Chelsea Brown

My name is Chelsea Brown and I'm from South Brunswick, New Jersey. I am currently 15, but I contracted necrotizing fasciitis at the age of 14. On a summer day I walked 3 miles to my friends house because I was bored and didn't have a school final that day and nobody's parents were home to drive us anywhere. I developed blisters which I of course picked open, too impatient for them to heal. About 2 days later I went to Six Flags Great Adventure on June 23, 2006, with my friends knowing there was a concert but having a season pass, I did not want to pay extra just to see some bands that I didn't even like anymore. But, I was of course presented free tickets from a friend and vowed not to go in the crowds considering I was wearing flip flops. I gave into temptation and went into the crowds cause what's a concert experience without the crowd? Unfortunately after shoving my way all the way up to the front of the stage I lost my flip flops. I tried telling a security guard that I had seen somebody hold my flip flops up and give them to another guard and that I'd like to look for them. He refused and home I went no flip flops to accompany my open blistered feet. Approximately 5 days later I slept over my friends house and awoke with what felt like a muscle pain and developed a limp. The pain was pretty steady throughout the day but the next morning I was again supposed to go to Six Flags but could not sleep all night as my calf was throbbing with pain. My friends woke me up and I refused to go being as I was in so much pain. I couldn't even get up to go to the bathroom and called my mother sobbing and she soon came home. That night my parents took me to the emergency room at Princeton Hospital with a fever upwards of 103 degrees. They gave me a shot in my back for the pain, took a urine sample and multiple blood samples and figured it was Lyme Disease. Coincidentally the next day I had my annual physical. By then I could not walk at all. Even walking on crutches induced excruciating pain as the swinging motion of my leg was too much to bear. I was brought in on an office wheely chair as I simply couldn't move my leg at all. My doctor was unable to perform any routine checks being as I couldn't stand on both legs and said this pain was extremely abnormal for something that felt as though it was a muscle pain and referred me to my orthopedist (I have broken my ankle 4 times). My orthopedist immediately took an x-ray and saw the bones in my right leg were inflamed. He made a few phone calls and then to the horror of my mother and I delivered the shocking news, "Go straight to Robert Wood Johnson Hospital, I'm admitting you as an in-patient, do not go home, do not pass go, go straight there." I was wheeled into the emergency room with a fever of 104.7 and was dying of thirst but the nurse taking my blood pressure would not allow me to drink seeing as I may have to have surgery. I was given an IV immediately and given lucky room 13 in the ICU. By now I had already gotten Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome and the nurses struggled constantly replacing oxygen masks and checking my blood pressure. Four other IVs were installed and at 6 o'clock in the morning I finally received my wish and went through my first surgery. An MRI the night earlier showed the infection and the doctors worked quickly as I was in septic shock. Two days later I had my second surgery and do not remember anything after this point. I was under a state of psychosis and restraints had to be put on me eventually as I had violent hallucinations and had attempted multiple times to remove IVs and other monitoring devices installed on my body. After a third surgery the doctors finally stitched me back up. I was still in a state of shock apparently as I was given a feeding tube and respirator. I remember nothing after going into the second surgery, a week passes by however and I find myself downstairs recovering in a normal hospital room unable to recall the past week of my life. The day I'm supposed to leave a staph infection was found in a blood culture done and I am forced to stay another day. Luckily they say it is treatable by an at home antibiotic swish and spit sort of a deal and powder on the infection site. It has now been a year since I was in the hospital for 2 weeks and I am completely recovered. After about a month my walking was fine and I was out all the time enjoying what I had left of the 2006 summer. The story of the half foot long scar on my leg is always an interesting one to tell but always reminds me of what I went through and how crazy it is that I'm still alive. It's hard to conceive that my life could have been at it's last straw when I was only 14 years old especially heart-wrenching to my parents as I'm their only child but I've only grown as a person and learned so so much about this world in the short time I've been alive. I almost feel lucky to have gone through this because I've gained with it wisdom and maturity that people quadruple my age have yet to acquire.