Dennis W. Macy

My story begins in March 2003. I was active duty US Air Force and stationed in Singapore. I decided to take the family on vacation to Hawaii for spring break since we were due to rotate out of Singapore in December of that year. We were staying at the Hale Koa hotel in downtown Waikiki and enjoying our vacation. We played on the beach, swam in the ocean, hiked up Diamondhead, and did all of the touristy things. We spent out last full day over on the other side of the island boogie boarding at Bellows AFS with some friends I had met in the UK (we were stationed together at RAF Mildenhall and he was now stationed at Hickam). We had a great time on the beach all day then met for pizza that night. Our plane was departing at 9:30 am on Saturday, so we wouldn't have much time to do anything on Saturday morning. We departed Hawaii and arrived in Singapore a little after midnight on Monday morning (due to crossing the International Date Line). We put the kids to bed and then hit the sack ourselves. We didn't unpack that night due to the long flight and all, so the suitcases were just lying on the floor in the bedroom. Sometime during the night I had to head to the restroom and inadvertently kicked one of the duffel bags lying on the floor with my right foot. No sharp pain or anything; just annoyed that I didn't put it more out of the way. I got up for work, as usual, on Monday morning feeling just fine. Talked with my co-workers about the trip and tried to get a little caught up after a week away from the office. I went out for a lunch-time run (1200), since I didn't get much exercise while we were on vacation, I felt like I had to get out and do something. After the run, and once I returned to the office, I started feeling a bit nauseous.and my foot was starting to ache just a little bit. SO, figuring it was just a little jet-lag, I asked my boss if I could go home a bit early and get some rest to ward off the flu-like symptoms, he sent me home around 3pm. I crawled into bed, by this time I had a fever, and tried to get some sleep. I was tossing and turning all night and my fever was around 102 degrees. When I woke up the next morning, I decided to head down to the medical aid station and see about getting my foot x-rayed since I figured I might have broken a bone in my foot. The pain was more severe at this point and I could barely walk on the foot. I had it x-rayed at the downtown hospital, and everything was fine, so they gave me some Ben-Gay to put on my foot. I returned home and to bed, still with a pretty high fever. Later that evening, while I was taking a bath, my wife noticed a small sore in between my little toe and the next one. She said it looked liked something had "eaten" its way into my foot. By this time, I was on crutches and not able to put any weight on my foot. On Wednesday morning, 1 April, I decided to head back down to the medical aid station, and offer them my prognosis of a possible infection in my foot attributing to my fever. The local doc agreed and gave me some oral antibiotics to take. Back home to bed and the pain. I took the antibiotics as prescribed, but little had improved. My foot was now swollen and I noticed a small black spot down near the little toe on top of my foot. My wife returned home from work on Thursday evening and took one look at me and said "Get in the car; we're going to the ER." Once there, they admitted me and started an IV with some antibiotics. On Friday morning the orthopedic surgeon came to visit me and said that I had an abscess in my foot and they would probably have to do surgery to drain it. Whatever they needed to do to get rid of the pain and fever was fine with me. I didn't really pay too much attention when later in the day on Friday; he returned with an Infectious Disease specialist. At this point, I still had no clue as to what the problem was. Once my fever had subsided, they decided to get on with the surgery. They came in on Sunday morning and told me I was scheduled for later that afternoon. The surgeon told me they would probably just make a small incision on the top of my foot and drain the abscess, sounded good to me. I awoke after the surgery, fever gone and the pain in my foot was gone as well.YEA!! To my surprise, when the nurse came into the room on Monday morning (Apr 6) to change the dressing, I was shocked to see the "small incision" on my foot. I had a scoop taken out of the top, all the way down to the bone, and nearly the entire length of my foot. When I mentioned the small incision to the surgeon later, he replied "It was a little worse than we thought once we got in there". No kidding. Anyway, the next week wasn't so bad, just waiting to be released so I could go home. They finally checked me out the following Monday, Apr 13. The doctors wanted me to return to the hospital so they could change the dressing on Thursday, and to make sure the antibiotics were doing what they were supposed to be doing. My first appointment was with the infectious disease specialist, when I mentioned to him about the top of my foot still being numb, he told me it was a small price to pay for getting to keep my foot. I said "WHAT??" that's when I found out just how serious the situation was. He told me about the strep infection and said I had a case of "flesh eating" bacteria in my foot. If the infection would not have stopped progressing when it did, the surgery would have been to remove the foot right above the ankle. So, I indeed did feel lucky. Not only to be able to keep my foot, but to still be alive. Both doctors pointed out how lucky I was that it stayed in my foot and in between the skin and the bone and didn't get any deeper or spread anywhere else. As soon as I returned home, I immediately hit the Internet and looked up the flesh eating bacteria. Sure enough, I had all the symptoms, and felt truly lucky to still be around. I headed back to the hospital 2 weeks later to have a skin graft taken from the inside of my right thigh to help close the wound on my foot. Once again, the "small" graft turned out to be more than just a little one. They fixed me up and sent me home. I had my last office visit with both doctors on 2 July 2003 and they both gave me a clean bill of health. It's been almost 3 years since my infection and I'm thankful for the two Singaporean doctors who diagnosed my condition in a timely manner and took care of the situation. Had we remained in Hawaii another day or two, I'm not sure what would have happened to me. The foot is still numb and bothers me a little from time to time, but it's nice to wake up in the morning and still be able to count 10 toes at the end of the bed.