For some people, forgetting to get the flu shot could result in a bad case of the flu. But for Shari Hall of Brownsburg, Indiana, failing to get her annual flu shot led to complications that resulted in limb loss.
The 57-year-old grandmother was in good health before catching severe flu in February 2018. She ran a daycare from her home and had enough energy to keep up with the children. But because of her age, Hall was at a high risk of flu complications.
According to Northwestern Medicine, hospitalizations due to the flu isn’t common in the US, but the risk increases with age. The flu vaccine lowers an individual’s risk of being hospitalized or developing complications like heart attack and stroke.
The flu vaccine lowers an individual’s risk of being hospitalized or developing complications like heart attack and stroke.
Hall’s nine-month ordeal began one morning in February 2018 when she woke up feeling frail and breathless. Her face was also drooping, and her eyes were bloodshot. Her husband immediately took her to the emergency room, where doctors confirmed that Hall had the flu. However, her blood pressure was skyrocketing, and something was wrong with her heart. Hall was immediately transferred to a larger hospital in Indianapolis.
Hall had gone into cardiac arrest. Although the doctors and nurses successfully performed CPR, Hall’s heart still needed support from an ECMO machine, which pumps out blood and sends it through a heart-lung device, removing all carbon dioxide and sending oxygen-filled blood back into the body. Hall underwent two surgeries to attach and remove the machine. The operation was a success.
Image: Shari Hall
However, a few days after the surgery, Hall developed an infection, followed by sepsis. Her legs turned black, leading Hall’s medical team to amputate. After securing permission from Hall’s husband, the doctors removed her left leg above the knee, a part of her right foot, and an index finger.
Hall developed an infection, followed by sepsis. The doctors had to remove her left leg above the knee, a part of her right foot, and an index finger.
Hall was in a coma for three weeks. When she was awake, a nurse told her about what had happened, including the amputation. In an interview with Insider, Hall recalls feeling something was wrong with her leg. She described it as a “dangling feeling as if it was dangling off the bed.”
Although waking up to multiple amputations may have been shocking, Hall knew her husband had made the right decision. She said she still wanted to live for her family. When she had recovered enough, Hall spent six months at a rehabilitation center to learn how to live with her new body.
Four years later, Hall now sports a prosthetic leg as well as an orthopedic shoe to support her right foot. Hall shares her experience on NotTodayFlu.com to raise awareness about the risks of the flu. While getting the flu shot may not have prevented infection, the vaccine does reduce the risk of heart-related complications from acquiring the virus.
While getting the flu shot may not have prevented infection, the vaccine does reduce the risk of heart-related complications from acquiring the virus.
According to Hall, despite being busy that year, she should have taken 15 minutes to get the flu shot. She said that she’d never make that mistake again.