Claudia's Courageous Comeback

On December 19, 2017, Claudia began her courageous and life altering fight against necrotizing fasciitis. It all started that Monday when Claudia was experiencing hip and pelvic pain. Claudia and Jillian went to an Urgent Care where they performed routine tests and an examination, prescribed ointment and an antibiotic; and told her she should feel better that night.  However that was not the case. 

By the next day Claudia’s symptoms worsened; she was lethargic, nauseous, and in excruciating pain.  She then went to see her Primary Care Physician.   He knew right away she was septic.  He called for an ambulance and sent her to directly the ER.

Claudia’s condition quickly deteriorated after arriving at the ER.  She was hypotensive (low blood pressure), she was diaphoretic (sweating), extremely tachycardic (high blood pressure), tachyepnic (rapid breathing), and very lethargic.  Basically, everything that could go wrong, was going wrong. 

Doctors quickly ran numerous tests and found that Claudia was in septic shock, and fighting “necrotizing fasciitis”.  The doctors immediately sent her to the operating room to perform a fasciotomy to relieve the swelling, debride the bacteria and ultimately save Claudia’s life.  The surgery consisted of multiple incisions with post-operative drains attached for continued draining.  Little did they know, it was just the beginning of Claudia’s struggles and fight to stay alive!

The bacteria was so aggressive that it continued to spread and infect her abdomen, back, and torso areas. Her kidney function diminished, she was intubated because she could not breathe on her own, and her body could not keep its own blood pressure stabilized.   Doctors were concerned she was heading for failure.  Her family was notified that she could go either way. Since then, Claudia has had 4 surgeries and is awaiting her 5th one.

She is completely unaware that she was stricken with a disease so rare but so insidious that many have taken to calling it “flesh-eating bacteria”.  Necrotizing fasciitis, the official diagnosis, is a rapidly spreading and very serious bacterial infection that literally destroys the body’s tissue. 

When Claudia eventually wakes up from the nightmare her and her family have been living, she’ll find that her world is much different from the one she’ll be able to last recall leaving on the morning hours of December 19, 2017.    

Due to the severity of her situation and having only one income, times like these are difficult to keep up with the bills.  Jillian is doing all she can, but funds are quickly running out. Claudia has been transferred to a long term acute care hospital (LTACH).  She will have to continue fighting the infection to get better, have additional surgeries, and then she will have to go through extensive physical, occupational, and speech therapy to get her body to function again.  This will take place at the LTACH for a minimum of one month then, eventually, an inpatient rehabilitation center. All the doctors have said her injuries are extremely extensive and it will take months to recuperate.

The Apicella/Riordan family are very private people but we are at the point where there is no other option but to ask loving family, friends, and other generous people for help.  They don’t know that we are creating this page for help.  Anyone who knows Claudia knows that she is the most loving and caring person, mother and grandmother.  She puts EVERYONE before herself, there is absolutely no amount that is too small.  Every little bit will make a difference.  Anything you can do will go towards giving Claudia her second chance at life. 

The photo attached was taken 2 days before she went into the hospital.  You just never would think this could happen to your family.  They came extremely close to losing her.  Life is SO precious. 

We want to thank everyone for taking the time to read this.  And for the supporters who would like to follow Claudia’s journey.  We will be posting updates, stay tuned!
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Candice Roettger & Natasha Kuban
Bergenfield, NJ

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