A quadruple amputee mother-of-two has revealed how she has fulfilled her lifelong dreams despite being ravaged by meningitis and sepsis.
Erica Tambrini, 34, from Indiana, had both of her legs below the knee and both arms below the elbow amputated after contracting the two deadly illnesses.
The occupational therapist feared she may never find love or become a mother after her appearance dramatically changed.
But now the proud mother has opened up about life with her loving husband Luke, 35, and their two children, Lily, five and Michael, three.
34-year-old Erica Tambrini (pictured with husband Luke), from Indiana, had both legs below the knee and both arms below the elbow amputated after contracting meningitis and sepsis
Erica with husband Luke, 35, daughter Lily, now five, and their dog. She revealed how her ‘biggest accomplishment was and still is becoming a mother’
Erica was diagnosed with meningitis in 2005 and said ‘at first they amputated my right leg below the knee and my left foot partially’
Erica said: ‘Before I met Luke, I feared I may never find love because I was extremely self-conscious and had low self esteem.
‘We met the year after the amputation and he wasn’t fazed.
She added: ‘It was hard for me to adjust to my new appearance and I was always trying to cover my prosthetics, but now I have totally embraced them and if I want to wear shorts, I will.’
Erica revealed how her ‘biggest accomplishment’ to date is becoming and mother despite previous fears of being able to carry a child.
She said: ‘My biggest accomplishment was and still is becoming a mother – at first I was afraid and didn’t know if I could physically carry them after my battle with meningitis.
‘It took a lot of learning and problem solving when Lily was a newborn and I have got to give Luke credit as he changed every nappy for the first month of Lily’s life while I mastered how to get her dressed, in the car and everything else as quickly as possible.
Erica with her two children called Lily, five and Michael, three (left). Erica said: ‘It took a lot of learning and problem solving when Lily was a newborn’
Erica explained how her ‘main focus’ was independence after she was ‘desperate to get out of the hospital bed’
Erica playing with her daughter Lily (left). The couple with their first-born Lily (right)
‘But once I conquered my fears, I wasn’t worried about the second pregnancy.
‘I am also proud that I can still work and my job is so incredible – I get to meet lots of different people and help them.’
Erica was diagnosed with meningitis in 2005 while she was studying to become a math teacher at university.
After taking a year out to recover, she switched and found a course which was a ‘perfect fit’ leading her to have a ‘happy’ career as an occupational therapist.
She said: ‘I remember the day I fell ill like it was just yesterday, I woke up on a Tuesday morning – I didn’t feel right and progressively got worse.
‘I was taken into the ER and they confirmed meningitis. At the time, I didn’t know what it was but I knew it was bad.
‘I was put into a medically induced coma for seven weeks.
Erica explained how she didn’t want her family to suffer anymore so began fighting to get back on her feet
The mother-of-two with daughter Lily, now five, husband Luke. Erica said: ‘It is hard knowing I will never be able to run around the park with my children’
‘When I woke up my hands and feet were all wrapped up but they were black as I had sepsis.
Speaking about her amputations, Erica said: ‘I wasn’t in denial so I knew I’d need multiple amputations – at first they amputated my right leg below the knee and my left foot partially.
‘I had another operation to remove both arms and then another operation to amputate my left side, because the doctor said it will not heal properly after nine months of a wound vac which was excruciating.
‘The pain was so bad I agreed to have it amputated, but I am grateful they are both below the knee, which is useful so I can function.’
Erica explained how her ‘main focus’ was independence after she was ‘desperate to get out of the hospital bed’.
‘I didn’t want my family to suffer anymore, so I began fighting to get back on my feet,’ she said.
‘It was hard to come to terms with everything, but I have accepted who I am and I won’t let it get me down.
Erica she revealed how her disability has allowed her to meet many ‘incredible’ people who she would have never met prior to meningitis
Erica pictured with her loving husband Luke (left). Speaking about her amputations, Erica said: ‘I wasn’t in denial so I knew I’d need multiple amputations’ (right)
Erica said: ‘I want other people to know, as times goes on things get much easier’. The mother-of-two has continued to lead a normal life and many people have called her an ‘inspiration’
‘It is hard knowing I will never be able to run around the park, with my children or braid my daughters hair, but at least I am here and being the best mother possible.’
Erica added: ‘I also work in mental health, so I am able to take my own advice when going through challenging times.
‘One perk of prosthetics is I am able to ride my bike for miles without having any leg pain or muscle cramps.’
The mother-of-two has continued to lead a normal life and many people have called her an ‘inspiration’.
And she revealed how her disability has allowed her to meet many ‘incredible’ people who she would have never met prior to meningitis.
She said: ‘The world of adaptive sports and athletes is unreal – something I may not have ever seen prior to becoming disabled.
‘I have met so many incredible people and heard many inspirational stories.
‘I want other people to know, as times goes on things get much easier.’