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Peter Watts presents: Flesh-Eating Fest '11
March 2, 2011 5:19 PM   Subscribe

Peter Watts presents: Flesh-Eating Fest '11 (NSF the squeamish pictures several clicks further into this link). SF writer Peter Watts (aka The Plastinated Man) has survived a near-lethal bout with necrotising fasciitis (Wiki link with disturbing image at the top). Part 0 (Mildly icky picture of a small sore on his leg.): "Anybody know what this thing is?" Part 1 (no images): "Some of you may have heard by now that I got hit with a serious case of necrotising fasciitis (more luridly known as “flesh-eating disease”) late last week. I’m told I was a few hours away from being dead." Part 2 (no images): "Let us start with the fact that I contracted flesh-eating disease during the course of getting a skin biopsy — that it was being all precautionary and taking proper medical care of myself that nearly got me killed." Part 3 (ohgodohgodohgod - very graphic photos): Recovery at home shown in words and pictures. Some of the photos show cute cats and a smiling, competent home nurse. Most do not. You have been warned.
posted by maudlin (106 comments total) 38 users marked this as a favorite

 
Why would you do this to us?
posted by dersins at 5:24 PM on March 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


I felt queasy from just reading your post, so there's no way I'm diving into that one.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 5:28 PM on March 2, 2011 [6 favorites]


No way I'm clicking those links but one of the guitarists from Slayer also got the same disease. At least it's attacking people who can use it for a bit of extra cred...
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 5:28 PM on March 2, 2011


Pics aren't that bad. This is interesting and on parallel with the bot fly story that bounces around every few years.
posted by 2bucksplus at 5:29 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


On the one hand, this confirms for me that while I have no issue playing with bones and teeth and mummies, SQUISHY BITS ARE ICKY.

On the other, Peter Watts is awesome for taking this so .... in stride, and posting this very squicky thing on his blog.
posted by strixus at 5:31 PM on March 2, 2011


Hell yes. I'm utterly fascinated by this kind of stuff. I'm eating as I type this and browse pictures. Only once have I been grossed out by this kind of stuff. It was a grisly pus video.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 5:35 PM on March 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


Those are some amazing photos in Part 3, I wish he had gotten the before shots. I'm impressed how quickly the commenters on his blog nailed the diagnosis from the first comment. Also, excellent timing on the insertion of cat photos because each one showed up just as the skin on the back of my neck was trying to flee the room.
posted by jamaro at 5:35 PM on March 2, 2011


You know when I see a watch with a little a little window in the face showing the escapement mechanism I think it's really cool. I feel the same about this, but with the addition of the sensation of my testicles trying to retract into my abdomen.
posted by BrotherCaine at 5:37 PM on March 2, 2011 [6 favorites]


Some previouslies: I shared my flesh with thinking cancer; Better smile when you cross that border; Better smile when you cross that border II; Geothermals make me sleepy; FizerPharm: flexible ethics for a complex world; The Island.

On preview: Why would you do this to us?

Because God loves you and wants you to be happy? No, that's not it ... Because Peter Watts is a damn talented writer and a nice guy who's been through more than his fair share of shit, and he somehow survived something horrible but can still write about it with some wit and clarity?

The non-illustrated stuff is in Part 1 and Part 2, but the verbal descriptions are fairly detailed. Part 3: after my first shock, I'm OK with the photos. It's really odd to see how thick the layer of skin and fat is, even on the leg of an athletic man. Looks like a long, tough recovery for him, though. He's kept his leg, but that chasm is going to take a long time to heal.
posted by maudlin at 5:38 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


am i the only one that clicked right on ohgodohgodohgod?
posted by Mach5 at 5:39 PM on March 2, 2011 [18 favorites]


If you've ever wanted to know what a diseased salmon stuffed inside a split watermelon might look like, this is your chance.

I found that almost as nauseating as hospital food; Watts must have the gastrointestinal fortitude of a Quikrete-eating buffalo.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 5:40 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I clicked on ohgodohgod, and now I have to eat dinner. I was warned. I am such a fucking fool.
posted by Think_Long at 5:43 PM on March 2, 2011


That’s 3-in-1 oil she’s squeezing into the wound. Keeps it lubricated.
I will never stop being surprised at just how useful that stuff is.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 5:43 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow. Looking at Part 3 really brings home how fragile and yet resilient we are. Good on him for sharing this.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 5:44 PM on March 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Never have I been so grateful for the absence of the image tag.
posted by rtha at 5:44 PM on March 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


Bah, not that bad. If you are sitting down to a manwich, not advised.
posted by benzenedream at 5:47 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's not that bad. I opened up the pictures while eating a nice rare roast beef sandwich.

What's interesting is that the "What is that thing, anyway?" post is in early January. Clearly there was some time, it did not progress that rapidly. The colonizing spots were a surprise to me, though it makes sense in retrospect, the infection racing along the fascia and then erupting through the epidermis. Also interesting is the way he got it, getting a biopsy done. Once you punch down through that far through the protective skin (and it sounds like it went pretty far down), I suppose things are more vulnerable down there.

Negative pressure wound healing for the win!
posted by adipocere at 5:47 PM on March 2, 2011


Goddamn yes, I did favorite this.
posted by jabberjaw at 5:55 PM on March 2, 2011


It wasn't that bad - the striations in the muscle before they "packed it" were actually pretty cool.
posted by garnetgirl at 5:55 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


So first he gets punched in the face by a border guard and banned from entering the US, and then he contracts flesh-eating disease?

No wonder the guy writes such bleak, nihilistic books. He's like the atheist Job.
posted by twirlip at 5:55 PM on March 2, 2011 [35 favorites]


am i the only one that clicked right on ohgodohgodohgod?

Nope.

How do they cover the muscle back up?
posted by thehmsbeagle at 5:56 PM on March 2, 2011


Oh god. As fascinating as this truly is, I think I will stick to watching Bollywood dance scenes on youtube this evening, thanks.
posted by elizardbits at 5:57 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just reminding me of the Wikipedia page on necrotizing fascitis is a bannable offense.
posted by grobstein at 6:01 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Whoa! So that's what living muscle tissue looks like! And that yellow globby stuff around the skin, that must be fat tissue, right?

Very interesting, vacuum bagging the wound to draw blood back into it. It makes sense! This post is all around fascinating. Thank you.
posted by indubitable at 6:02 PM on March 2, 2011


whoa...that was intense. I'm sort of impressed with myself for viewing them all and not being completely squicked. I dont know how I would feel if that were my own leg, sheesh! peter watts is much more than a great writer of fantastic science fiction, he's a brave adventurer also....and the cats are cute :)
posted by supermedusa at 6:04 PM on March 2, 2011


>As fascinating as this truly is, I think I will stick to watching Bollywood dance scenes on youtube this evening, thanks.

Don't forget about Barak Obama Bollywood:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Whx-0sBRks8

Otherwise, I think this is an interesting post. Makes you appreciate nurses and doctors, who have to deal with this ickiness daily.
posted by thermonuclear.jive.turkey at 6:12 PM on March 2, 2011


The pics aren't that bad. Pretty fascinating in a lot of ways. Gonna go get some ice cream now!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:15 PM on March 2, 2011


I'm just thinking it's probably for the best that he's not allowed back into the US. He's a walking BIOWEAPON!
posted by cjorgensen at 6:21 PM on March 2, 2011


So is there some way we can blame this on Homeland Advisory/CIA/The U.S./The Oligarchs? Because that really seems appropriate.
posted by happyroach at 6:21 PM on March 2, 2011


Fabulous.

You would post this the day a SOUO (sore of unknown origin) appears above my knee.
posted by Decimask at 6:22 PM on March 2, 2011


Even better, shared post with wife, as we oohed and aaaahed over the photos. It is pretty cool how they fixed him up his leg.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:30 PM on March 2, 2011


I like how the shots in part 3 are balanced by cats with get well balloons attached as tracking devices.
posted by shinyshiny at 6:39 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I contracted flesh-eating disease during the course of getting a skin biopsy

Wow! I'd like to read more about the chain of events around this biopsy.

Is AskMe liable for all the times "go to the doctor" has been recommended and resulted in a medically induced infection?
posted by Chuckles at 6:40 PM on March 2, 2011


I hope he has good health insurance.
posted by kimdog at 6:42 PM on March 2, 2011


He's Canadian; how good could his healthcare be?
posted by happyroach at 6:43 PM on March 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wow, home care. Totally jealous of Canadians.
posted by muddgirl at 6:45 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I thought this was really cool. The human body is amazing. Sorry he has to go through with this but, hey, how often do you get to see a living calf muscle?
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:48 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Man, he is one unlucky dude. Between this and the border crossing it's like he has the worst publicist in the world.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 6:48 PM on March 2, 2011


Those are some amazing photos in Part 3

Actually I thought that the photo in the first set of the initial lesion was interesting. I'm definitely saving that one ...
posted by carter at 6:54 PM on March 2, 2011


"hey how's the new year going for you?"

"Not so good, but better that Canadian writer guy, I bet."
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:58 PM on March 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


SWEET MOTHER OF GOD I AM NEVER LEAVING MY BATHTUB FULL OF BLEACH EVER AGAIN
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 6:58 PM on March 2, 2011 [11 favorites]


Any mefite docs care to comment on the possible use of something like maggot therapy for rapid debridement of the the wound? Would the maggots eliminate the dead flesh fast enough to overtake the necrotizing effect of the bacteria?
posted by Chrischris at 7:06 PM on March 2, 2011


This guy has the craziest publicity machine ever. Though it does seem a bit on-the-nose that his two recent disasters have been so apropos of the themes of his novels. What's next -- a horrific run-in with deadly echinoderms?

[I kid; I love the books, hope he recovers quickly -- and am so glad I didn't know about this as it was happening...]
posted by chortly at 7:09 PM on March 2, 2011


Of course I clicked on Part 3 first. I'm an engineer and the son of a nurse.
After that (tl;dr, good pics) I had to click around a bit to find out that it was _the_ Peter Watts.
sevenyearlurk, you're almost right, That is one unlucky mother(humper). It's like reality has a real mad-on against him. He must be getting nigh un-killable.
posted by djrock3k at 7:10 PM on March 2, 2011


Oh my god.

Pics aren't that bad.

Yes, yes they are.

How is he not passing out from pain when they're packing the wound full of foam? He must have an insanely high threshold for pain or be on some truly amazing drugs.

Poor guy - hope his recovery is as quick and complication-free as possible.
posted by longdaysjourney at 7:18 PM on March 2, 2011


I don't know why, but I wasn't squicked at all. I just thought wow, that exposed calf fascia looks just like the pictures in anatomy books.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 7:22 PM on March 2, 2011


Wow.

OK, so this has been bugging me for a while. Why did Jukka attack Siri before putting him in the escape pod back to earth? And thank god he wrote that scene before this happened or it would've been that much more graphic...
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 7:37 PM on March 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


I wasn't bothered at all and am now eating a human leg filled with necrotized tissue.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:37 PM on March 2, 2011 [24 favorites]


Can somebody explain to me how it's safe to expose a gargantuan open wound like this? Is that what industrial-strength antibiotics do — make this man's gaping, living flesh totally unsuited to support bacterial life?
posted by Nomyte at 7:38 PM on March 2, 2011


This is awesome, if only because I can show it to my roommates as soon as they walk through the door.
posted by QuarterlyProphet at 7:48 PM on March 2, 2011


Also: I am now so, so, SO looking forward to his next book.
posted by Decimask at 7:52 PM on March 2, 2011


I'm a bit over a year on from having surgery. The doctor stopped the surgery to take some photos. I had a tumor that was abutting my facial nerve. He took the photos so he could reassure me that the nerve was still intact and that any paralysis would most likely be temporary. He showed them to my father and girlfriend. He gave the photos to her. There was no paralysis. I was smiling just fine in the recovery room. 16 months on and I have still been unable to bring myself to look at them.

One should not see the insides of one's own body.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:54 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Any mefite docs care to comment on the possible use of something like maggot therapy for rapid debridement of the the wound? Would the maggots eliminate the dead flesh fast enough to overtake the necrotizing effect of the bacteria?

IANADyet. That said, a few case studies do mention the use of sterile maggots for MDT in patients with necrotizing fasciitis (head & neck, leg). From this review article:
Maggot debridement therapy (MDT) was first introduced in the US in 1931 and was routinely used there until mid-1940s in over 300 hospitals. With the advent of antibacterials, maggot therapy became rare until the early 1990s, when it was re-introduced first in the US, and later in Israel, the UK, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine and Thailand. Sterile maggots of the green bottle fly, Lucilia (Phaenicia) sericata, are used for MDT. Up to 1000 maggots are introduced in the wound and left for 1 to 3 days. MDT could be used for any kind of purulent, sloughy wound on the skin, independent of the underlying diseases or the location on the body for ambulatory as well as for hospitalized patients. One of the major advantages of MDT is that the maggots separate the necrotic tissue from the living tissue, making a surgical debridement easier. In 80 to 95% of the cases, a complete or significant debridement of the wound is achieved. As therapy progresses, new layers of healthy tissue are formed over the wounds. The offensive odor emanating from the necrotic tissue and the intense pain accompanying the wound decrease significantly.
posted by The White Hat at 8:08 PM on March 2, 2011 [7 favorites]


That was both much cooler and much grosser than I anticipated, but mostly just cooler. Only when I got to the part where they show the nurse jamming gauze into the "calf gap" did I start to get the wiggins.
posted by marylynn at 8:10 PM on March 2, 2011


Some people merely write mildly distopic, nihilistic science fiction.
This man lives it.

Godspeed, brother.
posted by sebastienbailard at 8:11 PM on March 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


Thanks The White Hat - I read this whole thread thinking about maggot therapy specifically for this type of treatment, and that's a great writeup you did.

Interestingly enough, the natural action of maggots to debride wounds seems to have been well known for a very long time... I don't have any links handy to back this statement up, of course, but I recall reading about the common use of this during the US Civil War. (although I have to imagine a lot of that came about from simple lack of care... and so on.)

Anyhow, to tie it in, I've also read that some of the saliva/digestive juices that maggots produce help to control infections- in context with nasty staph infections (MRSA etc). I have to say if I had a horrible skin disease like this I would definitely be checking into the maggots as much as it grosses me out.

(it grosses me out a lot less than looking at those photos - I haven't looked and I'm not gonna, I need to sleep tonight, thanks...)
posted by EricGjerde at 8:15 PM on March 2, 2011


Man, he really has no luck at all.
posted by Artw at 8:37 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


From his post: Until then, all I can say is: thank Christ for socialized medicine. I’d be either dead or broke if this had happened to me in the states.

Oh come now. If you have a nice corporate job with employer subsidized health insurance you would only have a few thousand patient responsible dollars. You'd have to be unemployed or a writer for that much money to make you go broke.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:42 PM on March 2, 2011 [6 favorites]


OK, my first reaction is: YAY. AWESOME INTERESTING MEDICAL ODDITIES!!!1!

And then my second reaction is, sheepishly: Oh, I hope he's OK. That poor man. I feel bad that your misfortune excites me so.
posted by LMGM at 8:42 PM on March 2, 2011


I grew up with a doctor/father, and learned what sex organs looked like by sneaking up to his library when he was working late and perusing photographs of extremely deformed parts...maybe that's why I can not be even slightly disturbed at Xtreme medphotos. Now, films, that's a slightly different story...because there is a story.

But, growing up way before the Internet, I guess I had what is now not such a unique opportunity. I coulda been a doctor! (A couple of my siblings swing that way.)
posted by kozad at 8:44 PM on March 2, 2011


I've been there and got the t-shirt. So, I'll pass on looking at his photos; I still can't look at mine for very long.
posted by pjern at 8:46 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Watts really needs to find that old Gypsy woman and apologize to her.
posted by fatbird at 9:03 PM on March 2, 2011 [18 favorites]


I grew up in a household were "Laboratory Medicine" was bathroom reading material and photos of testicular elephantiasis were on the book shelves. Photos don't usually bother me either.

Videos? Yeah. I made the mistake of watching the procedure I was going to have done prior to going in. At one point they were cauterizing a bleeder and the woman's face started smoking. Give me static images please.

And I share the spider bite pjern had! Mine was a bit less gross.
posted by cjorgensen at 9:14 PM on March 2, 2011


This is a great read.
posted by arnicae at 9:21 PM on March 2, 2011


I have a little game I play with myself, when my wife gets a new medical journal delivered I hold my breath and flip through it, not breathing until I see the first diseased genital.

Haven't asphyxiated yet.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 9:23 PM on March 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


Surprisingly undisgusting. Not quite sure why I clicked, though.
posted by wierdo at 9:27 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


wierdo: totally seconded. I clicked mostly because these were “gruesome”, but I’m mostly really interested at the leg structure revealed in a couple of them. This is super interesting, thanks for the link.
posted by CipherSwarm at 9:37 PM on March 2, 2011


I hope he didn't have trouble at the border, because we all know how bad Canadian socialized medicine is.

Also, those are some really nasty pics. And I didn't even get past the Wikipedia link. I always knew I wasn't for a medical career. I always thought I had the same illness as Jerome in the Disorderly Orderly. Just hearing people describe their wounds and illnesses made me break out in a cold sweat.

Hope Mr. Watts recovers well!
posted by Barry B. Palindromer at 9:55 PM on March 2, 2011


thehmsbeagle: How do they cover the muscle back up?

They dont have to. The skin grows back up from its bottom layer. That has something to do with why they are filling it with the lubricant and foam; if they just covered it the skin would not grow back evenly.

I had Mohs surgery a while ago, and it looked similar. I was way young (20s) for that and my skin would not stretch so the doctor left it open and the above is roughly how the nurse described the growing back process to me.
posted by rai at 9:57 PM on March 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


I had a bout of MRSA on my ankle that required surgical draining. My GP attempted to drain it in his office. They packed the hole, which was only about a half inch in diameter, but deep as hell, with this goopy antibiotic wound dressing. It was painful as hell going in, and even worse coming out. When I went back to the GP the next day and my foot was so swollen that I couldn't put my shoe on, he sent me off to the surgeon, who knocked me out and sliced it open. Then they packed more crap in my wound and I had to hobble around on crutches for a few weeks.

Review: F--- would not get infected again.
posted by chiababe at 10:01 PM on March 2, 2011 [8 favorites]


This is appallingly fascinating, in a wonderfully gruesome fashion. I feel the same way about Watt's books.

His recent stretch of stinking luck is really odd, because he's a lovely, funny, charming dude. Hope he gets better soon, and that the kitties don't decide to snack on his leg.
posted by jrochest at 10:01 PM on March 2, 2011


Back in the good old orderly days we had one of these come in to the OR. As soon as we got the call from the ER people started flying around, opened an OR that was not scheduled for the day and bumped others down the schedule. I didn't really have a clue as to why such a rush was happening. Nurses were moving at about the same speed as we would for a gunshot wound, emergency craniotomy, aortic aneurysm, ruptured spleen, etc. But the surgery is quick. Cut out the dead tissue, next patient.

As for MRSA... fuck that noise. I've had it twice, once on my leg, once on my lip. It hasn't returned after the decolonization protocol. If it happens again I'm burning all of my clothing and sheets.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 10:06 PM on March 2, 2011


WOW. Can think of few personal calamities more horrifying. Am touched by his enduring sense of humor. Also: calf muscle is NEAT!
posted by flotson at 10:07 PM on March 2, 2011


I’m told I was a few hours away from being dead.... If there was ever a disease fit for a science fiction writer, flesh-eating disease has got to be it. This fucker spread across my leg as fast as a Star Trek space disease in time-lapse.

I'm really glad he survived it, but this really made me chuckle.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 10:11 PM on March 2, 2011


I just threw up on my suppurating goiter pustules a little.
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 10:13 PM on March 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'd have been at the doctor the minute I saw the first "What is this?" thing on my leg. Do not fuck with fasciitis.
posted by Justinian at 10:40 PM on March 2, 2011


Brother-in-law is a nurse. One day a trucker came in to the ER and just wasn't feeling well. They couldn't find anything specific and kept looking. Then they found the infection. The flesh eating bacteria had started to go to work. They did their damnedest to help him, but they couldn't get in front of the infection, and the guy died in short order. Bro-in-law has worked mostly in ICUs and ERs, so he's seen a lot of bad stuff, things he's always able to shrug off. He said when the infection started taking off, it was the scariest thing he'd ever seen, and he went home and cried like he never had in his life.
posted by azpenguin at 11:03 PM on March 2, 2011 [6 favorites]


Knew a medical student a uni who was working in the hospital when they brought in a case of necrotising fasciitis in the space of a few hours it went from 'Your husband is quite ill' to 'Your husband is severely ill and we are going to operate' to 'he is definitely going to loose his arm' to 'I'm sorry but he died on the table.' Scary scary stuff.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:20 AM on March 3, 2011


His calf muscle after it starts healing a little really does look like a roast. Now I'm kind of peckish.
posted by Justinian at 2:49 AM on March 3, 2011


Wow, I knew about this but the pictures really bring it home. I actually was in the process of interviewing him for his work on Crysis 2 when I found out about it--he missed a Skype meeting and I was convinced I'd terribly offended him or not given adequate notice or something. When I wrote to reschedule I heard that he was in the hospital getting his leg debrided and trying not to die.

Crazily enough, the interview is still on and he's been really game about the whole thing--he answered my email pretty much as soon as he got out of the hospital. But now I'm half-convinced that I'm the Typhoid Mary of journalism, as the person I was talking with the day before now has the flu.
posted by Tubalcain at 6:21 AM on March 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


The border patrol's black ops team is surprisingly effective.
posted by Zed at 7:31 AM on March 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


I recall him posting a picture of a sore on his leg a while back and thinking "It's a good thing this guy has a blog, how else would we hear about his infected zits?"
Now I feel strange about the entire thing. Those pictures are fantastically gruesome.

...and if his magical ability to live out his prose continues, he's soon to be raped by a woman in a wet suit and fed to a squid.
posted by Stagger Lee at 7:59 AM on March 3, 2011


I was a grad student in Colorado when Eric Cornell, a professor there and physics Nobel laureate, came down with necrotizing fasciitis. One day he had what he thought was the flu; a couple days later he was in the hospital, near death, in a medically-induced coma. He survived, but lost an arm. For a short while, there were signs posted all over JILA (the on-campus institute where he worked) saying, basically, "if you come down with something like a cold, and have had any contact with the Cornell group, go to the hospital immediately."

He talked to the media about it six months later. (More Q&A with media here.) You can probably tell from reading these remarks that Eric Cornell is pretty much the nicest and least self-pitying person ever. Excerpt: "People will come up to me and say 'You’ve been through so much. What a horrible catastrophe. I’m so sorry,' and I say 'I won the lottery.' Most people in my situation would have died."
posted by chalkbored at 9:51 AM on March 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


While this post was excellent and I do love a good flesh-eating plague... I just can't add it as a "favorite." I just... can't.

(Though if I ever get balloons in my home, I am so tying them to my cats.)
posted by sonika at 9:59 AM on March 3, 2011


THIS IS WHAT THE INTERNET IS FOR OH AWESOME YES.
posted by Theta States at 11:16 AM on March 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh man. 6 years ago, Mefi introduced a 17-year-old thsmchnekllsfascists to Peter Watts. Now you guys are keeping me up to date with all his squicky comings and goings.

I fucking love this place.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 11:41 AM on March 3, 2011


*introduced Peter Watts to a 17-year-old thsmchnekllsfascists.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 11:49 AM on March 3, 2011


on parallel with the bot fly story

My partner and I happened across the RadioLab bot-fly show a couple weeks ago and she's still traumatized.
posted by aught at 1:09 PM on March 3, 2011


I had MRSA on my face a few years back when I was quite ill and run down. A zit turned into a golf ball of puss over night. In a panic and attempt at control (I was going through some bad times), I heated up a knife, stuck it in my face and lacerated the swollen red lump. My girlfriend ended up dragging me off to a doctor for treatment and the doc pretty much told me that I was hours away from hospitalisation.

(Oh and not to attempt home surgery, no matter how much of a good idea it may seem at the time.)
posted by Bubbles Devere at 4:34 PM on March 3, 2011


What I find particularly fascinating is the specificity of the bacteria's diet: it goes after the fascia that wraps the muscles, but not the muscle tissue itself nor the dermal layer above. Most of the other tissue death appears to occur simply from being cut off from the rest of the body's blood vessels. This is very clearly evident in this photo (warning: graphic) which he colorfully describes as "a wide broad cave into the flesh almost big enough to spelunk." It's like someone licking all the ketchup off your hamburger and then replacing the bun.

Maybe that was a bad analogy.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:52 PM on March 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


So, I actually forgot to put the URL in that last link, but I'm just going to let that one go.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:54 PM on March 3, 2011


Bubbles Devere: "(Oh and not to attempt home surgery, no matter how much of a good idea it may seem at the time.)"

I was reading your comment out loud to mr bleary because it sounds like something he would have tried on himself rather than going to the doctor and then when I read the last line he said "They always say that!"
posted by bleary at 5:03 PM on March 3, 2011


What I find particularly fascinating is the specificity of the bacteria's diet: it goes after the fascia that wraps the muscles, but not the muscle tissue itself nor the dermal layer above. Most of the other tissue death appears to occur simply from being cut off from the rest of the body's blood vessels.

That's not, to my knowledge, how necrotizing fasciitis actually works. "Fasciitis" is actually a bit of a misnomer I believe. The bacteria spreads on the skin, subcutaneously, and along the fascia. And it doesn't digest or otherwise directly attack the fascia or anything else but rather damages tissue by production of a bunch of different toxins. The tissue death is mostly a result of these toxins, not hypoxia.
posted by Justinian at 6:32 PM on March 3, 2011


How does one prevent such a thing?
posted by aesacus at 10:31 PM on March 3, 2011


With 100% reliability? Stop existing. That's about it.

You can lower your odds significantly by never going into a hospital or undergoing a medical procedure which punctures your skin, by avoiding cuts, scrapes, and bruises in general, by not going near other people with necrotising fasciitis, and by not getting old.

In other words, don't go to hospitals and cross your fingers.
posted by Justinian at 12:11 AM on March 4, 2011


Oh! Don't take ibuprofen or some other NSAIDs. This one is still a bit up in the air but there is some evidence to support it.
posted by Justinian at 12:12 AM on March 4, 2011


The bacteria spreads on the skin, subcutaneously, and along the fascia.

Right, it spreads subcutaneously. Why? If you look the pictures, most of the upper dermal layer is intact; yes, eventually it turns black and sloughs off but you can clearly see the path of destruction is following right along the muscle but he muscle itself looks relatively uncompromised. Why does it stop there?

Or am I just not seeing that part because they caught it in time? IANABiologist, this is all just pure speculation based on the photos.

Don't take ibuprofen or some other NSAIDs.

Say what?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:49 AM on March 4, 2011


IANAD, but apparently the theory is that NSAIDS either slightly suppress the immune response allowing the infection, or they mask the symptoms longer, or both. I think the population of patients is too small for them to figure out for sure if the NSAIDS were taken to deal with symptoms of the already existing infection or if the infection risk was increased by the NSAIDS. I too was surprised.
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:35 PM on March 4, 2011


Since my last comment, I've been quietly following this thread. Every time I read a new comment, I start to get really itchy and nervous. BOO on this.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 2:01 PM on March 4, 2011


BrotherCaine has it; the NSAID thing is still preliminary and unclear so I wouldn't worry about it too much. NSAIDs are much more likely to destroy your kidneys or whatever than mess up your skin.
posted by Justinian at 2:58 PM on March 4, 2011


So does Watts have a legal/medical fund set up somewhere? He's bound to have something else come up soon.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:44 AM on March 5, 2011


Well, he's had the Niblet Memorial Kibble Fund set up for several years. So if you've never downloaded any of his books or stories and are curious, or have downloaded and now want to contribute a bit, you can check out the Backlist and hit the PayPal button, adjusting your contribution based on your assessment of the odds of him being swept away by a Kraken / hit by a meteorite / picked up in a Harper Government terrorist sweep / [your calamity of choice] by January 1, 2012.

Besides, with all that tasty roast on display, keeping the kitties well fed seems like a wise choice.
posted by maudlin at 9:23 AM on March 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Medical fund? He lives in Canada with the evvvviiiiiil socialized medicine. So he doesn't need a medical fund!
posted by Justinian at 2:30 PM on March 5, 2011


Watts has now posted a F.E.Q. (Flesh Eating Questions). Questions include: What drugs are you on?; Why are you wallowing in filth?; What have you done to Banana's ears?; Do you maintain any kind of sterile field while swapping out the packing?; and What's that yellow stuff on the muscle?.

There are NO images except for that original little lesion, which, to be clear, was NOT NF in an early stage:
6. So, what about the lesion that started it all?

By which you mean, the lesion that provoked the biopsy that infected me with necrotising fasciitis in the first place. We’re not quite sure. The biopsy report came back as “necrotizing vasculitis” (no relation), which is a technical way of saying Your blood vessels are inflamed and we don’t really know why. Underlying causes range from drug allergy to cancer. The first batch of blood tests were either lost or inconclusive. Just yesterday a specialist siphoned about half my blood volume into a dozen little tubes and told me to pee in a cup. We’re pretty sure the underlying cause isn’t an allergy, or rheumatoid arthritis, or Crohn’s disease. The specialist says she is “reassured” by the fact that the lesions have not resurfaced, but I’m still waiting for a definitive diagnosis. The investigation, as they say, is ongoing.

But I’d like to take this opportunity to clarify something that seems to be a source of widespread confusion. Whatever those lesion were — and despite the fact that the label hanging off of them contains the word “necrotizing” — they were not the source of the necrotising fasciitis. NF kills fast, spreading at up to 5cm/hour and frequently killing within a day. I was complaining to you guys about these lesions back in January. If I’d had NF that far back, the cats would have eaten my carcass down to the bones months ago.
posted by maudlin at 8:20 AM on March 10, 2011


Nice update tonight, including a mock-up of his leg made from marzipan.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 6:39 PM on March 25, 2011


Peter "Fucking Hardcore" Watts operates on his own leg without benefit of painkillers.

1) Not marzipan.
2) Fucking AWESOME.

Yep, lots more educational pictures via the link.
posted by maudlin at 10:13 AM on March 26, 2011


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