Paul Borgman

Featured, Survivor

This is my story. It started four and a half years ago, at the age of 57.

I had been fighting a chronic ulcer on my left foot due to non-diabetic neuropathy and also stress fractures in my metatarsal bones. I was being treated regularly by a podiatrist but wasn’t able to heal completely because as an energy engineer, I performed field audits and did a lot of walking. A few weeks after a visit to a hospital for some x-rays on my foot, I started feeling sick – urinary issues, lethargy, weakness, loss of appetite. Then in a few days’ time, I started feeling confused, my vision was blurry and my speech became unintelligible. (Sepsis and Bacterial Infections)

We went to the ER at a different hospital where I was immediately rushed to an isolated room due to an obvious infection. My BP was 56/35, my kidneys had failed, I had pneumonia and was in septic shock. (Sepsis and Pneumonia, Sepsis and Septic Shock) The ER doctor told my wife that if we waited another 12 hours, I wouldn’t have made it. There was surprisingly no seepage from the ulcer on my foot but they determined I had an infection in my lower left leg and I was rushed into surgery. They assumed I had an infection such as MRSA but because it takes a few days for the tests to be conclusive we didn’t know right away. (Sepsis and MRSA)

Thankfully they were able to stabilize my BP and get my kidneys working again. I had three surgical washouts before it was decided to amputate my leg below the knee. The infection was extremely aggressive and had caused extensive damage. Due to multiple complications and the severity of the impact of the sepsis, I had a total of 14 surgeries. I had very low white blood counts and platelets due to the infection and I received over 30 units of blood during my stay. I spent a total of two months in the hospital and then two weeks in rehab. Recovery was difficult, but seven months after my ER admission I received my prosthetic. It wouldn’t be so bad if my story ended here – I learned to walk very quickly with the new leg and was able to meet my goal of walking my beloved beagle Fiona Lisa in the woods again!

Three months after I started walking again, I developed a large bulge in my right hip. I had a hip replacement 2-1/2 years earlier that was very successful, but I could tell something was wrong. Very quickly it became red and hot and then it erupted literally like a volcano, blood and pus flowing out. Another trip to the ER, another diagnosis of infection. The MRSA had stayed in my blood and latched onto the artificial joint/bone connection. (Sepsis and Joint Replacements)

They had to do emergency surgery to remove my old artificial hip and sent me home with a vancomycin IV to give to myself through a PICC line to ensure the infected material was gone before putting in a new hip. Right about that time Covid hit! Lucky me! They couldn’t put in the new hip for almost six months because it was a “non-essential” surgery. As a side note – I don’t recommend going six months without a hip joint! It was actually as bad or worse than the 2-month hospital stay and 14 surgeries.
Eventually I had surgery to put in the new hip. The MRSA once again did extensive damage, causing the surgeons to remove two extra inches from the tibia and causing some serious issues with the muscles and tendons. I now have chronic pain in the right hip and my right leg gives me more problems than the left. However, they were able to save my leg. But, I will never be able to get another replacement due to the amount of bone damage, so this one needs to last awhile!

And now MRSA is giving me more trouble. I don’t have an active infection right now, but I do have severe arthritis in my right knee which, added to the hip pain, is making walking even more difficult. Normally, the doctors would recommend joint replacement without hesitation but because of my history with MRSA they want to hold off as long as I can take the pain.

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