PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Carla Mulley says it was March 17, 2011 when she noticed her leg changing colors and getting blotchy.
She went to the emergency room when the pain worsened. The chain of events that followed would change her life forever.
Since January, putting on a prosthetic hip and leg has become part of Mulley’s daily routine.
While it’s a challenge, she says it’s miraculous she’s even here.
“My kidneys failed, I was on dialysis, I was on total life support except for my heart and there were a few times when they told Frank and my sister, ‘Do you just want us to make her comfortable?’” she said.
Her husband, Frank, assured doctors his wife was a fighter. The Pittsburgh native, who had undergone chemotherapy for breast cancer, took on yet another battle after contracting necrotizing fasciitis or flesh eating bacteria.
“That infection spreads very quickly around the lining of muscles and tendons,” explains Dr. Bruce Dixon of the Allegheny County Health Department, “and the only real way besides giving the person antibiotics and seeing if you can control it to remove things that have the bacteria in them.”
Mulley credits her ER doctors at UPMC Passavant for saving her life. She says it was there that she first learned that she may have to lose her leg.
“They amputated my leg that night and then they had to go back the next day and take out the hip,” she recalled.
A total of eight months in the hospital and plenty of painful physical and emotional therapy has led her to where she is now.
“Life goes on and if you believe you can do it and it’s not easy, but go forward and do whatever you can to make the best of your life,” she said.
Mulley says her weakened immune system made her susceptible to the rare disease. Doctor’s don’t know how the bacteria entered her body, but she remembers cutting her left leg while shaving before receiving chemotherapy that day.
She now receives physical therapy with the goal of walking on her own again one day.