She looked at us with compassion, caring and understanding and said “How blessed you are that now you get to see him graduate.”
Mr. Vixen and I must have looked like the proverbial deer caught in headlights. Nurse Helpful did an immediate flip turn and headed back to recovery. “Wait”, I said, “What do you mean?” “The doctor will be out to talk to you shortly, I can’t say anymore” she said over her shoulder as she disappeared through the door.
Dr. B appeared before I could even process what had just happened. He came into the hall and said he was sorry it took so long and that he couldn’t have let us know during the surgery what was going on. He asked us about MacD’s tattoo. He kept pointing to his left arm and asking if “he had just got that?” I was so confused, for once in my life I was speechless and just kept asking “what?” over and over. He looked like he was talking to a simple child, slowed down and said “The tattoo on his arm, did he just get that?” We replied, yes it was just weeks old. Dr. B said “Well it is quite amazing, as he surely does have have the luck of the Irish. That is the only way I can explain it.” Truthfully, I had no clue what the HELL he was talking about. Did the tattoo have something to do with this? Did it cause him to get sick? What was his point?
My husband figured it out before me, as he remembered the tattoo our son had designed and went and got without our permission (his first I am 18 and can do what I want moment). He reminded me of the tattoo. “Honestly” I said to Dr. B, “What are you talking about?”
Dr. B proceeded to explain that MacD had Fournier’s gangrene (“….a necrotizing infection…that constitutes a surgical emergency and can rapidly progress to sepsis and death. Physicians unfamiliar with this disease will often misdiagnose it, and those who have seen it will never forget it”) A condition that in all his years of practice he had never seen in a patient so young. He said that MacD’s condition was critical. Once the disease reaches the abdomen, death is imminent and unavoidable. “If you had taken him home, within a few hours he would have been dead” he said, “You should go and thank the ER doctor. You owe him your child’s life. If not for his insistence, we would never have known until it was too late. And that tattoo, it tells the truth. We were able to save his penis and both his testicles, although one of them was completely engulfed and there is a chance we may still lose it.”
No one will ever understand that shock and fear that struck deep and painfully into my heart at that moment. Immediately, all I could think of was getting to his side. Of assuring myself that he was truly alive and breathing. We rushed into the recovery room. MacD was slowly becoming conscious. He kept asking, “What happened?” I would say you were sick and you had surgery and he would say “Noooo, what happened?!?!” He knew it wasn’t right. The nurse would explain, “MacD, you have necrotizing fasciitis (like he would know what that was) and we had to do a lot of surgery, but you are going to be alright.” He would drift off, awaken and we would have to repeat the entire scene over and over again. Part of that was the anesthesia making him forget and part of it was him knowing something had gone terribly wrong. As he became more coherent, Dr. B came and explained in more detail, in the clinical and frightening way that doctors sometimes have. To this day, MacD says all he remembers is some doctor telling him “we saved your penis and hopefully both of your testicles” and he could not for the life of him figure out what that had to do with a cyst on his rear-end.
The next two days were a horror of bandage changes, uncontrolled blood sugar, insulin injections, infectious disease specialists, and pain. I never left the hospital. I slept in a chair (on a good night they could find me a roll away bed). I kept asking about the insulin and they kept telling me his blood sugar was uncontrolled because of the severe infection. It was common, they said, for blood sugars to go crazy when you were this ill. On the third day, MacD worsened. By this time, he was over his shyness (or he just didn’t know that I watched every single thing they like a hawk protecting its nest) and I had noticed that one side of his testicles was black. Not black as in the color bruises turn. But the black of dead tissue. I asked the nursing staff to call Dr. B, although he had been in the day before. Dr. B arrived took one look and announced he needed to go back to surgery immediately. It was 10am and I didn’t even have time to call Mr. Vixen at work before they wheeled MacD off again.
To be continued……