Fish Bite BoyFish Bite Boy Can fishing be hazardous to your health? Unfortunately, yes. Read on... you might be surprised!
By Tom Lester
Last May, I spent a week in Louisiana at an FLW Outdoors tournament on Toledo Bend Reservoir. While at the tournament, my right hand began swelling for no apparent reason and continued swelling for several days. Upon my return home on Saturday evening following the tournament, my wife Kelly (a non practicing registered nurse), knew something was seriously wrong.
The next morning, she called one of our doctors, Kent Rogers, at home. We met him at a local nursing home where he was visiting patients. He informed us that I had a severe infection in my hand and I needed to see an orthopedic doctor, soon. On Monday morning Kelly took me to Dr. Derek Jones' office. After his examination, Dr. Jones suggested I see a specialist in Dallas. I was told to stop at the house, get a change of clothes and go to the Sheils Medical Center in Dallas to see Dr. Hugh Frederick, a surgeon specializing in hands.
Being the kind of person to do as I'm told, most of the time anyway, Kelly saw to it that I went straight to see Dr. Frederick. His nurse ushered us right into a room where we soon met Dr. Frederick who examined my hand, told me to go over to Baylor hospital and check in. He would soon be over there to operate on my hand to relieve the pressure and clean out the infection. No problem, I could be back at work in a couple of days and probably fishing again in a week or so. A piece of cake, or so I thought. Little did I know what I was truly in for.
Two days later and still in the hospital, Dr. Frederick and my infectious disease doctor, Dr. Bill Sutker, informed me that I would require a second operation to finish removing the infection from my hand. Between the morphine injections every four hours and the hydrocodone pain pill every four hours, I was in no condition to argue or put up much of a fight. That evening I got to go through round two of infection clean out.
Six days after checking me into Baylor, Kelly got to take me home. The doctors had identified the bacteria as water borne bacteria called, Atypical Mycobacterium. They said, I had probably been finned by a fish sometime in the past month or two, which implanted the bacteria in my hand where it grew until my hand began swelling. The next several weeks are still mostly a blur due to the high amount of pain medication I was on. I do remember one thing, however, I had the best nurse in the world. Not only did Kelly keep our household running and take wonderful care of me, she also ran our small landscape business, sold real estate and took care of the kids. To say her plate was a little full would be a gigantic understatement. I am truly blessed to have such a great soul mate and best friend.
In mid June I was feeling better; better until Dr. Frederick informed me that he needed to operate again to continue the clean out process. On June 13th I had my third and final operation.
After the first operation, Dr. Sutker, the infectious disease doctor, put me on an antibiotic called Biaxin. It was the only oral antibiotic available that would kill the Mycobacteria in my hand. It made me extremely ill everyday for the 95 or so days I had to take it. My only other option was I.V. antibiotics, which didn't excite me much, either, so I suffered through the Biaxin. August 30 was a great day for me, I got my new bass boat and took my last dose of Biaxin, like I said, it was a great day.
Although Dr. Frederick and the physical therapist told me it would be another 8-10 months of rehab until I know how much use of my hand I will regain, I am getting past it all. I feel lucky and unlucky all at the same time, but extremely blessed through it all. I had four great doctors, countless caring nurses while in the hospital, a wonderful family and numerous friends calling, coming by and taking care of me during my down time.
Had it not been for the persistence of my wife Kelly who made me go see Dr. Rogers that Sunday morning, I could have been in a lot of trouble, possibly loosing all or part of my hand. Like I said, she stuck by me, nursed me back to health, made sure I did the things I was suppose to, took care of us all and our company...and not one time did she tell me I needed to quit fishing! What a gal, what a wife, what a great friend. By the way, Fish Bite Boy is what the nurses at Dr. Frederick's office dubbed me during one of my first postoperative follow up visits. The nickname stuck and today they still call that when I go in for a checkup. Needless to say, it's nice to be back in action, working and fishing a little.
Until next time, enjoy the outdoors.
Grow your fishing skills and improve your angling effectiveness.
Subscribe to the free weekly BassResource newsletter.