I was starving but couldn’t keep any food down.
‘Try this,’ mum handed me an ice cube, and I held it in my mouth.
When I vomited that up too, I realised I really was in danger.
My mum constantly had the phone to her ear, trying to get through to speak to somebody at the NHS.
‘A 45-minute wait!’ she mouthed at me as I lay in my bed.
It was 2am on Wednesday morning by the time I received medical attention, when an ambulance finally arrived.
I had started vomiting up blood, and every time I went to be sick I could smell the horrible metallic-iron scent in the toilet.
My mum packed me an overnight bag with some toiletries, and I was blue-lighted to St John’s hospital in Livingston, Scotland, still wearing my PJs and dressing gown.
Everything was a blur, but I could feel oxygen tubes being fitted into each nostril.
In the hospital, I begged them not to let me go home.
‘Please don’t send me home, I feel awful!’ I cried as a nurse injected more anti-sickness into the top of my right arm.
‘At least that’s one less thing to worry about,’ I thought, finally feeling my nausea lessen.
Laying in the hospital bed on the crackly plastic sheets, I felt my left arm becoming heavier and heavier, to the point I had to use my right arm to lift it.
‘Hmm, your arm is quite swollen isn’t it,’ a nurse said, examining it. ‘And how long has that rash been there?’
I was shocked.
‘What rash?’ I asked.
But she was right – red blotches were covering my left arm, close to the site of the pain.
‘Kiera, I’m very concerned about this,’ the nurse said, measuring my arm with a tape-measure.
My left arm was 2cm larger than my right.
‘This changes everything,’ I was told.
‘It could be cellulitis…’ somebody had come down from the plastic surgery unit, and was drawing dotted lines around the rashes on my arm.
‘This way we can keep our eye on it and make sure the rash isn’t expanding,’ they explained.
By 8am on Wednesday morning, I had been moved to my own room.
But medics furrowed their brows when they saw that my rash had expanded.
‘We’re going to elevate your left arm, as we want it to drain downwards – this means if there is an infection, we’re keeping it away from the area,’ one told me.
My mind flashed back to the doctor saying I had an infection in my blood when I had been in hospital the first time, but my thoughts were interrupted by the doctor saying: ‘But we are considering surgery – we think you have a deep skin infection.’
Before I knew what was happening, I was texting my mum: ‘I’m being taken down for surgery… love you.’
I was terrified, but vowed to stay strong.
‘We need to open up your arm to see how serious things are, Kiera,’ adoctor told me. ‘We think you may have necrotising fasciitis – a flesh-eating bug.’
Whatever that was, it sounded really bad.
When I woke up after my three-hour surgery, I looked around, before my eyes focused on my arm.
‘Oh my gosh!’ I thought.
My arm was packed from my shoulder to my hand with gauze, and had been wrapped in bandages.
Yellow seepage was covering the bandages, and the nurse told me exactly what they had done.
They had cut open my arm and basically stuffed the holes with gauze to soak up the infected fluids.
I felt faint.
My doctor approached me with a grave look on his face and said: ‘You are a very lucky girl. If you had come into hospital 48 hours later, you would be dead.’
I was told it was definitely necrotising fasciitis – the flesh-eating disease – which is severe and causes parts of the body’s tissue to die.
It was deadly, and doctors had no idea what had caused my case.
I felt like a Build-a-Bear teddy – sitting there with my arm stuffed like that!
I had one more surgery continuing the process of cutting away my infected arm tissue, and then on the following Wednesday, more than a week after I first went into the hospital, I had a skin graft to patch up my arm.
Skin was taken from my left leg to patch up the huge wounds on my left arm.
Although my arm was completely covered, I couldn’t help but think the worst about what it looked like.
Then, when I finally had a look at the injuries, I was devastated.
I couldn’t stop thinking about the fact that when I get married I will have to wear a long-sleeved dress.
They told me it would take 18 months to two years for my arm to heal, and I almost broke down in tears.
But then I remembered what the doctor said about me being lucky.
I have always been a positive person, so why stop now?
I left hospital on the Friday, and although my mum had to look after me for a few days, I’m trying to go back to normal.
Physiotherapy has been a huge help in aiding my arm movement, and although I’m having to put hard work in, every time I see my arm is still there, I’m grateful.
The fact that I was so close to death is scary, but I try not to think about that.
I’m taking each day as it comes.