Tom Maggio loses Leg in Accident
Below is the story of how I lost my left leg in a horrible accident. Today I am back at work with a new prosthetic.
I left work at around 8pm November 27th, 2018. I was exhausted, I had not eaten all day and had not slept well in three days. I was heading west on 119 in the right turn lane for CR1 when I fell asleep for just a brief second, at 55MPH.
I woke up to the sound of sirens. My truck looked odd. I looked down and saw an awful gory mess where my left knee used to be.
I passed out.
I woke up again to the sound of firefighters cutting me out of my truck. I know this sound because I am a firefighter. My left leg is still the same gory mess. No tourniquet yet. I try to move but I am pinned. I see my windshield is gone and my steering wheel is pressing against me. I call out to the closest firefighter "I need a tourniquet " He responds something about they are working to get me out as fast as they can. I feel like if I could show them my badge they would listen to me. I am too pinned to get my wallet out. I start yelling "look at my license plate" over and over.
Finally someone goes to look, maybe just so I will calm down? They return " He is a firefighter "as my license plate shows. Someone calls from the passenger window "What can we get you". " I need a tourniquet "I respond. It arrives almost instantly and I help them get it under what is left of my tattered upper leg. It gets tightened, my life is saved, I pass out.
I wake up going into an ambulance. Adrenaline is starting to fade and pain is starting to tear her ugly head. The ambulance workers inject me and I pass out.
I wake up in an emergency room? I hear talk of amputation. I call out do not cut off my leg. Friends are there. I ask them to take a picture for me. It is a picture that is too gruesome to print in any paper. Anyone is welcome to e mail me if your curious to see. I am fading out and they ask me where I want to go. UCHealth Aurora. I hear someone say the helicopter is still in the air. I fade out. I wake up as I am being loaded into a helicopter. Someone in the helicopter says they are going to take good care of me, and I pass out again.
I wake up, it is morning, and my leg is wrapped up. There are long metal rods sticking straight up out of my leg, two out of the upper thigh and two out of my lower shin. These four rods are connected by bars and hardware so that my leg is one solid unit again. There is a tube coming out of the wrapping where my knee would be. I am told this is a wound vac. A doctor comes by and explains that my leg is badly damaged and it will most likely need to be amputated. I ask the doctor to please do everything she could to save my leg.
The surgeries begin. With a wound vac like mine the bandages must be changed every three to four days, and it requires going under for surgery. The doctors would utilize this schedule to perform surgeries required whether my leg survived or not. First my hip socket is repaired. Tons of screws and a long metal plate. Then my pelvic bone is repaired, one huge long screw up top and a small plate with 4 screws in the bottom. Now mind you, with every surgery they are re doing my wound vac as well as sending screws and drilling into my bones. Re doing my wound vac means washing out the wound, basically tearing it up all over again. The pain is tremendous and gets worse after every surgery. There are times where my pain hits levels of 8 to 10. At level 10 I am babbling, incoherent.
I thank my wife for being by my side and holding my hand. I welcome surgery as they put me to sleep and load me up with heavy duty pain killers.
Once they finished all of the repairs they could they held a conference to decide if, and how, to tackle my knee area. They decided to go forward with the repair and continue to try to save my leg. The doctor came to warn me one final time that I was signing up for hell with a high chance of failure and very little mobility if we succeed. I replied that I had to try, If I did not take on the fight I would regret throwing in the towel for the rest of my life.
I go in for another wound vac change. It is December 20th. The next day the doctor comes to me with bad news. There is bacteria in my leg and bones. One of the bacteria is life threatening. The leg must be removed. With the decision made for me I am relieved and ready to give up the leg.
They start me on a very aggressive antibiotic regimen. The doctor warns me it will make me feel like I am dying. December 22nd they remove my leg. I feel 100 times better. I also learn that phantom limb pain is real. It feels like someone is torturing me by twisting my leg in horrible ways. Still, it is much less pain then before, and at times I can will it away.
Now the antibiotics are starting to take there toll. Luckily it is only a seven day treatment. I sleep almost all of the time during this treatment.
Continued testing of my residual limb shows that all signs af bacteria are gone. They stitch me up and by the new year I am ready to go home and begin the healing process.
I want to thank all of the amazing nurses at UCHealth in Aurora. They made my 34 days in the hospital as comfortable as possible given the circumstances.
Update: Unfortunately I discovered UCHealth made a horrible mistake during my surgeries. When they were inserting screws into my pelvis to hold my leg on, they inserted two screws that were too long. These screws protrude out of my pelvis and cause me great pain. The hospital hid this from me for 6 months by showing me modified X-rays. It was not until the statute of limitations expired that they finally showed me the un-modified X-ray that shows the screws that have been causing me extreme pain ever since. It would require a dangerous and very expensive surgery to remove these screws. I now live a life of constant extreme pain. I push through each day and come into the shop to make sure my clients still get the best service we are able to provide. I only wish the hospital offered the same kind of warranty on their repairs that we do on ours.