Woman survives rare case of tetanus

21-year-old Leslie Christian

March 22, 2011 8:10:23 PM PDT
Leslie Christian is a rare sight -- a survivor who battled tetanus.

"It did feel like seizures, but I was completely and totally aware," Christian said. "I felt all of the pain and it's like all your muscles are contracting."

Her ordeal began in December 2010. She felt bad and says tingling in her fingers started moving up her arm.

The 21-year-old had a friend take her to the Cape Fear Valley Medical Center ER for what she thought was a spider bite. Doctors gave her some mild medication and sent her home. A day or so later, she was back in the ER and her symptoms had worsened.

"At one point when they diagnosed me, I had 13 spasms in one day, and my heart rate spiked up to 187," Christian said.

She was placed on a ventilator after her jaw locked and she had severe muscle spasms. Doctors diagnosed her with tetanus. She spent nearly 50 days hospitalized in Fayetteville and Chapel Hill.

"The first two days were scary," said Jackie Christian, Leslie's mom.

Jackie was shocked by the doctors' diagnosis. She says her daughter's vaccinations were up-to-date, including a tetanus booster four years earlier. She and the doctors don't know how or where Leslie picked up tetanus.

For Leslie, recovery is slow but she still has her dreams.

"I want to be a makeup artist," Leslie said. "Go to a school in Hollywood, a makeup school. I want to do celebrity makeup."

Jackie says a lot of prayer and support helped pull them through the ordeal. Now, they want to help others by raising awareness about tetanus.

Friends and family are holding a fundraiser Saturday to help with medical bills and to start a non-profit fund for families with hospitalized children.

Saturday's fundraiser will be a fish fry and car wash from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.at the Old Elk Yarn building, 4115 Legion Road.

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