|Gerald Norman's Survivor Story|
|My name is Gerald Norman. I currently live on St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands, but lived in Massachusetts when I contracted NF. I contracted necrotizing fasciitis in February 2005. The doctors involved weren't exactly sure where I got it, but highly suspect was from a hot tub. I had just returned from vacation to Las Vegas and stayed in a suite with a hot tub at the New York, New York. As the surgeon explained to me, fecal matter tends to accumulate in the water jets in that type of tub, so if you happen to have an open sore or infected hair - anything that allows access of bacteria through the skin, you can easily contract NF through that area. The first day I had symptoms I called my regular physician. He thought it sounded like a skin infection and told me to come see him in a couple of days if it seemed to be getting worse. Three days later I was in the emergency room in horrific pain. A surgeon happened to be passing through so one of the nurses asked him to have a look at me. He said I was near death and needed immediate surgery - and there was no time to wait for an operating room. My first surgery was done in the ER with the surgeon, a nurse handing him tools and me holding open the wound for him to cut. Obviously I was under local anesthetic only. When he finished I had a wound 22cm long by 18cm wide and 12cm deep. He admitted me to the hospital. The next day I had a follow-up surgery and two days later, a third which was primarily to be sure all the necrotic tissue was gone. My blood pressure that week averaged 60/30. Arrangements were made to send me to Jewish Memorial Hospital in Boston, MA for long-term rehabilitation. Once I arrived at Jewish Memorial, I was placed on a wound vac. According to the attending physician, without the vac I was looking at a year and a half recovery, with it three to six months. I spent six weeks at Jewish Memorial and I have to say, the staff there was the best I've ever seen in a hospital. They were attentive, careful and very responsive to my requests and needs. When I was discharged, I went home on a portable wound vac. I had home nursing come in three days per week to care for the wound and replace the vac's plastic. I had the wound vac removed and was discharged on Father's Day, 2005. Anyone who has ever had NF knows all the in-between parts to this story. I am thankful that I survived and credit that to a quick-acting surgeon who happened to pass by my room and the loving attention of the recuperative hospital staff. My experience certainly changed my outlook on life. I retired the next year (2006) at the ripe old age of 45 and am loving every single day that God chooses to give me. I pray daily for those who are suffering with this horrible illness and thank God for those who have survived it. May God bless you all!|
St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands
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June 1, 2008