Woman Issues Urgent Warning After Rescue Cat Gave Her Ringworm
An animal lover is sending out a warning after she developed a life-threatening condition caused by medication to ringworm that she caught from a cat.
Life changed for Nikki Collins, 31, when she picked up the fungal infection from a rescue cat in June 2018. After receiving treatment for the infection, things took a drastic turn for the worse when her body had an adverse reaction to the medication causing her to develop Stevens-Johnson syndrome (SJS).
SJS - which can be fatal - caused Nikki's skin to erupt in painful blisters that left her with burns.
"I went from working in a demanding job I loved and having a social life and a boyfriend to becoming bedridden and not having the energy to do anything," said Nikki who was born in Durham, but now lives in Sydney, Australia.
"It felt like, overnight, all my old life had been taken away."
While there is no cure for SJS, Nikki says she feels lucky to be alive. However, when things were at their worst, she recalls being made to feel "like a leper."
"One time, when I finally built up the courage and strength to go to the supermarket to get groceries, while my skin was severely splotchy and peeling but there were no longer any open sores, people not only stared, but they actually moved away from me," she said.
"When I queued at the checkout, everyone waiting behind me stood as far back as possible, not wanting to put their own groceries on the conveyor belt next to mine.
"Eventually, an older lady from a different checkout line came up to me to ask me what was wrong with my skin. She also asked if I was contagious.
"I could understand the concern, but I felt humiliated that people were treating me like some kind of contaminated monster."
When Nikki first got the disease, she said the blisters were not painful. However, that all changed when they burst.
"I've been stuck on bed rest for the best part of two years, which has been horrible, too," Nikki continued.
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"I had to set alarms for every few hours to wake me up, so I could gently rotate ever so slightly, to reduce the risk of any burns bleeding through the dressings and sticking to the bed sheets.
"It was very gross and I ruined so many sets of fitted sheets. But I like to make light of the situation and say that I was like a rotisserie chicken!
"I would tell people that I was a method actor and I was getting ready for my role in Walking Dead. I tried to make light of it, especially when I did not know what was wrong."
Nikki was forced to leave her job in retail when her condition first struck, but, determined to restore some normality to her life, she decided to take a new job just before Christmas.
However, it didn't last.
"I've had to stop again, because I don't have the energy I had before I was sick," she said.
"I am still struggling financially, though. I had to take a loan to pay my bills and then had to use my credit cards, so I am in a lot of debt."
To make matters worse, Nikki is also in need of some urgent dental work as the burns to her mouth and throat caused acid reflux and vomiting, which destroyed the enamel on her teeth.
To help pay for the treatment, Nikki has set up a GoFundMe page called Please Help Me Get My Smile Back, which you can donate to here.
Nikki hopes to raise awareness about the condition and hopefully find a cure.
"I would also like to acknowledge my online support group on Facebook which I owe a lot of overwhelming gratitude for the support they have shown," she said.
"Because it's such a rare illness, more often than not, doctors can't give you answers, so reaching out to these people and getting answers from their experiences offers a form a relief - so you know what to expect and know that you are not going through it alone."
Featured Image Credit: PA
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