Mom Fighting Flesh-Eating Bacteria After Running Into Spider Web


My first job right out of college was as a media critic. Yes, I got to review music, movies, and video games for money.

A pretty posh position, right? Well, it was, but there was one significant downside: I never got to actually pick what I’d be reviewing.

Some days, I’d get to enjoy really high-quality content, but usually the media I consumed was middling at best and occasionally downright horrific. For instance, I remember having to review a horror movie where the primary bad guy wasn’t a ghoul or goblin, but rather something called necrotizing fasciitis.

That terrible and technical name describes something very, very small. Necrotizing fasciitis is a condition caused by a bacterial infection — and what an infection it is.

See, necrotizing fasciitis moves incredibly quickly, often progressing from little reddish skin leisons to flat-out tissue death within a matter of hours. There’s a reason why popular media has dubbed it the flesh-eating disease.

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Angel Perez of New Jersey picked up a strain of the infection on July 2. He’d merely been crabbing in stagnant, brackish water, and his leg began to swell mere hours later.

Physicians at Cooper University Hospital had been dosing Perez with strong antibiotics in an attempt to save his life, but it may not be enough. The only two options for fighting necrotizing fasciitis are antibiotics and amputation, a radical yet sometimes necessary step with an illness that kills up to 30 percent of those infected with it.

Fifty-year-old Carol Martin was one of those who lost her life to the terrible disease. While vacationing in Florida, the Indianapolis resident contracted the infection, and doctors misdiagnosed it on two separate occasions.

“They said that they thought it was an abscess or something under the skin,” her husband Richard Martin told the International Business Times. “At least by the second time, they should have decided, ‘This is growing and maybe we should take a culture of it and see what it is.’”

Sadly, that delay sealed Martin’s fate. But quick action on the behalf of Topeka, Kansas, resident Tamara Owsley made her a survivor.

“Memorial Day is when I got bit by a spider,” she told KSHB. “We were playing hide-and-seek, and I ran into the biggest spider web of my life.”

This wasn’t any ordinary spider bite, though. “My arm was growing an inch an hour,” Owsley explained.

“[My husband] said, ‘That’s enough. I’m taking you to the hospital.’ My arm was probably two or three times [its original] size.”

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It was a good thing that he did. Owsley has been in the hospital more than a month and has undergone some 15 surgeries.

“They sliced my whole arm open all the way,” Owsley said. “I’ve lost everything inside of my left arm.”

As horrible as that sounds, it could’ve been so much worse. “Doctors said if I waited a little longer, I wouldn’t be alive.”

A painful blessing in the midst of an awful illness. But you know how the saying goes: Where there’s breath, there’s still hope.

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A graduate of Wheaton College with a degree in literature, Loren also adores language. He has served as assistant editor for Plugged In magazine and copy editor for Wildlife Photographic magazine.
A graduate of Wheaton College with a degree in literature, Loren also adores language. He has served as assistant editor for Plugged In magazine and copy editor for Wildlife Photographic magazine. Most days find him crafting copy for corporate and small-business clients, but he also occasionally indulges in creative writing. His short fiction has appeared in a number of anthologies and magazines. Loren currently lives in south Florida with his wife and three children.
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