Flesh-Eating Disease AKA Necrotizing Fasciitis

Flesh Eating Disease

My personal story of how I ended up getting flesh eating disease, what happened, treatment, and my hospital stay. Thankfully there is a happy ending to this story.

Opening my eyes, about to do my big okay I am awake now stretch of the morning, I felt in my right arm a really strange pain. It was like nothing I had felt before. I had not slept on it, or so I thought. My 18-month-old son was also awake and wanted out of his crib. Getting up I tried to move my arm around thinking move it and the pain will go away. Boy was I wrong, as it just made it more painful. Walking over to my sons’ crib I reached in and tried to pick him up.


Quickly I put him back down and yelled for my husband Al who had not left for work yet. Standing in the doorway my husband asked me what was wrong.

“My arm is killing for some reason, can you lift Garth out of his crib for me?”

“Sure, but what’s wrong with your arm?”

“No idea, but it really hurts”.

“Go take a hot shower and let the water pound on your arm, that will make it feel better.”

The shower did absolutely nothing for my arm, and I told Al it was hurting so much that I thought I should go see the doctor, and asked him if he could drop Garth off at the sitters before going to work. To do nothing and just wait this out was pointless as I needed to be able to pick my son up, and with my arm hurting so bad I would be unable to do so. I could see by the look on his face he thought that I was being a big baby and that I should just suck it up and go about my day. He said he would drop Garth off if I could get an appointment. Luckily my doctor said he could fit me in for a quick appointment if I got there right away.

While waiting to see the doctor I looked down at my forearm noticing that it was starting to swell. Well something is defiantly up with this I thought to myself.

“Well Susan what seems to be the problem today?”, asked Dr. McAllister

“My arm really hurts, it's swelling, and I am unable to pick the baby up.”

“Let’s just have a look.”

The doctor gets me to bend my arm while he pokes and prods away, seeing what hurts. Everything he did to my arm hurt.

“Do you have cuts on your arm or hand?”

“I don’t think so, oh hold on, I have one on my finger, why?”

“Just sit tight a minute, I’ll be right back.”

Off he goes leaving me sitting there puzzled.

Dr. McAllister returns with another doctor that worked in the same building and that doctor has a look. He says, “I wouldn't be alarmed, doesn't really look like anything other than an arm that’s a bit swollen, just go home and rest it.”

This did not satisfy Dr. McAllister as he'd just recently been reading up on flesh-eating disease, and was genuinely concerned about my arm. “Susan I want you to go over to emergency at the hospital. I am going to call ahead to let them know you are coming."

Before going to the hospital I stopped in at home to check on things and saw that Al was still home. “So what did the doctor say?”

"He wants me to go over to emergency and get it checked out."

"Oh okay then I'll drive you, and go into work after we know what is wrong with your arm."

Upon arriving at emergency to check in I was immediately whisked into a private examining room. Thinking to myself this is really strange, usually I have to sit in emergency for hours. Blood was taken, blood pressure done, temperature taken, and in came the doctor.

"Looks to me like you have flesh eating disease", he said after examining my arm. I had recently watched a show on TV about this and thought oh great.

"We're going to have to admit you, and get you on antibiotics right away to try and get rid of the infection."

By this point my arm had swollen to double its size, was really red, and looking as if the skin was about to split open.

I was admitted into a quarantined room, hooked up to an I.V., and had ice packs around my arm to try to get some of the swelling down. About every hour a nurse would come in to check on me. At some point the skin on my arm had split. It was not a pretty sight.

I must have been an unusual case as there were five people milling around me in masks, all looking at my arm. Later I found out that two were doctors, one was a dermatologist and two were students. When they finally all left one of the doctors told Al he wanted to talk to him out in the hall. Really confused as to what all the fuss was about, I laid there wondering what they were talking about. I felt pretty crappy as I had a high temperature, and my arm was in a lot of pain, and was wishing they'd give me something stronger than Tylenol 3’s. I did not find out until I was released as to what the conversation was about between the doctor and Al. Apparently they told Al that they may need to amputate my right arm if the antibiotics did not do the trick. He couldn’t believe it and said to them “My God, she has already lost her breasts to cancer and now you are telling me she may lose her right arm too”. “How much does my wife have to go through?”

The swelling did start to go down after about three days, and I ended up staying in the hospital a week. When I was released I had to continue taking antibiotics for six weeks. Got to keep my arm after all. Phew! Just never know what one little cut on your finger can do to you. Every time I get a cut now I grab hydrogen peroxide and douse it.

I was the first or second person in Orillia to get flesh eating disease, and I thank God that my doctor acted quickly, and got me the treatment that I needed right away. If I'd not gone to emergency that day I would have lost my arm or worse. Shortly after this happened to me, Lucien Bouchard, the Premiere of Quebec, in 1994, sadly lost his leg due to the same thing.

Flesh-Eating Disease is a bacterial skin infection that appears swollen and red. It is hot and tender and will spread rapidly. If not attended to immediately the infection may spread and become life-threatening. It is caused from bacteria entering the skin through a cut or crack. Insect and spider bites can also transmit the infection.

Comments 58 comments

Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Kristi, I feel very fortunate that the doctors were able to diagnose this and treat it as quickly as they did. So sorry to hear about your brothers friend.

Kristi Campbell 2 years ago

OMG Susan! How scary! My friend's brother had this as well and almost died. He did end up losing both of his hands and feet as they'd had to put him on super-high o2 doses and he lost circulation to them during the process. I'm so glad you are okay!

Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 3 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

I wasn't thinking of writing a hub on it, I'll let you do that :) I'll gladly try and find some info for you though.

CraftytotheCore profile image

CraftytotheCore 3 years ago

It would be a terrific Hub. There isn't anything at all about it. Not even on Wikipedia. Except for a small blurb. In fact, I found one forum about it and people are asking what in the world is it! If you write it, please let me know so I can read it!

Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 3 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Crafty, So sorry to hear about your daughter and I hope she's feeling better soon. Now I want to go and research Strep F. If I do happen to find anything I'll let you know and send you the links.

CraftytotheCore profile image

CraftytotheCore 3 years ago

I am so sorry you had to go through this Susan! That's just awful, and I am so thankful you are ok!

The reason I asked about Strep F in the answer section is because my daughter started having symptoms about 3 weeks ago. Cough, flu like symptoms, etc. She has been sent home 4 times in the last 10 days from school. I took her to the school health center and they said it was allergies. On Friday she was sent home again. I called to make an appointment and the dr couldn't see her until 7 p.m. They did some tests. They ruled out childhood diabetes which the symptoms strongly resembled.

They called today and said she has Strep F. They said it is rare. They put her on antibiotics. I tried to find out info online and there wasn't much.

So frightening. Thank you for bravely sharing your story.

Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 3 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Peg, I so wish I still had the same doctor now.

Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 3 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

donotfear, Thanks for stopping by. I'll have to go and look for your hub on mega bacteria. I too hope it helps someone else.

Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 3 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

vocalcoach, I suppose as writers we have to comply with what Google wants.

Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 3 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

sholland, Picture your arm splitting open. It was pretty gross. If you'd like to see exactly what flesh eating disease looks like here's a link. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Necrotizing_fasc...

Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 3 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Kathryn, I'm so glad too. Hope you're having a nice weekend.

PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 3 years ago from Dallas, Texas

Gracious goodness, Susan, that is one incredible story. How fortunate you are to have had a doctor who took initiative and sent you to the ER. Thankfully you got the care you needed in time. Oh my!

Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 3 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Astra, Thanks. It was the photo.

Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 3 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Mary, I feel very fortunate not to have lost my arm. Thanks so much!

donotfear profile image

donotfear 3 years ago from The Boondocks

Glad I found your article. I had a similar " mega bacteria" which I wrote about on hubpages. Thank God you got to the doctor right away!

I had pseudomonas (a precursor to flesh eating) in a cut on my ankle. It was the devil to get rid of. Had to take Cipro and it's a hard antibiotic. I now have a scar on my leg from this.

Thanks for sharing your experience. It could help someone else from going through the same thing.

vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 3 years ago from Nashville Tn.

This is the most frightening disease I've seen or heard of. So glad you shared this. I see no reason at all for the ads being disabled and I'm very glad to see them back where they belong.

sholland10 profile image

sholland10 3 years ago from Southwest Missouri

Oh my gosh! What a scary situation! I am so glad you got to the doctor. What did it look like? There have been a lot of news reports about flesh eating bacteria in our area lately. I am curious as to what it looks like.

So happy the one doctor insisted you go to the emergency room. Interesting but scary!

Kathryn Stratford profile image

Kathryn Stratford 3 years ago from Manchester, Connecticut

I saw this on Facebook, too. At first I thought this was just going to be an informational hub, and I was surprised to see it was a personal story. Wow! It was fascinating to hear your account, and I'm so glad they caught it on time, and that it got back to normal. That is scary! Out of every condition I have heard about on tv, that is one that especially freaks me out.

Thanks for sharing this with us, and have a good day!

~ Kathryn

Astra Nomik profile image

Astra Nomik 3 years ago from Edge of Reality and Known Space

I saw this from facebook and I came a read this. This is a harrowing experience... I am so shocked thinking that such a strange disease can be so deadly... but also so happy that you got through this terrible experience.

I hope the ads on your hub return. Maybe the Photo is causing that thing to happen. Great hub. I am glad I read it. I learned things here, Susan.

mary615 profile image

mary615 3 years ago from Florida

What a terrible experience. I've heard a lot about this condition, but never knew anyone who actually had it.

Voted UP etc.etc.

Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

fpherj, Unfortunately here in Ontario, in many of the cities we have a doctor shortage. Whenever a new doctor comes to town he or she is usually taking over someone else's practice and this makes it difficult to snag a new doctor. I've been on the lookout for several years now and hopefully I'll hit on one soon.

fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Susan....Don't settle for a Dr. you do not like. There's nothing worse than this. It is imperative for us to be comfortable and satisfied with our Primary Care Physicians! You have that right and deserve it.!

Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

fpherj, The only thing that they could figure out was that I had cut my finger with a kitchen knife, and so it was assumed that this is how the strep got into my arm. I'll always be grateful to that doctor. Sadly he retired a few years after this happened to me and now I'm stuck with a doctor I can't stand.

Thanks for stopping by to read this.

fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Susan...I will admit to being squeamish and easily shaken, but I thought I would pass out, reading this hub! It was like a suspense novel, for heaven's sake! This was a frightening siuation with a positive ending...thankfully...to you quickly seeing your Dr. and his alert action!

Did you ever come to know how or why you had somehow been exposed to this horrendous bacteria?

We smply never know, do we, from one moment to the next, what may occur out of the blue.

I am relieved for you. Your husband sounds like a real sweetie!! Peace!!

Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

JamaGenee, Yes very lucky. Wow both arms and legs, I know I would never be able to handle that.

Thanks for reading and for your votes!

JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 4 years ago from Central Oklahoma

Wow, Susan. You were soooooo lucky. I read about a woman who lost both arms and legs to this disease. It's not anything to mess with. Bravo to you for having the presence of mind to seek immediate medical attention!

Voted UP and awesome! ;D

Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Tammy, Leave it to me to get something like this :)

tammyswallow profile image

tammyswallow 4 years ago from North Carolina

Oh dear! I have never heard of this before. How terrifying. I am glad this story had a happy ending.

Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

ExoticHQ, I consider myself very fortunate to have not lost my arm. Thank you.

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ExoticHippieQueen 4 years ago

You poor thing! I have read other stories of this illness, and it seems to be just one of the most frightening, sudden illnesses one could get. Thank God that you recovered without losing your arm!

wished4u profile image

wished4u 5 years ago

You are welcome :-)

Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

wished4u, Thank you so much for reading my hub and pointed that out to me. When I actually looked up Necrotizing Fasciitis and read articles on this I found exactly what I in fact had. I have changed the title.

wished4u profile image

wished4u 5 years ago

Thanks for sharing your lifetime experience. I am a doctor, this disease is awfully dangerous because it spreads in a matter of hours. You are lucky that your doctor had this in his mind because its initial symptomps are so benign in nature that it can be missed easily.

Please change the title of your article as you described it "AKA streptococcus". It is called Necrotizing Fasciitis. It is most commonly caused by group A streptococcus e.g.streptococcus pyogenes but it is also caused by many other organisms.

Streptococcus itself is only a group of bacteria which contains thousands of bacteria which can cause many diseases from simple soar throat to this dangerous necrotizing fasciitis.

And one more thing that it is not the infection of superficial skin but it is an infection of the deeper layer of the skin and the subcutaneous tissues. That is why its initial symptoms are not so much visible.


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Jacqui, Yes it was scary. Thanks for your comments.

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Jacqui Julyan 5 years ago

Really interesting Hub glad you are alright though must have been scary at the time... a really good write!

Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Deborah, So did they hospitalize your daughter? I cannot imagine this happening to a baby. It is bad enough when it happens to an adult. Thanks so much for your comments.

DeborahFantasia profile image

DeborahFantasia 5 years ago from Italy

Oh my gosh, that is awful ! Thank goodness you got there quickly. My baby girl at 6 months got a strain of that as well. I took her to the ER and can you believe they sent me home saying it was diaper rash. I was livid, having 5 kids total I know what diaper rash looks like. Plus it was on her thigh not her bottom. Thankfully her pediatrician knew what to do and when she found out the ER sent her home she called them and talked to the supervisor !

Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Rette, Thanks for stopping by to read this and I really appreciate your comments.

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Rette Lee 5 years ago

WOW! It's awesome that you caught it in time! Thanks for sharing your story.

Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

JIN, So sorry to hear that your co-worker died from this. I feel quite fortunate that I caught this quickly.

JIN1128 profile image

JIN1128 5 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

One of my co-workers died of this disease more than one year ago. He didn't catch it soon enough and went to the hospital too late. It was sad because he was only 58. Thanks for promoting awareness for this horrible disease.

Lilleyth profile image

Lilleyth 5 years ago from Mid-Atlantic

Boy are you lucky! My daughter is an RN and has shared some pretty scary stories with me about this plague. I was not aware you could get it from insect bites. Good to know.

Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

TurtleDog Yes it would have turned out so differently if I had of gone with the other doctors advice.

RH The doctor that I have now is just terrible and when I go see him I pretty much have to diagnose myself with research to tell him what is going on. It is ridiculous.

Tina, I never realized I had cut myself. Thanks so much for reading and for your comments.

fucsia Thanks for reading and for your comments.

fucsia profile image

fucsia 5 years ago

Your experience has been useful to give us some useful information about this dangerous disease. Thanks for sharing with us!

thougtforce profile image

thougtforce 5 years ago from Sweden

I am glad it all turned out well! Scary disease and it isn’t always one notices a little wound or cut. Thanks for the warning! I found this hub very well written, interesting, useful and I held my breath while I read it! Tina

RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

Thank goodness you followed your instincts! I got Rheumatic Fever when I was 25 - it is from the streptococcus strain of germ - fairly rare. I had to take penicillin for 5 years! My doc wasn't in and his fill in thought I was exaggerating pain and ignored me and sent me home. I was glad your doctor had more sense and sensitivity.

TurtleDog profile image

TurtleDog 5 years ago

Unbelievable all of the things out there that can eventually get you in a serious way. So glad you were OK. Thank God you guys didn't take the other doctor's opinion!

Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Thanks everyone for all the great comments. My arm healed perfectly and from looking at it you would never have known I even had Flesh-Eating Disease.

Christy I think it is luck that I have :)

Chatkath profile image

Chatkath 5 years ago from California

Wow, Susan how awful, especially with kids to tend to - never ending I know, I remember it was like a vacation to get a full time job outside the home and get paid(LOL) Thanks for the heads up, I have heard of this but luckily never experienced - so far! Thanks for sharing - hope you are feeling better.

U Neek profile image

U Neek 5 years ago from Georgia, USA

This is terrifying! I am so glad your doctor was quick to recognize what was going on. I hope you are doing well now. Thanks for sharing this info.

Christy 5 years ago

Great hub Sue...one day mom and I were talking about all of the things you have gone through...it's absolutely mind blowing...we can't figure out if you are unlucky or extremely lucky...either way you are one tough chick!!! :)

ejazahmed2609 5 years ago

many thanks for sharing me your life's dangerous moment. I am also happy to know that you have secured by the grace of Allah.

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 5 years ago from United States

What a nightmare! Thanks for sharing your experience as anyone reading this will quickly question those symptoms and get help as soon as possible. I'm glad your story had a happy ending. Thank goodness you had a good doctor.

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SilverGenes 5 years ago

Oh my goodness! I'm so glad you are okay now. That must have been terrifying!

WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona


Thank you for alerting all of us to this.

And thank the Lord that you had a good doctor.

Jane Bovary profile image

Jane Bovary 5 years ago from The Fatal Shore

Oh Susan what an experience. I've heard of this very scary disease and it can devastate lives. I'm so glad you licked it!


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

Thankfully I've never had that problem but I have had other things that I had never heard of before. When in doubt it is best to have it looked at by a medical professional.

nightbear profile image

nightbear 5 years ago from Michiagn, USA

OMG!! I am so happy you beat it. It is a horrifying disease. So frightening and so fatal. Thank God you are okay.

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