How Flesh-Eating Bacteria Changed My Life- Story of A Brave Quadruple Amputee
Your Story is a series by WonderfulWoman where you will read inspiring Guest Posts from women around the world. Here they share their experiences, stories and things that matter most to all women.
Today’s Guest Post is by Wendy Wallace from oneexceptionallife.com Wendy is a wife and mother to 3 20-something adults. She lives in New Hampshire. She is a quadruple amputee. On her blog, she talks about the daily adventures she faces living as a quad amputee. Not only has it helped with healing, but it’s also given her a new project where she can try new things as well as inspire others. Check out her amazing life journey here!
My name is Wendy Wallace. I am a wife and mother and I am also a quadruple amputee. In 2011, I developed necrotizing fasciitis. What we believed to be the flu turned out to be a deadly “flesh-eating bacteria”. One day I was fine, the next I felt like I had come down with a severe case of the flu. After some time, we realized that this was no ordinary flu and my family took me to the hospital, unable to predict the coming storm and the lasting effects it would have on my family and I. Upon further examination by several resident doctors, it became clear to them that whatever ailed me was out of their hands and I was shipped off to Dartmouth for emergency surgery via Life Flight. I never expected my first helicopter ride to be under such circumstances. Upon my arrival, the doctors were able to diagnose my sickness and take action. Necrotizing fasciitis moves very quickly and within days I was in a medically induced coma. I underwent four surgeries to remove the infection. I also underwent surgery to remove both hands at the wrists and both feet below the knees. Necrotizing fasciitis attacks soft tissue which spreads to the internal organs. When those start shutting down, the extremities start to die.
“Save my life!” How I Became A Quadruple Amputee
I spent three weeks in a coma on life support. The doctors all told my husband I would die but he refused to accept that. The faith of my family is very strong and in addition to our local church, there were people all over the country praying for me. God heals and he healed me. It is a unique experience, waking up from a coma. Even more so when you awake to the sudden disappearance of your four limbs. I have vague recollections of my time when my surgeries took place. I do remember my husband in the room and he showed me my dying hands and told me I would need to have my appendages removed in order to live. I told him, “save my life”. I would rather live without my hands and feet than die. My family still needed me.
I spent two months in the hospital than one month in rehab before I could come home to start to live my life again. While I was in rehab I spent a lot of time with strengthening exercises and learning how to use a transfer board to transfer myself from places like my wheelchair to my bed or the toilet. I remember my physical therapist. He was a former marine and he was very good at his job and always pushed me to work hard and strive to improve in therapy. It was a period in my life where our oldest child was graduating from high school and I didn’t want to miss that. It turned out, I didn’t get released from rehab in time but I did get permission to leave for the day to attend his special day. Afterward, I had to go back but I was released permanently the following week. Going home was a joyous occasion. I missed my family and my home.
Starting over After Being A Quadruple Amputee
Getting back into the real world was only possible through my faith in God and the wonderful love and support of my family and friends. Learning to live without my hands and feet was the most difficult thing I ever had to do in my life.
It wasn’t long before I was walking on prosthetic legs. My prosthetist, Tony, was very helpful. He was very talented at creating prosthetic legs and arms. I was successful with my legs and walking came easily once I got used to the legs. I tried different types of arms but found I was more effective without hand prosthetics. I tried myoelectric arms but they were extremely heavy and not very productive. I also tried hooks but because the length of my forearms was long they were very difficult to get on and off. Ultimately I was more successful without the prosthetic arms. It took several months of learning new ways of doing things but today, with the help of my family and some daily preparation I am pretty self-sufficient.
The Struggle is RealThe emotional challenges have been the most difficult part of this whole experience. I’m unable to do the things that I love such as cooking and crafts. I found myself depressed at times due to the fact that I could no longer engage in such activities. Instead, I turned to coach my family. I would find a meal or a project I’d like to try and elicit their help in making it. God has a reason why this happened to me. My favorite scripture is Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him and he shall direct thy paths”. Whenever I feel discouraged or as though I’m slipping back into a depressive state, this scripture comes to mind and I remember that with the help of the Lord, I really have nothing to worry about.