Three months ago a rare case of strep throat almost claimed the life of Shelby Smith. Her health started deteriorating quickly in December 2016. The twenty-seven-year-old-year old girl from Tennessee had always led a healthy life. Often practicing exercise and yoga. She said she hadn’t been sick for at least four years before the incident took place.
Namely, she caught strep throat some time before but since she had no health insurance, decided to just brush the whole matter off and treated it with what she could afford, hoping it would go away by itself.
Elaine Reddick, program supervisor of health protection with Oxford County public health, Canada said: ”It’s a bacteria and it’s quite common.”
It comes in several subdivisions (groups), group A being one of the most dangerous to human health.
“Strep A can cause many different kinds of infections including strep throat, Scarlett fever and impetigo.”
“When that happens it causes invasive disease,” Reddick said. “It’s not really understood why this happens to one person and not another.”
The thing about this bacteria is that the early stage is almost identical to a common influenza, with symptoms such as fever, aches and general unease.
This is exactly what happened to Shelby. As soon as she started her shift working at a local boutique, she started coming down with a fever, her body shaking.
She went home and everything went downhill from there. Her nose became blue and her fingers started losing blood and going black.
“I looked like I was was turning into a witch,” Shelby said.
Her boyfriend rushed her to the ER. Things were getting worse by the minute. “I thought that I was losing her. That was the most terrified I’d ever been in my life!” said Shelby’s boyfriend.
Her heart, lungs and brain were failing. Her strep throat took an unexpected turn and morphed into a severe sepsis infection.
“I would say that I was as close to death as you can be without dying.”
To save her life, doctors were forced to amputate the fingers on her right hand and one finger from her left hand. Two toes were also amputated from her left foot.
Two months after the surgery, Shelby is trying to learn how to live and cope with her new situation. She is learning to write with her left hand and slowly recovering from the trauma she suffered.
“Every day I see this (in reference to her hand) as a reminder that I have a second chance at life,” says Shelby. “Because I could be dead.”