not being able to can the fruit I was harvesting from the orchard.

On the morning of October the 9th (2023) I noticed redness around the sores (there were three sores at that time). On the morning of the 10th they had not improved so I told her we needed to go to the clinic (McCook Clinic; McCook, Neb) and get some antibiotics for the infection (or she could "lose her leg"). She had sores that were infected in the past that were worse than these and her Dr., Dr. Neilson had prescribed antibiotics for them (which quickly healed her sores). Karen then called up to the clinic for an appointment and since Dr. Nielsen was not in we were sent to Mrs. Olson (a skin specialist) for treatment. On the way up to the clinic Karen told me she was not taking all the water pills and had caused all this to happen.

At the clinic Karen told Dr. Olson she was not taking all the medicine prescribed because she wanted to get some work done at home. I told Dr, Olson the reason we came up was to get antibiotics for the infection. All I wanted was for her get back on taking all the medicine and to get some antibiotics to fight the infection1. Karen had CLL and Congestive Heart Failure (three stints). It was then Dr. Olson got a wrap that was laying on her desk and proceeded to wrap Karen's leg with it, telling us it had Zink and calamine lotion on the first wrap2. The problem with Dr. Olson putting a wrap on Karen’s leg was the infection was not on Karen's skin but in her leg. As a result, the "boot" (a very tight wrap) that Dr. Olson put on Karen pushed the infection (which was local) up Karen's leg into her body.*

We left and went to Karen’s heart appointment where they gave her a heart monitor to wear for 24 hours since they saw an anomaly in her heart beat and wanted to know what it was. We ate lunch then went to Wal-Mart to pick up some groceries. It was then Karen started complaining about pain in her right leg. We drove home to Herndon, Kansas, a forty minute drive.

It took me half an hour to get Karen out of the car and into the house having to place two 2X4’s for her to step on in order to get up the first step. She was in intense (excruciating) pain. So much pain Karen demanded I take the wrap off.  Karen's leg was full of lesions up to her knee where the wrap stoped. Karen’s leg temperature was 103.9.

I then rushed her to emergency where they admitted her to the hospital (Community Hospital; McCook, Neb). She progressively got worse, at one time it seemed half the nurses were in the room waiting for her to die. On the morning of the 11th (10AM) they called for a helicopter to take Karen to the Intensive Care Unite in Kearney, Nebraska, since North Platte was full3. Shortly after arriving the Dr. there came in and told us she would not make it through the night, wanting us to go to Hopis. We refused. She was in intense pain (the right leg feeling like a severe sunburn). She was on a high flow of oxygen. Karen died that evening, at 7:16 PM on the 11th of October.

While in McCook and at Kearney we sought the Lord for healing, sang hymns, and shared scripture. The Lord takes pleasure in the death of the saints. I know where Karen is this very moment while missing her (two certainly do become one and when the one is gone it is very painful). As several have emailed, while losing a son or daughter, mother or father is painful no one knows what it is to lose a spouse except someone who has lost a spouse, spending the last twenty years with Karen 24/7 and the last few months tending to her day and night, with her smiling through it all I miss her beyond what words can describe.  I worshiped the Lord last Sunday with Karen. The only difference was she was worshiping the Lord Jesus Christ in person.

In summation, I told Karen we needed to go to the clinic or she could lose her leg. We went to the clinic and she lost her life. No matter what happens to us in this life, God is faithful. Our hope is in Him (now and forever, i.e., throughout eternity). 

"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." Proverb. 3: 5-6 

fn 1. I told Dr Olson that I brought Karen up because her leg was infected. She immediately stated that there was Zink on the wrap along with calamine lotion. Having used Zicam for an onset of a cold, where bacteria was building up in my mouth and throat, my mind went to accepting this method, not thinking it through that while Zink was sprayed into my mouth the bacteria was on the surface of my tongue and throat, not under the skin as the infection was with Karen's sores. It was clear that there was infection with the sores. As I have stated, I would not have made the 70 plus mile round trip if it was not for the infection. That was the only reason we came up, to get antibiotics.

fn 2. It greatly bothered me that Dr. Olson did not use any antiseptic on Karen's leg before wrapping it. Not even on the sores. She just proceeded to put the wrap on. Even though Karen took a shower, not making it to the bathroom at times her legs were not steril. I should have said something. Dr. Olsen was determined this was the right way to go.(It just happened so fast, I had not even thought of this being an option. Karne's Dr. Dr. Neilson would always listen to what I said and tell me I had the right of making the final decision.)

fn 3. Although Karen had faced death at least three times before, it was in the hospital they gave her medicine (that was irreversable) that closed off her blood vessels to the extremity of her body in order to get her BP up along with giving her blood and other medications (I don't remember what), as well as flying her to another hospital to an intensive care unit, which looking back was to prove of no avail, all in an effort to keep her alive. In the moment you do what you can to keep your wife alive, doing what the Dr. tells you needs to be done (with the hope of recovery). (I was not ready for this. We were getting ready to travel south to see our children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren, which Karen was looking forward to. We were just going up for some antibiotics. That was all that was on our mind.)

Pic: Infection begining Oct 3 (12:11PM) could not get ahead of it, Oct 6 (1:42PM). By the morning of the 10th the sores were all red (infected) along with the area around them. Infection with lesions (taken in the Emergency Center/McCook Hospital), Oct 10, pic 1 (11:35PM) and pic 2 (11:36PM) Died at Good Samaritan Hospital, Kearney, Nebraska, Oct 11th (7:16PM) On October 18th (2023) Karen was buried at South Heights Cemetery, in Sapulpa OK (near where most of our children, grand children, and great grandchildren reside—she was so looking forward to spending time with them).

*A final note: Karen did not die from natural causes. She died because a local infection (that could have been properly overcome with medication) was pushed up into a body that could not fight it.