Josh Munoz was taking a shower when he realized something was very wrong with his skin.
As WJBK News reports, Josh and wife Sarah were in Texas, taking a vacation to celebrate their one-year anniversary, when he noticed a problem with the skin on his thigh.
Josh told WJBK that as he scrubbed his leg, the skin began to wash away:
“I ended up wiping away flesh from my thigh area, and it was not like you popped a blister but something was definitely wrong.”
And things only got worse. He told the Houston Chronicle:
“I was losing meat off my leg, you could see everything.”
Josh called a doctor and was instructed to go to an emergency room immediately. But the dad from Lincoln Park, Michigan didn’t want to get stuck at a hospital so far from home. So he decided to try to get back to Michigan first.
He told the Chronicle that he and his wife immediately got in the car and started driving: “There was no way I was going to the emergency room 1,500 miles away from my three kids. So we jumped in the truck and drove as fast as we could.”
It was a 20-hour drive back to Michigan and Josh’s condition continued to deteriorate. On the drive, he began to lose consciousness. He even told Sarah to stop at a hotel so they could get some rest before continuing the journey.
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Luckily for him, his wife refused. He told the Chronicle that Sarah insisted on driving non-stop to a Michigan hospital:
“My wife said no. She said we had to drive further, we have to make it to the ER.”
When they finally got to the ER, they learned that Josh had necrotizing fasciitis, or flesh-eating bacteria. Moreover, he needed immediate surgery within the hour if he was going to live.
Josh told WJBK that, “within 20 minutes of seeing us [the ER doctor] said he’ll see us in the OR in 20 minutes, otherwise you will die.”
After the surgery, Josh learned that his wife saved his life by refusing to stop. Doctors said that if they had rested on the drive to Michigan, there was an 80 percent chance that Josh would have died in his sleep.
According to the National Institutes of Health, necrotizing fasciitis is a serious bacterial infection that can spread rapidly through the skin, the tissue beneath the skin, and the tissue around the organs. It is usually caused when bacteria enters the body through a break in the skin and can affect even young and healthy individuals.
Early symptoms of the infection include pain and tenderness near the infected area. This is followed by flu-like symptoms like nausea, fever, sore throat, chills, diarrhea, and aches. Over time, the area may become swollen and blisters may develop.
Necrotizing fasciitis can be treated with antibiotics, though surgery may be needed to remove affected tissue. With prompt and early treatment, most people survive the infection. However, about 25 percent of patients die from complications such as organ failure or blood poisoning.
Josh now believes the infection came while he was at work. The dad runs a small contracting business and thinks he was exposed to the bacteria while renovating a client’s bathroom. He told WJBK:
“I was working on a project, and I actually contracted I️t, they believe from fecal matter working on a customer’s bathroom with cuts in my hands.”
After three surgeries and a skin graft, Josh’s prognosis is much better. However, he still has more procedures ahead and a long recovery. He’ll also be bed-ridden for several months, which has posed a serious financial challenge for his family. He told WJBK:
“It’s horrible financially, what a burden, my family and I dependent on my small business that we started and with my hands, with my income, there’s no income when you can’t walk.”
Fortunately, his family has been able to help. His oldest son has taken a part-time job and his wife is looking for one as well. In addition, one of Josh’s clients started a GoFundMe campaign to help the family with bills.
Josh says that this has been a “life-changing” experience for him. Now, he and his wife are hoping they’ll be able to get back on their feet. As he told the Chronicle:
“I’ve got a two-year-old, a 14 and 16-year-old who all want something for Christmas. It’s gonna be hard to figure that one.”