On the Friday of the Victoria Day long weekend two years ago, Trevor Levine developed a fever. Excruciating pain in his right thigh followed soon after.
By the time he went to the emergency room at his local hospital three days later, things had gone from bad to worse.
“I needed a wheelchair to get to the ER, my lips were blue as the nurse was triaging me and my oxygen level was in the low 80’s. I even lost consciousness as I was moved from the wheelchair to the examination table,” he says.
After blood tests, antibiotics, a lumbar puncture and a CT scan on his leg, he was diagnosed with necrotizing fasciitis, a rare condition commonly referred to as flesh-eating disease.
Trevor woke up in the intensive care unit (ICU) two days later to learn that a large amount of dead tissue had been surgically removed from his leg, leaving him with an opening “almost the size of a keyboard” on his inner thigh.
Nevertheless, within a few weeks Trevor seemed to be on the road to recovery, even walking around the unit and starting to go up some stairs.
But then the fever returned. Trevor went into septic shock again and was sent back to the ICU. His wife Carrie, a registered nurse at Sunnybrook, knew that the best place for Trevor was the Ross Tilley Burn Centre at Sunnybrook, and he was transferred there soon after.
“What had been missing from my care was a long-term wound management plan and being in a place with incredibly rigorous infection control practices. Sunnybrook’s Burn Centre has a lot of experience with both,” Trevor says.
Once he arrived at Sunnybrook, he knew he was in good hands. After five more surgeries and several weeks as an in-patient, Trevor’s leg was finally healing well, and he was discharged home.
He became an outpatient at Sunnybrook’s St. John’s Rehab, working on strengthening his body in twice-weekly occupational therapy and physiotherapy sessions. After spending a good chunk of the summer in the hospital, “I could hardly walk four houses down the street,” Trevor says.
Five months after his initial emergency room visit, Trevor returned to work as a risk management and process improvement consultant. He feels very fortunate to have regained full use of his leg.
“I’m lucky that the infection was caught early, and I’m grateful everything turned out the way it did, because it easily could have gone the other way,” he says.
“I think it was a lot harder on my family than it was on me, but I never felt scared because I trusted the process.”
He also can’t say enough about the “fantastic” culture in the Ross Tilley Burn Centre.
“The staff really have an ‘all hands on deck’ mentality. They take their jobs seriously, but they don’t take themselves too seriously, and that made a huge difference in my recovery,” he says.
“It really felt like I was being taken care of by family.”