Joan Seymour

In October of 1998, I sustained a small cut on my right foot just below my inner right ankle while putting on my sneaker. I had neuropathy in both feet, so I didn't feel anything right away. A few weeks later I felt a small pain and noticed that the area was redder. Later that week, when I was at the doctor, the scratch had gotten larger and was hurting more. The doctor took a look at it and told me to keep an eye on it and call him if there was any change. A few days later my ankle started to swell and the doctor told me that he wanted to admit me to the hospital to keep an eye on it. He started me on an antibiotic I.V. and colchasine, which is given for gout. He said he didn't think I had gout but he wanted to see if it would help. A few days later he sent me home on the same medication. He said that if it didn't work within eight to ten days he would try me on something else. Unfortunately, nothing seemed to work. Over the next few months of November & December, my feet started to swell and my legs ached so much I started using a cane when I walked. On December 16th I was sitting at the kitchen table making Christmas cookies. I had no shoes on because none of my shoes fit me. All of a sudden I looked on the floor and both feet were surrounded by a clear fluid. My husband checked the soles of my feet and the blisters I had developed a week earlier on the arches of both feet burst. I called the doctor and told him how swollen my feet had gotten and what had happened on the soles of my feet. He told me to come to the office. I put a pair of men's sneakers on that my husband bought me a week earlier that were 3 sizes larger then my normal size. I had to struggle to put them on. When I got to the doctors, he looked at my feet and sent me to a vascular surgeon. When I got to this other doctor he cut around the sores and rinsed them with a saline solution & put sterile dressings on them and told me to change the dressings every day and keep them clean. This was on December 16th. It was shortly after I started to feel worse each day. On the 21st of December I was making more Christmas cookies and I didn't know what I was doing half the time. On the nights of the 21st & 22nd, when I got into bed I would get these horrible tremors and could not stop from shaking. My husband got next to me and would put his arms around me in hopes to try and stop the shaking. I would only fall asleep for short periods of time. On the 23rd, in the early evening, I was sitting at the kitchen table with my husband and I started gasping for air. I could hardly breathe. He called the ambulance and the only thing I remember is the EMT's saying is that they couldn't take me to my usual hospital which was about an hour away. Instead they took me to the nearest one. I don't remember anything after that. I was told that when I got to the hospital I was in grave condition. All my major organs were shutting down. Both feet and legs were turning gangrene. The doctors told my husband that if they didn't amputate my right leg above the knee & my left leg below the knee that I would die. I had 106 fever and they started pumping me with I.V. antibiotics. They amputated both my legs on the 28th and I didn't wake up until the 31st of December. I was in the hospital for 3 1/2 weeks. They then transferred me to a rehab hospital. On the second week there, they removed my stitches and took impressions on my right limb to make my prosthesis. The week before my discharge they brought in my prosthesis and started to teach me how to apply it and showed me how to use it. They said after I got used to the prosthesis on the longer limb they would consider making me a prosthesis for my short limb. My husband had never missed a day visiting me and he started to look so tired and pale. He had a doctors appointment two days before I was due to come home. That evening I got a call from my husband's doctor and she told me that he was going into kidney failure. She immediately put him in the hospital and started him on dialysis. She told me his left kidney had to be removed soon. Later that evening, my husband's doctor called back and said that before they could operate on my husband's kidney, they were going to transfer him to a hospital in Boston for a triple bypass. He had blockages in his heart and they had to take care of that first. He came home two weeks later and started dialysis three times a week. Six weeks after his triple bypass he went back in the hospital to have his kidney removed. It was about 8 weeks later that he returned to work and continued on with dialysis three nights a week, driving himself there after work. In a matter of months our lives changed so drastically. We had to learn a completely new way of life. We tried to help one another as best we could. We were married 36 years and were always very devoted to one another. We did okay with a few setbacks. That was in the spring of 1999. We had a condo town house and in 2001 decided we didn't want to do the stairs anymore so we sold the condo and rented a 2 bedroom apartment on one floor. That was in December of 2001. In late January of 2002 he came down with pneumonia and went to the hospital for a few days. He was home about a week and went to a nearby supermarket. When he got home he couldn't get out of the car. He was rushed to the hospital, but was transferred into Boston Medical Center. He never woke up again. His whole body started to break down. He was on all kinds of machines to keep him alive. I knew he would never come home, but I couldn't let him go. After two weeks they had to amputate his right leg above the knee and 7 days later they amputate the left leg, also above the knee. He never woke up so he never knew that he lost both his legs. That's when I knew that I had to say good bye to the love of my life. He passed away four days later. I'm now living on my own in a three room handicapped apartment. I have a couple of wonderful girls that come during the week to help clean, do my laundry and get me out shopping. I try to do as much as I can to stay as independent as possible, but sometimes it is so difficult. My two sons, ages 34 and 35 live nearby. One stops in every day to check on me and the other one doesn't have a car so I don't see him as often. He does call me everyday. So today I'm a 62 year old widow doing the best I can to get through each day. I tell everyone to never take anything for granted, and to live each day to the fullest. This disease is devastating and can strike anyone. I am fortunate to be alive to write this. It would be great to hear from others who have survived this devastating disease. If anyone is interested in contacting me you can e-mail me at I would be very interested to hear from you.