Kevin’s Story as told by his mum Ethel.
It was August 1998, only a week to go before my retirement after working 29 years as a Nursing Auxiliary.
My son Kevin (41) had been ill in hospital for a few days with fluid on his lungs and had a drainage tube fitted. At 1 o’clock I received a call to say that he was being sent to another hospital for a small skin biopsy and he would be back late evening or kept in overnight. They were not unduly concerned.
In my own mind I queried why if it were only minor why another hospital when we had a very good up to date laboratory. So I paid them a visit and was given the same information as over the phone. Kevin had already gone to Heartland’s in Birmingham so I decided to follow.
When I got there and found the ward that Kevin was on, the doctors had already admitted him and were doing tests. After 1½ hours I was allowed in to see the doctor, he told me that Kevin needed a life saving operation – without it he would die, and even with it he could still die.
He showed me Kevin’s back and said that all the discoloured skin had to be removed. This to me seemed to be from his neck to as far as I could see down to his hip level, it was all red and purple.
The operation was done during the night and Kevin was placed in Special Care on a life support machine. During the morning I was allowed to go and see him. I was not prepared for what I saw even though I had worked in hospital for 29 years and had worked on the maternity wards, I had not even seen a Special Care Unit!
I could not recognise my own son he was swollen up everywhere like a michelin man with tubes all over the place. I counted 14 drips of blood, liquids etc; all positioned in his arms, neck and almost anywhere they could get them in.
Later I saw the consultants and surgeons they were kind but very straight – they did not hold out much hope for Kevin, there were two good things in his favour. He was reasonably young, the second being that he was in good health. They had removed 40% of skin from his torso. I thought this would be a fine layer like for skin grafts – but I found out later it was also tissue mainly down to the bone.
They said that they had not come across a case like this before so they decided to treat him as a burn victim. The dressings were changed every other day, taking away any more dead skin. I visited morning and evening. My family worked out a rota to provide transport, brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces all came in turn to say goodbye, thinking this was the last time they would see Kevin.
But Kevin very slowly started to improve and slowly the drips and tubes were taken out, he then started to become more aware of his surroundings. With a tube in his throat he was finding it difficult to talk but he did try to write notes. One night he gave me an empty tissue box and he had written a little note on it saying “Mom lend me a fiver” – I knew I had got my Kevin back, he was not going to leave us.
He was placed in a side ward eventually, his treatment began of six skin grafts. He had mood swings, some days he was a model patient joking with the nurses. On one occasion he made a big matchstick model for the nurses, then the next minute he was hallucinating with the morphine, he would swear he had seen all kinds of things, then he was demanding his clothes wanting to sign himself out.
After much persisting he was allowed home, although he still had a large gaping wound and arrangements for the district nurse to visit at home was then arranged.
IT HAD BEEN THE WORST 11½ WEEKS IN OUR LIVES.
During all this time I was never given a name for what Kevin had had, just a bad infection and that the pus on his lungs had entered the layers of skin!!!!
Early in the New Year 1999 my 15year old grand daughter said to me “Gran, I have been reading the Guinness Book of Records you bought me for Christmas and I think I have found out what Uncle Kevin had or something very similar, it was Necrotising Fasciitis”. She used the school computer and found a support group in the United States.
Later we heard of Doreen’s support group we contacted her and we keep in touch by having a chat and receiving newsletters every quarter. We know we are not alone – others have also suffered and even lost loved ones.
My son suffered a lot of pain and is scarred badly, we don’t know the long term effects but at least with excellent nursing and lots of prayers he is still with us. Thanks to God.
My best to you all.