Mischelle Hileman may be out of the woods but her difficult ordeal is far from over.
Next week the 39-year-old woman who was lost for eight days while elk hunting will lose both feet in an operation at St. Alphonsus hospital in Boise.
Doctors are scheduled to perform the operation on Wednesday at 9:30 a.m., according to Hileman's father, Benny, who has been staying at the hospital with his daughter since she was taken in by a National Guard helicopter on Nov. 3.
The surgery is needed because Hileman has dry gangrene in both of her limbs. The disease was precipitated by severe frostbite which Hileman suffered while laying at the bottom of Alder Creek canyon, where temperatures plummeted to zero on at least two of the eight days she was there.
Additional surgeries in the coming weeks will prepare Hileman for prostheses.
"You wouldn't believe the pain she is in," Benny Hileman said of his daughter's condition. Even heavy doses of morphine and other drugs don't completely relieve the pain. However, doctors say that once the surgery has been completed the pain will begin to subside.
In spite of her misfortune Hileman remains upbeat, according to her father.
"She has an extremely strong constitution," he said.
It helps that she has had an incredible outpouring of support, he added, noting that she has received hundreds of cards from all over the world, including a big card from the city of Elgin signed by every business in town.
"We try to read the cards at night," Hileman continued. "I can't hardly do it without breaking down. You read one. You pass the next one to someone else to read . It's wonderful. All the good things that people have to say. She gets cards from people here in the county every week."
Hileman's story has made her a celebrity, although she has yet to debut in person before a national audience. That time will likely come as the family has been approached by the Maury Povich Show, the Today Show, Good Morning Network, and local television stations.
"There are a lot of people beating on the door," Benny Hileman said.
For now, at least, the family isn't granting interviews as Mischelle has her hands full just trying to regain her strength. Her daily routine includes two hydrotherapy sessions a day in which she is placed for about a half hour in a whirlpool tub. That means her bandages have to be removed and replaced three times a day.
Benny Hileman said the medical team at St. Alphonsus has been outstanding.
"You couldn't ask for better nurses, doctors, and helpers," he said.