Thomas Maggio: Air Force Veteran/Firefighter Needs Our Help
Here is Tom’s story, his words:
I left work, Hands On Auto Tech, at about 8pm Nov. 27th. I was exhausted. After not sleeping well for three days and no food that day, I fell asleep for 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. My steering wheel is pressing against me. I call to the closest firefighter, “I need a tourniquet.” He says that they are working to get me out as fast as they can. I feel if I could just show them my badge they would listen to me. I am too pinned. I yell, “Look at my license plate,” over and over. Finally someone looks. It shows I’m a firefighter.
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 in an ambulance. Adrenaline is fading and pain is rearing her ugly head. The EMTs inject me. I pass out.
I wake up in ER and hear talk of amputation. I call out, “Do not cut off my leg.” Friends are here. I ask them to take a picture for me. It is a picture that is too gruesome to print in any paper. Before fading out, I say I want to go to UCHealth Aurora. I wake up being loaded into a helicopter as someone says they are going to take good care of me, and I pass out again.
I wake up in the morning. My leg is wrapped up with long metal rods sticking straight up out of my leg, two out of the upper thigh and two out of my lower shin. They 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 will most likely need to be amputated. I ask the doctor to please do everything she can to save my leg.
The surgeries begin. A wound vac must be changed every three to four days, requiring surgery each time, 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 on top and a small plate with 4 screws in the bottom. Now mind you, every surgery they have to do my wound vac AND are adding screws and drilling into my bones. They wash 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 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 regimine. 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.
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 of bacteria are gone. They stitch me up and by the new year I am ready to go home and begin the healing process. I’m thankful to all who cared for me at UCHealth in Aurora for 34 days. I recommend this hospital for any health care you need.
My hip and pelvic fractures, plus the fractured right ankle require me to be in a wheel chair until March 1st. Then I begin my final work to get into a prosthetic.
It is an odd feeling for me to ask others for help. Usually I am the volunteer, the helper. But I need your help now. My prosthetic will cost me $12,000 or more. There will be other expenses: my socket fitting, therapy, etc.
A gofundme.com/helping-tom-and-laura has been set up but the original amount is not enough. Needs will more likely exceed $50,000. Please spread the word, share with friends on social media or through email. Help me walk again for my little girls, Gianna and Bella, so they can have a normal Daddy. Help me walk again for my wife, so I can help relieve her from all of the stress she has now caring for the entire family and working full time.
Thank you everyone and God bless you all. I wish everyone a successful and safe 2019. Thomas Maggio
From the Editor: Gifts can also be mailed to:
CVCR/Thomas Maggio, POB 962, Frederick, 80530. Make checks to Thomas Maggio.