15 March 2023
Family and friends are running the ABP Southampton Marathon 10k this April in support of Shelley Phillips from Romsey who lost her leg due to a Strep A infection in November 2022.
Shelley says, “I am only 26 years old, and last year my whole life got turned upside down.
In early November 2022, I kept getting headaches. I got my eyes tested and ended up seeing my GP. We figured it was the flu and would pass.
Then on 7 November, I started getting excruciating pain in my leg. It had swollen so I could barely walk, and I started to develop a rash.
My neighbour is a nurse, and she told me to go to hospital immediately.
I arrived at the emergency department at University Hospital Southampton. They thought it might be a blood clot, so they ran further tests. That’s all I really remember as when I woke up I was in intensive care a few days later and my right leg was gone.
It turns out my body had been fighting invasive group A Strep.”
Usually, Strep A infections are not serious and can be treated with antibiotics. It is rare for it to turn invasive and cause serious health problems.
“The only way that doctors could save my life was to amputate my leg to stop further spread of the infection.
The surgeons tried to keep as much of my leg as possible, and initially amputated just below my knee. The infection was so severe that later I needed additional surgery to amputate the entire right leg.
I spent five days or six days in the intensive care unit, unconscious, continually fighting the infection.”
Sister, Lisa adds, “Everything happened so quickly. It literally took 24 hours to go from us thinking Shelley had the flu, to her lying in bed in intensive care having had surgery.
The infection was so serious that we were told to prepare ourselves that she might not make it through the day. We went in to say goodbye. It was heart-breaking.
We kept hoping that something in her immune system was going to kick in and she would start fighting back.
It took a few days, then thankfully her health started to go in the right direction.
It was a relief.”
Shelley continues, “After my health stabilised in the intensive care unit, I was moved to the F1 Trauma Unit where I remained for around seven weeks.
I had to have the amputation area cleaned out a few times as it wasn’t closing properly, and I developed another infection which set back my recovery.
In total, I had eight surgeries on my leg to save my life.
After surgery each time, the physiotherapy team would get me to do rehabilitation to ensure I kept moving, and that my muscles didn’t weaken through lack of use in a hospital bed.
I was finally discharged from hospital two days before Christmas!
Even after I left hospital, the occupational health and physio teams would come and visit me at home to check on my progress.
They were amazing! We live in an upstairs flat with no lift, so they came with us from hospital to make sure I was safe and helped show me some ways to retain some of my independence around the flat.
At the moment I’m using crutches and a wheelchair to move around, and I currently have to go back into hospital every week for physiotherapy. My core muscles have changed where my balance has shifted!
In the physio sessions, they’ve had me on a wobble board throwing and catching a ball and sitting on an oversized ball without holding onto anything!
It has been a challenging few months, but the staff are truly amazing. I could only see my family for an hour a day due to Covid-19 restrictions, so the staff would just go above and beyond! One lady plaited my hair for me, and someone from catering watched the World Cup with me so I wouldn’t be alone.
These little things made all the difference, and when I came home, I missed them!
I’ve just had my first meeting for the prosthetic, however it will take a few more months before I get my prosthetic.”
Running my first 10k!
Lisa explains, “The ABP Southampton races are only a few weeks away now, so it is starting to feel very real!
There are seven of us running in support of Shelley. Myself, our dad, Andy, uncle Paul, neighbour Lisa, and my three best friends, Chloe, Amie and Luke.
We all signed up to the 10k race for Southampton Hospitals Charity. I’ve never been a runner so this is a huge challenge for me.
I’m going for a run every Monday and Wednesday night to slowly build up the distance and am up to about 8km so I am nearly there!
We are hoping to complete the run as a group, staying together until we cross that finish line where I know Shelley will be cheering us on.
It just feels right that we are doing something in support of the hospital that saved Shelley’s life.
It was touch and go for a while, but the hospital gave my sister back to me.”