Necrotizing Fasciitis


Have you read the story of Aimee Copeland, the 24-year-old graduate student from Georgia who lost her leg and now her fingers due to necrotizing fasiitis, that's been all over the interwebz the past few days?  She injured herself while zip-lining with friends, contracted necrotizing fasciitis in the wound, was sent home from hospitals twice once merely with pain pills and another time with general antibiotics for an infection, and has now lost her leg, fingers, and possibly her remaining foot.  I saw her face when I pulled up the internet this morning and it was a punch in the gut.

Because I was Aimee.

Five and a half years ago, I contracted necrotizing fasciitis in my c-section incision.  You can read full details here but I'll give you the Cliff's Notes real quick: five days post-partum, a fever spiked and I noticed a spot on my incision.  The next day, the fever was still there and there was another dark spot.  I went to the doctor, he sent me to the hospital and a few hours later I was being wheeled into emergency surgery for something I had never heard of that was only described to me as "very serious."  I can remember being taken down the hallway of the hospital, my mom and uncle and friend Megan behind me and crying to them to please make sure my baby was taken care of.  It was that serious.  By the grace of God, I woke up a few hours later and, when doctors asked me if I had any questions, I groggily asked if the Cardinals had won (the game was a rain out). 

Most people who contract necrotizing fasciitis either don't make it or they end up losing a limb or something of that nature.  Once the bacteria attacks, it is vicious and hard to get rid of.  Surgery is the only option and, if it attacks lower than tissue and fascia, then whatever it attacks has to be removed to make sure the infection doesn't spread to other parts of the body.  Sometimes skin grafts and hyperbaric chambers become necessary.  I came out . . . lucky.  I still don't know how (it had been six days since my "wound").  I probably should have lost my left leg.  I maybe even should have lost my life.  I like to think that God chose to keep me around because, well, if it wasn't for me then Kyan and Karis (the two babies I WAS NOT supposed to have) wouldn't be around either.  Maybe one of them (both of them?) is going to cure cancer or bring peace to the Middle East.  You never know . . .

Necrotizing Fasciitis changed my life.  It changed my body -- though much less than what it could have -- I have a huge scar, something that mederma will never, ever be able to cover, my left leg is weaker than my right leg, and the surgery left me with a misshapen abdomen.  More that, though, it changed how I see a lot of things.  I don't think many people can come face-to-face with death at age 26 and come out of it without a change in attitude.  I will turn 32 in a few days and while part of me is all, "THRI-TY-TWO? THAT'S FOR OLD PEOPLE!" a bigger part of me knows just how GOTdamn lucky I am to have made it to 32. 

It is amazing how quickly something you've never heard of can change your life.  I know that's true for more things than necrotizing fasciitis -- look at blogs like Avery's Bucket List.  Her parents never heard of SMA before their daughter was diagnosed and it shook their world to it's very core.  But my curve-ball, my life-changer was NF.  I never thought I'd have a baby and then be forced to spend ten days separated from him because an infection decided to ravage my body.  I'm sure it never crossed Aimee Copeland's mind that a gash from a zip line would cause her to lose her leg.  Say a prayer for her, would ya?
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