By Becca Husselbee
A woman was left with an open wound for six years after suffering from a life threating skin condition that caused her femoral artery to severe and nearly losing her life three times.
Anita Nickson, 50, was diagnosed with Pyoderma Gangrenosum in 2012 after discovering a small blister on her ankle, in 2010.
The autoimmune condition that affects 1 in 100,000 people, stops lacerations to the skin from healing, causing deep ulcers that quickly grow, often becoming infected.
Since then Anita, from Stockport, Manchester, has been admitted to hospital 29 times, been treated with 22 different drugs, had four blood transfusions, 11 cycles of biological chemotherapy, eight blood infection and was also diagnosed with steroid-induced type 2 diabetes.
The wound, on Anita’s ankle, went so far down into the tissue that it caused her femoral artery to burst in a supermarket, where she lost two pints of blood before she was saved from death by an off-duty nurse.
Anita said: “It took a long time to finally be diagnosed with Pyoderma Gangrenosum and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.
“The pain is so unbearable that when I have been in hospital I would have been happy to end it all, some people even say it’s worst than childbirth.
“It started as a small blister that appeared in 2010 and it took two years to get a proper diagnosis because it often gets misdiagnosed as a diabetic ulcer.
“I have to take daily medication and wear special compression bandages to stop the wound from splitting open again as the scar tissues doesn’t stretch.
“It can be very embarrassing for suffers as it’s very graphic and I want to share my story to show I’m not a victim and let others know how this disease can affect people.”
The former make-up artist, who had to give up her job because of her condition, has been constantly in and out of hospital with the open wound on her ankle, until in 2013 Anita’s femoral artery burst, causing a stream of blood to burst out from the painful ulcer.
Anita said: “I was in the supermarket when I felt this pop in my ankle and then it was like something from a horror movie.
“The blood was just squirting out from the wound and I could start to feel myself losing consciousness and fainted into the fridge.
“My colleague managed to phone an ambulance while the nurse stemmed the bleeding with pressure wearing a pair of marigolds.
“If it hadn’t of been for the nurse, who happened to be shopping the supermarket at the time, I would have died. She saved my life.”
The horrific experience happened on a further two occasions, whilst Anita was at work and at home, and left her suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
She said: “I had to have counselling because I started having panic attacks.
“I was suffering from PTSD because I was in constant fear that the artery could burst open again and I could die.
“I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night because as soon as my legs felt hot I would think it was going to happen again, I couldn’t even have the covers over me.”
Anita was treated with 11 rounds of a biochemotherapy, a non-aggressive form of therapy which helps to suppress the bodies immune system and stop overactive antibodies attacking the body.
The wound has now healed with the help of special compression bandages and she now enjoys regular visits to the gym with help of her personal trainer, Paul Lindley.
Anita, who also suffers from arthritis, has even become an inspiration to others, winning a local sports awards, The Greater Manchester Changing Lifestyle Award, but is now determined to push her petition for more research into the condition.
She said: “People need to know how dangerous this condition can be and I know people will often feel embarrassed or shy about sharing their story.
“Since starting the petition people have got in touch with me who have lost loved ones and more needs to be done in terms of research. I just hope people will sign my petition.
“I have down days and there are things that I can’t do, such as go for long walks, but I remain positive.”
To sign Anita’s petition please follow the link https://www.change.org/p/secretary-of-state-for-health-jeremy-hunt-mp-research-into-the-rare-auto-immune-condition-pyoderma-gangrenosum