Erin Smith

I had an elective weight loss surgery on December 27, 2016. The surgery went great and I spent 2 nights in the hospital to recover. I went home on December 29, 2016. It was on New Years' Eve that I first noticed a small area at the site of an IV for my surgery that was red, swollen and hot to touch. My husband and I watched the site over night and as it worsened a little by the morning. We took a trip to the ER. We were concerned that I had a blood clot in my left arm. I remember being in so much pain. I had a fever of 102.9 prior to going to the ER, so I took a Tylenol before we left. So no fever in the ER and my pain was dismissed. I begged for pain medication, which they finally gave to me. I did have a blood clot in my arm and my WBC was elevated. My presentation was not severe enough for me to be admitted to the hospital, so I was given a prescription for oral antibiotics and a cream for my arm and was told to f/u with a Vascular Surgeon on the 3rd. The office was closed on the 2nd for the New Year Holiday. 

By January 3rd, 2017, my arm had quadrupled in size, and the redness, swelling and fever were all worse. I felt like I had a bad case of the flu. We saw a Vascular Surgeon that day and I was immediately admitted to the hospital for IV antibiotics for the blood clot and now cellulitis. I was started on 6 different antibiotics that day. The next few days were a blur to me. I do know that the following morning, January 4, 2017, I began to have the most awful smelling drainage from the site of my original IV from the weight loss surgery. It was necrotic tissue. My nurse had a Vascular Surgeon come evaluate me and I was in the OR within 45 minutes for a fasciotomy and wound debridement. 13 inches of my left arm was opened up to get out what we now know was flesh-eating bacteria. The doctor finished with the first surgery and spoke with my family. He told them that "if this was another 8 hours later, your wife/daughter could've lost her arm or her life. She is a very sick girl." I was transferred to ICU and do not remember most of the next 5 days. I went to the OR for the following 4 days to have my wound debridements and finally a wound vac placed in. Dressing changes were horrific. The pain was so bad and not controlled. Just pain all the time.

My family was very aggressive about the hospital taking responsibility for this. After all, I obtained necrotizing fasciitis from a unsterile needle stick. The hospital that I was at even did a third party, outside investigation and came back stating that "they take no blame or fault" in my obtaining flesh eating bacteria from their hospital. We were in disbelief. 

I spent 16 days in the hospital and had to continue home antibiotics and wound dressing changes at home. The whole situation was so surreal. It still is to this day. I am now an 11 month survivor! And I say that proudly. I AM A SURVIVOR! 

I just had the 8th and hopefully last surgery on my left arm to repair nerve damage. I continue occupational therapy twice a week. I have a strong support system, including my friends and family. This year has been hell for all of us. But, I'm ready to see what the future brings because if I can survive necrotizing fasciitis, I can accomplish anything!