McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

National News

October 31, 2013

Quadruple amputee regains independence after tornado-related illness

JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. — Louella Aker survived a deadly tornado in southern Indiana last year with little more than a scratch, but the aftermath of the storm cost her all of her limbs and nearly took her life.

Now, the 66-year-old quadruple amputee is regaining her independence in a new home built to accommodate her disability. The exact cause of the disease that took Aker's extremities is still a mystery, but doctors believe it may have been a rare bacterial infection brought on by the March 2, 2012 tornado, an EF4 storm that leveled schools and businesses, killing 13 people in southern Indiana.

On the day of the storm, Aker recalls seeing the funnel cloud barreling toward her home in Henryville, Ind.

"When you see them on TV, they're always white," she said. "This was the dirtiest funnel cloud I had ever seen. I mean, it was just black. When I heard it roar — and it truly does roar like a freight train — I had never heard that before, it was frightening. We all hit the basement."

Aker and her family rode out the storm, and then came outside to see homes flattened and trees uprooted.

"I was just really in a daze," Aker said. "I had never seen anything so horrible and so frightening. You just wanted to sit and cry…It was the toughest thing I had ever gone through. It really was."

But for Aker, it was only the beginning. A few weeks after the tornado, she started to feel sick. She had flu-like symptoms and a fever that spiked to 104 degrees. The last thing she remembers was sitting in the emergency room, waiting to see a doctor.

Then she slipped into a coma.

She was unconscious for a month, even as doctors did exploratory surgery to try to determine the source of huge blisters on her arms and legs. The doctors found nothing, but when Aker awoke several weeks later, things had gotten much worse.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
National News
Seasonal Content
AP Video
Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage
NDN Video
Staten Island Man's Emotional Dunk Over NYPD Car - @TheBuzzeronFOX "The Bachelorette" Makes Her Decision 'Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' Sneak Peek GMA: Dog passes out from excitment to see owner Chapter Two: Designing for Naomi Watts Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Florida Keys Webcam Captures Turtles Hatching Morgan Freeman Sucks Down Helium on 'Tonight Show' Robin Wright Can Dance! (WATCH) She's Back! See Paris Hilton's New Carl's Jr. Ad Big Weekend For Atlanta Braves In Cooperstown - @TheBuzzeronFox Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director What's Got Jack Black Freaking Out at Comic-Con? Doctors Remove 232 Teeth From Teen's Mouth Bradley Cooper Explains His Voice in 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Deja vu: Another NYPD officer choke-holding a suspect 'Fifty Shades of Grey': Watch the Super Sexy First Trailer Now! Reports: Ravens RB Ray Rice Suspended For 1st 2 Games Of The Season Air Algerie plane with 119 on board missing over Mali Diamond Stone, Malik Newman, Josh Jackson and others showcase talent
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.