An Australian woman was devastated after an indulgent Thai holiday fish spa turned into a living nightmare which led to all five toes on her right foot being amputated.
While on holiday in Thailand in 2010, Victoria Curthoys, 29, from Perth, used one of the ever-popular fish spas whereby small freshwater fish feed off and remove the foot’s dead skin.
The treatment gave Victoria an infection to the bone of her big toe with a water-born bug only found in Thailand.
Four years earlier, the property manager had received an unwanted infection in her big toe after treading on glass, and after the fish spa, the new infection seeped through her prior surgery wounds.
Upon returning to Perth, Victoria was forced to see doctors as she came down with fevers and sickness.
Despite her declining state of health, it took doctors over a year to diagnose the disease as Schwelmenella, an infection which eats away at the bone, eventually forcing doctors to amputate the entire big toe in December 2012.
After the initial infection was removed through amputation, the pressure of walking on her smaller toes left Victoria with rough calluses and further infections, eventually leading to Victoria’s other four toes being removed over the course of the next five years.
Despite it all, Victoria is glad her ordeal is over.
‘I can honestly say that my foot has never been as healthy as it is now. Now I can put pressure on my foot,’ she says..
‘Now and again I tend to trip because of the lack of feeling and having to get used to not having any toes, but I’ve been very lucky to be able to just get back up and walk.
‘My parents are proud of me and my friends think I’m awesome because I’ve been through a lot, but at the end of the day I’ve seen people with far worse injuries and life-altering illnesses, so I consider myself lucky.
‘I used to be a bit worried when I was at the beach or pools in case someone would see my foot and think ‘yuck I don’t want to swim whilst she’s in there’, but I don’t think people even notice.
‘One day I might lose my right leg entirely as the pressure could build up again and affect the sole of my foot, but I check my foot every day to make sure there’s no new pressure spots.
‘I also warn people about the dangers of fish spas by discouraging them from using one if I can because we have no idea who those fish have bitten previously.
‘By taking photos of my feet and posting them on Instagram I hope to build more confidence in myself and to have a positive impact on others who might not be happy with how their foot or leg looks after amputation.’
To find out more about Victoria’s amputation recovery, visit her Instagram page here