I woke up feeling fine, Monday 1-13-97, went to work as usual, about one hour after I got there, I started feeling flu-like symptoms. I actually got sick and vomited one time. After that I felt very "minor" strange pains in my lower back area, like in my kidneys. I pretty much tried to ignore the sick feeling and just finish out the day at work. But at about 4:00 p.m. I told my boss I was going to leave a little early, I really felt like I was coming down with the flu. I came home and just tried to drink fluids and get plenty of rest. For the next four days I had my mother call my boss and tell him I wasn't coming into work, I still felt pretty bad. On the fifth morning, I was starting to get pretty disoriented feeling by now, I wasn't sure if it was morning or night, I just kept trying to get some rest. I couldn't remember if I went out and fed my animals or not, I wasn't even sure what day it was or how many days I had been sick. I don't have health insurance and I remember laying in bed telling myself, "I'll be OK, I can get through this". On the sixth morning when I woke up my testicles were swollen about 3 times their normal size and they felt like they were on fire, that's actually when my family finally got me to go to the hospital. So we went to our local hospital emergency room. They had 3 or 4 doctors looking at me, and almost sent me back home. At first they just thought it was the flu too, but they couldn't figure out what the " red, blotchy-like areas " were all over my body. We all thought there must be something else, more serious wrong with me. I didn't feel "serious" pains, I can't relate to what they say about pain when your appendix bursts, I didn't feel that. I was pretty "out of it" by this time and I don't remember seeing or talking to hardly anyone by this time. So I am telling this story as best as I can from what my family and friends have told me. My mother was there with me the whole time and she said the 5th or 6th doctor that came in and looked at me said "get this guy to MCO now" a medical college in Toledo, Ohio. I guess an ambulance rushed me there, I don't remember. I do remember a doctor "practically yelling" in my face "you're having an appendicitis attack, you're going in for emergency surgery." That's all I remember, for when I woke up 5 weeks later, little did I know at first what all had happened. But I had the feeling I had been through something very serious. I had many "visions" and dreams about what all went on around me the whole time I was there, but I'm not sure what was real or what was dreams. I had this feeling of a "good and evil" presence in my hospital room with me the whole time. I just tried to ignore the evil and focus on the good, which gave me a feeling of "peace". My family was called in 2 different times because the doctors didn't think I would make it through the night. And I think those were the nights I saw this vision of a "being" or possibly what my family and I feel was probably my "guardian angel". But I feel it was there to help me get through all this. I now, to this day, have a whole different outlook on life, because you just never know what may happen to you in your life, so you should appreciate what you have. And I now feel that life is a special gift, so live it the best you can. ...But let me get back to my story. I think the first surgery was to remove my appendix. They left me lay wide open to flush out the poison. I think the second surgery was to remove 1 destroyed testicle and destroyed muscle around the second one and completely remove my destroyed scrotum. By this time there was a moment when doctors had told my family they had done everything they could for me, it was up to me and the "good Lord" now. It now is like the third day after I was admitted, when the doctors came out and told my family I now somehow "got" or was "exposed to" a very rare "flesh eating bacteria" so I was going to have to go into surgery to try to stop that from spreading.(I was in quarantine for 5 weeks). I also had developed pneumonia by this time, and one of my lungs had collapsed so I was now also on a respirator (which I know I was on for over 30 days, I read that in the daily billing statement I have). I also had to go into a hyperbaric chamber (oxygen) treatments a couple times a day for awhile. So it's now time for me to go into surgery for the 3rd time to remove the large area of destroyed skin and tissue on my abdomen, on both sides of where they had made their cuts from my belly button to my penis. The doctors tried pulling all the skin back together in this area but were not able to do so, they did the best they could. It has been 1 year now since this all happened, I went in the hospital 1/19/97 and got out 3/10/97. I was in intensive care the whole time, except for the last three days before I got out. I kept telling the doctors that I just wanted to go home. I still to this day feel a lot physically weaker, and I have a few days where I feel pretty good, then a few where my whole body hurts all over. And I also have a nagging pain on the lower right side of my abdomen where I have a sort of "hole-like" pouch area, where they tried to stretch my skin back together. Plus I have extra long "zipper-like" scaring on my left side that starts under my arm and goes down into my lower thigh, almost to my knee. This scar goes way past the areas where the doctors actually had to remove dead skin. I don't understand why they cut that far. Recently I got one of my horses out to exercise him, (BIG BOB), by driving him around the farm pulling a buggy. I have a regular full time job at a printing/copying shop during the week, and on the weekends I have a part-time job driving carriages for weddings or whatever, that went OK. But when I got the other one, (BABE), out to ride her, I could hardly get my left leg up into the stirrup to get on her. I think the doctors must have cut pretty deep into my muscles and tendons on that left thigh. And most of all, when I ride I have to take it pretty easy, or else I get sick to my stomach feeling, like I've been kicked in the groin. I sort of feel like I may be a little disabled for the rest of my life. I did also miss a lot of work from my regular job, but I've been trying. I just recently, as of 1/5/98, been able to get back up to regular 8 hour days at work. I need the money and I like the work. I've checked into 3 or 4 different health insurance options. Most of them will not give me insurance because of what happened to me and what I had (the "flesh-eating bacteria"). I did find a company out of Michigan that gave me insurance for a month, but it is very restricted as far as it would NOT cover any preexisting conditions. But another local insurance company is trying to see if they can get me covered. I explained every little detail that I could to them, especially the fact that the odds of this ever happening again to me are very, very, very slim. But neither of those insurances worked out. So I still have no health insurance of any kind at this time. Sorry I guess I get a little side tracked sometimes, so back to my story. Well I guess by now they realized they didn't get all the flesh-eating bacteria, and I end up in surgery for the 4th time to remove a large area of skin and tissue on the right side of my hip and torso. Then maybe the next day they see it now spreading on my the left side of my hip, buttocks and torso,into surgery again for the 5th time. Now there could have been a lapse of maybe a few days or weeks. But the doctors must think they stopped the bacteria and have gotten all the poison out of me, so it's time to go back to surgery for 6th time to close the major cut, wound, from the first surgery. When I did wake up after 5 weeks of being unconscious and doped up on morphine and whatever else, the doctors had already now performed surgery for the 7th time, which was some skin grafting on my right side and they asked for my signature (which I could not sign) because my hand was shaking so much from withdraw from all the drugs. Plus I noticed all my fingernails and toenails had these weird, white-lined ridges growing out through my nails, which went away as my nails grew out and I cut them off. We think maybe it was all the poison and or drugs coming out of my system. I pretty much had to learn how to walk again, because I was so weak after being "out of it" for so long. Most of my body was pretty numb all over and most of my joints hurt too, for months. So anyway my mother had to sign the papers for the 8th time for me to do skin grafting on my left side. Overall at that time I felt the skin grafting surgeries were more painful then all these other major surgeries, but maybe it's because I was immediately conscious after those last two operations. They hurt pretty bad for weeks but have healed pretty well now. I also think the 3rd surgery was partially what they call "reconstructive" surgery, and I think the doctors also used a "sort of" mesh type material on both my sides to try to patch me up, because there's little "square-like" marks all over on both my sides pushing through the scared "skin-like new tissue" trying to come through that. Plus I am getting more and more of my feelings back all over by now, but I recently noticed and can feel what seem to be maybe some wire or large staple-like material on my abdomen where I think they had to wire my belly back together so I don't burst open. My poor 'ol body is going to be pretty scared for the rest of my life. Overall I'm trying to deal with it all, and it gets easier the more I talk to people about it. I hope you don't mind that I went on and on, but I wanted to give you every detail I could think of, or have been told, in hopes that this will help you, to help me and others learn more about this awful "flesh-eating bacteria". I've been to 3 or 4 different lawyers already. One of them didn't want the possible case, period. One of them sort of heard of this bacteria. One of them never heard of this before. And most of all this one lawyer use to be an ICU nurse before, for ten years, and that person just kept slightly shaking her head, no, the whole time I was telling my story. That lawyer said, unless they could find something in black and white on any reports or paperwork that looked like neglect, malpractice, or some kind of mistake, it would be hard to prove anything. So I did take it upon myself to call the hospital (medical records department) to get a copy of everything they did while I was there. They sent me an estimate for (1200) pages of copying which would have cost me about $650 dollars so I had to cancel the order, I have a bankruptcy pending for January 21, 1998. And my lawyer called to inform me that my statute-of-limitations is running out. I think the lawyer I hired here locally, is only interested in getting through this to close the case. And most of the other lawyers all made me feel like this is just something that can happen to you in hospitals, a nd they made me feel like I'll just have to live with it, it happens, nothing I can do. They also made me feel like they were saying that it would be hard for one little person (like me) to prove anything against a BIG hospital, or whomever. It is really bothering me about the fact that I have to go through bankruptcy. My family and I did first go the "human services route" but they acted like they didn't feel my injuries were serious enough for assistance. I really don't think they knew the extent of my injuries, or even knew about the flesh-eating-bacteria, or how serious and deadly it can be, because I don't think the hospital wrote anything about that in the medical records. The only thing I did get was about $200 dollars in food stamps. But I do feel that they used the fact that I went back to work so fast (six weeks after I got out of hospital) to deny any other assistance. I pushed myself really hard to get back to work, I couldn't afford to be off work, I was worried about how I was going to pay all the bills. One of the local banks came to the farm where I live and accused my family of "hiding" my truck in the barn so they couldn't repossess it. The loan had just gotten to the point where I was 60 days late, but they didn't seem to care that I was laying on my "death bed". My family actually caught the people snooping around the barns looking for the truck. That is where I stored it because I had a regular old work car that I drove during the week. I think these guys should have been arrested for trespassing, and they did return the next day to take the truck. Overall I feel the hospital was really trying to keep things "hush-hush" about everything going on when I was there. But I hope by all of us telling our stories it will help in some way to educate the public, doctors, hospitals, etc, about this awful and many times deadly "flesh eating bacteria" known as Necrotizing Fasciitis. I would like to add at this point it has been 2 years since all this happened. I went through bankruptcy in January of 1998, I had to do something about the 300 thousand dollars worth of bills that I owed to the hospitals, doctors, etc. I went to dermatologist and found out that I have lichen planus, a skin infection, that was bothering me pretty bad for awhile. I've been dealing with ulcers for years now and I figure that is why I feel like crap on many days, I really need to have them checked out and treated again. On July 15,1998, I pulled a 4 inch long piece of steel wire out of abdomen, which must have pulled lose inside me and pierced it's way through my skin from the inside out. I freaked out pretty bad about that, and I told my doctors about it, and I know there is more in there, I can feel them. I recently tried again to get health insurance on my own, but no one will give it to me because of my "past medical history". I quit the job I had to take on a job that offered health insurance, but that didn't work out and I am trying to get Medicaid assistance now. I have been having severe pain on a daily basis in my left shoulder blade area for months now, and I get a severe burning sensation and it takes my breath away. I have had x-rays done three times in the past year, all the doctors say is that they see some permanent scaring in my lung from when it was collapsed. I also went to the chiropractor recently and found out from his x-rays that I still have eleven more wires in my abdomen. Three of them look like they are still tied, kind of like how you twist tie a bread bag, but eight of the wires have come loose with pointed edges that keep poking me inside. I am trying to keep a positive attitude about all this, but most of all I am still here and thankful to be alive.