Ruth Hunter Damron

I appreciate the chance to let the world know just how grateful we are to have my mother, Ruth Hunter Damron, still with us. This all started November 2003. My mother, who has always gotten boils, got a boil on her inner thigh. She though nothing of it, neither did any of us. It progressively got worse. She was to the point she couldn't get out of bed. My sister and I were taking care of her, washing her, and helping her get up to use the bathroom. We all agreed this was by far the worse boil she ever had, but unfortunately, she is one of those people going through disability which means she had no insurance and no health care and she didn't want to rack up a hospital bill that she couldn't afford to pay. My mother has several health problems. She is diabetic, she has had three heart attacks, breathing problems, she takes about $200.00 a month worth of medicine as it was, and we are taking care of her, so she didn't want to put anything else on us that she didn't have to. It didn't matter to us. We begged her to go. So after two weeks of struggling with her, getting up at all hours of the night to go give her antibiotics, she thought would make her better, she started getting black spots on her belly. She tried to convince me that it was from taking the ibuprofen and coughing that made her belly bruise. I have a minor medical background so I knew better, I went online and looked up what I thought it was, fournier gangrene. And it was so I told her that she had to go to the hospital, and this time, by the grace of God alone, she went. She was admitted into the hospital at around 5 pm after arriving by ambulance being she couldn't walk I couldn't take her in my car. After getting diagnosed with an infection that had tunneled, we went home at around 10 pm. When I walked in the door the phone rang. She called me to tell me that the surgeon had just seen her and wanted all of her family there because she had to undergo emergency surgery and he wanted to talk to us before hand. We all arrived back to the hospital in under 15 minutes. We were in her room when the doctor walked in and gave us the terrible news, she had Necrotizing Fasciitis, and of course none of us knew exactly what that was, so he went on to explain. We were all in shock and he said there is no time to waste. He couldn't even guarantee that she would make it through the surgery. She was the worst case he had ever seen. Now mind you we live in a small, small town, so everyone knows everyone. Her first surgery lasted about 6 1/2 hours, he came out and told us he had never seen something that bad before and to not expect her to make it. He couldn't go in her actually belly because if it wasn't infected he would have made it that way by going inside so he made the choice to do it the next day. He said her heart dropped to 3 beats per min in surgery so we had to pray because that was the only thing that could help. So we all waited forever until the next day when she went back to surgery again. He reported back to us that it had not gone all the way through to her belly and that we still couldn't be sure she would make it. So after all this time we still didn't have our mom back yet. The third day came, she was still on the vent and nothing was looking good. Her heart rate was bad, her blood pressure bad, her resp bad. So we prayed some more. Finally, on the fourth day, he took her off the vent which made us extremely happy. She could actually talk again. I asked the doctor if I could stay in while they did her dressing change he said sure, but I needed to understand this is probably the worst thing I had ever seen in your life. I said no problem I would like to see it and take some pictures. He said okay reluctantly. I was shocked to say the least. It was horrible. She had a gapping wound to her abdomen. Everything was exposed. I could see her pelvic bone, her stomacher muscles, rib cage. It was bad. She made it this far though. All I could do was pray she would keep on trying for us. She has five grandkids, three daughters and two son-in-laws. She couldn't leave us now. On the fifth day, the doctor was talking about moving her to a hyperbolic chamber for hyperbolic treatments. That was all the way in Orlando, a three hour drive from here, but we had to let her go. It was for the best. She went to Orlando and underwent the HB2 treatments and they seemed to help. That, along with pulse lavage, she was looking better. We spent our Thanksgiving at the hospital with her. We brought the whole family. I think it made her feel good. I'm not sure if I explained how much damage the NF had done ate her whole abdominal area, from her ribcage down, her genital area, outer labia, her rectal area, inner thigh all had to be removed. They talked about doing a colostomy but had no where to put it without bringing it up as high as the breast, and that was a precaution for infection, being that close to her heart so they didn't want to do that. So they patched her up on her rectal area as good as they could. She got better after the HB2 treatments so they moved her back here to our hometown. Now all there is to do is wait. She has gotten two more infections and foot drop in her left leg and foot. She already had neuropathy in her legs so this was even worse. She has MRSA, (Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus), and Osteomyelitis (an acute or chronic inflammatory process of the bone and its structures secondary to infection). And that is where we are now Christmas 2003. I will do my best to keep you up to date with her progress. So far it's looking like she will be going to a rehab center to help her regain all her functions. Update: January 7, 2004 Ruth Hunter Damron made it home! She came home on New Year's Eve. It's wonderful to start the year off with her home. I now take care of packing her wound everyday. I take her every other day to the hospital to get antibiotic therapy. Everything is GOING GREAT!!!!! Thank GOD. Her wound has shrunk from a whopping 16 inches by 12 inches to a MINOR 5 inches by 3 inches. She will have to have a skin graft to cover the rest of her, but other than that, all is great! Update: January 9, 2009 Ruth Hunter Damron has since passed away not from NF but from a massive heart attack, after living threw the NF and recovering COMPLETELY she was diagnosed with acute CAD, PVD,PAD and several other things, she was told in October of 2007 that she needed a heart transplant but it would probably not happen quickly for someone with all of her medical problems. So she had a AICUD a pacemaker and defribulator put in on September 17th 2007 and passed away 364 days later on September 18th 2008. We were given years after the NF, but God had better plans for her up there with him.