Bob Rost

This is the story of my dad, Bob Rost. He is a survivor of NF and a very lucky and blessed man. I know the Lord was not only with my dad through out this ordeal but he was also with the rest of my family, including my mom. This is a very bad disease and I hope by telling his story that we might save someone's life. I believe the Hyper-Baric Chamber was a big factor in saving his life. This story is told through the eyes of my mother, Shirley. It started on a Friday in February 2002 in his wood working shop. He got a splinter in his third finger on his right hand and tried to get it out with a knife, not knowing if he ever did or not but two days later the finger turned purple with what looked like a large blood blister on top of the finger. He doctored around on it some but on Monday, I told him he needed to call his doctor, who is a specialist in Arthritis, but had become his primary doctor. He called in but they told him no way could they see him until the next day. So I called in and told them he was either going to the emergency room or their office, he was not waiting until the next day. They told him to come in that afternoon and by the time we got there, he was running a fever and his arm was swollen to the elbow. His doctor looked him over and said he didn't know what it was but since he was running a fever and chilling he should head to the hospital. They admitted him in late afternoon and a surgeon came in to get a tissue sample from his finger to send to the lab. He removed the blister and wrapped up the finger. They started him on antibiotics and the next day he was feeling pretty good until about noon and then his body began to crash. The kidneys and liver began to show stress so the doctor decided to send him to ICU. The infection had moved up most of his arm to his shoulder by this time. While in ICU, a kidney doctor, a lung doctor and an infectious disease doctor came by. The I/D doctor said he knew what it was and what to do about it. He informed us that Bob could lose his right arm. He went into surgery (Tuesday night) and they removed the dead flesh in hopes of stopping the bacteria from going further. The surgeon opened the arm from the wrist to the arm pit, leaving it opened and bandaged. Everything was going down hill by now. Friends and family numbering thirty or more formed a prayer circle in the waiting room while he went in for the second surgery. At midnight, the doctor came out and said he had removed more dead flesh but thought maybe not as much as before. We found out later that the doctor was only giving him a couple of hours to live. They kept changing his antibiotics until he was on the strongest one they had. While in ICU, they changed the dressings on his arm twice a day which was very painful. The good thing is he didn't remember anything in ICU. They were giving him Morphine for pain and his body reacted to it by his breathing stopping. He would get very agitated at all of us also.This was very scary as Bob is a very calm person and doesn't get angry very easy. We had to be very careful that they didn't give him Morphine after surgeries. It was time and prayer to see if they had it turned around. On Thursday morning a new doctor came by to tell me they were going to put Bob in a Hyper-Baric Chamber for two treatments a day. They felt the pure oxygen would kill the bacteria. He had to be moved two blocks from the hospital by ambulance twice a day for the treatments.The oxygen treatments were about 2 1/2 to 3 hours each and in between treatments he was going back to surgery for flesh removal and irrigation of the infected area. The Hyper-Baric Chamber is a large glass tube that is sealed up once you are laying inside it. They cannot open it once they have started it and brought the oxygen level to a certain point. They have to bring it back down to a certain level before they can open it back up so once your in there, you have to stay for awhile. Bob's fever broke during the 1st treatment and he was drowning in sweat. He wanted out really bad but they couldn't take him out for a certain length of time. He went into convulsions so they had to get him out as soon as possible. After that he was very reluctant to go back in the Chamber but he still needed nine more treatments! After four surgeries, the doctor said he had the bacteria stopped and he was out of danger. They were able to save his arm with no permanent damage. After six days, four surgeries and four Hyper-Baric treatments, his kidneys began to function correctly and improve. They lowered his Hyper-Baric treatments to once a day till he had ten treatments. On the seventh day, they took him out of ICU and put him in a regular room. On the eleventh day, he had to go back to surgery to skin graft over the arm. The doctor removed a large patch of skin from the right leg to use on his arm. The skin graft took really well and in a week after he left the hospital, the doctor removed the cast from his arm and the plastic from his leg. The skin graft was good but the leg was bleeding and oozing fluid real bad. It tore loose every time he tried to get up and walk. He had to sleep in the recliner for a couple of weeks. Since then, the leg and arm have finally healed and he has full use of the arm with no after affects. He's still out in the wood working shop and he's had a couple of scares with infection and swelling on the hand but he heads straight to the doctor as soon as anything doesn't look right. He was 65 years old when this happened and no one around us had ever heard of NF. The hospital told us the NF cases they have had, most patients didn't make it. The doctors told us because he was on arthritis medicine, this could have lowered his immune system which makes him susceptible to NF.