NEW CANEY, Texas – After months in the hospital, a New Caney woman is still fighting the effects of flesh-eating bacteria.
It takes so little to change everything. For Shelley Marshall, that was a fall off a four-foot ladder and a cut on the head.
“I went home and saw here and she just had a bandage on her head. Everything was normal,” Courtney Aiken, Shelley’s daughter, said.
Normal would not last. First came swelling.
Then much worse.
“Sepsis, [then] multi-system organ failure, in a 48-hour period,” said Marshall's sister, Kim Belk.
At first, doctors could not figure out what was wrong, but in the first day came a diagnosis with built-in fear: Necrotizing facicitis, or the flesh-eating bacteria.
It is seen more often than we think, but usually associated with water.
“I think it left all of us and medical professionals baffled,” Belk said.
Marshall's daughter and sisters tried to stay positive.
“Quick trip to the OR and get rid of this, but even then you are not sure if she was going to live or not," Aiken said. "They were like, ‘Well I think we got it all.’ But we can’t be sure, so we would have to go back to the OR again."
Nancy Jackson, Marshall’s sister, has spent most of her time the last three months in Houston instead of home in Austin.
“You just do a lot of waiting and praying and letting other people pray for you,” Jackson said.
It would take weeks for Marshall to win the fight for her life, including more surgeries than anyone can count.
The questions now are about what comes next.
Marshall has had numerous skin grafts and plastic surgery; skin removed from large areas of her body; and both legs amputated below the knee.
“Nobody is prepared to deal with this. Everybody’s life changed -- not just Shelley’s, but all of us,” Jackson said.
The immediate problem is in the next two weeks; Marshall will be discharged from the hospital with no idea where she will go next.
She is uninsured and her family has had a difficult time signing her up for the new Affordable Care Act coverages, and Medicare does not kick in for two years.
Shelley Marshall's care needs are constant.
“You never would think that it would happen to you. It is one of those things that seems not real,” her daughter said.
What makes it harder still is one of her sisters and her daughter are both nurses, now fighting more than just a rare but vicious bug.
If you are interested in helping Marshall, click here for her fundraising website.