A mom of three has told how she nearly died after a cyst on her groin developed into a deadly flesh-eating bug which attacked her vagina.
Tammy Peel, 39, from Essex, England was rushed to the hospital in January where doctors discovered that she was suffering from sepsis along with necrotizing fasciitis – a rare but potentially fatal bacterial infection that affects the tissue beneath the skin.
She had to undergo a four-hour surgery during which tissue from her labia, part of her thigh and around her belly had to be removed to stop the spread of the disease.
Peel had to give up sex for three months while her vagina healed and said husband Simon, 42, was by her side throughout.
The mom, who has two boys aged 21 and 20, and a 12-year-old girl, said: “I suffer from type 2 diabetes, and as a result occasionally have cysts develop.”
“Diabetes is a debilitating illness and people can die of the ramifications just like me.”
“I want people to know what I went through and help others who have had similar experiences.”
Peel was left suffering from chronic back pain after giving birth to her third child by cesarean section 12 years ago.
She recalled: “Something went wrong – she was born a picture of healthy, weighing six pounds nine ounces – but I was far from fine.”
“When I tried to get up after the surgery, I put one foot in front of the other and was hit with a searing pain.”
“Taking steps was impossible and just like that I was left disabled.”
In the year that followed Peel was hit with a debilitating depression.
“I used to be such an active person but suddenly I was in a wheelchair, unable to walk,” she said.
Her depression led her to eat an unhealthy diet, including nothing but ice cream for several weeks.
Within a year the four-foot nine-inch mom’s weight had crept up to 308 pounds and she had a dangerously high BMI of 66.6.
Peel was so overweight that she had to be lifted out of the house by four men just to attend a hospital appointment.
She said: “My world felt as if it had ended and the only way that I could deal with what I was faced with was by eating.”
At the peak of her weight increase, she was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
She admitted: “It was a shock and made me realize that I needed to sort myself out.”
Peel began eating healthier and lost weight despite her inactivity.
At the beginning of this year she had slimmed down to 168 pounds but there was more heartache in store.
She said: “I noticed that I had a boil on my groin, which isn’t uncommon as a diabetes sufferer.”
“I thought that it needed some antibiotics as it looked a bit angry, so I went straight to the doctor.”
“Another day went by and there was fluid leaking from the boil, so I went back to the doctor and they sent me straight to hospital.”
“The medic said that it was an abscess and they would need to take me into surgery to have it drained.”
During the routine procedure the following day, medics realized she was suffering from necrotizing fasciitis.
The bacterial disease can start from a relatively minor injury, such as a small cut, but gets worse very quickly and can be life-threatening if not treated.
People who suffer from diabetes are at risk from such infections because their condition weakens their immune system.
After her surgery, Peel said she woke up “in the most extreme pain ever.”
“A doctor sat me down and told me that they had to remove tissue from all my groin area, right down my leg and up to my belly,” she said.
“I was reeling. I felt as if what defined me as a woman had been completely taken away.”
Peel was bed-bound for eight weeks and received daily home visits by a nurse to clean the wound.
She said: “It was such a horrible thing to go through. I nearly died and feared that my husband and I might never be able to have sex again.”
“I was too embarrassed to tell anyone. I wouldn’t even look at the wound myself.”
By May, Peel had healed enough to have sex again.
“Thankfully we have found a way,” she said. “It’s important we take it slow but we are optimistic about the future.”
“I am so grateful for my husband and everything that he’s put up with over the past few years.”
“For him to still be here after everything that has happened means everything to me.”
“My vagina will never be the same again but I’m learning to work with what I’ve got.”
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