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Mal’s story

Mal's NF journey began when he suffered from a sore throat and began to feel pain in his leg. This is Mal's story.
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It was Tuesday the 14th October 2003; I had been off work for about four days with a very sore throat. I was in my local gym the day before, although it was a sluggish workout – I later realised why.

On Tuesday morning I potted about clearing my garage. At about 12 o’clock I felt a dull pain in my left leg (calf area). I decided to have some lunch and about 1pm, while I was eating, the pain occurred again but more painful and was lasting longer.

Half an hour later it was still hurting and my leg started to stiffen up. I was beginning to be concerned as I could hardly walk. I thought that it could be a deep vein thrombosis. The pain was getting worse and I thought about getting to the hospital, at this point I realised that I would have trouble operating the clutch pedal in my car.

At 2pm I phoned NHS Direct, they told me that if I required an ambulance I must dial 999. So that is what I did and it arrived about 12 mins later. The paramedics asked me a few questions and said that they would be taking me to the A&E Department at Kingsmill in Mansfield. As we travelled the paramedic asked questions and filled in his forms.

On arrival they got me into a wheel chair, checked me in, said cheerio and I thanked them. I waited about 45 mins before being called. The Doctor asked me what the problem was, he examined my leg and asked me what I did for a living. I worked in a distribution centre at the time and I also mentioned that I went to the gym 2-3 times a week and also jogged 12-15 miles a week. He said that it was possible that I could have pulled a muscle and gave me some painkillers, if they were not working to go back to hospital.

By this time it was 4pm and as my wife worked at the hospital and finished at 4-30pm I got in touch with her and she collected me outside the A&E Dept. She was concerned about my leg and I informed her what the Doctor had said.

We went home and had some tea and later supper, and went to bed about 11pm. I awoke at about 3am with pain in my left leg and I went to the bathroom and soaked a towel and wrapped it around my left thigh and lay on the bed, but I was restless. At 4:20am I got out of bed with more pain and noticed my thigh was swollen quite a lot. I woke my wife and we decided to go back to hospital. We arrived at 5:15am and we had to find a wheel chair as I was still having trouble walking.

I saw the triage nurse and she found my notes from the previous day. By this time I was feeling very ill and very dry and really did not know what was happening, I was then taken to a consultant room. I remember various people kept coming and going but not actually doing anything, they kept on asking me questions and how was I feeling.

I do not know how long I had been there when a consultant came in looking very smart in a black suit and white shirt. He took one look at my leg and said straight away what it was. He had an assistant with him, and then more and more people appeared (about 15) all discussing my leg.

Then just like magic they all disappeared except the consultant and my wife, he then asked her to leave the room. He explained to me that he had some bad news for me, he said that I had a disease called NECROTISING FASCIITIS and that it was at the dangerous stage and he would have to amputate my leg straight away, and that time was crucial and he had to get on with it, he gave me a minute to let the news sink in. He then gave me a consent form to sign – then I was wheeled away.

More questions were asked – had I been abroad? I had been to Spain 6 wks before. Had I been working in the garden? I had done the lawns and the borders. He ruled out Spain, as I had been back 6 weeks.

He again informed me that being at the hospital at this stage of the infection was the best time to act. Apparently when they do this type of operation they amputate so much to begin with and then leave the patient on the table for an hour and check if they have to debride further. In my case it happened twice and the final amputation was to my pelvis.

Late that day I was transferred to Chesterfield Royal Hospital with a police escort. I was placed on a life support machine for quite some time and then into intensive care – I was out for about 15 days and the nurses informed me that I had had a rough time.

After coming round it was nice to see the many smiling faces of my family and friends, I think everyone had tears in their eyes. I was in intensive care for another week before being moved to a side ward, and then transferred to Nottingham City Hospital.

After a week I had my wounds cleaned in preparation for skin grafts. I was transferred back to Kingsmill Hospital for another week (I don’t know why) then back to Nott’s City again for skin grafts. I had the skin from my right leg used for the graft.

After about another week it was back to Kingsmill where I stayed for a further 3 weeks and finally home on the 19th December 2003 – just in time for Christmas.

The next day the district nurses redressed my wounds and they came everyday for about 9 months, and then visited every 5 days, then 3 and then once a week. At the same time I was also visiting Nott’s City Hosp 2/3 times a week to see the Doctor and a chap named Steve who made my prosthetic leg, which includes a waist corset made from silicone, it took six months to make and at the same time gave my wound time to heal.

In June 2004 I was ready to start physiotherapy at Kingsmill Hospital. I did this until September, they then decided I was ok to wear it most of the time. I wear it most days and manage to mow the lawns, clean the car and also go to the gym 3 times a week.

But I must say it is not the most comfortable thing to wear and weighs heavy towards the end of the day.

I would like to thank everyone who was involved in my trauma, and especially to my mates whom I know from school some 40 years ago, they never missed a day visiting me whilst I was in hospital even though I was out of it for three weeks they were always there, now that’s what I call friends.


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