It is all of our worst nightmares. Waking up one day with some pain that we can't explain, and then watching it slowly turn into a medical emergency that shakes the fabric of our lives.
It's going from having an infection that you didn't realize was serious to being told by doctors that they have to amputate everything. All in one week.
This was the horror that faced William Lautzenheiser, who lost his arms at the elbows and both of his legs from the knees down. He was infected with an outbreak of group A strep infection, and before long was facing the dire consequences of the disease.
It spread to his organs and muscle tissue, breaking them down inside of his body until the skin began to rot and turn black.
"Absolutely dead," said Lautzenheiser. "There was no feeling. There was no sensation."
There was nothing that Lautzenheiser could do, except come to terms with his affliction and try to imagine his life as an amputee.
"It was a very challenging time," Lautzenheiser said. "I felt like I was a newborn trying to get used to a body that just was totally unfamiliar."
It was understandably difficult. How many of us can say that we could really be prepared to accept the loss of something so integral to how we picture ourselves? Our bodies are part of our person, and if we lose a part of that, we lose a part of what makes us "us."
But when it comes to life's hardships, all anyone can really do is learn to bear the weight of the consequences and solider on.
It took a lot for Lautzenheiser to reach that point, and it took much convincing until he let himself really begin to deal with it.
“I'm not going get my arms back. I'm not going get my legs back. This happened. I have to figure it out. And, really, the motto became, 'Figure it out,'” he said.
That's when he realized the absurdity of his whole situation, and was able to do the unimaginable, laugh about it.
Lautzenheiser said he managed to take stock of his life and found the ability to heal through humor.
From that point on, his life had taken a dramatic turn for the better!