Keeping mobile: Home lift helps Gloucestershire man after nearly losing his legs to mystery ‘insect bite’.
A man was told he might need to have both legs amputated after suffering a mysterious ‘insect bite’ while on holiday in Spain.
Ron Harris, 74, was staying in a resort near Alicante with his wife Jacqueline, 70, when he noticed a deep wound halfway down the side of his leg below the knee.
When he returned to the UK, he immediately sought medical treatment from local doctors who were baffled as to the cause, but suspected an insect bite. The wound was clearly infected, with symptoms subsequently spreading to Mr. Harris’s other leg and both feet. It got so bad that the skin was literally falling away.
The pain became so excruciating that Mr. Harris could barely walk or use the stairs and took the decision to install a Stiltz Home Lift installed to help him access the upper level of his four-bedroom detached home in Gloucestershire. He also had to take 42 painkillers a day as well as bottles of morphine to help him deal with the pain.
Doctors eventually diagnosed the puzzling bite as a leg ulcer and tried everything including wrapping both legs in compression bandages before Mr. Harris’s condition got so bad, he ended up in a wheelchair.
“I was bitten by some sort of insect about three days before the end of our holiday,” said Mr. Harris. “I attempted to get it looked at in Spain but the queues in the Spanish hospital were so long I decided to wait until I returned to the UK.
“The doctors had no idea what it was and they tried wrapping me up in bandages but it just got worse. It spread to my other leg and my feet and was just awful.
“I couldn’t sleep at night and got a Stiltz Home Lift put in as eventually I couldn’t even walk and became wheelchair-bound. We’ve lived in our house for 35 years so we had no intention of moving home, however bad my situation became. The lift allowed me to move around our home, and meant we could stay put.
“It was only after about six weeks they the doctors diagnosed the bite as a leg ulcer. Apparently, all bites and stings that don’t heal within this time are treated as ulcers regardless of the underlying cause.”
Mr. Harris tried to soak his legs and feet in potassium permanganate – a medication used for treating skin conditions that cause production of excess liquid. The pain was so severe though, he was forced to stop applying it. However, the former mechanical engineer was told by doctors if he did not continue with the treatment, there was a real potential risk of double amputation.
Mr. Harris said: “The potassium permanganate treatment was the worse pain I’ve ever experienced in my whole life and it brought tears to my eyes. I was on 42 painkillers a day and I was given a bottle of morphine to use freely to help me cope me with the pain.
“I had some really dark days, and when the doctors warned if I didn’t carry on with the potassium permanganate application I could lose both of my legs; it was frightening. I decided I would obviously rather keep my legs so I persevered with the potassium permanganate and eventually the condition began to improve.
“Over time, the pain disappeared and the area where the bite had been scabbed over. The skin healed and regrew. All in all, it has taken around a year for to me fully recover and I feel very lucky to have done so. We have ‘future-proofed’ our home with the Stiltz Home Lift so if, for whatever reason, the condition returns, it’s there to help me. I still have no idea what actually bit me though!.”
Mr Harris had the Stiltz Duo Classic Home Lift installed in the corner of his dining room with it travelling up to a spare bedroom. As this style of domestic lift requires no hydraulics or supporting walls and is powered by a self-contained motor which plugs straight into a normal 13-amp power socket, it was installed in just one day. Stiltz home lifts travel on self-supporting stilts with only a small opening required in the ceiling for the lift to pass through between floors.
“The lift tucked in very nicely,” said Mr. Harris. “You wouldn’t really know it was there. I didn’t want a stairlift. They get in the way on the stairs and I would be worried about falling off the seat. As a former mechanical engineer, myself, the construction of the Stiltz Lift impresses me greatly. It’s compact, smooth, efficient, has all the safety features you would expect, and it looks good.
“I don’t have the need for it as I did but my wife uses it now as she had a knee operation not that long ago so having the lift in means she doesn’t need to use the stairs. We also use it for transferring the hoover and things like carrying the washing between floors. Having a Stiltz home lift has also given us peace of mind that we have ‘future proofed’ our home so we never need to move again.”