Am I Presentable?

Shave and Skin Grafts009
Morning bath and shave.

Do you know of a school, church or other organization that may want to hear the harrowing story of how one man was blind-sided by the flesh-eating bacteria and lived to tell about it? I’ve shared our story a number of times, including an annual gig in science classes at our local middle school during “bacteria week.” More than once I was followed the next day by that gripping video drama, Killer Kitchens. Well, I do that sort of thing and, if I speak to your group, I promise to be clean shaven, appropriately dressed, and I’ll bring a version of the tale that is relevant and engaging. Contact me with any requests or invitations and I’ll see if we can work something out.

I found some forgotten photographs, while going through my files (I’ve put this off for about ten years). Well, I came across this one of me being shaved by someone outside the frame. There’s actually a lot going on in this photo that takes me back to the experience and is probably triggering some symptoms of PTSD right now!

The first thing I noticed is that my sheets are clean and there is a new, baby blue “chuck” on the bed. This tells me that Denise has already given me my sponge bath and they’ve removed the bloody, nasty, filthy sheets – the first of two times they would do that each day, ripping them off  open wounds and scattering dead skin and stuff everywhere. Yes, I was a disgusting mess and having a clean bed twice a day was a little bit of heaven – I’m not kidding.

Second, I notice that there is Xeroform dressing stuck to my stomach and open wounds, so I’m probably still having skin grafts done. They really liked the skin on my stomach and right thigh, so they kept coming back for more and the donor sites are a nice, bright, sensitive red. Also, I’ve got a sheet over me, which indicates I’m still open and pretty much naked (humiliated).

Finally, someone else is shaving me, which means my right arm is not working at this time. My shoulder appears to be wasting and I’m beginning to look like a concentration camp survivor. I won’t have the pallid, Auschwitz look for another month or so. A little further down the road, I will be able to drag my right arm onto my chest with my left, prop it up, and shave myself. Yes, those were three of the most memorable months of my life and there may be some life lessons in there for others.

National Necrotizing Fasciitis Foundation

home_animationThe National Necrotizing Fasciitis Foundation. They were the first and remain one of the best, if not the best, resources on Necrotizing Fasciitis, the flesh-eating bacteria. From their site:

Founded in 1997 by two survivors of necrotizing fasciitis, Jacqueline A. Roemmele, of Watchung, New Jersey, and Donna Batdorff of Grand Rapids Michigan.

Together, because of the lack of reliable information regarding the disease, it became their mission to do what they could to fill the void of information and to offer support for other victims and their families. What has since evolved in the past fifteen years of our existence has been truly inspiring and humbling. Hundreds of thousands of people from all walks of life, from all over the world, have reached out to the foundation when NF invades their lives. NNFF is the leading source of information available about this deadly disease, and has brought together hundreds of people who find kinship, support, and comfort in each other. They are proud to be fulfilling the foundation’s mission to make a difference in the understanding, awareness, diagnosis, and treatment of necrotizing fasciitis.