An Indiana mother’s fun family vacation became a nearly-fatal nightmare after she contracted an infection that made her almost lose her leg.
Taylor Bryant, 26, was relaxing in a hot tub at a hotel in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, in late March when she contracted a bacterial infection, according to People. Shortly after her swim, she started feeling nauseous and experienced cramping in her right foot—a pain that continued to get worse throughout the day. Bryant visited the urgent care clinic the next day to get her symptoms checked out, and was given antibiotics.
But despite the medication, the pain worsened.
“Within 24 hours of the rash, I couldn’t walk,” Bryant told People. “[My leg] was swollen and [the] rash was spreading.”
After returning home to Indianapolis, Bryant went to her doctor and was diagnosed with cellulitis, a bacterial infection of the skin that causes itching, swelling, redness, and pain. "Cellulitis is a bacterial infection of the skin and subcutaneous tissues," Meghan Feely, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and spokesperson for the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), previously told Health.
Feely explained that it enters the body through an opening in the skin, like a cut, scrape, or bug bite. Anyone can get the disease, but some people are more susceptible to it than others. "You are at increased risk if you have a weakened immune system, diabetes, chronic swelling of your legs or arms, or are an athlete who frequently injures their skin," Noelani Gonzalez, MD, cosmetic dermatologist at Mount Sinai West in New York City, told Health of the condition.
The dangerous aspect of cellulitis isn’t so much the bacteria itself, but the body’s reaction to it. “It’s your body’s efforts to fight this infection, by dilating blood vessels and recruiting white blood cells to that area” Arash Mostaghimi, MD, director of dermatology inpatient service at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, previously told Health. “This can make the skin tight and red and hot, and sometimes pus can form beneath the skin, as well.”
Bryant told People that by the time she saw the doctor, the pain was “worse than labor.” She went on a course of stronger antibiotics, but doctors warned her that if her condition worsened, she could potentially have her leg amputated. “[Hearing that I might be] losing my leg, I instantly started crying,” she said. “It scared me to think that could happen so young, [especially] being a mom of two kids.”
Thankfully, a few weeks of intravenous antibiotics successfully fought off the infection, and she was able to return to her normal life—all four limbs attached. “I was thankful to have my leg but more so thankful I am here today,” Bryant said, adding that there were days during her recovery when she was worried she'd never get better. “My doctor would remind me that it takes time to heal,” she added. “It was a bad case and it just doesn’t go away easily.”
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