By Sarah Francis
A dream holiday turned into a living night mare when a mum’s scalp was left ravaged by a mystery parasite.
Christi Barber, 41, from Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, USA, was left with open wounds on her scalp after a cruise to Turks and Cacos for her 35th birthday in 2011.
On her return home, she found several cyst under her hair which she had removed – but from there her condition got worse.
She was initially diagnosed with Pyoderma Gangrenosum and started on chemotherapy.
However, the affected area continued to grow leaving Christi with opened wounds in her head, meaning she could no longer work or even leave the house.
Five years later and poor mum-of-two, desperate for answers, has started a GoFundMe page
She hopes to raise enough money to buy herself a wig so she can finally leave the house.
Christi, a former marketing director, said: “I believe it was parasite I picked up. No one can give me an answer.
“It was the biggest nightmare.
“It kept getting larger and more areas started to get infected and ulcerated.
“I cant even leave my house.
“My kids can’t understand what has happened. I was always very happy, outgoing, fit and healthy.
“My husband has had to look after me.”
Christi first felt sick after returning home from a trip to the Caribbean.
She said: “I was meeting a bunch of childhood friends for my birthday.
“We flew to Florida and then we flew to Miami to catch the cruise to Turks and Cacos.
“The day we were coming back, I was really nauseous and throwing up.
“I thought it might be motion sickness or maybe I’d caught a bug, I came home and things were getting worse, I kept getting sicker.
“I got weird things on my skin that were red, raised and aggravated. They were all over my face and back, like I was breaking out like a teenager.
“I bumped my head on my closest and when I felt it there was this squishy thing. I noticed this swollen lump on the right size of my head, it was white and the size of a pea.”
Christi went to a dermatologist to have it removed.
She added: “I remember I was itchy and I felt my skin – I was feeling sick, I was losing weight.
“A few months later they removed the cyst. The 10 minute surgery turned into 4 hours, it was the most horrible thing. The day they removed 3 hard spots from under the skin.
“Then I smelt an infection and told me doctor. I was feeling horrible. I started taking antibiotics. I looked like a car–accident victim. I couldn’t leave the house.”
After seeing 11 different doctors, she had to medically resign from her job.
For the next two years Christi was on IV drip, had blood transfusion, began Chemotherapy and was put on organ transplant medication.
When those treatment didn’t work, Christi underwent a skin graft.
She said: “I had a pieces of my scalp falling off. It was awful, the worst pain in my life.
“They took skin from my leg and put it on my head.”
She has been living with a pi-cue line and self injecting antibiotics.
She is currently raising money to get to a specialist hospital next month, while also hoping to raise funds for a wig.