When John Rushton began to experience the sniffles, he assumed he had a run-of-the-mill common cold.
But within days it had developed into pneumonia and while in hospital, the 42-year-old contracted septicaemia.
The life-threatening sepsis caused his limbs to rot away while they were still attached to him and earlier this year, doctors said they had to amputate his limbs to save his life.
Rushton has since had his entire right hand, the digits on his left hand and both legs below the knee amputated.
But despite this, the father-of-one said he would not be beaten.
Rushton, who is currently off sick from work but hopes to return to his role as a manager for Royal Mail, said: “I’d had the sniffles for a few days leading up to Christmas and didn’t think much of it but, by Boxing Day, I was so ill I had to be taken to hospital in an ambulance.
“My wife Janine was told I was dying. I didn’t think there was any way I’d be coming home.”
Rushton was placed in a medically induced coma for 10 days. While unconscious, his kidneys went into failure and sepsis set in.
“I’d lost the blood flow to my limbs, which meant my fingers, toes and feet turned black and died,” he said.
“I was told that I’d be having a quadruple amputation and, on top of this, because of the organ failure I may need dialysis for the rest of my life.
“At first, I just kept saying ‘no,’ but as time went on I begun to hate my limbs.
“They’d started decomposing whilst still attached and the smell of rotting meat was too much, so I know it sounds strange but by the time I had my operation, I was glad to lose them.”
Rushton underwent the string of operations in February, with a week to recover between each one.
Now he has returned home to Tilbury, Essex, with his 31-year-old wife and daughter Amy, 10.
With his kidneys functioning well, he no longer requires dialysis and is fully focused on his rehabilitation.
“I’ve been setting myself little targets to make the process seem less daunting – for example, the first time I was able to shower myself or the first solid food I ate after being nil by mouth for almost two months,” Rushton said.
Last week, he ticked off the last of his milestones – walking on prosthetics for the first time. He described the feeling as “amazing.”
Now, he is fundraising via a YouCaring page for artificial limbs of his own.
“Though the NHS has been amazing, the prosthetics they offer are quite basic,” he said.
“They get you from A to B but you can’t do much more than that. I want to be able to return to work, drive my car again and live as normal as life as possible and for that I’ll need to fund the limbs myself.”
The state-of-the-art prosthetics Rushworth wants cost £100,000 and will even enable him to feel hot and cold.
The money raised will also pay for adaptations to the family’s home.
Rushworth is currently unable to reach the bathroom as it is upstairs, and so must rely on a commode instead of a toilet and sponge baths by his wife instead of a shower.
He has praised his family for the strength they have shown throughout his ordeal.
“When we asked Amy how she felt about my amputation, she just said: ‘well I’ve still got my dad, haven’t I?’
“Janine has been incredible too. It’s been tough but we’ve had to adapt to survive.
“I’m going to be back up and walking, whatever it takes. There’s no way I am letting this beat me.”