Five years ago, Bryan Cuerrier was fighting for his life as flesh-eating disease ravaged his body. He lost parts of both legs and his left arm, but on Sunday, the 57-year-old from Belleville, Ont., will be doing a half-marathon in Ottawa.
You may have read about Aimee Copeland back in May of 2012, when she contracted Necrotizing Fasciitis (NF) from an injury involving a homemade zip line. She suffered overwhelming sepsis and multiple amputations. Here is a very encouraging and inspiring update: The Evolution of Aimee Copeland | Emory Medicine Magazine | Emory University.
Actually, it’s a fairly detailed story that covers different aspects of her experience, focusing on what it’s like to live a different sort of life, post-NF. There’s a bit of science here, too, which points to the benefits of living in these times, when victims of devastating events can return to a normal life. Of course, as NF survivors know, it’s always a different sort of “normal.”
When I saw this woman in her Jobst garments and mask, it brought back a flood of memories. Many victims of necrotizing fasciitis are treated in burn units or go through some kind of plastic surgery and reconstruction. For skin grafts, Jobst pressure garments act as a second skin, flattening the scars, aiding the vascular system, and helping the sub derma to recover.
I wore them from the tips of the toes on my left leg, like a bicycle short on my right leg and all the way up to my chest in a “tank top” style suit. I had some serious keloid scarring at the donor sites on my rib cage. The pressure garments were incredibly uncomfortable and ITCHY! When I returned to work after eight months, I decided to abandon the garments on the trunk of my body, but wore the leg pressure suit for a full year. They were restrictive, hot, and uncomfortable — I was already struggling to regain strength and health, while working again. Even though I quit wearing my body suit early, I had good results and never had to return for releases or other reconstructive surgery. Every night at bedtime, Denise massaged the scarring on my chest and that seemed to help a lot.
I saw burn patients with the masks and felt incredible sympathy for them. We met one woman, whose husband was blown up in a gas explosion — he’d had 89 surgeries and wore a suit from head to toe. There was one small patch of unburned skin on his head and they kept going back to it over and over, in order to harvest skin for his entire body! The woman featured in this article, Dana Vulin, is a true survivor and when the mask came off, she said: “I hope they see the scars. This is part of me now.” Amen! This is our theme song: Beautiful Pain by Propaganda
Read her incredible story here: A Maniac Set Her On Fire. 2 Years Later, She Removes Her Mask And Shows Her New Face – LittleThings.com.
So, The National Necrotizing Fasciitis Foundation came up with this cool graphic. I like it – I see God as the Superpower behind my survival. But, he’s more than a power, He’s a person and we have seen His glory in the face of Jesus Christ.
Anyway, why quibble? Maybe you don’t believe in God. But, those of us who have survived NF are just grateful to be alive and thankful for the caring, skilled hands of the physicians and caregivers who worked so hard to save us. We are also blessed by the support and prayers of family and friends — those other superheroes.
Back in September, I posed the question, “Are you a wound care expert?” At that time, I thought the hole on my Achilles tendon would take about 6 months to heal. In November, I was able to give an update, as the skin began to grow together. The wound has finally closed and I am back to walking around in flip-flops, even though it’s in the 30s or 40s outdoors. My wound care procedure has been tried and proven a number of times over the years: prayer, cleaning with warm soap and water alone, zinc impregnated gauze, and pressure — lots of pressure. Thank you all for keeping me in your thoughts and prayers. If you are suffering from a skin ulcer or similar condition, check out my earlier posts of links to wound care sites on the web.