Jodie Francis, a 44-year-old woman from New Jersey, had to have her leg amputated after catching a potentially life-threatening bug, most likely from a mosquito bite.
Her difficulties started in late 2012 when she began to feel pain in her leg.
"It was a couple of days after Hurricane Sandy hit," Francis said. “I was up and down my ladder getting down the Halloween decor, cleaning the gutter and bagging all of the pine needles, and I started getting pains in my left leg, like I'd badly pulled a muscle.”
Her boss sent her home from her job when the pain got so bad that she could not walk.
"The following day, I spiked a really high temperature," she said. "I couldn't sleep, eat or even find a position which lessened the pain."
After being taken to a hospital in New Brunswick, New Jersey, Francis’ condition got worse.
“Suddenly I looked down at my arms, and they were covered in hives,” she said. “I mean, hives on hives – I couldn't see any unaffected skin.”
Doctors concluded Francis had contracted necrotising faciitis, a bug which consumes the body’s flesh. It is also referred to as flesh-eating disease, according to the Huffington Post.
“My kidneys had shut down, my liver was on its way out and my blood pressure was down to 60,” Francis said. “Doctors were forced to amputate my leg at the hip, to save my life. If they hadn't, I'd have died – simple as that.”
Prior to her surgery, doctors placed Francis in a medically induced coma.
“My mother and other relatives were waiting in a corridor for some news,” she said. "When a surgeon told [my mother] her daughter had just lost her leg at the hip, she says she screamed at the top of her voice."
Francis described the surprise when, 11 days later, she awoke to realize her leg was gone.
“The doctor walked towards my bed, and when I looked at his glasses, I could see my reflection – and the stump where one of my legs should have been,” she said. “I screamed out loud with the shock.”
Despite months of rehab, including learning to walk with a crutch, Francis refused to allow the loss of her leg to stop her from getting on with her life.
She has started volunteering at a medical center to support amputees, has taken up golf and wants to get her driver's license.
“It's okay to mourn your former life, just have the courage and strength to embrace your new reality,” Francis said.