ATLANTA (The Blaze/AP) — The parents of a young Georgia woman battling a flesh-eating bacterial infection said Monday they've learned to read lips and are now able to communicate with their daughter despite a breathing tube in her throat.Related: Georgia Woman, 24, Battles Flesh-eating Disease
Speaking on NBC's "Today" show Monday, Andy Copeland says his daughter Aimee told them she was thirsty, and that ice cream is the first thing she wants when she's able to eat on her own.
Watch this AP report:
"We just take it each day at a time," he said. "My daughter's strong, she really is."
Aimee Copeland, 24, will lose her fingers but doctors hope to save the palms of her hands, which could allow her to someday use prosthetics, her father said in an online update.
"Aimee is alert and trying to mouth questions," Andy Copeland wrote on a website created to provide updates to friends and supporters. "Her breathing tube has been reoriented to increase her comfort and allow them to try to read her lips. She said: 'I can't talk!' We told her it was because of the tube, and we explained the need for it. 'Take it out!' She also asked 'What happened?' and 'Where am I?'"
The illness has already led doctors in Augusta to amputate most of her left leg. She contracted the rare infection, called necrotizing fasciitis, after falling from a broken zip line and gashing her leg on May 1.
Infections by so-called flesh-eating bacteria are rare but sometimes can run rampant after even minor cuts or scratches. The affliction can destroy muscle, fat and skin tissue. The bacteria that infected Copeland is a bug called Aeromonas hydrophila.
Aimee Copeland hasn't been told of the exact extent of her injuries, but asked how long she's been in the hospital, her father said in the "Today" show interview.
Watch Today's interview with the family:
When told that she's been hospitalized for several days, she expressed concern about completing coursework at the University of West Georgia, where she's a graduate student, her father said. She also worried about missing work at a cafe in Carrollton.
Aimee's father maintains a daily blog of her progress in the hospital. Over Mother's Day Andy said his daughter was still at 33 percent wellness, although the fact that she was alert and disliking her ventilator was taken as a good sign:
Just to let you know what it must be like to breathe through a ventilator, imagine having to suck air through a straw for days on end. No thanks. Well, that’s what it is like for Aimee. No wonder she hates it.
She still has questions, basically the same questions that we have already answered. They are giving her medication to help her forget the stress she’s under, so that explains her inability to recollect many things. This is good for her, but mildly frustrating for us. It frustrates me because I want her to be able to focus on what she can control, not on things she cannot control. I tell her not to worry, I tell her to concentrate on breathing, I ask her to pray and meditate on healing. I hold her and pray while she prays. This is all we can do now and I can honestly say it works quite well.
In addition to battling this bacterial infection, Today also reported that Aimee was also recently diagnosed with lupus, an autoimmune disorder, which could be why the bacteria has had such an effect on her.