|Miranda Bertram's Survivor Story|
name is Miranda Bertram. I am 28 years old and a survivor of Necrotizing
Fasciitis. I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl at the age of 26. She
unfortunately came out face up causing me to have a fourth degree tear.
The day after being released from the hospital I started running a fever.
I had chills like I had never had before so I called my doctor. He told
me to take ibuprofen and meet him at his office the following morning.
Without an exam he concluded that I had mastitis and sent me home without
any antibiotics. The next day was Christmas Eve. I continued to run a
fever, and I was also getting very dehydrated. I was continually drinking
water. By this point all I could do was sit on the couch. Family came
to our home to celebrate our daughters first Christmas. By Christmas night
I couldn't even walk. I crawled to our bedroom on my hands and knees.
I knew something was not right.
I started noticing a very fowl odor was coming from my body. I noticed a brown looking discharge coming from my butt. I finally got a mirror to see what was going on back there. I was in shock when I saw a large black spot on my right butt cheek. I ended up showing my mom, and I called the doctor. I met him at the triage where I delivered my daughter. No one could believe their eyes. He told me immediately that I needed surgery. I was admitted to the hospital and had my very first surgery two hours later. I was in the ICU for five days. I had surgery the first four of those five days. Thankfully, I only remember bits and pieces of this. I remember when I realized I had a colostomy. Me, a 26 year old girl, with a colostomy. I am a very girly girl so this was hard for me to accept. Thank goodness I was on a great deal of pain medicine at the time, because if not I would have had a major meltdown. I also found out I was given a wound vac. At the time I hated this thing, but ultimately it saved my life. After five days of being in the ICU I was moved to a normal floor. This is when things really started to sink in, and my mental state went down hill. I became very depressed. I asked myself "why me?" a hundred times over. All I wanted to do was go home and take care of my daughter. I remember being jealous of anyone who could walk in my room and walk out. I was jealous of the nurses who got to go home after their shift was over. This is the hardest thing I have ever had to deal with in my life. My husband and I spent New Years Eve in a hospital room. Luckily, we had some friends who brought my husband a nice steak dinner and visited for a little bit. We should have been home with our newborn, but instead we watched the ball drop from my hospital room.
After 10 days of being in the hospital and a lot of begging and pleading with my surgeon, I was finally released. There was a lot to figure out before I was released. I couldn't pee on my own so I had to have a catheter. I also had to get a different wound vac that I could take home with me. Home health had to be scheduled in order for me to be released. After a long day of waiting I was finally released to go home. FINALLY! I was thrilled to be rolled out the door.
Once I got home I realized it wasn't as great as I thought it was going to be. The depression set in all over again. Some days I would sit on the couch and cry the hardest I have ever cried. My independence was gone. I needed help in every aspect of my life. The worst part was not being able to take my clothes on and off by myself. I needed help just to get in and out of the shower. I consider myself a fairly modest person so this was rough. I couldn't get up to take care of my daughter. The only thing I could do for her was feed her a bottle. My mom took six weeks off work to stay home and take care of myself and my daughter. My husband recently started a new job so he was only allowed to take off while I was in the hospital. My mom took me back to the hospital three days a week for wound debridements. Normally this could be done at home, but it would be too painful for me. I had to be given general anesthesia.
After four weeks of having the wound vac my surgeon finally said he could take it off. I was scheduled to be at the hospital at 5:00am on a Wednesday morning. There was a huge ice storm the night before. It was so bad we lost our power. My parents came to stay with us to make sure I would make it to the hospital. Come hell or high water we were going to get there! The roads were almost unpassable, but luckily we made it. The wound vac was taken off, and my surgeon put in two drainage tubes. These were incredibly painful! This was probably the most pain I have ever felt. These tubes were just stuck in the back of my leg with a few stitches to hold them in.
I was definitely on the road to recovery, but I still could not pee! I had the catheter for over a month. Each time they would take it out I would try to go but couldn't. My surgeon was very hopeful that I would be able to pee once the wound vac was out. He gave us strict instructions to take it out on a Monday morning. I tried to pee a few hours after it came out, and I couldn't go. This was definitely my lowest moment. I remember thinking that I would rather die than continue going through this. My mom was there with me, and she was so disappointed too. A home health nurse came to put the catheter back in. A few hours later she called and said that my surgeon demanded it stay out for 24 hours. My heart sank. If I couldn't pee I had to call the on call nurse to come fast cath me that evening. I prayed and prayed. That night I went in the bathroom, and I went. I screamed to my husband that I peed. I called my mom and told her. She was thrilled! I went from my lowest low that day to my highest high.
A week later the drainage tubes were taken out, and I was pretty much back to normal. I still had the colostomy, but I could function on my own again. I was thrilled. I will never forget that day as long as I live. It was also mine and my husband's third wedding anniversary. My mom took me to all my appointments so we celebrated by going out to lunch that day. This is the first public place I had been to, besides the hospital, in over a month. It felt great! My mom went back to work the week after, and I resumed my normal life. I was finally able to take care of my daughter and myself. It was wonderful.
Even though I was back to normal I still had a colostomy. I am young and try my best to be stylish so this thing had to go! I had to go see a colorectal surgeon to determine if it could be reversed. I dreaded going. It was so embarrassing showing that thing to anyone let alone someone I had never met before. It turns out he was super nice and very encouraging. He said it could be reversed, but he didn't know if I would be completely back to normal. Since the infection started on my butt it spread to my sphincter muscle. The infection ate away at some of the muscle so he was unsure of how much control I would have. Three months to the day of being admitted to the hospital the colostomy was reversed. I was so happy. I didn't care that I had to have surgery or be in the hospital. My body was back to normal. I was released from the hospital after four days. After some time I figured out that I do have some control issues, but I can still live a normal life.
I never in a million years thought something like this could ever happen to me. It changed my life forever. I am thankful everyday to be alive and in one piece. I know things could have been a lot worse. I learned during my journey what incredible family and friends I have. Friends sent me cards to the hospital. I had many visitors, even though I did not want to see anyone. A friend that I have known since high school came to the hospital to play games with me. Another friend came to visit just so we could catch up on gossip. I always felt better when they were there. It let me escape from my illness for a couple of hours. Once I was home one of my friends mom's brought my mom and I lunch and came to visit often to see how I was doing. My family took care of me. If it wasn't for them I probably would have had to stay in the hospital. I also met some wonderful doctors and nurses that I will never forget. I am so grateful that I get to see my daughter grow up. That could have been taken from me so easily. This infection taught me to enjoy the simple things in life. There are some days I sit down to pee and think to myself how happy I am to be able to do this on my own. I will always have compassion for people with serious illnesses. I know what it's like to be in their shoes, and it isn't easy. I learned to never take life for granted. It could be taken away in a blink of an eye.
Copyright © 1997-2003 National Necrotizing Fasciitis Foundation (NNFF)
All Rights Reserved.
October 20, 2010