Whitney Nelson
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I was diagnosed with necrotizing faciitis March 5, 2012 in Vail Colorado. I was 24 years old and on vacation with a friend. My flight was to be leaving from Denver that afternoon to take me back to Montana. I woke up around 3 a.m. to extreme pain in my arm. I first thought I had slept on it wrong and that I had just cut the circulation off. After a few hours I was still in extreme pain, I asked my friend to take me by the hospital real fast to get some pain killers before I was to board my flight. I went into the walk in clinic. By this time by arm was about 3 times the size it was when I woke up. I had a very faint rash near my underarm and when I finally got in with the nurse she thought it was shingles. She called in the doctor when the normal symptoms didn't match. He went on to start testing me to see if I had mersa. I was in such pain that I begged for something to take the pain away. They gave me the full amount of morphine allowed in the clinic and it didn't even touch the pain. Quickly after this they admitted me to the ER. They did every test in the book on me. No one knew what was wrong. I had no injury, not even a hang nail. The pain was never ending. During my transition from the clinic to the ER my husband and I spoke for the first time since I went to the hospital. He talked to the doctor and from what they told him he rushed to Vail, which is about a 13 drive. I had no idea what was really going on. I just knew that they pain wouldn't stop. The next thing I knew was that my husband walked into my room and was telling me he loved me as they wheeled me into my first surgery. My husband, Kyle, told me that they put me in a medically induced coma to make the pain stop. He stayed with me the whole time, 11 days in ICU. During my first surgery the doctors told him that I might not make it and that he should contact my family. WhitneyThey opened my whole right arm up. They went in and filleted my arm like a fish. This was an experimental procedure, it was either that or cutting my right arm, breast and shoulder off. I am beyond thankful for the experimental surgery! I had four surgeries all together. In between surgeries they had me hooked up to a vaccume so suck all the crap out. I had 6 specialists working on me through the 11 days I was there. I returned home to Montana and stayed with my family for a month and a half while Kyle returned home. My Mom was my caretaker during that time. I was on oxygen and many pain pills. While in the hospital I was pumped full of so much antibiotics that they didn't think I would get sick for a year. I went to physical therapy 4 times a week to try and get the use of my right arm back. My shoulder blade was actually 'floating' because all of the muscle and tissue that kept it in place had been cut away. My posture was terrible. I was completely unable to hold up my right side. I had zero strength. I was not able to move my right side without assistance. I had over 100 stitches on my arm. Two massive scars now cover my right arm and shoulder. It has been a little over 7 months since I was admitted to the hospital in Vail, CO. I have almost full mobility back. I still have limited motor skills and am unable to lift heavy objects. I am beyond lucky to have come home with nothing but a scar. I celebrated my 25th birthday the 1st of April. It was a birthday I didn't think I would make it to. There are so many times that I didn't think I would ever get back to 'normal'. Every day brings on new challenges. In September Kyle and I were cleared by my doctors to try and have a baby!!!! We are now 7 weeks along and couldn't be happier. Its amazing how much your life can change in just a few hours. There were so many things I used to take for granted, after such an experience I have been trying to live life with as much love and respect as possible.