An Ounce of Prevention Worth a Pound of Cure

As we age it's best to pay more attention to minor injuries. A simple scrape of the shin while camping resulted in a severe infection encountered by Greg Fouts. Photo provided

Greg Fouts has been an avid outdoorsman since childhood. In all honesty, it’s the fabric from which his life is woven.

At age 64 there are few things he hasn’t hunted or fished for. He is well known and respected among our local outdoor community. He also makes a point to dedicate a good portion of time to many outdoor oriented youth events, such as the Kokomo Kids Fishing Clinic and Freedom Hunt, to name a few.

Even with his decades of outdoor experience nothing would prepare him for what would transpire several weeks back. With his wife Becky, Fouts and several of the couple’s grandkids spent an enjoyable weekend camping. They fished for crappies, cooked over an open fire and absorbed themselves in the sights and sounds of nature.

While breaking down their camp for the return trip home, the Kokomo resident accidently scraped his shin on a picnic table. Let’s face it, we have all lost some skin on our shins sometime or other. It’s like our lower legs have a target on them. “I’ve done it hundreds of times whether picnic table, truck hitch or boat trailer,” said Fouts.

Like most of us he didn’t give it much thought. Some scraped skin can be a common occurrence when engaged in outdoor pursuits.

A few days later Fouts began experiencing flu like symptoms, including fever and severe chills. “Becky had just gotten the flu so I just thought I was getting it as well,” he explained. But things quickly took a turn for the worse.

Another day had passed when Fouts started encountering severe leg pains. “At first I thought I just pulled a muscle from the shivering,” he added. But the next morning his left leg was painfully swollen from his groin to his foot with red streaks lining his skin. “That’s when my wife said I needed to see a doctor right away.”

Fouts decided to go to the emergency room at Kokomo’s St. Vincent Hospital (what many of us still refer to as St. Joe.) After some tests he was immediately admitted. It was there he would spend the next eight days. Doctors informed him he had contacted cellulitis, a bacterial infection involving the inner layers of the skin.

For over a week he laid in the hospital his body being pumped full of antibiotics and other medicines. It came as a shock when the doctors informed him if he would have waited another 12 hours before seeking medical help, he would have likely lost his lower leg. “I couldn’t believe something as simple as a scraped shin could turn into something so serious. I have been cut and scraped hundreds of times when fishing, deer hunting, wading streams or even feeling for snapping turtles,” he added, “but I never expected anything like this.”

There is no doubt as our body’s age our immune system isn’t what it used to be during our younger years, even though our minds may tell us otherwise.

“As time passes we need to pay more attention to preventative measures,” said Fouts. “The doctors said if I would have done something as simple as clean the scrape with alcohol and applied a bandage it would have likely prevented the pathogen from entering the skin.”

Fouts passed praise to the medical treatment he received from doctors Eric Tuchsherer and MichelleWeiberg. “I am convinced they saved my leg,” he said thankfully.

In addition to dealing with severe pain and being confined to a bed for over a week, the Kokomo resident had to continue with an IV for several weeks after being released. But there was another extremely painful part of his ordeal. The day after being released from the hospital he was supposed to leave for a highly anticipated two week fishing trip to Minnesota which he had to cancel. “Now I don’t have to tell you how bad that hurt!” he added with a laugh.

The main reason Fouts agreed to share his story is to serve as a precaution to others. “If only one person reads this and benefits from it then it’s all worthwhile,” he added. “I don’t want anyone to go through what I had to,” he continued, “especially missing an annual fishing trip!”

John Martino
Martino is a well-known outdoor writer throughout Indiana and has served as longtime outdoor columnist for the Kokomo Tribune newspaper. Martino has won numerous awards for both his writing and his service to youth, conservation and the community. He recently retired as Superintendent of Parks and Recreation for the City of Kokomo and now works as Ivy Tech Executive Director for Facilities for the Kokomo region.

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