Dan Coogan

Here's my story! I was living in Dallas in 1995 and on July 4th I decided to transplant a small tree in my back yard. The root ball was about 2 feet wide and as I moved the tree one of the roots poked a small hole in my left calf, same spot as Aimee's. Within an hour, I had pain in my calf and I thought it was a charlie horse because I was a triathlete at the time and had run earlier in the morning. I took pain killers to relieve the pain. Later in the afternoon, I became physically ill and the pain kept increasing. I went to bed thinking I had the flu. That night, we had a terrible thunderstorm and believe it or not, my house was struck by lightning. How many people contract NF and have their house hit by lightning in the same day! The fire department came and put out the fire and shut off the natural gas as the lightning had blown out the welds in the natural gas lines in several places. The next morning the pain in my calf was so intense I went to the local hospital in Lewisville and the doctor prescribed more pain killers and antibiotics (just like Aimee's doctors did). I returned to the hospital late in the afternoon because the pain was almost unbearable and my entire calf was bright red from infection. They admitted me and put me on stronger antibiotics but only suspected cellulitis. The next day the infection had spread up and down my leg. I then knew it was time to switch hospitals. Through the help of a friend, I was admitted to Zale Lipshy hospital in downtown Dallas, the infectious disease center. Within an hour of checking in, I was in surgery. My attending physician, Dr. Rody Cox, and my surgeon, Dr. Thelma Hurd, had both seen flesh eating bacteria before and knew what they had to do. I had surgery or debridement every day for the next 9 days where they went into my leg to "clean out" the bacteria. There isn't an antibiotic that kills the bacteria, not even vancomysin, so the bacteria has to be removed either through amputation or cleaning. They told me they would probably have to amputate my leg to save my life as the bacteria had spread almost to the hip but Dr. Hurd, knowing that I was very athletic, thought she could save the leg by cleaning it every day and thank God she was right! The strain of bacteria I had was a group A streptococcus which may be different than what Aimee has according to what I've read. After 3 weeks in the hospital, 9 surgeries, and living on morphine, I walked out with both legs. One side story...during my stay in the hospital, due to a communication error between the nursing staffs, I actually went Code Blue because of overdose of morphine and anesthesia, I was gone for about 4 minutes but they were able to revive me. So that's my story. I'm praying for Aimee every day and I hope she stays strong because she can beat it.