Deadly bug ate my bum!

Flesheat­ing bug rav­aged my bum! By Ha­ley Soder­vick, 29, from In­di­ana, USA

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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

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