REAL LIFE

An innocent dog lick made me lose all my LIMBS

It's called the 'lick of death'
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Dawn Manteufel, 48, thought her healthy husband just had the flu.

My husband Greg, 49, tossed and turned in bed as he battled a raging fever.

Earlier that morning, he’d complained of having flu-like symptoms.

Greg was always active and loved going for walks with our pitbull Ellie, so his sudden illness really shocked me and our son Michael, 26.

‘Take a paracetamol and have some rest,’ I told him, feeling worried.

But by the next morning, he’d turned a funny colour and could barely stand.

‘I’ll be fine,’ Greg kept repeating, his pale face looking determined.

Soon he became delirious though and his temperature soared to over 40°C.

‘We’re going to the hospital,’ I told him firmly.

But then, things took a very dark turn.

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My husband Greg and I (Credit: Supplied)

I helped him stumble through the doors and doctors whisked him away to emergency as I nervously followed.

Within minutes, they were shouting that Greg was going into septic shock.

‘It might be a bowel obstruction,’ I heard one doctor say.

By now, Greg’s face had turned blue. The doctors said he had a worryingly low level of platelets in his blood, and even as they pumped him full of antibiotics, nothing changed.

Greg was prepped for exploratory surgery to check his bowels, but it was soon obvious something worse was taking hold.

Deciding he needed extra help, they rushed him to a bigger hospital 30 minutes away.

My poor husband was getting worse by the minute.

Because the septic shock was forcing his body to keep his organs working, the flow of blood travelling towards his limbs was blocked.

‘I can’t feel my legs,’ Greg moaned, as the doctors worked to keep him alive.

Amazingly, he stayed conscious the entire time.

I sat by his side for the next few days, desperately hoping he’d recover miraculously.

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Greg in hospital (Credit: Supplied)

As he battled though, I noticed Greg’s legs were no longer blue and blotchy. They were slowly turning black.

‘What’s happening?’ I pleaded with the doctors.

Frustratingly, they had no idea. But they knew one thing – for Greg to live, he needed to lose his legs.

The surgeon knelt down next to him to explain the situation.

‘Do what you’ve got to do to keep me alive,’ Greg replied, bravely.

Turning to me, he said, ‘I’m not ready to go just yet.’

Greg was always so strong and optimistic – though I couldn’t help worry this might be the end.

Married for 15 years, I couldn’t lose him.

So, within a few days of being admitted into hospital, his legs were amputated just above the knee.

Coming out after surgery, Greg’s stumps were all bandaged up. But the first thing I noticed was his hands. They were turning a sickening black colour too.

The deadly sepsis was working its way around his body with a vengeance.

‘We could save some of his hands, so we’ll start amputating fingers,’ the surgeon said.

I couldn’t believe my poor husband was getting chopped to pieces in front of my eyes.

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Greg is so strong (Credit: Supplied)

‘I’ll get through this, don’t worry,’ Greg assured us.

I was in such a state, he was comforting me!

After eight days of this hell, a doctor arrived with some disturbing news.

They’d finally figured out the reason behind Greg’s sepsis. He’d contracted a lethal and extremely rare bacteria, Capnocytophaga canimorsus, which can be transferred to humans from a dog lick or bite.

My heart dropped.

We had our pup Ellie and only a few days before Greg started feeling ill, we’d been at a birthday party with around eight other dogs.

We loved getting cuddles and licks.

Could something so innocent really have caused all this?

‘It’s more likely you’d win the lottery five times than contract this from a dog,’ the doctor added. ‘But it happened.’

As we processed the news, more tragedy struck.

Greg’s hands had taken a turn for the worse, so both needed to be amputated.

And his nose was starting to suffer the same fate.

It was black and scabby, almost falling off his face.

Fourteen surgeries later, Greg had lost both his legs, most of his hands and a chunk of his nose.

Despite the nightmare, Greg was glowing with positivity.

‘At least I’m alive,’ he’d shrug.

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Greg loved riding his Harley-Davidson (Credit: Supplied)

Three-and-a-half months later, Greg was finally allowed to come home.

I was his full-time carer as he adjusted to his new life without any limbs.

Greg is hoping to be fitted with an electronic claw for his left arm and prosthetics for his other arm and two legs.

He’ll also receive plastic surgery on his nose.

We put his bed in the living room so he doesn’t have to climb up the stairs and I help him eat now.

It’s a long road ahead with a lot of surgeries. But we are going to be positive.

Greg’s determined to ride his beloved Harley-Davidson motorcycle again too.

Thinking back to all the times we’d been around dogs, Greg and I can’t figure out when it happened.

The bacteria could have entered his blood from a tiny lick, scratch or a nip from a puppy.

Doctors have even described it as the ‘lick of death’.

The first thing Greg did when he got home was cuddle our dog Ellie.

We would never blame a dog for what happened – it was just so horribly unlucky.

As soon as you start feeling flu-like symptoms, see a doctor.

While it is incredibly rare, it can happen to anyone.

Thankfully, Greg is a warrior and a survivor and we will get through this.

Greg, 49, says: I’ve always been such a healthy person, so it was just unthinkably bad luck I contracted the bacteria. I love dogs and would never blame them. I don’t know what I’d do without Dawn – she’s been my rock. I am strong and each day is better than the last.  

To help Greg, visit his GoFundMe

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