Operated on for a hallux valgus, commonly called a bunion, after falling in the garden of the condominium of her Claira apartment, Stéphanie Vietti, 48, sank into a nightmare that has lasted 19 months. On September 26, 2022, during her next appointment at the CHU Lapeyronie in Montpellier, she will find out if the 8th surgery on her right big toe will lead to reconstruction by bone grafting or amputation of her upper foot. Until then, she is fighting against the most dangerous staphylococcus aureus, a nosocomial disease contracted in Perpignan.
For nineteen months, comedian Olivier Vietti has lost his smile. In Claira’s once-jovial family apartment, he’s swapped microphones, lights and other performance props for the panoply and medications of a real hospital room. Stéphanie, his wife and mother of their two children, lives in bed, her right foot bruised under a thick bandage, her left arm armed with a “Picc line”, a kind of catheter which diffuses a cocktail of antibiotics and powerful analgesics in infusion.
Since an ordinary fall in a damaged gutter in the condominium, the medical secretary by profession has endured hell. “It was dark on February 6, 2021, around 7 p.m., when she fell into this hole that had not been repaired”denounces her husband. “I was in pain everywhere, I took paracetamol and went to bed”, continues Stéphanie Vietti who wakes up completely sore the next day. His attending physician diagnosed a broken rib and ordered an x-ray of the right foot, the big toe of which was abnormally swollen and painful.
The examination carried out, “my GP sent me to Medipole. He saw something wrong in the images”. The 40-year-old gets a quick appointment on February 13, during which a surgeon “explains to me that I have a hallux valgus that has moved and that it is necessary to operate quickly”. He intervenes on this deformity of the big toe on February 26. On an outpatient basis. “He put a stainless steel plate and six screws on me and I came home”, testifies Stephanie, worried not to feel the slightest relief. His home nurse noted poor healing. The finger remains large, sensitive, full of pus. The practitioner confirms and re-operates Stéphanie on April 14, 2021. “There, he removed everything from me and I left with a simple bandage.”
However, nothing helps, the condition of his foot worsens. On September 23, the orthopedist performs a third arthrodesis. “He grafted me bone and immobilized the toe with a titanium plate this time”, specifies the patient whose ordeal continues. To the point where the doctor called her back to the operating room on October 19 to take samples. 48 hours later, the result falls. Stephanie Vietti has developed an infection. “I had a fever, I was taken urgently to the tropical and infectious diseases department (SMIT) of the Perpignan hospital..“
On the spot, Stephanie’s blood is racing. “I had contracted a nosocomial disease, a golden staphylococcus named aureus, the most dangerous. He is the one who cost the life of Guillaume Depardieu”, panicked the Vietti couple. Stéphanie is hospitalized at home and infused four times a day. Without success. On December 9, she returns to the clinic. “The practitioner removes the titanium equipment and assures me that he can do nothing more for me”.
I had a simple fracture, I should have healed in three to four weeks
She moves heaven and earth in search of another specialist likely to put her back on her feet and finds one in Narbonne. On February 26, 2022, “He looked at my wound, my X-rays and let me go: But why did you have a hallux valgus operation when you had a fractured big toe. A brace would have been enough to heal you in three to four weeks”.
Failing that, on the following April 5, the Audois attempted an intervention. The fifth but not the last. The staphylococcus is still there, it has eaten away at the bone even deeper. After a meticulous cleaning, the Narbonnais redid a graft and replaced a plate before sending Stéphanie to a professor from the CHU Lapeyronie in Montpellier who consulted her on July 5th. The expert opts for a stoppage of medication until August 9. “I was under 80 milligrams of morphine every day, I was writhing in pain, my foot in a basin of ice water.sighs Stephanie, whose torture knows no respite. The following August 12, when the Montpellier surgeon reopened the patient’s lesion, Staphylococcus aureus “had eaten the whole graft and broke the titanium plate in half”. He puts her back on shock treatment.
His eighth surgery on September 26
This Tuesday, September 6, the professor makes a point with the family. The infection seems to have diminished. Still on a drip of powerful antibiotics and painkillers, the 40-year-old knows that she now only has two options left. An eighth surgery scheduled for September 26, according to two protocols. If by then Stéphanie heals, Montpellier will try to reconstruct her toe. But, she will have to wear a disability and an orthopedic shoe for life. Otherwise, the amputation of the top of his right foot will prove inevitable.
“Not to mention the sword of Damocles that I have on my head. Staphylococcus can fall asleep but it will stay in me, killing it is impossible”dreads Stephanie placed on antidepressants and sleeping pills. “Thanks to the invaluable support of my mari and my children”, she says. Olivier, this look-alike of Laurent Gerra, who placed Lourdes water everywhere in the traumatized household.
The lawyer for the Vietti spouses seizes the justice of a request for expertise
This broken mom confided,“our crazy story” as her husband grimaces, to Me Mathieu Reynier of the Bordeaux bar. “I tried to settle the problem amicably but I did not get a response from the interested parties, in this case the insurer of the owner of the estate where my client was injured and that of the Médipole clinic. St. Roch”, he says. Consequently, “I am going to file a summary summons with the Nanterre court this week”, adds Me Reynier. The request will be accompanied by the request for appointment of a panel of experts called upon to decide. To know if Stephanie suffered from a hallux valgus or a fracture and if her condition required surgery. Or not.
Philippe Aulombard: “If the nosocomial nature of the infection is recognized, we will assume”
Philippe Aulombard, director of the Médipole Saint-Roch clinic in Cabestany sympathizes. “We are sorry for the suffering patient, unfortunately out of several thousand people who spend each year in our structures, an accident can always occur. Medicine is an art which is not infallible”, he reacts. And to confirm: “Madame Vietti has been operated on three times in our services, and she has never lodged a complaint with us. Last May we received a letter from her lawyer. From then on, we applied the procedure which is common to all the health institutions, we have communicated the contact details of our insurance to this council. And today, we are awaiting the return of the medical experts. If the nosocomial nature of the infection is recognized by the doctors, we will assume. The file will be treated by the commission of conciliation and compensation of medical accidents (CCI).