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When a Nurse at Walt Disney World Saved My Foot

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I graduated from college in August 2013 and it was one of the best times of my entire life, despite having been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and hypothyroidism less a year before, after a three-year battle of doctors, blood tests, ultrasounds, and complete misery. Even after diagnosis, I wasn’t started on Synthroid until seven months later. There were quite a lot of things I was completely unaware of about this disease when my husband and I took off on a week-long trip to Walt Disney World to celebrate my birthday and college graduation…

I was aware of DisneyBounding, however, and couldn’t wait to DisneyBound as Minnie Mouse in the parks. I had found the most perfect pair of bright yellow shoes that looked like they were straight from a cartoon to complete my look. Even though they were a tad too big, I didn’t think much of it at the time.

We had a great time at EPCOT, lots of Cast Members were stopping me to compliment my outfit and I had a blast meeting Minnie Mouse and seeing her reaction to my outfit! We had done a ton of walking and by the end of the day, I was left with a pretty nasty blister on the side of my right foot. However, we had spent so much money to be at Walt Disney World there was no way I was going to let a blister slow me down.

Cut to a couple days later, after walking at least 15 more miles, and spending most of our time outside. I woke up and couldn’t put any weight on my right foot. Determined not to let anything spoil our trip, I dragged myself around our hotel room to finish prepping for the day and head out the door. By the time we arrived at the parks that morning, I was in some pretty serious pain. I decided at that point I should probably take a couple of minutes and stop in at First Aid to see if I had sprained my ankle. The nurse in First Aid took one look at my ankle and told me that it wasn’t a sprain, it was an infection and I should seek treatment at a local urgent care immediately. Not ready to leave the parks yet, I asked for some ibuprofen, told her that I’d be fine, and went on my merry way.

Later that day, we were at another one of the parks and the the pain had become worse. Much worse. I decided to stop in First Aid there and see what they thought about my ankle. This nurse informed me that if I didn’t leave and seek treat immediately my foot would probably have to be amputated.


I was in complete and utter shock.

The next thing I remember is my husband dragging me out of the park while I was crying my eyes out because I still didn’t want to leave — we hadn’t even seen the parade or fireworks yet!

By the time we arrived at the ER, I was scared. They had to wheel me in because I really couldn’t walk at that point. They got me settled in a room and my foot was so swollen I thought they would have to cut my sock and shoe off. Once they finally managed to take a look at my foot, things had turned ugly — my entire foot was purple and swollen. I was in full-blown panic mode thinking there was no way I was leaving that hospital with both of my feet.

A couple of hours and several shots later (heavy-duty antibiotics and a tetanus vaccine), I was leaving the hospital with both feet and answers as to how any of this happened. That blister on my foot had become infected after dirt landed in the open wound and, due to my hypothyroidism, my immune system was suppressed to where my body couldn’t fight the infection on its own, causing the infection to spread and turn severe quickly.

I had no idea this type of infection — cellulitis — even existed or that I was at an increased risk for it due to my hypothyroidism. Had that nurse at Walt Disney World First Aid not told me how bad things could get, I would have waited to seek treatment and who knows how bad things could have been then.

I’ve had this same infection again, in the same foot, but thanks to that nurse at Disney World, I knew what to look for and when to seek treatment, preventing a similar outcome to the one that had happened almost exactly three years before.

I will always, always be so grateful to that nurse for saving my foot… and future trips to Disney.

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Originally published: June 16, 2017
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