The first few months of summer 2012 I had been getting a lot of pain in my right leg which I tried to ignore but by August I have developed a high fever and my leg had become incredibly swollen. I finally sought medical help on August 28.
They weren't sure of the actual cause of the infection but I began leaking puss at the groin after a month so they decided to send me to The Royal Sussex hospital in Brighton for more tests. I was considered to have a life threatening condition and had very high fevers all the time (38-40c)which caused severe hallucinations which were quite colourful to be honest but I was extremely ill and fading fast. Scans showed a massive infection starting behind my right knee. They already had me on several intravenous antibiotics every four hours which had not been working and they placed me in infectious diseases wards in Brighton as they still did not know the cause of the blood clot or infection and kept asking if I had been abroad or bitten by an insect.
By the time they came to the first of 14 operations to clean out the wound, I was told there was 800ml of puss when they first drained it and the infection had gone all the way down to the bone. I was very weak and woke up in intensive care after the first op being told I had to fight for my life. That was the most touch and go time and I actually felt myself 'slipping away' until they gave me the first of 14 blood transfusions. They discovered that the infection had reached a heart valve and had to keep an eye on that but luckily the antibiotics cleared that, it would have meant valve replacement if it had got worse. My leg was huge all this time, so larger that if had to use the toilet the nurse would have to lift it out of bed for me.
They went on to operate a total of 14 times over the next few weeks, the first 8 ops behind my knee but then they found the infection had spread further so they had to start operating above my knee to higher and higher on my thigh. They left the wound open and just lightly stitched together so they could go back in every three days and at one time the fitted a vacuum pump to drain the wound. There were problems when they fitted the pump and had to take me back into surgery from recovery where they only put me half out and I can remember hearing them talking and the anaesthesiologist telling me to just enjoy the drugs, a mix of opiates and ketamine. It was a wild ride and the only time I can remember being scared because I felt trapped in the madness from the drugs and was frightened it wouldn't wear off. I remember it was like being in the worm holes on the TV sci-fi show Andromeda. Twice when the anaesthesiologists asked if I was OK , I remember simple replied 'Andromeda Ascendant', the full name of the space ship in the program both times. I was also told I was even singing a one point but I don’t remember that.
Finally the operations finished, well at least I thought they had. They wanted to do skin grafts which I managed talked my way out of. I already know my bikini wearing days were over I didn’t care what it looked like. Scars are good, they remind us of the things we’ve lived through.
The cause of all this has never been officially confirmed but the strongest suspect is a false black widow spider bite.
I will have to be on blood thinners for life now and will always have pain and my leg is still a little swollen but I still have it and I lived to tell the tale, it could have been worse