TEACHER SUFFERS SETBACK

April 12, 2002 12:00 am

BOISE Enterprises kindergarten teacher, who has been recovering from a case of meningitis, suffered a setback early this week and is recuperating in the intensive care unit at St. Alphonsus Medical Center.

Judy Fletcher, 54, underwent a craniotomy Monday night to relieve pressure on her brain from built-up fluid, Fletchers husband, Gary, told The Observer.

Although Judys words are garbled and she cannot walk, the prognosis for a full and complete recovery is very good, Gary said he was told by the neurosurgeon.

In mid-December Judy collapsed from a seizure caused by meningitis. She was in a coma for two weeks and spent two months in the hospital undergoing medical treatment and rehabilitation. She lost her hearing and received a cochlear implant, which was severed during the craniotomy.

After returning home in mid-February Judy continued physical therapy exercises at home and continued to improve dramatically. She worked up to the point of cooking, dishwashing and walking around the house without a cane, Gary said.

The determination that drove her was her desire to return to teaching her beloved students, he said, adding that Judy had hoped to go to todays annual roundup of incoming kindergarten students.

Unknown to the Fletchers or doctors, cerebral spinal fluid had slowly started collecting on her brain, the bodys reaction to trauma, Gary said. The fluid pushed the brain away from its lining and tore small blood vessels that bled and formed clots.

Last weekend she appeared fatigued, was treated in the emergency room in Enterprise for four hours. A spinal tap tested negative for meningitis. Upon her return to the hospital Monday, a CT scan revealed the condition of her brain. She was flown by Air Life to St. Alphonsus Monday night.

Were appreciative of the generous outpouring of prayer and support that brought her back from the brink of death and we have faith that the same will make her whole again, Gary said.

She was scheduled to have the drainage tubes on her brain removed Saturday, but the doctors removed the tubes this morning, Gary said.

If all goes according to plan, Judy dubbed Miracle Gal by some doctors will remain at St. Alphonsus through next week for recovery and more rehabilitation.

From Observer staff reports