A woman has lost her leg to a flesh-eating bacterial infection after a suspected spider bite.
Bridgette Garza, from Texas, noticed a pimple on her bottom that she thought was ‘nothing to worry about’ but was admitted to hospital just 10 days later after she started to hallucinate and developed blisters on her leg.
The mother-of-two was diagnosed with necrotising fasciitis, a serious bacterial infection that affects the tissue beneath the skin and surrounding muscles and organs, and spent 17 days in intensive care.
She underwent seven surgeries, eight skin grafts and had to have her left leg amputated below the knee as medics battled to stop the spread of the infection.
Bridgette Garza, from Texas, 39, pictured here with son Jacob, 14 before the suspected spider bite that resulted in her losing her leg
Bridgette thought the pimple-like mark was nothing to worry about – but she ended up spending 17 days in intensive care after being diagnosed with necrotising fasciitis
The mother-of-two underwent seven surgeries, eight skin grafts and below the knee amputation
Bridgette, pictured with her new leg, says while the pimple on her bottom wasn’t ‘scary’, it was painful. Because of the pandemic, she avoided going into hospital to get it checked out
Doctors have now said the ‘pimple’ was likely to be a spider bite.
Bridgette, who is unable to work, said: ‘The spot on my bum cheek wasn’t scary – it didn’t have a head on it to pop either. Doctors have now said it could have been a spider bite.
‘Apparently I was walking around for 10 days and it was septic but I didn’t even know. I was in pain with my leg but I didn’t go to the doctors due to coronavirus.
I didn’t want to risk catching it and thought the pain would ease off.
‘But on the tenth day, I was very disorientated when I woke up from a nap.
The former saleswoman, who is now unable to work, woke up from a nap 10 days after discovering the ‘pimple’. She was hallucinating and her leg was covered in blisters
Although the mother-of-two lost her leg, she says she feels ‘incredibly blessed’ to have survived the extremely traumatic experience
After losing her leg, Bridgette says ‘at first, I thought it was the end of the world’ – but she ‘never broke down’ and didn’t dwell on it
The tenacious former saleswoman added that ‘a pity party wasn’t going to get my leg back’, so she ‘had to make the best out of the situation’
I couldn’t walk on my leg and my kids Adally, now 15, and Jacob, 14, said it looked like a green snake was wrapped around my leg.
‘They were frightened because I wasn’t making any sense.’
The former saleswoman has no recollection but her family were prepared to say goodbye.
She added: ‘I don’t remember a thing, but when I woke up the doctor was amazed. I had no idea where I was or how I got there.
By working hard, she managed to be up and walking again within eight months of losing the limb, and now uses a prosthetic leg for eight to 10 hours a day
Bridgette says she wants to give other people some ‘hope’ by sharing her story – saying she is now independent despite her ordeal
‘At this point, I didn’t even know I had half a leg missing.
‘The doctor told me there was a 2 per cent chance of survival so I felt incredibly blessed.
‘I was also told the surgeries were life-threatening as I could have been a chance of me bleeding out every time.
‘Flesh eating disease’: What exactly is Necrotising fasciitis?
Necrotising fasciitis is a rare but serious bacterial infection that affects the tissue beneath the skin and surrounding muscles and organs (fascia).
It’s sometimes called the ‘flesh-eating disease’, although the bacteria that cause it do not ‘eat’ flesh, but release toxins that damage nearby tissue.
Necrotising fasciitis can start from a relatively minor injury, such as a small cut, but gets worse very quickly and can be life threatening if it’s not recognised and treated early on.
Symptoms of necrotising fasciitis
The symptoms of necrotising fasciitis develop quickly over hours or days.
Early symptoms can include:
- a small but painful cut or scratch on the skin
- intense pain that’s out of proportion to any damage to the skin
- a high temperature (fever) and other flu-like symptoms
- After a few hours to days, you may develop:
- swelling and redness in the painful area – the swelling will usually feel firm to the touch
- dark blotches on the skin that turn into fluid-filled blisters
‘When he uncovered me, I couldn’t see anything past my knee and began crying.’
Bridgette doesn’t know how she contracted the deadly virus but medics predict it was a spider bite.
She spent four weeks in hospital and had to learn how to walk again.
Holding back the tears, Bridgette added: ‘They began asking me where I had been to contract the bacteria but I’m a homebody, especially with coronavirus so I didn’t know where it was from.
‘They took skin from my right thigh, sides of the stomach and from my back.
‘I don’t wish the pain from healing from a skin graft on anybody – it felt like the skin was falling off my bones.’
She was discharged on October 28 2020.
She added: ‘At first, I thought it was the end of the world, I couldn’t take more than two steps at a time using a frame. But I never broke down, I didn’t dwell on it.
‘I knew I had to get home to my kids and a pity party wasn’t going to get my leg back.
‘I had to make the best out of the situation and work my hardest to get a prosthetic leg.
‘They said it will take longer because I am Type 1 Diabetic but I managed to walk again within eight months.
‘My leg looked like a beef jerky stick, it was raw and boney.
‘It didn’t look like a leg at all but I have fat on it now.’
Bridgette wants to give other people some ‘hope’ by sharing her story.
She said: ‘I am independent again, I can cook, clean, go shopping or out with my kids.
‘Some tasks just take a little longer.
‘I have realised it is just a foot and I now have another one.
‘I wear my prosthetic for eight to 10 hours a day.
‘I have a ball on the ankle part so it bends when I walk like a real foot.
‘I want to show my kids that you can’t give up.’