Navajo Nation Vice President Rex Lee Jim (Photo by Rick Abasta)
WINDOW ROCK, ARIZONA — Navajo Nation Vice President Rex Lee Jim is back home.
On August 28, Vice President Jim was admitted to Tsehootsooi Medical Center and was eventually transferred to the University of New Mexico Hospital on August 30, where he would be hospitalized for more than four weeks.
“I was bit by a brown recluse spider and its venom spread like wildfire through my lower left leg,” Vice President Jim said. “I also found out that after a lifestyle of healthy activities and eating and resting well I still ended up being diabetic.”
The diabetes affected his immune system in combating the venom. Vice President Jim was told that if the infection went above his knees it would have spread to his heart and lungs and took his life.
News of his diabetic status has only redoubled his efforts to fight the disease and encourage the Navajo people to do the same.
“Please continue to eat healthy and live healthy lifestyles. You must ensure you visit the hospital for your yearly checkups,” he said.
News of the vice president’s hospitalization was not released due to privacy considerations and safety concerns with visitors at the hospital, especially given the severity of infection to his leg.
Vice President Jim had to consent to have his leg amputated, if it became necessary. Thankfully, that was not the case and he is now on the road to recovery.
“They did a few surgeries to remove the infection, dead tissue, ligaments and muscles. In the end, they saved my leg and life,” he said.
He is working with physical therapists and is beginning to walk again. Vice President Jim will be at the Northern Navajo Nation Fair this weekend and the State of the Navajo Nation address later in the month.