was diagnosed with Necrotizing Fasciitis in June of 1999. I thought I
had pulled a muscle in my left groin, so I continued to go to work in
the daytime and applied a heating pad to the affected area at night. When
the pain became more intense, I went to a local walk-in medical center.
I was given a pain killer and sent home without instructions for a surgical
Forty-eight hours later, my best friend, who is a Physician Assistant, called for an ambulance after observing the necrotic area. By the time I was seen in the ER, I was too unstable for surgery; my blood sugar was elevated and I was in septic shock.
Eleven surgeries were done on me while I was in the ICU in the first two weeks in order to debride the necrotic flesh. A twelfth surgery followed two weeks later to graft skin from my lower legs in an attempt to close the wound. This surgery largely failed. I spent one and a half months laying on my back in the bed, so as not to disturb the dressing. Bedside debridements were done regularly. After a time, it was decided that I should try to get out of the bed I was transferred to the Rehab Unit of the hospital. At first, I could not even sit up without extreme pain because the muscles in my back were not used for such a long period of time. It took seven weeks of PT for me to ambulate using a walker and be discharged from the hospital.
The road to recovery was long and difficult. My new plastic surgeon and I decided to allow the wound to close on its own, in time. I endured three years of daily nursing visits and wound care. The wound was not closing due to the fact that I was quite obese at the time. My surgeon recommended a gastric bypass procedure so that the wound would close more readily. In January of 2001, I underwent a duodenal switch procedure. To date, I have lost 180 pounds. In May of 2002, I had a tummy tuck/wound closure surgery, which was largely successful, although two centimeters of the wound did not close and I continued with daily dressing changes, still done via visiting nurses, which I eventually was able to do myself. In November of 2002, I got the good news that the wound had closed.
I now have reasonable good health, although I am left with diabetic retinopathy and kidney insufficiency, which is under control, thanks to my nephrologist. The diabetes has disappeared. In fact, my most recent glucose reading was 60. My cholesterol level, which was 271 prior to the duodenal switch is now 130. Although I have gained a more healthy and active life, I deal with the substantial physical and emotional scars every day.
I have an active interest in helping others and welcome anyone who would like to email me. I am well-educated in surgical procedures, particularly when it applies to debridements and skin grafting. I would say this to anyone dealing with what I had...find emotional support from the people who love you and don't ever allow anyone into your life who makes you feel poorly about yourself. You have gained strength you didn't even know you had and it is that strength that you must use to go on with your life and make it a worthwhile life. Use your strength to help others; that, in itself, is a gift.
Copyright © 1997-2003 National Necrotizing Fasciitis Foundation (NNFF)
All Rights Reserved.
April 9, 2003