Dan Gallon

On July 3, 2003, I had noticed one of my fingers had swollen and pus was oozing from it. It had swollen twice it's size, so I put neosporin ointment on it, covered it with gauze and went to work. I drive a bus for Metro - the transit company in St. Louis - and was busy working overtime due to the VP Fair. My wife had cut my hair and as I was putting my shirt on, my infected finger brushed the back of my neck. On July 6, the back of my neck and upper back had swollen. I woke up at 4am that morning, my throat was closing, I was having trouble breathing, and could not wait for my wife to accompany me to the emergency room. I made it to the emergency room and was evaluated and subsequently admitted to the hospital. The doctor ordered pain medication and antibiotics to be administered through iv therapy. The Infections Disease Team of doctors was called in for a consult and visited me and changed the antibiotic I was receiving. The swelling continued and on Thursday, July 10, I had an appointment at the Ears, Nose and Throat Clinic. The doctor looked at my neck and sent me back to my room. About 3:00 that afternoon, the doctor came to my room and asked if he could aspirate some of the fluid from my neck. I agreed as long as it would alleviate the pain I was experiencing. Only about half a teaspoon of fluid was able to be aspirated and the doctor left my room. He returned about half an hour later with a consent form and requested my signature so he could lance my neck. I signed the consent form. When my neck was lanced, the pus drained uncontrollably. Six 4x4 gauze pads were used and then about 1 cup of fluid was also suctioned from the site. I might add, the stench of the pus was unbelievable. A couple of hours passed - by that time it was 7pm, with another consent for surgery and said that surgery needed to be performed that night. The surgery team was on their way back into the hospital. I signed the consent for surgery and was relieved to know that I soon would not be in pain anymore. That was only my first surgery. The next morning, Friday at 1am, my doctor came and told my wife that they were checking into having me transferred to Barnes in St. Louis in order to receive emergency medical care. Approximately half an hour later, the transfer was cancelled and another surgery was scheduled for 3am. The second surgery was conducted by the surgery team - the first by the Ears, Nose and Throat team. It was at that time that the chief of surgery told my wife that I was a very very sick man. A member of the medical team told her I had a 50-50 chance of survival. (Little did I know my chance of survival was 20%). Surgery was scheduled every day for debridement of the dead tissue and everyday I was in surgery at 8am until 5 surgeries were completed to debride the dead tissue from the site. I was in MICU for 3 weeks, on a ventilator, being fed through a tube down my nose and having a wound vac attached to my surgery site. The fungal infection finally got into my blood stream and at that point, my wife was informed that the antibiotic was changed to ambiterix B, which would in all probability shut my kidneys down. It was either change my antibiotic to that or die, so my wife said to change the antibiotic. The change worked, although the creatin level in my kidneys went from a 1 to 4.5 - 1 being normal. My kidneys had shut down - and this is part of being sepsis - the gradual shut down of major organs. The nephrology team was called in and constantly was checking his urine output as well as the creatin levels. Gradually the creatin level began to decrease. I was released from the hospital on August 13, 2003 and am happy to be able to report that yes, I am a survivor of necrotizing fasciitis. There are many doctors and nurses that pulled my chart up on the computer just to follow my progress. And there were many doctors and nurses that would run into me and let me know how happy they were that I had survived. My bout with necrotizing fasciitis was compounded by the fact that I have diabetes.