My encounter with the flesh eating disease Streptococcus aka necrotizing fasciitis bacteria

We had just buried my father a few days before and I was helping my brother-in-law pull the fender back on my truck. A drunk had hit the truck while it was parked at my parents house. I stooped down and felt a sharp pain in my right foot just above my toes. I had been nursing the foot for what I thought was a serious case of athletes foot.

There were little red sores all over the top of my toes. I limped back in the house and took my shoe off. The pain was excruciating by then. My wife, Tammy, gave me Tylenol and propped up my foot on the couch. Later that evening we decided that I should go have it checked at the local hospital. The ER doctor checked my foot which was beginning to turn very dark, wrote me a prescription for antibiotics and sent me home.

By early the next morning, I had become delirious and had a high fever. Tammy and her dad. , rushed me back to the hospital. By the time I was admitted in my room, red streaks were climbing up my chest. A shift doctor came in to look at me and told me that I could probably go home at the end of the day. I have no idea why he told me that?

My nurse, Jeanetta Sorrell, told me that I wasn't going anywhere and she was going to get Dr. Michael Henshaw to look at me.


Similar to what my foot and leg looked like.

Dr.Michael Hinshaw came in, took one look at my leg and the red streaks on my chest and said "You are not going anywhere." He ordered up 3 different antibiotics to be given to me through IVs. He told me that he had to control the infection before he could perform surgery. He told me that my infection started with streptococcus and had turned into necrotizing fasciitis. It was eating the flesh in my foot.

Days later, the blackness on the top of my foot got better and the pain was easing a bit. Dr. Hinshaw came in to talk with me about the surgery. He told me that he would do his absolute best to save my foot and lower leg but couldn't guarantee anything. I didn't tell Tammy what the doctor said because at the time she was going through so much already.

When I woke up from surgery, I looked down and saw my toes. I wiggled them in pain but I thanked God, Doctors and Nurses that my toes were still there!

I will never forget the names, Doctor Michael Hinshaw and Nurse Jeanetta Sorrell. Dr. Hinshaw had an amazing confidence about him that gave me faith I needed. Nurse Jeanetta Sorrell was an angel at my bedside. She made me behave with her wonderful smile.

Ten days after being admitted, I was finally sent home. Tammy had to be my nurse now. They trained her on how to put the packing in my foot. The cavity went five inches back from the opening on top. It had to be packed with gauze. She had to do it 4 times a day at first and then lessened until my final surgery.

Tammy had to put gauze in my foot every day

After about six weeks, I went in to have a skin graft. Dr. Hinshaw told me that it was his first skin graft on my type of wound. He removed a 3 inch by 3 inch patch from my hip and grafted it to my foot. The surgery was successful and the hole in the top of my foot was gone.

I am so thankful to Dr. Hinshaw, Nurse Jeanetta and wife/nurse Tammy. I am also thankful for the staff at Reid Memorial Hospital in Richmond Indiana. They were all wonderful.

This was a 3 inch by 1 inch wound. Cavity went back 5 inches.

In Closing

My infection turned very serious in less than 48 hours. Please treat any infection, no matter how small....with the knowledge that it can worsen quickly and even become fatal. Many people have lost limbs and some have lost their lives to this terrible flesh eating bacteria.

See a doctor immediately and make sure the doctor UNDERSTANDS the severity of the infection. Remember....one doctor sent me home and another was going to send me home. I was so lucky to have had Dr. Michael Hinshaw for my doctor.

Comments 45 comments

Amany Ibrahim 7 years ago

I'm sorry Tom for your dad, and for what happened to your truck, and I'm glad your foot problem has been recovered. some times bad things come together in a punch but we should remember that it's just a faith and we have to accept it.


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 7 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

Fascinating story, Tom. When I learned about the flesh-eating disease some years ago I was under the impression that it not treatable. I'm delighted to hear otherwise. I guess you can consider yourself a very lucky guy to have had such good care.


Tom Cornett profile image

Tom Cornett 7 years ago from Ohio Author

Amany...thank you very much. It all worked out fine.

William...thank you....I am very lucky...A guy that lives in the next town lost both legs because of it. There are many wonderful medical professionals out there. Thanks again!


Am I dead, yet? 7 years ago

Oh my, Tom, from Health care to umm, I am glad you are better. You are made of steel!


Tom Cornett profile image

Tom Cornett 7 years ago from Ohio Author

AIDY....Sometimes I think God keeps folks like me around just to mess with the angels. Thanks much! :)


TamCor profile image

TamCor 7 years ago from Ohio

This just gives me the chills, reading this and remembering...We were so lucky that we had such a wonderful doctor, and a caring and knowledgable nurse, for you!


Tom Cornett profile image

Tom Cornett 7 years ago from Ohio Author

Tammy...and a sweet wife! :)


jill of alltrades profile image

jill of alltrades 7 years ago from Philippines

Uh uh, that's scary. I'm glad you have recovered from that.

Thank you for sharing this. It's an eye opener.

Sorry to hear about your father.


toby80@frontiernet.net 7 years ago

Tom,

I've never heard of this condition but appreciate the information so I can now be aware. What a terrible thing to have gone through. I just had open heart surgery, very unexpected, in April, and know very well how comforting it is to have quality professionals and family surround you. Thanks for sharing this story!


Connie Smith profile image

Connie Smith 7 years ago from Tampa Bay, Florida

You had a lucky escape, Tom. The son of a family friend lost his life over this just a few years ago, and in just a matter of days after contracting it. Thanks for sharing your story.


Pete Maida profile image

Pete Maida 7 years ago

Wow that's scary. A tip of the hat to Nurse Sorrell for being a lot more professional than the first doctor.


Tom Cornett profile image

Tom Cornett 7 years ago from Ohio Author

jill....thank you.

toby....thank you...it is a comfort to have quality doctors and nurses. They make such a big difference in healing.

Connie....Thanks...I was very lucky to be in the hands of competence.

Pete....thanks ...I think that many times, nurses influence the right decisions. Had I gone home, I probably wouldn't be here.


Enelle Lamb profile image

Enelle Lamb 7 years ago from Canada's 'California'

Good thing somebody in that hospital was thinking straight! That nurse should be on your Christmas card list for sure!


maggs224 profile image

maggs224 7 years ago from Sunny Spain

What a scary thing to happen I am so glad that you made a complete recovery.


Tom Cornett profile image

Tom Cornett 7 years ago from Ohio Author

Enelle....I will always be thankful to her....always.

maggs....thanks....it sure was scary at the time....even tho it was 18 years ago...I still remember many details.


Lisa HW profile image

Lisa HW 7 years ago from Massachusetts

This Hub will help people become more familiar with how flesh-eating bacteria can first show up. I've known about the existence of the bacteria for years, and I've known how quickly it can spread and turn deadly. It never occurred to me to look up what it looks like when it first shows up. A month or so ago I developed a very weird skin "situation", and the first thing I did was to finally learn what a flesh-eating-bacteria infection looks like when it first starts. Ordinarily, I'm a pretty well informed person; but it took a "weird skin thing" to make me learn more about the bacteria.

This is information everybody needs to learn about before they have a "weird skin thing" show up, and your Hub will help. (My "weird skin thing" was, essentially, "nothing", but it made me realize how poorly informed I had been on this subject.)


Tom Cornett profile image

Tom Cornett 7 years ago from Ohio Author

Lisa...thanks...there are many pics and information on google for people to see and research. At first, I thought mine was just a minor irritation. Had I gone to the doctor sooner, it may have saved me lots of pain and trouble.

The key is "Don't wait!" Have it checked out. Thanks again for commenting.


jxb7076 profile image

jxb7076 7 years ago from United States of America

OUCH - what a string of unfortunate events but it's good to hear that all ended well. You did not mention the origin of the disease. Did the doctor explain it's origin and how to prevent it from happening again? Perhaps you mentioned it in the comments and I missed it.

My hats off to your wife. With all due respect and credit to your doctor and nurse it was your wife who made the real difference. Imagine coming home in that condition to someone who did not care. Please offer her my humblest respect and admiration!


Tom Cornett profile image

Tom Cornett 7 years ago from Ohio Author

jxb...thanks so much....I don't really know where it originated. I thought it was a bad case of athletes foot. I had been going barefoot around the house and yard because of the pain. I could have gotten it then? Thanks for asking. I have the deepest respect for people who care....they make the world such a better place. Thanks again!


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 7 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

I've never studied medicine, Tom, but one thing I know for certain: Running around in bare feet is a very bad idea. The cuts and scratches that are inevitable can lead to diseases of all kinds, many of them very serious.


Tom Cornett profile image

Tom Cornett 7 years ago from Ohio Author

William....thanks....it is true...I am proof of it.


jiberish profile image

jiberish 7 years ago from florida

Tom, thank you for sharing. I have a weak stomach, so I rushed over the pictures. Sorry to hear about your dad, but glad to hear you're doing well.


Tom Cornett profile image

Tom Cornett 7 years ago from Ohio Author

jiberish...thanks so much! I don't blame you for skipping over the pics at all. Thanks again! :)


moti-k profile image

moti-k 7 years ago

thanks for shearing


Tom Cornett profile image

Tom Cornett 7 years ago from Ohio Author

moti-k...you are quite welcome...thank you.


Teshana profile image

Teshana 7 years ago from Florida

Thank goodness you were saved, I have always had the fear of getting this, and when I was 18 something similar happened and I got an infection in my blood. Both legs broke out and sores and for one month I had to take steroids to get rid of it. To this day Im scared. Im glad you made it through


Tom Cornett profile image

Tom Cornett 7 years ago from Ohio Author

Teshana...thanks much....I had heard that it can infect the blood also....it is some scary stuff isn't it....glad you got rid of it....thanks again! :)


Mezo profile image

Mezo 6 years ago from Egypt

Thanks for sharing, sorry for your dad..nice to hear that you survived this. How many surgeries did you have? two plus the grafting?


Tom Cornett profile image

Tom Cornett 6 years ago from Ohio Author

Mezo..thanks...I had one surgery to remove the dead tissue and one for the skin graft. A 3" x 3 " square was taken from my hip and placed on my foot.


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia

Tom, this was scary to read, so I can't imagine how frightened you and your wife were! Glad you're okay now!


Tom Cornett profile image

Tom Cornett 6 years ago from Ohio Author

habee....thanks...it was a frightening time. The red streaks scared me more than anything. They looked like tree branches.


frogyfish profile image

frogyfish 6 years ago from Central United States of America

An interesting wake-up story. Good to know you grew past the multiple stack-up of problems and shared the story. And yes, thanks to your caring wife too.


Tom Cornett profile image

Tom Cornett 6 years ago from Ohio Author

Frogyfish...thanks...it is very important for someone to get any serious infection treated immediately...that's why I wrote the article. Tammy was indeed an angel. :)


Ben Zoltak profile image

Ben Zoltak 6 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

Crazy story Tom, I just read parts of it to my wife who was equally mortified! What I want to know is, did they tell you how you got it in the first place!? (I would like to avoid necrotizing fascitis if at all possible!) Thanks for the amazing article amigo, glad you found some talented medical help!


Tom Cornett profile image

Tom Cornett 6 years ago from Ohio Author

Hi Ben...it started out with little red sores on my toes. I probably got it from previously walking around barefoot in the yard along with having athletes foot. I had the sores for more than a month and was applying anti fungal medicine on them. I had finally developed a severe pain in my foot.

Probably the best way to prevent it is to not go barefoot and always be attentive to any type of sore on your body. If is doesn't heal like it should...see a doctor.

Thanks for stopping by. :)


Donna Suthard profile image

Donna Suthard 5 years ago

Hi Tom! I'm glad you recovered from this fearful bacteria. I know I nearly lost my arm as a child to gangrene..arm had caught on fire. The doctors and nurses save my life with a skin graft. We didn't have antibiotics then! We can survive a great deal in life..Thank you for sharing your story!


Tom Cornett profile image

Tom Cornett 5 years ago from Ohio Author

Thank you Donna. We can survive some pretty amazing things. I am glad you recovered too. :)


ajcor profile image

ajcor 5 years ago from NSW. Australia

Amazing story - had never heard about this type of flesh eating disease but have heard about a spider here in Australia that performs the same evil duties and it is also very hard to combat except via amputation. Glad you are recovered...cheers


Tom Cornett profile image

Tom Cornett 5 years ago from Ohio Author

ajcor....thank you. We have the Brown Recluse spider here. It's poisonous bite kills flesh. I've seen people with pits in their arms and legs.


Nick levene 5 years ago

Hi Tom my name is nick levene from London uk, my wife Debbie died 2 weeks ago from this bug. She felt severe leg pain on Friday 1st July and died in hospital 5am 3rd July. My beautiful wife was taken from me I.e good health to dead in 36 hours. This is without doubt the cruellest disease the world has had.


Tom Cornett profile image

Tom Cornett 5 years ago from Ohio Author

Hi Nick.

My deepest heartfelt sympathies to you. I can't imagine what you have been through or are going through now. There are simply no words to describe such a loss. You will be in thoughts and prayers.


Karen 4 years ago

i bumped my thigh 2weeks back now and ended up with huge purple almost blisters i would say, the pains been unbearable. I didn't cut myself or anything but now where the purple is starting to go my skin is disappearing with it, and after looking with a mirror at the very top of my leg in the crease i have 3 holes where the purple has gone from there. One is very deep i can see right in my leg, the other 2 arent so deep yet but you can actually see how they are going deeper through layers of skin. After reading your story and seeing the pictures of how you get a purple red rash when it starts is seriously making me wonder if i have this. Although ive had a temperature on and off ive not got one all the time, and i feel unwell but not too bad ive felt worse which then makes me think maybe im just being silly and not to waste a doctors time - surely id be a lot sicker than i am? Perhaps i am worrying over nothing but then what else has caused holes in my leg and why is my skin disappearing? I really don't know what to do i don't want to waste a doctors time and i think id be a lot sicker than i am but im pretty sure ive got something eating my flesh as ive not cut myself or anything for these holes to have developed - what would you suggest i do?


Tom Cornett profile image

Tom Cornett 4 years ago from Ohio Author

Karen....see a doctor ASAP. Any infection is serious. Get to the doctor...NOW.....please.


stars439 profile image

stars439 3 years ago from Louisiana, The Magnolia and Pelican State.

Dear Tom : Thank God you did not lose you're foot. God Bless You cherished friend.


Tom Cornett profile image

Tom Cornett 3 years ago from Ohio Author

Thanks stars.....It was a close call. I thank God a lot for that one. Blessings to you. :o)

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