Alethea Parker, 51, of Hampshire, England became gravely ill with Legionnaires’ disease during a seemingly idyllic vacation at a Tuscan farmhouse with her husband and friends in July 2010.
It is likely that Ms. Parker contracted the illness while showering during the two-week road trip through Europe and became symptomatic toward the end of the trip.
“I developed a headache and became constantly thirsty. I felt lethargic, but assumed it was lingering work stress. Then, towards the end of the holiday, I started being sick. We thought it was food poisoning,” said Ms. Parker.
Ms. Parker’s condition worsened upon her return to England, however. Her speech became slurred and she also fainted in the shower. Doctors at the Frimley Park Hospital in Surrey prepared Ms. Parker’s family for the worst, saying it was possible that she could die.
Noradrenaline, a drug given to Ms. Parker to keep her alive by reducing the size of her blood vessels to make it easier for her heart to pump, caused the vessels in her hands and feet to shut off. Eventually, it became necessary that Ms. Parker’s legs below the knee, left hand, and some fingers had to be amputated due to gangrene. She now has prosthetics for her legs and left hand and utilizes rehabilitation for prosthetic maintenance.
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