A green-thumbed nurse and Melbourne mother of two was left fighting for her life when she caught a flesh-eating bug while doing the gardening. Now, after a life-changing battle, she has fought her way back to the garden.
Jodie Wylie, 50, suffered a migraine and found a large bruise on her right thigh after tending to her plants. Like anyone would, she initially dismissed it.
But the mum was soon rushed to hospital where she was diagnosed with Necrotising Fasciitis, a severe infection which saw bacteria release toxins into her blood. The flesh-eating bug affects the tissue beneath the skin and surrounding muscles.
In an effort to save Jodie's life, surgeons were forced to remove a large part of the skin, muscle and tissue on her right thigh and hip before carrying out 13 more surgeries to scrape away the disease.
"I felt like my head was going to explode and I'd gone to bed exhausted and I wasn't responding to medication,” Ms Wylie, who works as an intensive care nurse, said.
“My throat was sore and I was vomiting. I thought it was just a bad migraine ...I can only go by what my friend and sister told me because I don't remember much.
She remembers going to hospital and wondering what she had suddenly become afflicted by.
"They called a doctor and he thought it was a virus and a migraine. My gut was telling me it was more severe than a migraine because I'd never felt like that before but I prolonged going to hospital until it was almost too late,” she said.
"I had a bruise on my leg which was so painful and mottled and dark. I couldn't even walk into the hospital, I had to use a wheelchair.
“I had a feeling it was Necrotising Fasciitis and I told my sister I thought I was going to die."
Freak diagnosis puts her in same ICU that she worked in
When Ms Wylie’s blood pressure dropped and her heart rate soared, she was rushed into surgery where medics cut open her leg and diagnosed her with the disease.
She spent the next two weeks on the same intensive care unit she worked on, as she'd also been diagnosed with septicaemia.
Ms Wylie ives with daughters, Charlotte, 10, and Madeleine, 8, in Melbourne and the family were told to prepare for the worst.
"My throat was swollen to the same size as my head. It was touch and go," she recalled.
Jodie had hyperbaric oxygen therapy where she underwent 100 per cent oxygen in a pressurised environment to help kill the bacteria and spent a further two months recovering in hospital.
She has now lost a lot of skin and muscle in her leg but is able to walk. She says it's taken her a whole year to get back out in the garden as she worries that's where she may have picked up the disease.
"It's taken me a year to get back out in the garden because it's questionable that that's where it happened and I dread I'll wake up sick again,” she said.
"The children are scared I'll end up in hospital again and are still dealing with it.
"If it wasn't for my friend Mandi staying with me, I would have been at home on my own and I wasn't capable of picking up the phone to call an ambulance.
As she continues to work her way back to health, she is grateful for the friends and colleagues who helped save her life.
"It has been a very traumatic and difficult time and I am so grateful to the dedicated medical staff who saved my life, and to my amazing family and friends who have been there for me.
“We really need to act early when the signs are telling us we are extremely sick.
"I tried to be brave and stayed at home too long before agreeing to be taken to hospital. It was almost too late for me and I'm lucky to be alive."
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