A Brazilian woman who trod on thorns ended up having to have her lower leg amputated after bacteria entered the wound and ate away at her flesh and bones.
Gabriela Mello Mendes, 29, is now recovering after having her lower leg amputated last month following a five-year-long ordeal after she trod on tiny thorns.
The company administrator from Uba, Minas Gerais State, Brazil was enjoying a barefoot walk in a rural area with friends when she felt a sharp pain in both feet.
She told local media: “To this day I don’t know exactly what I stepped on.
“Both my feet were left injured, I used a lot of alcohol and ointment, but the thorns were very small, you couldn’t see them.
“A few days later I began to feel pain in my legs, my knees swelled up.”
Gabriela went to see an orthopaedist and later a rheumatologist. In December 2017 she went for a test, which confirmed she had developed an infection.
She was sent home with a course of antibiotics and told the pain would pass. But later that month, her temperature soared and red spots broke out on her hands.
Early the next month, she went in for a transoesophageal echocardiogram to check her heart. Medics discovered she had vegetation on her heart valve.
She was rushed to intensive care and placed in an induced coma. She was given a porcine heart valve replacement in an operation.
Following the op, she suffered two heart attacks. Medics managed to revive her, but her other organs began to collapse due to sepsis.
Thanks to a blood transfusion, her condition began to improve and she was able to leave the ICU in mid-February.
She told local media: “I lost a lot of weight, I was left with bedsores all over my body, even on my head. I still have the marks today.
“I had to relearn how to walk and breathe, I was fed via a tube for more than 30 days.
“While I was recovering, however, my left foot began to necrotise. The tips of my toes and my heel.”
Gabriela was discharged from the hospital to avoid developing a new bacterial infection but continued visiting regularly for treatment.
She underwent surgery in April to remove the necrosis. Her toes improved, but the wound on her heel failed to close.
She told local media: “The years went by, I was treated, but my heel failed to improve and only recently did I discover that I had osteomyelitis, an infection in the leg bone.
“That was when medics decided to amputate part of my leg.”
Gabriela underwent the op on 14th September.
She had spent the past four years changing bandages every day, showering with a plastic bag on her foot, unable to step on it, and unable to go to the beach or for walks in the countryside, so it was no surprise that she described the removal of the limb as a “great relief”.
Gabriela spent the next 20 days struggling with pain caused by phantom limb syndrome.
She told local media: “I had never felt such severe pain before in my life. But as time went by it went away and now I’m really relieved to have had the amputation.”