A WOMAN thought she would die when her new Little Mermaid tattoo erupted in infection.
Heather Godfrey, 25, was hospitalised and endured two weeks of agony after getting inked for 250.
The tattoo addict, who has had between 35 and 40 tattoos, was horrified as an infection burst through her Disney art, turning into a scab covered mess.
But it was when docs said she could have sepsis that Heather became fearful her life was at risk.
Heather, a charity worker, said: "It was really scary because at one point, sepsis was mentioned, and they were talking about putting me on an IV.
"Once they mentioned sepsis, I knew how serious the situation was. It really hit home. I was fearing for my life.
"You hear about these things, but you never think it's going to happen to you.
Heather said she began to feel unwell just 24 hours after getting her tattoo in April, which was a tribute to her late grandfather, who she had frequently watched the movie with as a child.
I started to have quite a high temperature, and just generally felt really unwell, she said.
"The morning after that, I looked at the tattoo and it had become very red and tender, hot and swollen. It quite dramatically went bad.
"Then as the days went by, the tattoo broke out in hives that were bursting open.
"It was really painful, I couldn't walk on that leg. I went to the hospital on the third day, where I got my first round of antibiotics. But they just didn't work - my infection got worse and worse.
"I went back four more times over the next two weeks. I ended up having to take time off work, as I could barely do anything due to the pain.
"My leg ballooned in size and there was concern I may have a blood clot. I was really down because I was in so much pain and it wasn't improving.
"They said it was like the infection was bursting out of my skin. They put antiseptic bandages and dressings on it and gave me antibiotics.
Heather, from Ashford, Kent, says the doctors were just as baffled as she was.
She said: "At one point, I had about four health professionals all looking at my leg. They hadn't seen anything like that, so it was a bit of a learning curve for everyone.
"Nobody knew what to do. I felt so helpless.
"My fiance, Grant, was really concerned. He was the one caring for me and I know he was really worried about whether I would recover. It was really daunting.
"At the time I wasn't quite sure what had caused the reaction. I've had tattoos before and never experienced anything like this.
"I knew it was never down to the artist, or anything she'd done wrong. She's a really reputable artist, everything was hygienic and how it should be."
Heather ended up visiting the hospital five times over a two-week period.
She said: "The turning point for me came when I saw an out-of-hours GP, and she seemed to know what to do. She gave me these really strong antibiotics and within a couple of days, I was seeing improvement."
It took weeks for Heathers reaction to recover, and she still remains unsure what exactly caused the infection in the first place.
But she has a suspicion it was a numbing cream used.
Heather said: "Initially, I'd thought the blue ink on the tattoo was the cause of the reaction. That's because the worst bits of the reaction came from the parts where the blue bubbles were. It seemed to originate from there.
"But we came to the conclusion that the allergic reaction was likely due to a numbing spray that had been used.
I'd never had them on my tattoos before.
"This particular spray had obviously caused a reaction in me. It was just awful.
"I'm not sure what it was in the spray that caused the reaction, but in the future, I'm going to avoid numbing sprays and numbing creams.
"I still don't know what exactly it was, as it's quite hard to pinpoint. Even health professionals aren't entirely sure.
Heather shared her ordeal on TikTok to show the grisly effects of the infection in a bid to raise awareness about the risks of getting tattoos.
Now that her new tattoo is left damaged by the infection, she is going back to her tattoo artist to get it topped up.
Heather said: "I was in touch with the tattoo artist all the way through. She was really supportive, and she was upset about what had happened.
"She was always asking for updates and giving me advice. She has offered to touch up the tattoo with no cost, which I'm going to be having done in September.
"The tattoo has come out a lot better than I thought it would, but it's very patchy. It has left scarring on my leg around the tattoo.
"It's not sore anymore, but the skin around the tattoo is still a bit red. It doesn't look great if I'm honest, the tattoo looks very old.
Sadly the ordeal has ruined the sentimental value of the tattoo for Heather.
She said: "The Little Mermaid is something I watched growing up with my grandfather. He passed away from cancer when I was 11, so it's a special memory I have of the film.
"When I look at the tattoo now, it's just a reminder of how much pain I was in."
But the painful experience has not put off Heather, who is a self-admitted tattoo enthusiast and addict.
She said: "I love the art of tattoos and how they help you express yourself. It's almost like collecting physical art. Some people go out and buy paintings, I put them on my body.
"I'm quite an impulsive person, so once I see a design, I just go for it.
"I shared this video online as a way to raise awareness of what can happen. I'm a massive tattoo advocate, but people should be aware of the risks."
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