Tony Cornias


I think my story is a little odd myself, but here goes. In the summer of 2003 on a Wednesday afternoon, my brother asked me to drop off work and I agreed. I was on my way back to the office and while crossing the street I felt a twinge of pain in my left leg above my ankle. By the time I made it thru the intersection (60′ or so) I could not bear any weight on my leg. Within the next minute, I made my way to my car and started shaking and was cold as could be; which was weird to me because it was late July and around 94 degrees outside. I looked down at my leg when I got to my car and it was deep red in a spot about the size of a quarter. I was scared at that moment and drove to the E.R. which, thank God, was only 2 miles away.

I parked my car and tried to get out and stand. I could not. I was shaking, sweaty and in really awful pain. It felt like there was a million hot glass shards stabbing my leg. I called out for help and someone came with a wheelchair. I lost it at that point I just started to beg the nurse for help. They took me back right away, in ten minutes it spread from a quarter size to engulfing half of my leg. I started screaming for pain medication and writhing in agony. My blood pressure had tanked and my fever was above 104. I think I was given initially 1mg of Dilaudid and 4mg. of morphine both IV and started on IV Zosyn within 5 minutes of being in the E.R. Lucky for me the E.R. was practically empty so I was given a ton of attention.

They kept asking me where I was and how I got sick and I had no answer. I really was not expecting to live long enough for family to get to me, even though they were close by. I had no bites, no open sores, just a leg about 4 times its size and starting to develop compartment syndrome. I was diagnosed with multi drug resistant group A Beta hemolyitic Streptococcus Pyogenese. (Sepsis and Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR)/Antibiotic Resistance) Til this day I have no answers as to why. I spent 31 days in the hospital hooked up to PCA Dilauded and a cocktail of IV vancomycin, zosyn, gentamycin, levofloxin and steroids. By the 4th day the infection spread into my back and I had a red streak trying to make its way to my heart.

I know I owe my life to my vascular surgeon and the head of infectious disease. I can truly say I had the best care science could provide at that time. Unfortunately the infection destroyed the lymph nodes in my leg. I have to wear compression stockings for the rest of my life. Though an inconvenience, I consider myself lucky because I still have my leg and my life.

I was also informed that I would be susceptible to sepsis infection for the rest of my life. They were not wrong. The sensory nerves in my were so sensitive, when the nurse opened the door to the ICU cubical I was in, wind would rush in and it would burn my leg to the point I would scream. Since then I have gone septic 5 more times from the same leg; it is weird because I will have no symptoms that I can cue in on. One minute I am fine and then all of the sudden I am as sick as can be and always wind up spending a week or 2 in the hospital on IV meds. What makes it even more eventful is I also have had Addisons disease since 2004.

I consider myself fortunate. I have a doctor who will come to see me at the drop of a hat in the ER as soon as he gets the call from the attending no matter the day or time. I consider that good fortune on my part.

The last bout in January of 2020 by time I got to the hospital the infection had spread to my spine. I was in so much pain that they had to put me in a medically induced coma for 2 days to give the antibiotics a chance to work, I was incapable of dealing with the amount pain. The slightest body movement and it felt like I had a blow torch on my spine. The only thing I could move was my eyes. I just wish I knew how I caught it originally, Anyone dealing with this issue has my deepest sympathy; please do not wait before seeking medical help because you risk organ damage and death. It is better to over react, I know this because I waited too long because I could not determine if I was sick and if I was how bad and waited too long and that is how the infection was able to make it into my spine.

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