A Kent ‘miracle woman’ has revealed what it is like living with a superbug

Claire Williamson Patient stories

‘Miracle Woman’ Jennifer Baker has survived nearly 50 surgeries after contracting the deadly superbug ESBL.

The diagnosis has totally changed the mother-of-four’s life and that of her family who have had to pull together to help her battle for a better life. It all began in February 2013 when Mrs Baker was taken to hospital with a fractured back following a fall down the stairs at her daughter’s house. She was discharged soon afterward and went home to recover, but was soon back in the hospital on February 26 with rectal bleeding.

Mrs Baker’s condition went downhill from there and she was rushed into surgery with a diagnosis of necrotising fascitis (a rare flesh-eating bacteria) caused by ESBL, the antibiotic-resistant superbug. Since 2013 the risks of infections and surgeries on her arm and stomach has had a catastrophic impact on her life and has limited what she is able to do.

“The only time I leave the house now is when we have a shopping day and that really depends on how good I feel on that day,” she said. “I have gone to bed in the evening before and the next morning I have not been able to lift my legs up or get out of bed. I used to enjoy going to the park or for a walk in the woods and taking my grandson out, but I can’t really do this anymore.”

“Superbug”

The scars the 49-year-old has on her arms and stomach also affected the type of clothes Mrs Baker would wear and the confidence in her body. She admits the scars at times made her feel like a “monster” but her daughters encourage her to see them as “victory scars” in her battle against illness. The extraordinary amount of surgeries Mrs Baker has endured while living with the infection left one doctor to describe her as the ‘Miracle Woman’.

“He called me that because of a number of patients the surgeon had seen who did not make it”, she said. “When he first said it I thought he was just being polite, we asked him about it and it’s because I made it and pulled through whereas other people did not.”

But the cost of repeated operations and visits to the hospital have taken their toll and affected even some of the most basic things Mrs Baker could previously do.

“It can be tough in recovery as I have to re-learn everything. I have had to learn to speak again, learn to write. I would be writing to my daughters and I could not understand why they couldn’t understand what I was writing down. What I was writing didn’t make any sense.”

Her daughter Amanda developed a good method for helping her mum re-learn and communicate with them by writing letters on an A4 pad and getting her to point them out.

The repeated visits to hospital, surgeries and disappointments as the wound on her stomach reopened would prompt others to give up. But the proud grandmother cherishes every moment with her six-year-old grandson Joe and two-year-old granddaughter Destiny.

She is also awaiting the birth of another granddaughter in October. It is this that keeps her going back and fighting so she can spend more years with them, her husband and carer Sean, and other family members.

“By making them (the NHS) carry on fighting with me I have got to have two more years with my grandchildren, and another one on the way,” she said.

“Fighting”

“When the pain becomes too much I always try to picture my grandson and say to myself ‘Give Nanna the strength to go on’. If I had given up and refused more surgery I would not be here to watch Joe growing up. I never know how many more times I have left with my family, each infection could be my last so I cherish every moment.”

The brave mother-of-four wanted to speak out to see if any other people had been suffering from the same issue so she could share everything she has been through.

After the wound on her stomach opened up on a recent walk in Dunorlan Park Mrs Baker will need to have further surgery.

Story reprinted with the permission of the Kent and Sussex Courier. Find the original story at: www.kentlive.news

If you know anyone who has suffered from an antibiotic-resistant infection. Please get in touch with us here.

Update: Jennifer has suggested to ANTRUK that she may have contracted another superbug and that additional surgeries may be required. Everyone here at ANTRUK wishes Jennifer a speedy and full recovery.