For Frankie and Amanda Brewington, June 11 began as a normal day. Eleven weeks later, the couple are living a completely different life, one they never expected.
Frankie is now a double-leg amputee and adjusting to a life of doctor’s appointments, uncertainties, therapy and healing.
Just prior to his life-changing events, he told his wife Amanda he was hearing “whooshing” sounds in his head. “He described it as an ultrasound,” Amanda added. “He would tell me to listen.” Of course, Amanda couldn’t hear the sound. This wasn’t the only problem Frankie was experiencing, though. He had suffered a large amount of weight loss — dropping almost 50 pounds.
Just before all this happened, Brewington lost his job, and along with it his medical insurance. Because he had no insurance, his wife took him to Urgent Care when the whooshing sounds got worse and he became sick after cutting grass. In addition to feeling sick, Brewington’s legs were locking up and his feet were extremely cold.
“When I got home from work, he was in the shower, and he said he didn’t feel well,” Amanda recalled during an interview at their home this week. “On top of how he felt, he hadn’t eaten and was only drinking Pepsi, so I knew he had to be dehydrated.”
At Urgent Care, Amanda said they gave him a diuretic, HCTZ.
Three days later, on June 14, Amanda noticed Frankie struggling to keep his balance and asked him what was wrong. He told her he felt dizzy.
“That was it. I knew at that point he needed to go to the hospital,” Amanda said. “Once we got there, they treated him for dehydration, pumping fluids into him.”
While in the emergency department, Amanda took her husband’s socks off. What she saw shocked her. “His feet looked like those of a corpse,” Amanda said. His feet, she said, were cold and very clammy.
That’s when a nurse came in and checked Frankie’s feet for a pulse — but there wasn’t one. Immediately, arrangements were made to ship him to Wake Med in Raleigh.
Amanda said this wasn’t what her husband wanted to hear. Going to Wake Med meant they would be leaving their daughter, Chloe, behind.
Once at the medical center, the vascular surgeon came in, and Amanda said they told her and Frankie that immediate surgery was necessary. This surgery was for Compartment Syndrome, which is when pressure in the muscles builds to dangerous levels. At the same time, doctors believed Frankie was suffering from rhabdomyolysis, which is the breakdown of muscle tissue that leads to the release of fiber content into the blood.
This would be the first of five surgeries for Frankie during a three-week period.
According to Amanda, Brewington’s surgeon came out following the first surgery and said he didn’t have good news. One of the muscles in Frankie’s left leg had been severely compromised due to the extreme pressure from the Compartment Syndrome, causing the muscle and tissue to die.
After surgery, doctors performed more tests only to discover he had three blood clots in his left leg and two in his right. Those clots, Amanda said, were completely obstructing blood flow to both his legs and he needed another surgery to removethem. That surgery was planned for later in the day — Father’s Day.
Just an hour or so after learning he would need a second surgery, Brewington began to experience headaches, blurred vision and dizziness. He was immediately sent for an MRI, which showed he was suffering from a blood clot in the sigmoid sinus of his brain and a brain bleed in his cerebellum. The blood clot remains in Frankie’s brain, but the bleed has since healed.
At this point, the many specialists working on the Sampson man’s case were baffled. Amanda explained that none of them had an explanation for a young man’s body producing so many blood clots.
After sending Frankie to the Neuro ICU, he returned to the operating room for what was supposed to be a two-hour surgery. In reality, it took 10 hours because Brewington’s vascular surgeon was doing all he could to save the man’s legs.
“Dr. Charles was very hopeful for Frankie’s right leg during the second surgery,” Amanda explained. “He didn’t have as much hope for his left leg.”
During the second surgery, Frankie’s doctor was unable to get all the clots in either leg. While Amanda said Frankie’s right leg showed more potential, they were told to prepare themselves for the amputation of Frankie’s left leg.
“He (Frankie’s doctor) just kept holding out hope,” Amanda said.
On June 20, Frankie’s surgeon performed a debridement on the left leg, allowing them to see how much healthy muscle and tissuewas left.
Ten days after Frankie’s first surgery, on June 25, his left leg was amputated.
“We still had hope for the right leg,” Amanda said.
It was Frankie who knew what potential his future held after the right leg began to worsen. Rather than living with a limb that was causing him complications and pain, he told the doctor to go ahead with the amputation of his right leg.
On July 3, he had his second amputation. Both were below the knee.
Brewington remained in the hospital until July 10, but once he returned home, the right leg wasn’t healing as it should.
“After he had his staples removed, the incision busted open and the bone was sticking out,” Amanda said.
On Aug. 4, Frankie was readmitted to the hospital, with the doctors going in for another surgery, taking two additional inches from his right leg.
Since Aug. 12, Brewington has been at home recovering, but a trip back to the surgeon earlier this week didn’t bring the news the Brewingtons were hoping for. Amanda said the right incision still isn’t healing like it should. For now, Frankie is being treated at the Sampson Wound and Hyperbaric Center. Luckily for Frankie, Amanda is a registered nurse, specializing in home health care.
As for what the future holds, Amanda said they will continue to pray and take one day at a time.
“We’ve seen so much good come from this,” Amanda said. “It has definitely brought our family closer together.”
Frankie’s story has touched many lives, even as far away as California. “People have gotten saved, ” she attested.
“This experience will allow Chloe to see what her dad can come through,” Amanda said.
Until Frankie’s legs can completely heal, he is unable to receive prosthetics. Frankie still suffers from blurred vision, as well.
Brewington is, by all accounts, very independent, doing many things for himself. His mother, Ann Brewington, who takes care of Chloe and Frankie during the day, said he doesn’t allow her to do anything for him. Even when it comes to doing something for Chloe, he takes care of it himself.
Amanda started a Facebook page, giving her a way to keep everyone abreast of her husband’s condition and allowing her a chance to vent at the same time. The Facebook page is Frankie’s Journey of Faith.
Next Friday, Sept. 5, a benefit plate sale will be held at Holly Grove Holiness Church from 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. for lunch and 4 p.m. - 7 p.m. for dinner. On Sept. 20, a raffle and 5k will be held. Amanda has designed a t-shirt, which is for sale on booster.com, and a friend has created a gofundme.com website for the family.
All proceeds will go to help with Frankie’s medical expenses and to purchase prosthetics.
To contact someone about purchasing tickets, donating items or registering for the 5k, call 910-385-6367 or the email is firstname.lastname@example.org.