I had to have my leg amputated after catching flu – I'm begging you, don’t make my mistake | The Sun

WHEN Allison Miller developed a headache and a sore throat, she thought she was coming down with a bad cold.

Aged 33, she assumed she would spend a few days in bed and bounce back in no time.

But she couldn't have been more wrong.

"I had an experience with the flu that forever changed my life," she told Roche.

Allison, who was working in Madison, Wisconsin, in the US, first noticed her symptoms on March 7, 2014.

She left work early and spent the rest of the day feeling "a bit run down".



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Her condition quickly worsened and the keen traveller visited A&E, where she was given breathing treatment and a cough medicine prescription.

"I was a little bit congested but everything else looked fine," she said.

"They sent me home and said, 'If it gets worse, come in again'."

That night, Allison started experiencing back pain so crippling she "blacked out a couple of times".

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Unsure what else to do, she called a friend and was soon whisked away in an ambulance.

"I had never felt so sick in my life," she said. "That was the start of everything."

Doctors confirmed Allison had bacterial pneumonia affecting both lungs, caused by influenza, which had led to sepsis, and subsequently septic shock – a life-threatening drop in blood pressure after an infection.

Her organs had begun to shut down and she was "on the edge of death".

The full-time worker was placed on a form of life support known as extracorporeal membrane oxygenation as a "last ditch effort" to save her life.

Thankfully, it worked. But during the course of treatment, circulation to her left leg was lost and she was forced to have it amputated above the knee.

Allison, who is originally from Minnesota but now lives in Washington DC, spent a total of three months in hospital.

She then had to rebuild her strength, relearn to walk, and accept her new life as an amputee.

"I gradually recognised that my life was never going to be the same again," she said.

"That's something that you never fully get over."

She now wants to use her story to educate others on the dangers of flu, and to urge them to get vaccinated against it.

"The fact that I had gotten from what people assumed was 'just the flu' to something so critical that I was at the edge of death, that's a tough connection for people to make," Allison, who did not receive the flu jab that year but now gets in annually, added.

"It's something that I have reconciled but I want to make it clear to others.

"I will forever have a very immediate, day-to-day disability, so if there's anything people can do to mitigate or reduce the chance that something like this might happen to them, they should do so.

"I really want to make sure people don't dismiss the flu as 'just the flu'.

"It can be so much more serious, and the complications that arise can be life-threatening.

"Influenza is a really serious public health problem and I would really hope that awareness prompts people to do what they can to stop the spread."

Speaking to Fox News, she added: "If you're sick and the symptoms are severe, don't waste time wondering if you should seek medical attention.

"Listen to your body — it’s better to go in proactively, rather than regret it later."

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According to the NHS, the most common symptoms of flu are a sudden high temperature, an aching body, feeling tired, a dry cough and a sore throat.

Headaches are also a telltale sign, as is difficulty sleeping, loss of appetite, diarrhoea, tummy pain, and feeling sick.

Everything you need to know about flu jabs

HEALTH chiefs are urging Brits to get flu jabs, saying it killed more people than Covid last year.

Estimates from the UK Health Security Agency show there were 14,623 deaths as a result of flu in England last winter.

Meanwhile, figures show that 10,345 died with Covid in the same period.

This was despite the flu jab keeping 25,000 people out of hospital.

Doctors are particularly keen to increase vaccination rates in children and pregnant women.

Shots are free on the NHS for:

  • Anyone aged 65 and over (including those who will be 65 by March 31, 2024)
  • Those who are pregnant
  • Children between the ages of two and three
  • All primary school children
  • Those in long-stay residential care
  • People who receive a carer's allowance, or are the main carer for an older or disabled person who may be at risk if you get sick
  • Frontline health and social care workers
  • Brits who with someone who is more likely to get a severe infection due to a weakened immune system, such as someone living with HIV, someone who has had a transplant, or is having certain treatments for cancer, lupus or rheumatoid arthritis

People who have the following conditions are also eligible:

  • Respiratory conditions, such as asthma (needing a steroid inhaler or tablets), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), including emphysema and bronchitis
  • Diabetes
  • Heart conditions, such as coronary heart disease or heart failure
  • Being very overweight – a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or above
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Liver disease, such as cirrhosis or hepatitis
  • Some neurological conditions, such as Parkinson's disease, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), or cerebral palsy
  • A learning disability
  • Problems with your spleen like sickle cell disease, or if you've had your spleen removed

Your GP may suggest you have the free flu jab if you have another long-term condition that isn’t mentioned above but may be made worse by flu.

You can have the NHS flu vaccine at your local GP surgery, certain pharmacies (if you're over 18), and some maternity services if you're pregnant.

Children will be given the nasal spray vaccine at school, a GP surgery or a community clinic.

The following pharmacy chains offer free jab to eligible adults:

  1. Tesco pharmacy
  2. Boots
  3. Superdrug
  4. Well pharmacy
  5. Lloyds pharmacy

Thousands of other pharmacies will also be offering the lifesaving vaccine.

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