A Williamstown mother-of-two this month returned home from hospital after battling life-threatening blood poisoning and a flesh-eating disease for two months.
Jodie Wylie, a nurse who for many years worked in The Alfred hospital’s intensive care unit, suddenly found herself admitted as a patient after being mysteriously struck down.
Following a pleasant day of gardening, Ms Wylie said she woke up on August 16 feeling too sick to get her daughters, aged seven and 10, ready for school.
“I spent that day just lying there with a migraine, throwing up,” she said. “Next morning, I was in such a bad way I called a friend.
“I had a sore throat and my glands were starting to swell.”
Her friend called a doctor who paid a house visit.
“I had a temperature of 39 and I did say to him, ‘My head is about to explode’,” Ms Wylie said. “He put it down to a virus and a migraine.
“By the next morning, I can’t describe the pain. I am so lucky my friend decided to come and check on me.
“I can’t remember her being there.
“I was refusing an ambulance, so she called my sister.
“I don’t remember her turning up.”
On August 18, Ms Wylie was rushed to The Royal Melbourne Hospital and put straight into a resuscitation cubicle.
She was diagnosed with life-threatening septicaemia or blood poisoning and necrotising fasciitis, commonly known as flesh-eating disease.
“By the time I got to the emergency department, my whole leg was swollen along the side,” Ms Wylie said.
“They biopsied it. It looked like cellulitis and it was me that kept saying, apparently, ‘No, it’s not, it’s necrotising fasciitis.
“I looked at it and I said to my sister, ‘I’ve got necrotising fasciitis and I’m about to get really sick and I feel like I’m dying’.
“All I could think of was my two children.
“Of course, the nature of necrotising fasciitis is, it spreads. It’s from a nasty bacteria and it kills the flesh and it moves rapidly.”
Jodie was transferred to intensive care at The Alfred as surgeons removed more and more tissue from her infected right leg.
Her family, some of whom had arrived from interstate, were told to “prepare for the worst”.
“I had surgery every three days to keep the wound clean, to free it from bacteria,” Ms Wylie said. “It ended up being 14 surgeries.
“I needed a skin graft; they took a lot of skin off the left leg.
“They needed enough skin to put on the wound, so it’s my upper thigh down to my knee.”
After two gruelling months, Jodie was allowed to come home as she undergoes extensive rehabilitation. Jodie said she was “humbled” by offers of support, including the mums from Williamstown North Primary School who have set up a roster to help her and her children.
Her friend, Anne Pastor, has also launched a GoFundMe campaign to assist on the long road to recovery.