Douglas Murphy

One fine Saturday in May I attended a picnic in Prospect Park Brooklyn for my daughter's kindergarten class. The picnic featured BBQ food, and each family brought a little something from home. The kids played and it was a wonderful day. As the party ended, I helped in the clean-up. Extracting a brand-new trash bag from a box, I filled it with trash and detritus from the party - cups, half-eaten hot dogs, cans of soda, whatever. As the bag neared filling, I spun the bag to get the top to seal and twist so I could tie it off... and during the spinning the bag's bottom corner brushed - and we are talking barely touched - my ankle, and left a little teensie bit of juice on my sock. I was wearing shoes and socks and remember thinking 'oh gross' when a little dampness from the bag got on my sock. Two hours later, as I watched a movie with my kids at home, I started getting fever chills and the shakes. I started feeling awful. I took my temperature in the morning and it was topping 103. My leg foot and ankle began to swell, and the site on the ankle turned purple and the nasty dark purple began to spread and grow along with the swelling, and my temperature was rising. By Sunday night I could barely put any weight on the ankle, and in the early morning my temperature reached an astounding 107 degrees. I faintly remember the trip to the Emergency Room. I was immediately checked in, and shortly thereafter put in the Intensive Care Unit. For the next days, I was incoherent, feverish, completely out of it. The infection spread, my temperature did not go down, I was in deep deep trouble. There were three departments overseeing my treatment: Infectious Diseases, Medicine, and Surgery. Infectious Diseases correctly and quickly identified the illness: bacteria infection, necrotic fasciitis. Medicine began pouring antibiotics like crazy into one of the many IVs in my body. Surgery began preparing for amputation. I had an IV in each arm, a mainline IV in my neck, a thermometer jammed up my butt for maximum internal temperature taking, a catheter, an oxygen line in my nose, whilst lying naked on a frozen pad with circulating ice water and draped with another pad over me. I had EKG wires attached all over my chest, more readouts and wires and tubes attached, taped, stuck and inserted all over my entire torso, leg, head... everywhere. I looked like a part-man part-medical robot infectious monstrosity. As the infection took root, the swelling and destruction of the tissue commenced. Meanwhile, my temperature remained sky high as my body tried to fight. I had some ridiculously crazy fever dreams: in one, I demanded my mom get me on a plane to New York (I thought I was in Cleveland apparently) so I could retrieve my suit and get on a private plane to Tokyo, where I was to attend a private party thrown by Brad and Angie. Note: I don't know Brangelina, haven't been to Cleveland for a decade, and don't have a private plane! As the swelling and infection spread up my leg to the point where red infection lines began shooting over the knee, Surgery began preparations for amputation. Their only question was whether they should save the knee. Meanwhile Medicine kept pouring massive amounts of everything they could think of directly into my mainline IV. Literally as Surgery began to print the authorization paperwork for my wife to sign to approve the amputation, one of the drug combinations worked, and my temperature began to drop and the red lines receded. The doctors watched closely, ready to cut, as the infection was beginning to lose its grip. Eventually the infection was beat, and I was moved into a regular hospital room. At first they put me in a shared room until my single-room was ready, and it was really only then that I began to get coherent. I sort of woke up, and there was a guy in the bed nearby, and his wife sitting at the foot of the bed. They were both staring at me. I looked down: I was completely butt-ass naked, gown all pushed away and lumpy, wires and leads from the various attachments dangling all over the place, two different IV towers one for each arm, a massive gigantic swollen disgusting leg with flesh literally falling away, hair a mess, soaked in sweat.... not the person you want to be wheeled into your room! Once I moved to a single, and washed up, and brushed my teeth for the first time in forever, I began to feel at least a bit human. My sister stayed in my room day and night, and while wearing gloves, literally peeled away layer after layer of dead, disgusting tissue.... skin, meat, the works. The dead areas kept getting bigger and bigger as more tissue was exposed. I was discharged with massive tissue loss. My lymph system is damaged, causing swelling, and my foot has healed completely mottled and weird - but it is still better than an amputation. The doctors think that a teensie abrasion from the trash bag - and the presence of the bacteria on the bag - was enough to let in the infection. The bacteria is present all over the world! When I look at these pictures I have a hard time believing that it is me, or that I survived.