A mum of two has recalled the “extremely frightening” experience she had to face after a cesarean section. She says she almost died after developing a flesh-eating bacterial infection following the procedure.
Amy Hiner, an Instagram model and entrepreneur, said she literally had her life hanging by a thread after developing necrotizing fasciitis and sepsis following the C-section procedure done at a U.K. hospital. The 40-year-old said she felt a burning sensation in her stomach, which was left largely disfigured as the infection spread.
Just days into giving birth, Hiner said she had a high fever and experienced debilitating stomach pain. She was diagnosed with Strep A, which doctors said was caused by “retained products,” such as placental or fetal tissue, in her stomach.
The Strep A soon developed into sepsis and then into a potentially fatal flesh-eating bug necrotizing fasciitis infection, which left black patches on her abdomen, New York Post reported.
“It just keeps spreading and you’re literally being eaten alive,” Hiner said, adding, “It was extremely frightening. I could feel my body shutting down, and it felt like I had piranhas in my tummy.”
Doctors suggested Hiner have another surgery to strike out the “retained products” and they had to cut her stomach all the way down to her bikini line.
“It was awful and I couldn’t even hold my baby,” she said after the surgery. “I was so broken. It took all my energy just to breathe. I had to learn to walk again.”
Though it’s called a flesh-eating bug, necrotizing fasciitis doesn’t actually eat the flesh. It solely targets the soft tissues, causing the flesh to rot.
It took a whole year for Hiner to make a full recovery from the reconstructive surgery. She said the awkward sensation hadn’t completely gone.
“I’ve been left horribly disfigured, with my belly slanting and scarred,” she said, reported The Star. “It needs a full tummy tuck. And because of severed nerves, I feel like I’m being electrocuted if I lie on my right side.”
What made matters worse for her were the subsequent nightmares and panic attacks that followed the surgery. She was later diagnosed with PTSD and post-sepsis syndrome, which required her to undergo an additional three years of therapy.
“My mental health was the hardest part,” she added. “I hated myself. I couldn’t look in the mirror or shower without crying.”
Her second child, Evie, is now 6. Hiner feels she has fully recovered now.