Brad Meadows

I saw the Yahoo story of the poor young student in Georgia who is suffering from this terrible decease and my heart breaks for her. As I read her ordeal I couldn't help but relive my own story and thank God and great medical care to have survived this awful infection. I hope we survivors can All reach out to this poor terrified girl. My Story: One morning as I was working as a part time school bus driver I scraped the skin back from my middle finger from the first knuckle down towards the nail. It didn't bleed but almost. Because I had scraped my fingers many times before I was not all that concerned about it as it had happened before with no issue. I went about my day without cleaning it up of bandaging it. It was a scape. This happened on a Monday as best I can remember. I didn't notice it other than it was a scape on my finger. The next day I went about my normal business but sometime later noticed it had become red and infected. I put ointment on it and rapped it with a band aid. No big deal, right? The next morning I noticed a pain under my left arm and I didn't know why. I looked in the mirror to see if I could see anything but it seemed normal except for the pain. I tried to ignore it and went about driving the bus but with some discomfort. The pain lasted all day but again I ignored it and went to bed. The next morning the pain was worse. I looked again but really didn't notice any redness or swelling to speak of. I ignored it and tried to do my job and gutting through it. When I got home that night I didn't feel very good and went to bed. The next morning the pain again was worse than before and I didn't feel very well. Once again I ignored it and thought the scratch and the pain had nothing to do with each other. It was painful all day but I worked through it. When I got home later I felt even worse and thought I was getting the flu. I told my roommate I was going to bed, I was sick and don't come close to me cause I thought I had the flu. I never get sick. I thought the best thing I could do was get some rest for the flu and then on Monday I would go to the Doctor for the arm pain if it had not gone away by then. I was vomiting and I had diarrhea. I took Advil and Tylenol for the pain and Pepto-bismol for the diarrhea. NOTHING worked. By 2:30 am I was in distress so much that I couldn't stand it any longer. I HATE going to the doctor and I didn't have any health insurance. I didn't care by then because the pain in my arm was to intense. I told my room mate I had to go to ER. As I arrived to the ER I told them I had two problems. I had a terrible pain in my arm and I thought I had the flu. Please help me with the pain and let me go home. I was put in a room and they began to take blood and ask me lots of questions. Finally after putting in an IV they gave me some morphine. It did nothing so they gave me more. Again, NOTHING. Finally they gave me ------------- that they said was 10 times stronger than morphine. It needed to be but it worked and the pain subsided. They told me that I had an infection but was not sure what it was yet. They told me they were going to admit me to the hospital and that I would need to stay awhile. Several days or more. Oh No. This was at 3:00 0clock in the morning on a Sunday no less. When taking off my cloths to get into the hospital gear I first noticed that the arm was turning RED and swollen. Oh No. Now what? They admitted me and kept me on the pain killer that night. The next morning my regular doctor came to see me. He ask me what I had done? Had I cut myself or something? It was then that I remembered the scrape on the finger and pointed it out to him. He said "that's the problem" !!! The scrape is where the infection had come from. It was a Strep Group A -Cellulitis. It had caused my kidney's to virtually shut down so they had started me on antibiotics and checked on me regularly for several days. By Friday my kidneys were coming back OK but the arm was getting worse. It had turned black and red, it was swollen and looked bad. The doctor said they didn' have the means to find out what it was and they were transferring me to a larger more regional hospital. Oh No. About 2 hours later I was in the larger regional hospital where I was admitted to a room. A doctor came into the room and questioned me about what was happening. He said he had called a specialist in these kind of things to come see me. A short time later a young doctor came into the room looking very serious. He sat down and started to tell me that I had Narcotizing Fasciitis. He said that it kills people and that it would kill me if they did not operate on my arm NOW. Oh NO. I was not ready for this. I had never had to go to the hospital for any reason other than to visit someone else. Before he left the room he told me that I would be there for several weeks and that I could lose my life or my arm. Oh No. I was not prepared for this!! Without going into all of the details, my arm was operated on 3 times in a matter of a few days to get all of the Narcotizing Fasciitis. Two different doctors did the surgeries. I was in ICU for 2 weeks with the greatest nurses who cared for me. My son and my room mate stayed with me at night. I couldn't tell if it was day or night. I had delusions from the medications and pain killers. It was horrifying. One of the days following the 3rd surgery I was told that now I was going to have wound changes every other day. They had attached a "Wound Vac" to the wound to help the healing process. When the nurse came to do the wound change I had no Idea what to expect. I don't even remember if I had any other pain meds or not but I can honestly say it was like being tortured. The pain was almost more than I could take. I had to look forward to this every other day for how long???? I don't think so. The nurses, me and my family told the doctors that I could NOT go through that again without better pain control. The next time, they gave me a bunch! They needed to cause I could still feel the pain but somehow I guess I was able to deal with it. It was not easy. Ever. On Christmas Eve one of the surgeons came in to ICU to see me. He said, The infection is gone!!! Thank God. Really. Thank God. Now I had to heal enough for the other surgeon to close the wound. That was going to take some doing because they had taken a large part of my arm tissues and 1/2 of my trisect mussel out. It was as though a grizzly bear had lunch on my arm. Really. Horrific looking. I was emotional and scared. When I was lucky enough to sleep I went to the dark side with terror dreams that made cold and shaking when I awoke. I didn't want to sleep. After two weeks in ICU they told me that I would be transferred to another floor out of the ICU. There I was still hooked to the IV and my arm rapped like a broken leg. It was next to impossible to sleep. I was very emotional and depressed much of the time though I was thankful that I had survived a terrible scare. I couldn't see how this terrible wound now could ever heal. Of course they all assured me that it would but it would take time. How Long?? How much time? A lifetime?? I was very sad and very emotional. As the days and the wound changes continued I began to feel a bit better. I would even go out of the room and walk around the floor. Then one day they told me I would be able to go home with a portable Wound Vac for a month. I would still have to come in for the wound changes every other day until the wound was ready to close. I was scared to go home thinking that perhaps something would happen and I would not be in the hospital where they could help me. I went home. It was difficult for my room mate to help me and care for me but she did. I will always be very grateful to her. After about a month my arm started to itch like mad. I showed the nurses but at first they thought it was a fungus infection like athletes foot and gave me some pills for that. It didn't help and after a few more days they realized that I had ANOTHER infection!! Oh NO. Is it back? do I have to go through all that again?? They readmitted me back to the hospital and put me back on antibiotics for 3 days. I was very very depressed and scared. They told me that it was not the same infection and that I should be able to go home. I did and a few days later when the doctor came to check the wound, he said it needed to have more covering over one of the tendons and I would need another surgery to do it. Oh No. Bloody Hell. So back I went to surgery but I was able to go home after one night. Back to the every other day wound changes again for a few more weeks. I was beginning to believe the day would never come for me to be well again. My life was to go to the hospital every other day. I had the staples removed 3 different times. No matter what they say about how easy it is, IT HURTS. Finally after a few more weeks the doctor told me.......let's close it. I was glad but also frightened. I knew that the skin for the skin graft had to come from me and I was using all my skin right now! I was not looking forward to having two wounds rather than just one. What choice did I have?? Do it. The day came and here I was back at the hospital for my sixth surgery. Without all the details, it went off without a hitch. I woke up and felt OK. No pain really to speak of. Humm. My leg where they had taken the skin from looked bad but didn't hurt. I could go home. OK then. Come back in a few days for the wound change. Little did I know that the leg didn't hurt because the doctor had put a numbing agent in the dressing and when it was changed it would hurt like hell. So be it. I am the luckiest unlucky guy in the world. I have recovered mostly!!! My arm has a big bad scar. I'm able to use the arm about 80% right now and hoping to be more in time. I'm very very lucky. Of course there are allot of details that I left out but I had the very best of care from great knowledgeable doctors and most nurses though I did have a couple I could do without. I have a scar to remind me every day for the rest of my life of just how lucky I am. I pray for all those who are not as lucky as I. Please take care of ANY wound or SCRATCH you may get, even a sliver or a little prick. It could kill you. Please wear gloves and clean yourself very completely. It could save your life. For anyone who may read this and have this terrible infection, get help quickly and get the care you need. Do Not delay. You can beat it and you can still live. I am proof of it. I actually went and hit a golf ball the other day. I hit it like an old man but I HIT IT!! It will get better and I am grateful. God Bless.