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Karla Dorman, The StormSpinner

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A Survivor's Story: Necrotizing Fasciitis
By Karla Dorman, The StormSpinner
Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Rated "G" by the Author.

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FICTION--based on truth.

A Survivor's Story:  Necrotizing Fasciitis
(C) Copy written, 2004, by Karla Dorman.

(Nadine, still in hospital)  I am the woman you see today, all because of a tiny, insignificant cut.

Nadine Winters, 45, a pale, red headed woman, is currently hospitalized for therapy.  She lost her left arm and had many surgeries all due to a raging infection.  Her husband, Kenneth, 48, has aged, but has faithfully remained with her every step of the way.    They've been married for 20 years.  This is their story of survival.

Let me start you at the beginning.  Kenneth, my husband, will have to fill you in part of the time, because I simply don't remember.

Three months ago--is that right, Kenneth?  Yeah, it was in April, on a lovely spring morning.  I was in my flower garden.  I love flowers, and was pruning my beautiful roses.  Somehow or another, I got a teeny, tiny little cut on my left thumb.  It happens.  It was almost comical in size.  Who knew that cut would bring me such misery?  I mean, it barely bled and didn't hurt.

Anyway, since I was playing around in the dirt, as Kenneth likes to say, I got the watering can and rinsed off my thumb and hand.  Kenneth asked me what was wrong, and I showed him the cut, embarrassed.  Kenneth suggested we go get something to eat, so I got up, went into the house, changed clothes, and we left.  I forgot about the cut on my hand.

We ate and just poked around that day, and by late afternoon, I was beginning to feel like I had been exposed to the 'flu.  You know, chilled, achy...kind of feverish.  We were supposed to go to our neighbors for our weekly card game/b.s. session, but I wasn't really feeling up to par, so Kenneth called the neighbors and said I was coming down with the 'flu, and sorry, we wouldn't be over.

I went to bed around eight.  I never go to bed that early.  Ever.  Kenneth and I usually sit and read the paper, watch the t.v. if there's anything on and talk.  It's our special time after he comes home from work.  I was beginning to feel worse, and there was a vague aching in my left arm, so I turned in.  I fell right to sleep.

Sometime during the night, I woke up in the worst pain I'd ever experienced in my life.  It felt like my arm was caught in a vise.  I was extremely nauseated, and when I got up to go to the bathroom, the room swirled dizzily and I fell.  I must have cried out, because Kenneth asked me what was wrong.  I couldn't answer him.  He leaped out of bed, turned on the light and saw me laying on the floor, throwing up.  I couldn't stop--wave upon wave of nausea.  And the pain!  I've never felt pain like that.

He called 9-11 and told them something was wrong, and they promised to send an ambulance.

I remember the paramedics coming into the house and asking me what was wrong.  I remember trying to talk to them and the unending sickness.  I remember the pain.  I remember the medics saying my blood pressure was unbelievably low.  I remember them saying my arm was turning black...and the frantic ride to the hospital...and not much else until I woke up two weeks ago.

(Kenneth)  What Nadine had was necrotizing fasciitis, or "flesh eating disease."  The way the doctors explained it, it is an overwhelming, sudden inflammation of the connective tissue in the body, caused by tiny organisms, like Streptococcus A, for example, that enter the body through a cut or bruise...or sometimes, it happens for no reason at all.  It gets in there and just runs rampant.  If not treated right away, the patient will most likely die.

When they got Nadine to the hospital, her entire left arm was swollent three times normal size and violently red, with black lines running through it, from her hand going up her arm.  She was semi-concious, talking nonsense, still occasionally throwing up.

The doctors asked me how long she'd been like this, I told them she was fine until this evening, when she felt like she was coming down with the flu.  They zipped her off to have an MRI, and the next thing I know, she was going into surgery!

After what seemed like hours, the doctor came out and told me that my wife had this flesh eating bug and that he didn't know if they could save her life.  She was in grave condition, and would have to have extensive surgical and antibiotic intervention if she were to have a chance.

The treatments were almost worse than the disease--they had to incise the infected areas and remove the damaged tissue.  They call that debridement.  They do that on burned patients.  Well, this disease basically is the same.  Massive amounts of tissue is destroyed by the infection and must be removed.  Nadine had numerous surgeries; sometimes she had surgery three times a day.

Nadine looked terrible.  She was in an isolation room in I.C.U.,  they would only let me see her briefly three times a day.  She was all wired up, tubing everywhere.  IVs.  Breathing tube.  Catheter.  All sorts of monitoring equipment.  All of the medical staff treating her had to wear gowns and masks and gloves anytime they got near her.  They had her knocked out, but you could still see Nadine was hurting.  The wounds were left open and packed with medicated bandages.  The smell...they had to amputate her arm to the elbow, and the wounds extend up to the left upper chest.  She'll carry those scars for life.  But she lived.

(Nadine)  They'd knocked me out, so I don't remember much of anything.  I vaguely remember voices telling me they were doing this thing or another, however, I was in no shape to respond.  I remember some pain.  It wasn't until two weeks ago?  Yeah, two weeks ago that I woke up.  Three months here in the hospital...when I woke up, that's when I discovered my arm.  What I had gone through.  I still have a long way to go, but they think I will survive...

Necrotizing fasciitis (pronounced, "neck-row-tie-zing fass-see-eye-tis") is a rare, life threatening infection of the subcutaneous ("under the skin") tissue and adjacent tissue, the fascia.  Aerobic and anaerobic organisms, like Streptococcus A, the common "staph" germ, are usually the cause.

It normally happens as a result of trauma to the skin--a cut, a bruise, surgical incision, or it can happen spontaneously.

Treatment of necrotizing fasciitis is aggressive in hospital treatment, with extensive surgical intervention and massive doses of strong antibiotics.  Even with these measures, the patient may still die.

Symptoms of necrotizing fasciitis include:

*fever                               *dizziness
*low blood pressure           *nausea
*vomiting                          *generalized body aches
*other 'flu symptoms         *severe pain in affected body part

If you sustain a cut or other trauma to the skin, wash it out immedicately with clean water and an antiseptic, and keep a close watch on it.  If you experience fever along with other worsening symptoms, get to the nearest emergency room quickly.  How fast you respond may determine your chances.

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Reviewed by Mark Lichterman 6/28/2009
The intelligence, the intellect, the research, along with the writing talent to put an informative write such as this onto our screens and into our minds.
very well done, Karla.
Reviewed by kg cummings 6/10/2009
this is truly an eye opening short story. I'm so glad that I read it as my 87 year old mother is always always always out puttering around in the yard. Bless you, Kathy
Reviewed by Rockie Coppolella 2/21/2009
This is a traumatizing condition for not just the victim but the family and loved ones as well. I have seen stories of this on TV before, and it always seems to have horror associates with it.

I am not an MD, so therefore my opinions are irrelevant without medical research to back them up. Nevertheless, I have an invention planned to cure cancer, which also has potential uses in curing the underlying cause of this necrotizing fasciitis disease and others as well. As usual, because I don't have the credentials, or the money and backing to do the research and development, this potentially life saving invention has never been built.

Read my bio on the Den for more of this type of thinking. The theory on which this cure depends, is based on sound physics that can be implemented with only an application and refinement of currently available technologies, and the actual laboratory analysis to test and fine-tune the proto-type apparatus. Millions and millions go to cure breast cancer and other maladies, which is great, but this undeveloped invention has the potential to cure that and many other things, yet no one takes me seriously, and has approached me in a business like, confidential fashion.

Rockie Coppolella
Reviewed by Krystal Hutchison 2/17/2009
My sister is currently in ICU just out of her second surgery for Necrotizing Fasciitis. Kelly (my siter) was admitted to the hospital Friday Feb. 13th to have exploratory surgery (doctors could not tell from X-rays what was causing her to be ill from time to time) during surgery they discovered she had a growth of cists that the had to remove. Somehow they punchered her intestions and she spent the next three days screaming in pain and yet no one tried to find out what went wrong. By this past Sunday Kelly and I noticed what liked like a purple pimple on her stomach and we brought this to the attention of the on staff doctor. Finally on Monday she was taken for an MRI and thats when it was discovered she had Necrotizing Fasciitis. I'm only 27 (Kelly is 30) and never having heard of this sort of thing and because the on staff doctor only told they where going to remove my sister's skin. I started doing my own research and was shocked how serious this condition really is. We have no other family in town with us so needless to say any information I have gathered has scared me until I happened across your story. It has given me hope that my sister will pull through this even though she has a couple of more surgery's ahead and then ahe will have to begin skin graphs. Thank You for sharing ... Your words have brought comfort.
Reviewed by Miller Caldwell 11/3/2008
I have heard about this tragic disease but never encountered it.Yet the advice you give is paramount. Clean cuts.Glad you are well and able to educate everyone. God bless you
Reviewed by Sandra Corona 10/13/2008
My neighbor, fishing, fell and then rinsed his cut with water from the pond. He nearly lost his arm and is still having skin grafts to fill the gaps where they cut the muscle/flesh from his arm. This is a TERRIBLE thing!
Thanks for sharing the story.

God loves you and so do I,
Reviewed by Christi Anderson 2/11/2008
Oh My Lord! Nadine!!! You dodged a hollow-point bullet! You may not think this, but you are truly blessed by God to have survived that. Thank you for sharing this traumatic experience through your talented writing.
Reviewed by Brooke Jennings 9/24/2007
Thanks for posting the story. I always wondered how people got this disease. I did not know it came from playing in dirt. Amazing story!
Reviewed by Mary Coe 9/19/2007
I've heard alot about this flesh eating bacteria. Scary.
Reviewed by Jean Strickland 9/18/2007
As a nurse, I've seen this too many times. We can't be careful enough. Living in the south, insects abound. As well as snakes. My husband laughs at me because I always go through this rigorous ritual when I pick up a pair of gloves to use in the yard. I squeeze every finger of the glove then turn it inside out and shake it with all my might and inspect it as if microscopic things might be in there waiting for my fingers. He didn't see what I saw... a man lose his hand because brown recluses had hatached out in his glove and he didn't feel anything when he put them on. I'll never ever forget! Thanks for the story. You just reminded me why I still do that! I also took care of a very sweet old man who eventually lost his life after surviving a "forequarter amputation" (his arm and shoulder removed) due to N.F. caused by a cut from a piece of tin. They cured him of the N.F., the sepsis, etc. then he died from a pulmonary embolus during rehab. Sad!
Reviewed by Vivian DeSoto 9/8/2007
I read thisi about a week ago, and had to come back and read it again. Scary!! A good friend went through this, only from a pin prick in his leg. Five months in the hospital, but saved the leg. We lost a young boy here in San Diego very recently to this 'bacteria', it started from a small cut on his thumb. He only survived a few days. Tragic tragic stories!

Very well written - I was right there all the way with you (which is what I love about your writing - you pull the reader right into the story).
Reviewed by Walt Hardester 6/8/2007
all from one lttle rose prick
bacteria are such everyday things we often forget how deadly they can be....especially staph

Reviewed by MaryGrace Patterson 4/4/2007
Good advise.. Many don't tend to cute as they should , and up with infection. . I have never encountered this bacteria, but have read a little about it.. Thanks for writng this informative article...M
Reviewed by Jake George 2/19/2006
Interesting Karla,

I am a survivor of Necrotizing Facetious, or flesh-eating bacteria is it is commonly known.

I had it in my neck and head from a spider bite while working in my pool enclosure. It almost killed me. It did leave me with a voice of gravel. I used to have a beautiful baritone voice that was destroyed but three months of voice therapy left me with a passable voice. I speak three octaves higher than before but it doesn’t sound bad. Its just not mine.

It also harmed my heart. My right ventricle was effected and it did not fire right for a few years. But it seems to have righted it self. My last EKG was normal.

The doctor told me it if had been in my arm or leg they would have amputated to save my life. So I stand here today a changed man. I have looked at life quite differently since that day.

If you have had NF or would like more information on it do a search for the National Necrotizing Facetious Foundation. I have been a member for a few years.
Reviewed by Sandra Mushi 2/2/2006
Karla, your talent amazes me!

God bless,

Reviewed by White Dove left 9/26/2005
Great talent..Standing ovation...
Reviewed by Michael Ault 7/20/2005
Excellent!I agree, you need to publish this somewhere!

Reviewed by Poetess of The Soul Sheila G 4/20/2005
Wow- is all I can really say for starters... I like how you pulled me in as I read to the end.. What talent you have Miss *( if you are a Miss) I have heard of this disease of the skin but, If I hadn't. I still would of believed this story. This didn't happen in Africa either- you would think, a far country is a possiblity. I like your style, I look up to you and your way of writing and drawing in your readers. Thank You! Lady,Sheee
Reviewed by A Serviceable Villain 11/28/2004

Greatly enjoyed this exceptional write my friend - an amazing story all the way ... wonderful!!

Best wishes,

Reviewed by Retta (Reindeer) Mckenzie 7/13/2004
This was so scary! Thank goodness she lived and went to the hospital so soon, Thank you for the warning, how terrible!

Reviewed by Pier Tyler 7/12/2004
Truly an amazing story. I am stun. This is highly educational, a must need to know, and very enlightening for me. Thanks for sharing this.
Reviewed by Chanti Niven 7/10/2004
Dear Karla,

It is so easy to see that you have oodles of talent. You should be writing for a magazine or in fulltime journalism. Your reporting skills are excellent but you still managed to tell this story with sensitivity and make it real for us your readers. Thank you!!!
Reviewed by Nickolaus Pacione 5/30/2004
I agree with Matt on this one. This is a well written work here. Since you reviewed a good number of mine -- I thought it was time to return the favor. You do have some talent here. You in fact inspired me as well with a story I wrote. This is a dark story here, you thought hasan and I are capable of pulling off some scary writes. You could pull off some of your own here.
Reviewed by matthew Hewitt 4/23/2004
Enjoyed this karla, well done.
Reviewed by Michelle Kidwell Power In The Pen 4/21/2004
This is an amazing write, and ty for the piece of advise on the end, I will remember that...
God Bless
Reviewed by Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado 4/21/2004

Oh. My. GOD!!! What a harrowing, life-and-death struggle of a story; this drew me in, and it was as though I were right there with Nadine and Ken! Oh, what a horrific disease this nec/fac is; I pray we never get it! Thanks for educating us today and showing us your gifted and talented pen! EXCELLENT, EXCELLENT job!! May you write many more stories such as these! Hope this is a series; this is a hell of a great start!!

(((HUGS))) and much love, your twin, Karen Lynn. :( *cringing* BRRR!!

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