Tracy Bastian

My story has a happy ending, it's minor compared to some, but nonetheless without timely intervention, I wouldn't be here writing this. My experience taught me a valuable lesson and changed my perspective forever. It all started the morning of March 25, 2012, I was preparing to provide organ music at church. I set my left elbow down on the organ cabinet and was startled by a very sharp pain but I thought little of it. Later that day we were riding horses with several guests at our home arena. My arm was getting more painful, but my attention to it was completely diverted when my wife was bucked off a horse and sustained compound fractures in her right leg. That evening after getting her settled into the hospital and ready for morning surgery I traveled home. By then my elbow was quite painful and swelling had progressed most of the way to my hand. I couldn't find a comfortable sleeping position and had to rise early to be present for my wife's surgery. Due to her situation, I largely tried to ignore my own. Since I had not injured the arm, only just a dry crack on the elbow, I couldn't fathom that anything "serious" was going on. That night, approximately 36 hours after the very first sign of soreness, I developed fever and chills and was having an increasingly hard time focusing on the simplest tasks. In the morning I thought I should consider seeking medical advice. The first clinic I stopped at didn't have time that day and told me to come back the next day. I shared this news with my hospitalized wife and she urged me not to wait, but to go to the local hospital and insist on getting help. I still didn't think I had an "urgent" situation so wasn't planning to go to the emergency room. Nonetheless I was getting very sick and weak. By now the arm was swollen from above the elbow all the way into the fingers. Some parts were turning purple while other areas were bright red, it was so painful that even changing a shirt was an ordeal in pain. Fortunately I was taken in, the first blood tests indicated that my body was fighting a serious infection as hard as it could and was losing ground rapidly. I was told that a few hours later it would have been a "big mess", but they were confident that we still had a small window of opportunity to succeed with antibiotics and not be confronted with surgeries. Since the infection was deep in the arm, the doctor chose not to biopsy it for fear that the trauma might upset the delicate balance of whether I went into septic shock or not. After several anxious days of wondering if we were going to succeed, the situation slowly began to improve and after roughly three weeks of treatment, I "escaped" with very minor damage to my arm. I've contemplated a great deal on what would have happened had I not taken my wife's advice and waited until the next day to seek medical help. Judging from the condition I was in when I was treated, and what I learned about these types of infections, I know all too well that my fate would have turned out much differently. This realization gave me a fresh appreciation for my life and limbs and a strong desire to help those who have not had such fortunate outcomes. I believe that some of our life experiences can lead us into a greater purpose. One of my goals is to provide horse riding opportunities and training for amputees and important elements of this have already started coming together.