Mark Tatom has always lived a very active life. He loves everything that is outdoors--swimming, biking, camping--anything you can think of. In December of 2010, his active outdoorsman lifestyle was put on hold when he began to feel pain in his left hand, right leg, and back. He didn’t think much of it at first, but as time went on, the pain became worse and worse. He finally decided to go to the doctor. When Mark arrived at the hospital and after walking into the hospital and checking himself in, he passed out.
When Mark awoke again it was January. He had been in a medical coma for a little over four weeks. He was told that he had been diagnosed with Necrotizing Fasciitis—a flesh-eating bacteria. During the time he was in a coma, the doctors were able to discern which strain he had come in contact with and give him proper medication, which effectively halted the spread of the virus. Due to the aggressive nature of the strain affecting Mark, he lost a large amount of skin and tissue in the process of finding a remedy. Thankfully, because of tissue donation, the doctors were able to save his life.
Mark awoke to find his left hand missing as well as much of the tissue on the right side of his body. It was very startling and hard to cope with at first. He feared that he would not be able to live the life he used to live. However, after some time had passed, Mark began to realize that the tissue donation is the reason he will get his life back. He is amazed at what he can still do just by trying and says, “I am a much more compassionate and thankful person than I was before.” Today, he volunteers with kids who have limb difference and other adaptive needs by taking them on outdoor activities.
Through this experience, Mark now truly believes that no matter what happens to you, with the proper mindset, strength, and good support system, you can overcome everything.
“I am now dedicated to being the best new version of myself that I can be. There is nothing that I can’t do now that I used to do before; I just have to figure out how to do it differently. For losing a hand, I feel more complete now, not less complete.”