Mother-of-five lost her leg after contracting infection during surgery to repair broken ankle
A mother-of-five has shared the scary story of how she lost her leg to a flesh-eating bacteria after breaking her ankle while playing with her kids.
When Angie Fowler stepped out into the Texas snow with her children one day in 2011, she had never anticipated the nightmare that would follow, Jam Press reports.
A 34-year-old operations manager for FedEx Express at the time, Ms Fowler slipped in the garden and was rushed to hospital with a broken ankle.
She endured several reconstructive surgeries in attempts to fix the break, but was left with a “collapsing” ankle and was unable to walk.
Then, things got much worse as during one of her surgeries, Ms Fowler contracted a flesh-eating bacteria and doctors were forced to amputate her leg.
“The thing that killed me the most was that I wasn’t able to pick up my babies for years,” Ms Fowler told NeedToKnow.online.
“If they got hurt, or one wanted to be held, I had to sit down and have someone bring them to me.
“When they removed my leg, I was in the hospital alone for a long time, while my partner, John, looked after the kids, as we lived an hour away.
“It was very isolating and I struggled with my mental health.
“I got really depressed for a few months and thought I would never be able to live a normal life like work out, run, or even keep up with my kids.”
After contracting MRSA, which developed into necrotizing fasciitis, a rare bacterial infection that can turn fatal, Ms Fowler was forced to spend the next two years in and out of the hospital.
She said: “I was rushed to another hospital and they said if they didn’t amputate my leg below the knee, I wouldn’t make it through the weekend.
“I spent the next two years in hospital fighting the infection and had a further 46 surgeries on my leg.”
Four years after breaking her ankle, Ms Fowler’s leg was amputated in 2015. She went on to spend years learning to use a prosthetic, which she “hated” at first.
The now 41-year-old mum from Fort Worth, Texas, said: “It was uncomfortable and I could only wear it a couple of hours a day.
“I walked with crutches with my prosthetic because my leg was so sore and thought I’d never be able to walk without pain or assistance again.
“I truly thought my life was over.
“Eventually, I decided that I could be bitter and angry or I could start living my life.
“I knew I wanted to live and would do whatever it took to stay alive.”
Much of Ms Fowler’s determination to get better came from the love for her five kids; Presley, 20, Reese, 18, Tylar, 11, Jase, 9, and Cooper, 2.
Wanting to help others while also helping herself, she launched a TikTok account (@amputeeangie) to share her story and life with one leg, with over 8,800 dedicated followers.
She said: “My kids are so helpful and want to help me with everything.
“Sometimes they take advantage of that, too.
“My two-year-old will run from me when he’s playing because he knows I can’t catch him.
“My kids have adapted so well and they tell me it doesn’t bother them and they love me regardless.”
In 2020, Ms Fowler was in for another life-changing surprise when she fell pregnant with her fifth child, Cooper, as doctors had told her she “couldn’t have any more kids”.
The mother was over the moon and it inspired her to get even fitter, signing up for CrossFit and a 5km race which she will complete with a running blade in her first long-distance run in Boston this April.
She said: “The pregnancy was more difficult because the added weight in the later months of pregnancy put more stress on my leg.
“Due to swelling and weight gain, my socket was getting too tight and I had to go into a temporary socket.
“I wasn’t able to wear my prosthetic all day due to the soreness and swelling.
“Everything is different, I have to adapt to a lot of things in my life, but I am more active now than I was before my amputation.
“Daily activities are a struggle, for example, getting in the shower or getting up in the middle of the night to use the restroom.
“I also still get very bad nerve and phantom pain.
“Your brain still thinks your leg is there, but I have learned that the small things don’t matter.
“I am grateful to be alive.
‘I have learned that I can do anything if I push myself hard enough, and say yes to doing something that might be a challenge.
“I missed so much of my kids growing up when I was sick and in the hospital.
“Anytime they ask me to do something or sit and play with them, I do.
“I am so grateful to be here right now and I don’t want to take a minute of that for granted.
“It is crazy, messy and chaotic, but I wouldn’t change a thing.”