Steve Gagne

On Friday June 1st 2007, I had developed a really bad case of strep throat. The sickness was worse than I ever had it before. My wife was ill with it as well. We were both worried that our two little ones would get it too. The weekend was spent mostly in bed, with hot soup and tea. On Monday June 4th I awoke to discover that my throat felt amazing! I had energy to spare and was raring to go! My wife was still very sick so she stayed home from work with the intention of going to the doctor that afternoon. I headed off to work, shocked that the strep had passed so quickly… As I left work that evening, I noted a slight pain and stiffness in my right elbow. Upon examination I noticed a small red spot on it. I assumed it was a bug bite of some sort. My drive home is about 30 mins, and by the time I got there my elbow had swelled a bit more and was noticeably tender. From there, all hell broke loose. I started feeling warm about an hour later, and was getting waves of nausea. By 10:00PM I had a fever of around 104 degrees. I was shaking uncontrollably and sweating profusely. I began to lose consciousness, and my brother-in-law, decided enough was enough and rushed me to the hospital. I will forever be in his debt, as his quick response saved my life. I arrived at the hospital around 11:00PM and they staff immediately began to provide antibiotics. They had no idea just how serious things would get for me. The next few days are a blur to me as I was heavily sedated to help with the pain. I recall hearing the nurse tell my brother that he should call my wife as I may not make it through the night. The pain was all encompassing and I could focus on nothing else. At one point I remember telling the doctor to cut off my arm to make it stop. By 6:30AM the swelling had spread from my fingertips to the base of my neck. The Hospitalier in charge called in an orthopedic surgeon to examine my arm. Upon arrival, the Surgeon, one Dr. Cain, took one look and called for a nurse and a surgical kit. He said that if they didn't open my arm up immediately to relieve the swelling, the skin would burst and I could die from septic shock. He incised my arm on the elbow releasing the fluid that was there. He said he would come back in an hour and that we should see marked improvement. Well, the hour came and went and the swelling did not abate. At this point, I lost consciousness again. From what I have been told, the next few hours were very hard on my wife as she was being told that it was very possible that I wouldn't make it. I came to as I was being rushed into surgery. In the waiting area, I told my wife that I loved her and we shared a teary moment, without trying to make it feel like a "goodbye". I was sedated and upon awaking three hours later, I was told that the infection had started to spread into my lungs and that I had stopped breathing on the table. I had to be intebated to keep me breathing. The doctor was able to remove the majority of the soft tissue in my elbow, and a large mass of necrotized tissue from my bicep and tricep area as well. My stay in the hospital lasted 8 days, and I was out of commission for about three months all told. The team of infectious disease doctors assigned to me, diagnosed it as one of the more aggressive cases of Necrotizing Fasciitis they had seen. I was on an intravenous antibiotic drip for twelve weeks following my release from the hospital. As I write this I have just marked my one year anniversary of this terrifying ordeal, and I am getting stronger every day. I still have some nerve damage in my lower arm and some days are more bothersome than others, but all in all I am doing just fine. The good people at Central Maine Medical Center will forever be in my heart as heroes for their tireless effort to keep me going. I walked away from this with a new vision of Life and a deeper focus on Family and Friends. I truly believe that God does not give us more than we can handle, so in my case, I guess God thinks I am one tough cookie! Thank you to my family, especially my beautiful wife Susie, who not only stayed by my side, but kept the family going through that whole time. She is an inspiration to me. NF is a very serious condition and should not be taken lightly. It is fast moving and furiously aggressive. If you feel as though you have any of the symptoms, DO NOT HESITATE!!! Go to you nearest medical facility and be checked out, it just may save your life….