Guest Blog by Rick McManus, Mary Free Bed alumni
My name is Rick McManus and in the spring of 2012 I contracted a simple staff infection in my lower leg just above the ankle. What follows is the story of my incredible journey of resilience and recovery.
After a brief trip to the hospital I was sent home with simple antibiotics, but within a week I was back in the E.R. with a flesh eating disease that devastated my lower right leg. After recovery I was sent to a nursing home for the remainder of that year. Months of agonizing physical therapy followed and as I was starting to recover fully. Vowing never to give up, I doubled my efforts to return to a normal life.
2012 ended on a high note with my release from the nursing home to my new residence and I was able to see my children every two weeks (this was very important as they live full-time with their mother).
But by the end of January the infection had returned. Refusing to go back into the nursing home again, I returned home and used home health care and physical therapy. I was returning to a sense of normalcy when, as luck would have it, at the end of March the infection attacked my knee.
Amputation was offered at this time, but my mindset was not strong then. Lack of mobility followed with the constant pain and the fact that I wasn’t able to spend the quality time with my children that they deserve. No amount of therapy was going to fix my leg and the orthopedic options limited. So, I pulled my heart and soul together and CHOSE amputation of my right leg, just above the knee.
That is when Mary Free Bed walked into my life in the form of Daryyl White. He went over with me every aspect of what would happen after my surgery, thus giving me extra confidence and a positive outlook. The procedure went like clockwork: done on Thursday, back home watching the Tigers game Monday afternoon! 🙂
The following Sunday I started feeling strangely ill, but still tried to sleep. I woke up early Monday morning sweaty and week, something was not right.
I called 911 and an ambulance ride later to the E.R. is all I remember for the beginning of that week because people tell me that Monday and Tuesday I appeared normal, but when I went to sleep Wednesday, I slept until Saturday not knowing that I had almost died.
I awoke with tubes coming out and going in just about everywhere in my body. I had no idea what had happened. After I calmed down it was explained to me that I had low blood pressure, (50/20) my platelet count had dropped to 3,000 iu’s, (normal is 150,000-300,00) and I had a terrible infection and massive internal bleeding. Upon my release I was told my chances of survival had actually been less than 10 percent.
With a new outlook on life I was even more determined to return home and spend what precious time I could with my children. The hospital recommended that I transfer to Mary Free Bed. Darryl stopped by to continue where we left off and after 10 days I left to a standing ovation by doctors and staff.
By that fall, Daryyl and Mary Free Bed started to put together a plan for my first prosthetic leg, but I returned to the hospital a few times for various bouts with infections. Finally, I was provided with my new leg as an early Christmas present, finishing off 2013 on a very happy note.
2014 started off great with physical therapy and walking with a quad cane as much as possible thru the brutal winter and into the spring and finally I am walking today.
Often I am asked of what inspired and drove me to keep going in the face of such adversity. The answer is easy. My two children are the reason I go to sleep each night with joy in my heart and wake up with the happy thoughts of spending another day with them soon.
Mary Free Bed has been there every step of the way also by encouraging me and giving me the opportunity to succeed. I have played catch with my kids, swam in Lake Michigan and even walked in the mall with a confidence that I have never had before.
Being clean and sober for the first time in my adult life has given me the gift of being able to reach out to others if given the opportunity. If they have had a tragic experience or see no hope or light at the end of the tunnel, I can help. If I can wake with a smile on my face and song in my heart, then so can others.
People need to know to never give up no matter what is in their way. I broke through many barriers and I hope these words will inspire people to pick themselves up.
Thanks to my friends and Mary Free Bed for all the support on this winding road that I have traveled.
Thanks for listening,