Marcy Nathlich

On October 13th 2004, I left for work in great pain. A few days earlier I had fallen in the bath tub and injured my right hip, and was bruised terribly. Me being the independent, stubborn person I am, suffered through the pain not wanting to go to the doctor. The last thing I remember about that morning was pulling out of the garage....the rest, I am telling from information given to me by friends. Around 9:30 that morning I called my boss at work and told him I was lost. He asked where I was and I responded that I was behind a blue van and hung up the phone. No one knew where I was and I didn't answer my cell phone. I drove around for hours, finally stopping 30 miles north of my home in a small town named Anna. Luckily, I stopped in front of a housing development office, and a man came out because he saw my head bobbing and my car lurching forward. He took my cell phone, and spoke with 911 and gave them my location. A few moments later I was taken to the hospital by ambulance. After arriving at the hospital, they rushed me to ICU where I was examined by the physician. He felt my thigh and said it felt like popcorn. They took an x-ray and saw several air pockets. He almost immediately came out and told my fiance that I was not going to live and that he needed to call my family and have them come down from Omaha. He broke down...he had only met my parents once, but he called and spoke with my dad. My family was all there the very next day. They advised that I had contracted necrotizing fasciitis, that it had eaten its way through my upper right thigh..and they were worried about organ failure. They scheduled me for surgery and put me into a drug induced coma....they pumped my stomach...put me on a respirator...put a main line in my chest and pumped me full of antibiotics. I was taken to surgery where they made several deep cuts into my leg. In all, I had 12 surgeries. After 19 days, they woke me up and took me off the respirator. I woke up not knowing where I was, what was going on. I was in a great deal of discomfort, and I looked down at my leg. It was covered in a black spongey type of material, and it was attached to a machine which appeared to be sucking liquid out of my leg. The doctors came in and explained everything. The machine attached to my leg was a KCI Wound Vac...this is what ended up saving my life and my limb. I stayed in ICU for 5 additional days before they moved me to a regular room, where I continued to be attached to the wound vac. Every other day they would do dressing changes which were EXTREMELY painful as they had sponge packed tight into the tunnels they had made in my leg. When they pulled them out, it felt like they were holding a match up to my skin. I still had not attempted to walk, and could not move my leg. Physical therapy came down and forced me out of bed...and I walked for the first time. It was rough...I had almost no muscle in my right leg, so my foot dragged behind me as I walked down the hall, but I was doing it!! Every day I got better, walking further and further. The doctors were amazed at my recovery. I had not only survived one of the worst cases they had seen, but I had also kept my limb and was WALKING! They kept me in the hospital until November 23, 2004. Forty LONG days. My mom, who had been here the entire time, was taught how to do dressing changes. I have a large skinless wound that will eventually require a skin graft, and several other wounds which will need to be sewn shut. I was so ready to go home. Now that I am home, the pain is bad, but I'm so happy to have my life and my leg. I had such wonderful doctors, and luckily they knew what was wrong with me the moment I was taken in. I have to go through several follow up appointments, and more surgeries, but I'm ready for it!! Reading all these stories has given me the hope and support I have needed. I hope my story helps as well. UPDATE January 6, 2005: After several follow up visits to my plastic surgeon, he has decided that my wounds are going to close themselves and I will not need skin grafts!!! I was so excited to hear this! I am doing VERY well..the pain lessens with every day..I am walking almost normal, no need for my quad cain any more! Dave and I plan on getting married the end of April. Life does indeed go on! Thank you everyone, for all of your emails. This site has helped me more than anything else!