|Richard Russell's Survivor Story|
Hi, my name is Richard Russell and I am a paramedic from Gananoque, Ontario, Canada. For about two weeks my family had been having flu like symptoms and sore throats, myself included (I have 4 girls under 7). Everyone seemed to be getting better. On April 10, I woke feeling quite well but I had mild pain in my calf and hamstring area (I thought nothing of it). By 3pm that day the pain had become unbearable. I called 911 (and a paramedic knows this is the last thing they would want to do but I was in no condition to drive or be driven). The ambulance crew rushed me to Kingston General Hospital. Once there I was placed in a non-priority area. I was given high doses of morphine which did nothing for the pain. They "sat" on me for 5-6 hours and then were going to send me home with morphine and to come back tomorrow ( the attending was thinking it was probably a DVT and could wait). My wonderful wife refused to take me home (good thing too) so I was basically going to be put in a back room to wait until the ultrasound lab opened in the morning. (This is my personal perspective - God often places some one in your path -) Dr. Crawford was in the hallway as I was waiting to be moved. We knew each other and she looked at my case and having seen similar cases before made an assumption that it could probably be Necrotizing Fasciitis. My wife Dawn had gone home at that point thinking all was OK. She had arrived home (about 1/2 hour away). Just as my parents (the babysitters) were leaving the phone rang "Richard's being prepped for surgery. You need to come back." Luckily my parents hadn't quite left. At around 01:30 am on the 11th, I had my first surgery. Dr. Davidson opened up my leg to discover it was indeed Necrotizing Fasciitis. They were able to remove the decaying tissue and only a little muscle in the calf. The second surgery was on Tuesday and a Third on Wednesday. Apparently I almost bled out in the ICU. On Thursday I was moved to the step down unit, then to the orthopedic/burn unit floor for recovery. I had one more surgery for skin grafting and officially closing the wound, which was Wednesday April 20. Then after another two weeks in the hospital, the skin grafts took well and I was sent home on May 3 for rehabilitation at home. It was hard being away from my girls and hard to explain it to them.
I am doing well at home and getting stronger every day there was some preoneal nerve damage (the nerve controls the muscles and ligaments in the foot). "They" expect everything to come back in time. It is different being on the other side. I have a new appreciation for nurses, hospital staff and most importantly, my patients. You can't truly understand what a patient goes through until you've been there yourself.
Gananoque, Ontario Canada
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June 20, 2005