My name’s Dic and I’m both lucky and glad to be alive.
I was admitted to Cardiff Hospital in January 1999 with severe flu-like symptoms. Fortunately, the surgeon was able to diagnose NF and he performed three operations in twelve hours to remove the rotting flesh. However, the bacteria were still very active, my body went into toxic shock and my vital organs began to close down. My family were advised to anticipate the worst.
Luckily, I was transported to Plymouth Hospital where Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment saved my life. It’s a procedure used to treat divers with the ‘bends’ and, in my case, it slowed down the relentless advance of NF.
For some time my life hung in the balance but then I began to mend. I returned to Wales and underwent extensive plastic surgery on my torso at Swansea Hospital. Progress was hampered by contracting the ‘superbug’ MRSA and developing a thrombosis in my leg as a result of the blood-thickening effects of hyperbaric treatment.
I will always remember the joy of returning home albeit with a colostomy and in a wheelchair.
Subsequent medical examinations revealed the source of the NF – an anal fistula which caused an abscess which, in turn, developed into Fournier’s Gangrene, a virulent form of fasciitis.
Three abdominal surgeries removed the abscess, closed the fistula and reversed the colostomy. Further plastic surgery and reconstructive work have added to a total of about 15 operations in three years.
In between surgery I’ve returned to work as a teacher and learned to respect life more than ever. I try to squeeze the pips out of every single day and experience.
I’ve always enjoyed the best of relationships with my wife, Sandra, children, Dewi and Rhian, and daughter-in-law, Kelly who’s my third child. Having to watch is often harder than having to heal and now I cherish them like never before. Watching them thrive is my daily delight.
Others who’ve developed NF haven’t been so lucky and as a family we grieve for them:
Sometimes we live,Van Morrison
Sometimes we die,
Sometimes we cry.