Flesh-eating bacteria started with an ingrown hair

One of the first things you notice about Mark Nagel is his healthy sense of humor. It wasn't always this way, especially after the scare of a lifetime this past January.

It all started when he slipped on the ice while walking his dog, Dakota. What began as a pulled muscle developed into 27 pounds of fluid, initially diagnosed as Bursitis. Nagel and his family would soon get the bad news.

"'I've never seen anything like this,' that's what [the doctors] said," Tammy Nagel, Mark's wife, said. "It became an unknown."

Specialists soon honed in on the diagnosis, Necrotizing Fascitis -- flesh-eating bacteria. Doctors think it started with an ingrown hair on Mark's thigh, and fed on the blood flow to his pulled muscle in his leg. Separately, they said, an injury and an infection are relatively minor conditions. Together, they could have been deadly.

"I didn’t know what it was until I Googled it," Tammy said. "I shouldn’t have Googled it, honestly, because that scared me more than anything. 'Oh my God, he's going to die.' That's what it said on the internet."

A series of surgeries took Mark's leg--but left the rest of him intact. He praises Regions Hospital and the people who were there to support him through it all.

"It puts your life into perspective, you figure out what’s important and what’s not," he said. "Tammy’s always trying to help me with that."

In the meantime, Mark says he's opened up a ton of space in his shoe collection.