Cindy Weitzel

This is a letter I received from Cindy of British Columbia, Canada. Cindy does not have email but I will give her phone number and address at the end of her letter. -- Donna Batdorff, NNFF Co-Founder Dear Donna, I was so glad to hear you helped start an NF organization. I hope you're not too overwhelmed with NF stories. I just wanted to recap my hospital experience which began January 22, 1997. At first the doctors could not figure out what was causing the "bruising" on my middle finger and the swelling of my hand. But after my first night in the hospital,which involved a lot of pain, not much sleep, very attentive nurses and two doctors on call, a plastic surgeon was called in. At 8 am January 23, he suggested we operate right away. I had eaten breakfast (hoping to regain my strength) so we had to wait until 1 pm. After my surgery he told me, I wasn't "out of the woods yet." I was ambulanced to a larger hospital where I was told I had a life-threatening disease. I was told to sign a form where they could amputate my middle finger. I pleaded with a young doctor to try and save my finger because I play the piano. He replied, "we're going to save your life." That was the point where I realized I was not in control, God was. Prayer was on my lips and on the lips of those around me. After three more surgeries, 6 oxygen treatments in the hyperbaric chamber, one week in the hospital with an open arm wound, I was ready to go home to recuperate. That was January 30, 1997. It was difficult to leave the safe, comfortable environment of the hospital to come home to an empty condo. But even though I live alone, I had lots of visitors and my big, white cat "Christopher" to keep me company. I had the home care nurse come in for a few weeks to help me clean my open finger wound. Eventually I became my own nurse. I was off from work 5 and a half weeks and then went back to teaching half time for 2 weeks. Then it was a 10 day spring break. I had therapy on my hand from February 10 to May 26, 1997. Then I started doing exercises and hot water treatment on my own at home. I feel so blessed to still have my finger, not to mention my life! I also have a long red scar up my forearm (4 inches below my elbow) and another, less noticeable scar on the palm of my hand up about 2 inches past my wrist. I fully realize I was so fortunate to have such minimal damage from this disease! I thank God for this miracle. I am sure He put the right doctors in my path at the right time. Just for your research information, I had the same "pulled muscle" feeling in my right arm just before I got the chills and a fever. My finger started swelling and about 2 hours later I was in extreme pain - like someone was stabbing me with a darning needle up my finger. I also had nausea and vomited the next night in the hospital. Before all these symptoms started I had seen my doctor for a complete physical just 6 days prior! (I'm sure at that time I had the "under-the-nail" injury that later became infected.) was told I was in very good physical health. I do remember being slightly "depressed" a couple of nights before it happened. I cried a lot. My father had passed away 3 and a half months before I became ill with NF. My mother passed away in 1983. I don't know if this had any connection, but I am not normally prone to depression. Anyway, Donna, I did notice quite a few similarities between our stories. Your ordeal was much more severe and extensive and I admire your courage and attitude. I also like to work out at the gym and am back at it! I also have had the experience now of writing with my left hand. (Now I know what it's like for my first grade students to go through learning to write!) I still can't believe this all happened because a little cut and I am amazed how God has changed my life. People from all over rallied to my side. I received mail from so many people I wes overwhelmed by the concern and love that poured out. Life is a gift and so are our relationships with others. Thank you again, Donna, for so openly sharing your story for those who have been struck by the devastation of necrotizing fasciitis. I'm sure God will use you in the lives of many people. God Bless You! Cindy Weitzel 112020125-55A Langley, B.C V3A8L6 Canada 609-532-5950 Cindy welcomes contact of others!