A GREAT grandmother was left fighting for her life after being bitten by an insect while gardening.

Susan Buttery, 68, said doctors feared the infection – which caused her to lose both of her legs as well as part of her fingers – would kill her after she was admitted at the Great Western Hospital.

“I was quite poorly when I went to hospital and they didn’t know what I had – they thought I was allergic to something," said Sue, from Highworth.

“I had flu-like symptoms and I was vomiting, so my husband Richard rushed me to the hospital where they were supposed to keep me on overnight.

"Richard came back the next day to see me, but they put me in induced coma in ICU. The consultant said to my husband: ‘You’ll be lucky if your wife is alive on Monday’. But I’m still here.

“When I was in hospital I was a bit afraid, the different things I went through, especially when I was in the coma and coming out of the coma, it was so weird.

“I was swelling up inside, I couldn’t breathe properly, and I ended up having a tube down my throat to help me.”

Susan was in a coma for three weeks and said doctors at GWH struggled to treat her because her condition was declining rapidly.

“I was losing skin, I was losing fluid through the skin, and they’ve asked for help from other hospitals,” she said.

Susan was then transferred to Bristol where she had her legs and the top of her fingers amputated.

She had developed streptococcal septicaemia, strain A and flesh-eating bug necrotising fasciitis, causing her skin to go black.

“The skin came out necrotic, the more they were cleaning and trying to keep the infection out, the more it got into it. So, I had 60 operations and stayed in hospital for eight months,” she said.

“I remember the day when they said that the things will have to start going. I didn’t think that it was that bad.

“When they said they had to take my legs, I just talked to myself ‘well they’ve got to go otherwise I’m going to die and I just wanted to try to get back to as normal as possible, as soon as possible.”

Swindon Advertiser: Susan has a passion for gardeningSusan has a passion for gardening

The mum-of-two, grandmother-of-six and great-grandmother-of-one has been gardening for years and never thought about the dangers of getting infections.

Despite her condition, she continues to take care of her garden.

“I’m a little bit more careful now, especially if I see anything buzzing around me or anything like that," she said.

“I love gardening and I’m not scared – even with what happened to me. I love seeing things that you have actually done growing and it’s lovely listen to the birds and be able to get outside.”

Susan, who tipped the scales at 15 stone 9lbs three years ago, started a six-week Weight Watchers programme and is now 88lbs lighter.

She received support from her husband and family members and added: “I was very determined by the fact that I got grandchildren as well, that I used to care before I got all this happen, I still wanted to do things with them and they accepted me as I am and helped me along the way as well, with different things or in general.”

WW coach Lorraine Dallman stated: “Sue is just a phenomenal force to be reckoned with. She has come in week on week after her life changing incident and got to a better place through exercise and the help of WW in relation to her food and drink choices. We are all so very proud of her!”

Richard, 61 added: “Nothing stopped her. She’s an inspiration to me when I’m watching her work out. She’s determined to walk wherever she can.”

The couple try to go Haydon Centre and Gym twice a week.

“I move a lot better now than what I did before," said Susan. "I’ve got a different circle of friends now, very supportive. We all talk about our different weight losses."

Before the infection she had been warned by her GP that she was borderline diabetic, and all the blood markers were giving that indication.

She said: “We used to enjoy our takeaways; we still do but not as regularly as we used to. They are now an occasional treat rather than twice weekly. My husband now has taken on most of the cooking duties

“The six-week programme they put me on to start with, I found not difficult, and as the weight was starting to come off, I found that I could wear better clothes, I started to feel better, to look better, more energetic, because I was quite a weight.”

“With the continued help of WW, my weight then came off, week by week. I am now 88lbs lighter and there is nothing than I love more than being able to walk around Swindon town centre on a weekly basis to do my shopping. I am so grateful to Lorraine my wonderful WW coach for all her assistance.”