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An Indiana woman’s recent family vacation turned into a nightmare when she contracted a hot tub infection that was so severe, doctors feared she might lose her leg.
Although it’s been a challenging few months, Taylor Bryant is now counting her blessings after multiple rounds of antibiotics and a four-day stay in the hospital finally led her body to successfully fight off the infection without an amputation.
“I was thankful to have my leg but more so thankful I am here today,” the Indianapolis native, 26, tells PEOPLE. “There were plenty of days where I was down and hard on myself feeling like I wasn’t getting better.”
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“My doctor would remind me that it takes time to heal,” she adds. “It was a bad case and it just doesn’t go away easily.”
Earlier this year, Bryant took a vacation to Tennessee with her husband and their two young children.
While they were staying at a hotel in Pigeon Forge on March 27, Bryant said she began to feel nauseous and experience cramping in her right leg, WISH News 8 reports.
Medical records obtained by WISH News 8 showed that doctors diagnosed Bryant with cellulitis, a potentially life-threatening bacterial skin infection.
She was given a 10-day course of stronger antibiotics, but again, the drugs did not improve her condition. Doctors then referred her to an infectious disease specialist and kept her in the hospital for four days and three nights.
During that time, the medical professionals also told the mom of two she might need a leg amputation if things continued to get worse — a possible reality that terrified her.
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“[Hearing that I might be] losing my leg, I instantly started crying,” she recalls to PEOPLE. “It scared me to think that could happen so young, [especially] being a mom of two kids.”
Throughout the terrifying ordeal, Bryant snapped photos of her leg as it progressively got worse. In some shots, her infected flesh can be seen cracking beneath her blackened skin, while others show her red rash bubbling, blistering and peeling.
Finally, after two weeks of intravenous antibiotics, doctors told Bryant that her medication was successfully fighting off the infection — news that the mom of two had waited so long to hear.
“[It was a] sense of relief knowing that the two IV antibiotics were working and we could have control over it,” she tells PEOPLE.
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According to Bryant, doctors suspected that she had contracted the infection after entering the hotel’s hot tub while she was on vacation. Because of the traumatic experience, she says she’ll think differently about shared water spaces moving forward.
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At nearly 200 lbs., Jennifer Riveira says she was unhappy and unhealthy. “I was overweight and I was tired,” she recalls.
“[This incident] changed my view on hot tubs,” she admits. “I used to think they were nice and relaxing. Now I know how nasty they can be so fast. I will not be going back in one.”
Bryant also notes that she has been in contact with the hotel and filed an incident report shortly after noticing her rash, but declined to mention their name due to legal reasons.
Now, nearly four months after the health scare, Bryant says she has returned to work and is continuing to heal her wounds by applying cream on her leg twice a day and wearing compression socks on both legs daily.
Though she’s feeling grateful to be alive and healthy, Bryant hopes that her story will help raise awareness about the dangers of entering certain waters with a cut or break in the skin.
“I want people to see the chance they take in hot tubs,” she says. “It’s not just oceans and lakes anymore. This can be just from a break of skin, for example, shaving [your] legs [and] then getting in [a] hot tub.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a hot tub rash is caused by an infection with a common environmental germ called Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
The condition occurs when a person’s skin comes into contact with contaminated waters, such as a poorly maintained hot tub or spa, for a long period of time. It can also occur from a contaminated swimming pool or lake.
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A person with the rash typically shows signs of a bumpy red rash and may have “pus-filled blisters around hair follicles.”
Though most rashes clear up on their own in a few days, some cases may last longer, to which the CDC advises seeking out medical attention from a health care provider.
To reduce the risk of a hot tub rash, the CDC recommends using chlorine and other disinfectants, thoroughly washing your swimsuit after being in the water and ensuring that the water’s pH levels have been checked at least twice a day.
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Doctors Explain Why You Have Unbearably Itchy Skin With No Rash in Sight .
Your mental health, hormones, or meds could be to blame.The root of your itching could range from pure-and-simple dry skin to various health conditions. To find out why you’re itching without a rash, we rounded up common culprits with expert advice—including how to make the itch stop.