Love of family

Photo of the Lipinski family taken shortly after their youngest child was born.

Nathan Lipinski has not spoken with his wife, Christin, since Jan. 14. She has been on long-term and short-term sedation at Maricopa County Hospital since Jan. 19. She had her ninth operation Jan. 25, and Nathan said it went well, and doctors placed a wound vacuum on her wounds.

The 36-year-old special education teacher at Oakwood Elementary will remain intubated on a ventilator and sedated for the next two weeks.

“They keep debriding the wound to remove dead or superficial tissue,” Nathan said. “They did not find further pockets.

“She’s in stable condition. She has improved enough that she currently doesn’t require the drugs for maintaining her blood pressure. She shows signs she doesn’t have to be on a ventilator. The huge number of times she’s been in surgery, this means sedation.

“I’m hoping she doesn’t remember this.”

Nathan remembers the entire experience all too well. The day the pain became really bad for Christin, Jan. 11, she left work early and went to a Fry’s mini-clinic with pain in her side and flu-like symptoms. She went home and the pain got progressively worse.

Jan. 12, she went to Banner Thunderbird Medical Center to check out the pain in her side. They did an EKG, Nathan said, and told her it was perfectly fine. Tested her for flu, said it was Influenza A, sent her home. The pain was getting worse.

Jan. 13, Nathan took her to Dignity Health urgent care at 51st and Olive avenues. The doctor there examined where the pain was, kept track of her vitals, called for an ambulance to St. Joseph’s at midnight.

Jan. 15, doctors performed a keyhole incision and biopsy. Nathan said while the labs were coming back, nurses changed her dressings and there was a color change and blistering.

After they determined it was necrotizing faciitis, she was rushed into surgery again where approximately 30 percent of her soft tissue was surgically removed to stop the infection and save her life.

Jan. 19, doctors at St. Joseph’s sent Christin to Maricopa County Hospital. Nathan said the St. Joseph’s surgeon evaluated the huge extent of the wounds, and knew their hospital didn’t have the level of wound staff  that was available at the county hospital.

Jan. 25, Christin underwent her ninth surgery.

There may be more in her future. But, what Nathan wants to do in the meantime is get her story out there.

“As rare as this is, help them to stop progressing to this level of devastation,” he said. “Just send prayers and thoughts for this. It’s something I can be doing to help. It gives me something else to focus on, too.”

Since Christin’s condition has been diagnosed, Nathan has researched everything about necrotizing fascilitis. He said he has learned there have been 600 to 1,200 cases in the United States in the last five years.

He said Christin’s experience is “just horrible luck.”

They don’t know where it came from or why she is the one suffering from its effects. She got the flu and her immune system was compromised.

One of her friends started a gofundme page to help with medical expenses, and if Christin is permanently disabled, to help with living expenses.

There may be no further signs of infection, but she may be facing more surgery and skin grafts. Nathan said they are not sure how long-term she’ll be in the hospital. All he knows is their three children, ages 2, 6 and 8, have not seen their mother since Jan. 14. Hospital rules forbid children under a certain age from entering the intensive care units.

The gofundme page has been successful so far, and if you want to help this Peoria family, search Christin Lipinski at gofundme.com.