Rob Marshall

Hi, my name is Rob Marshall, I am 49 years old. I live in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada and this is my story. On April 27 my youngest daughter was home sick from school. I stayed to look after her and was also able to work from home. When I logged off my laptop for the day I had a pain in the back of my thigh. I thought it was from sitting all day on our kitchen chair (the legs protrude past the seat and I was sitting on one for the whole day). The pain did not go away. I went to my GP the next day as the pain was worse. He gave me a thorough check-up and, other than the pain, he could find nothing wrong. But he did say if the pain "moved" to go to the Emergency. I couldn't sleep that night and the pain was worse. The next day, my wife wanted me to call 911 but I hesitated and didn't call until the afternoon (my mom made me do it). I was able to hobble to the ambulance where they asked me 20 questions and then drove me to the hospital. I waited maybe 10 minutes before the ER Doctor saw me. She wasn't sure what it was but decided on taking me to get a CT scan. When I was being scanned my vitals crashed. I had gone into septic shock. She called the attending surgeon and told him to come down because she suspected I had necrotizing fasciitis. When she called the surgeon I had a small red blemish on the back of my left thigh, by the time he arrived it had grown to at least 6 inches. I was rushed to the operating room for what would be the first of five operations to remove the dead tissue. With each operation my wife had to consent to the off chance of amputating my leg. Luckily I had a great surgeon; he was able to remove all of the affected muscles without amputation. This meant the loss of 3 hamstrings and most of the soft tissue in the upper portion of my left leg. The time frame for this was two and a half weeks. During this time I was put in an induced coma twice to help relieve the strain on my body. I was on a ventilator and later a trachea was put in to minimize the trauma of removing and putting in the ventilator. My kidneys failed, so I was put on dialysis for several weeks. I also had a chest tube to relieve the fluid that had built up in my lung. This was done twice. During my 6 week stay in the ICU at the Queensway-Carleton Hospital in Ottawa, I was close to death thrice. The first time the doctors couldn't stop the bleeding in my leg. They had to pump albumin (3 units), plasma (23 units) and platelets (3 units) which finally stopped the bleeding. The second time my white blood count was up again. A CT scan was ordered and it showed patches above my hip. The Doctor had to operate to determine if the bacteria was on the move. Thankfully someone up there was looking out for me because it turned out to be nothing. The third time I was having difficulty breathing and it took them awhile to get it under control. I can't begin to imagine what my family must have gone through. I had one last operation, the only one I remember, to close the incision which went from my knee to about an inch from my groin. I saw the open wound which was in all honesty gross. The exposed muscle tissue had a green tinge to it and the smell of rotten meat. The surgeon had no problem removing 1/8th of an inch of muscle tissue and closing up the wound. During my stay in the ICU I received 23 units of whole blood. On June 2nd, after 5 weeks in bed, my rehab started. At this point all I could do was lift my hand about 2 inches off the bed. I couldn't sit up, let alone get out of bed. The first thing my physio therapist had me do was to sit up on the side of the bed. It was a slow start but a start nonetheless. I was able to sit up by myself after about 3 days. Then I was introduced to the SARA Lift. What an amazing piece of machinery, it was able to lift me from the bed and support my weight. This allowed me to "walk" without fear of falling over. This helped to strengthen my legs for the next phase of my rehab which was the platform walker. At this point I was transferred to the surgery ward (June 13th) where I continued on my road to recovery. I was still on antibiotics at this point. I had contracted one of the viruses present in the hospital. On June 22nd when I left the surgery ward to go the Rehab ward I was able to use a walker. In Rehab I was on a more rigorous schedule to rebuild my lost muscle mass. I quickly went from the walker to a cane. And at the end of my 3 and ½ week stint in Rehab I was able to go up and downstairs. I was also able to lift my 7 year old daughter (she weighs 40 lbs) with a little bit of effort. I was released from the hospital on July 15th. On September 4th I went for a hearing test as I had lost hearing in my right ear. It looks like the hearing loss, probably caused by the heavy duty antibiotics, is permanent. I'll know for sure in 9 to 12 months. To see me walk now you wouldn't know anything had happened to me. I can swim, although my leg does drag me down a bit. I can also bike around. I tried running but it's more a fast walk. Life is good. I have far exceeded doctor's expectations in my recovery. Once upon a time there was doubt I would walk without any prosthetics but here I am walking normally. I am now back to work full-time after almost 6 months off. I have a lot of people to thank for my remarkable recovery. From the ER doctor who first saw me, to the surgeon who performed miracles in saving my life and my leg, to the ICU staff who watched over me like angels and gave me the best care in the world. There are also the nurses in the surgery ward who motivated me in doing things for myself and the rehab staff who put me on the road to physical well being. I mustn't forget the countless donors who gave their life saving blood. And of course, not the least, are my family, my friends (I include my co-workers in this group) and my church congregation. But most of all I have to thank my wife Sue who stood by my bedside and never lost hope. She was and is my rock.