Still, some victims he has spoken with said they aren't ready to get in line for payouts yet.

"I've found a lot of clients who said, 'I'm not going to worry about it right now while I get healthy,'" Rice said.

For some, recovery may not be an option.

Krol, like most of the victims, was looking for relief from back pain when she received a steroid shot in mid-August. The 88-year-old Pikesville resident had gotten a spinal injection for back pain three years earlier, with success, said Friedman, her daughter. But by mid-September, Krol was crying out from pain in her neck and head and vomited anything she ingested, even water, Friedman said.

A meningitis test came back positive, but because of Krol's age, doctors would not treat her with the usual course of antifungal medications, Friedman said. The treatments are known to produce intense side effects, including hallucinations and kidney dysfunction, though there is no age limit for treatment, Wilson said.

Instead, they give Krol painkillers to attempt to keep her comfortable. But the medication saps Krol's mouth of saliva and dries her eyes, limits her balance and fogs her mind, Friedman said.

This summer, Krol would venture outside on her walker or play cards with visiting friends, but now she struggles to sit at the kitchen table for more than a few minutes when her children and grandchildren visit, Friedman said. Doctors have told the family the pain will eventually wear out Krol's body.

"You only get one mom. To see her suffer, and you can't help her? I'm helpless," Friedman said. "My mother prays to die every day. She's had enough."

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