Gail Garrad was given a tough lesson when she lost her leg to infection during the summer floods and wants others to learn from her misfortune.
Gail Garrad was given a tough lesson when she lost her leg to infection during the summer floods and wants others to learn from her misfortune. Max Fleet

Woman loses leg after floods

ALL it took to alter the course of Gail Garrad's life was one tiny thumbtack and a very big flood.

Mrs Garrad was forced to have her right leg amputated after standing on a tack which caused her foot to become infected by bacteria from the Christmas floods.

With flooding again predicted for the region this year, the Electra mother is pleading with residents to stay away from floodwater to make sure they don't suffer the same fate.

"Three days after standing on it, my foot was three times the size," she said.

"The river had just gone down enough that we got across the bridge and went to the doctors and they got me straight to the hospital."

After spending 18 days in the Bundaberg Hospital, Mrs Garrad was taken to Brisbane where doctors were forced to amputate her big toe, followed by two more toes, then the remaining toes, half her foot and finally her right leg below the knee.

"The infection I had goes straight to your bones and eats them away," she said.

"It's a virtual death sentence.

"It gets in your blood system and poisons you to death."

Unlike many, Mrs Garrad was nowhere near the floodwater.

The infection came from mud which was tramped into her house by someone who had been near the water.

While Mrs Garrad was lucky to survive, she said adapting to life without her leg had been very hard, especially since she lives on a cane farm with her husband Trevor and their son Joshua.

"I'm trying to cope with having my independence taken away," she said.

While before the incident Mrs Garrad would work on the farm with her husband, the farthest she can now venture is onto the patio attached to her home.

Finances are also tight as Mrs Garrad now needs driving lessons that cost $500 each, a four-wheel drive wheelchair, an automatic car and a prosthetic leg which will cost a minimum of $4000.

"I've been trying to see what assistance is available, but we've really just been left to fend for ourselves," she said.

"Nobody will help because I'm not on a pension.

"I just keep getting doors shut in my face."

And as reports surface that more flooding is on the way, Mrs Garrad has one message for anyone thinking of going near the floodwater this season.

"I just want people to realise how dangerous it is," she said.

"Like those parents that let their kids swim in a flooded river with a dead cow stuck under the water nearby - they need to know that it is deadly."



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