Deadly bug ate my bum!
Flesheating bug ravaged my bum! By Haley Sodervick, 29, from Indiana, USA
As a fleet of jockeys raced ahead, I followed behind in my truck.
Crowds cheered as the horses raced past. But my focus was on the riders.
As a paramedic, it’s my job to treat them for injuries.
Suddenly, a jockey flew off his horse, crashing to the floor as other horses trampled him.
Within seconds, I was there on my hands and knees, tending to him.
‘Let’s get you to hospital,’ I said, fixing him to a stretcher with a colleague’s help.
Carting him off to a waiting ambulance, all I was worried about was making sure the rider was OK.
It wasn’t until a few hours later, after leaving him in the care of the hospital doctors, that I realised I didn’t feel too good.
I had a bit of a temperature and felt rotten.
The following day, in October 2013, I still felt rough, and was feeling worse by the second.
Everything was a blur as I lay in bed, unable to move.
Next thing, my best friend Sabrina, 29, was there.
She had a key to my place and often popped by, and she’d let herself in.
When she saw the state of me, she panicked.
‘I’m taking you to hospital,’ she said, somehow managing to get me into her car.
After that, everything was blank.
At hospital, I was hooked up to a life-support machine. My parents were called, and doctors warned them to prepare for the worst.
‘She might not make it,’ they were told.
Turned out I’d contracted necrotising fasciitis, a serious infection caused by E.coli bacteria.
Doctors believed I’d caught it at the racetrack while I’d been tending to the fallen jockey.
Bacteria in the manure on the ground had latched onto my skin, infecting layers of tissue, surrounding muscles, nerves, fat and blood vessels.
In my case, toxins had destroyed the tissue.
After 11 days in hospital I started coming round. Dosed up on painkillers, I struggled to make sense of anything.
‘You’ve had nine surgeries,’ a doctor explained. They’d had to cut away everything that’d been touched by the bacteria. Now I had a huge, gaping hole in my left buttock and thigh. It was so big, I could fit my fist into it without touching the sides. The so-called ‘flesh-eating’ bug had destroyed half my bum and thigh! ‘You’re very lucky to be alive,’ the doctor said. After 28 days in hospital, I was allowed home. I pushed myself to learn to balance and walk up the stairs again. And, over a month later, I returned to work as a paramedic for the fire service. The hole in my bum and thigh had closed a bit, to the size of a golf ball. But I still had to have the wound cleaned and re-dressed every day.
Over the following year, I battled countless infections, and needed numerous surgeries to help the tissue around my wound heal. I also had operations to try and close up the gaping hole. But nothing worked.
Then, in September 2014, my sister went to a wedding and met a guy named Levi, 29.
‘You’d really like him,’ she told me. ‘You’re perfect for each other.’
I had no confidence, but somehow my sister persuaded me to message him on Facebook.
What would you think if I said I had a crush on you? I wrote.
Then I hit ‘send’ before I could change my mind.
As I waited for his reply, I decided that if he wasn’t interested, I’d blame being dosed up on meds for my random, flirty message.
Moments later, I got a reply. What would you think if I said I had a crush on you, too?
Levi sent back. My heart skipped a beat! We had our first date at
I spent months in hospital as doctors tried to save me
a sushi restaurant a few days later. It was great to forget about my gruesome wound for a few hours. I told Levi everything. ‘I think you’re really brave,’ he told me.
He became my rock, supporting me through my hospital trips.
Then, last year, doctors explained it was too risky for me to carry on working. My wound needed time to heal. I had to quit the job I loved.
Depressed, I locked myself away. And, early this year, my energy levels dipped.
Tests revealed my organs were starting to fail.
‘You’ve got sepsis,’ a doctor explained to me.
Caused by an infection, , now my kidneys, heart and lungs were giving up.
I spent months in hospital as doctors battled to save me. The deadly infection ravaged my body, almost killing me. I fought hard, though, and pulled through.
In March, I needed surgery to rearrange my gastrointestinal tract and remove any damaged points. But I still have a gaping hole in my bum and thigh.
Levi is amazingly supportive, and has been my rock.
I’m currently waiting for an op this September to examine why my wound isn’t closing.
It’s crazy to think that, just a few years ago, I was healthy and carefree. My life changed in the blink of an eye. It’s tough, but I have to stay positive.
Never in a million years did I think I’d contract such a deadly bug. But it really can strike anyone. That’s why I’m sharing my story.
No matter how much this bug tries to destroy me, I refuse to let it.
I’m alive – and, for that reason, I’ll keep smiling.
Doing the job I love as a paramedic
IÕM left with thisé But the hole in my bum and thigh is too grisly to show clearly I don’t know what I’d do without Levi