"Sometimes it feels like you are swimming in the ocean with no land in sight, no escape."
That is how mother-of-two Jenna Allen describes a painful condition she has had to live with for the past seven years.
Her incredibly rare condition came about as the result of a single spider bite.
The bite and the ensuing degradation of the tissue around the initial wound has come to cast a shadow over the mother's day-to-day life, trapping her in an almost decade-long struggle to seek treatment.
One morning, Ms Allen, who was a CFA volunteer at the time, was putting on her boots to assist in sandbagging efforts when she was bitten by a redback spider.
"As I was getting my boots out of the shoebox I felt something climbing up my arm and I went to go brush whatever it was off," she said.
"I realised it was a spider and just as I got it off it bit me."
Ms Allen recalled a near-instant jolt of pain shoot through her forearm.
"Pretty quickly you are aware. You get the pain for a start. And then it is almost like it tracks down your vein. You get a read line that almost shows where your vein goes," she said.
"I got goosebumps just on that one arm, it was pretty weird. That was very strange."
Soon after the initial bite, Ms Allen started feeling the full range of symptoms; hot and cold sweats, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramps.
She was taken to the hospital in Donald, but had to be referred on to Horsham, in the state's Wimmera region, as they lacked the necessary anti-venom to treat her growing illness.
"It was an hour's drive to Horsham and I had started to rapidly decline by the time I got to Horsham, vomiting and all of that," she said.
I had an condition that was eating away at my own skin and tissue as well as the infection
"To be honest I don't remember much after that.
"I remember being told they were going to give me anti-venom and that I was going to be put in ICU.
"I remember waking up a couple of days later, I was having a lot of pain relief because it was necrotic.
"I had an condition that was eating away at my own skin and tissue as well as the infection."
In the months after the bite was inflicted, Mrs Allen's forearm began to flare up again.
Doctors in Bendigo removed the dead skin and tissue on Ms Allen's forearm, and a week after the successful debridement grafted skin from Ms Allen's thigh onto the wound.
The skin graft operation appeared to be successful, and Ms Allen said she had lived an almost normal life for a year following the procedure.
However, just as things were starting to stabilise, Ms Allen's forearm began to worsen, starting with small mosquito bite-like lesions appearing on the affected area.
"When it started to happen I didn't think much of it, to be honest. It was just like little mozzie bites that kept popping up on the graft itself," she said.
"I thought maybe it was a common thing that happens with skin grafts. It was really odd, just like a mozzie bite.
"I didn't think too much of it at the time. It is when it started to get a little green head on it and started to break down that I started to think it wasn't okay.
"I went to the doctor and it started to rapidly break down and within three days I had a full wound there."
When I had a shower we would try to run water down it to clean it. That, in turn, made me scream and faint, so I needed to have a nurse to shower as well
Ms Allen described this moment as a particularly difficult point in her life. She was living in Swan Hill at the time and grieving the loss of a partner who had taken his own life.
Further still, Ms Allen had difficulty getting doctors to listen to her calls for help, many not believing such a condition could come from simply a spider bite.
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She eventually found Dr Stuart Booth, of the Swan Hill Medical Group, who took on Ms Allen as a patient to treat her rare condition.
At the behest of Dr Booth, Ms Allen was taken to the Alfred Hospital's burns unit for a period of three months.
"I was constantly surrounded by people to prove that I wasn't doing it to myself. I needed help showering because I was on pretty powerful pain relief," she said.
Ms Allen was diagnosed with chronic ulceration and breakdown of the forearm, something seen very rarely in victims of redback and white-tailed spider bites.
It was suggested that the venom from the initial bite had triggered an immune response in her body which mistook her forearm skin for foreign tissue and rejected it.
After months spent at the Alfred, Ms Allen was finally released to go home.
Despite being unable to 'cure' Ms Allen of her condition, through pain relief and wound dressings she was able to look after herself with a small degree of autonomy.
In October, Ms Allen had a deep wound biopsy conducted on two points of the wound. The results showed granulation of the skin, chronic ulceration, and the presence of pre-cancerous cells.
Ms Allen's close friend Glenn Sarah has since made a GoFundMe page to cover some of the expenses involved with her condition.
The wound requires a complex dressing to safely seal, which has to be paid out of pocket by Ms Allen. Costs have also piled up as a result of needing to travel to Swan Hill to see her doctor.
Fellow mother Bryony Futerial attended the same playgroup as Ms Allen, and said she has witnessed first-hand how the condition of her arm affects day-to-day life and parenting.
"It takes a toll on everything. The children miss out because the mum is in pain," she said.
"Even going to the park is hard, because she has difficulties lifting the kids in and out of the pram."
Ms Futerial, along with other mothers from the same playgroup, have been looking to raise awareness of Ms Allen's condition.
She said the mothers have rallied, trying to get Ms Allen out of the house and socialising, despite the barriers to interactions placed on her.
"The kids play at playgroup together and she is new to Edenhope, so we are just trying to introduce her to a lot of different things that Edenhope has," she said.
"I am trying to help her get some awareness out there about it. Help her nip it in the bud. It has been going on for seven years and not getting any better.
"Getting it fixed sooner rather than later so that she can actually attend playgroups more often. They have moved to Edenhope to save money to actually pay for her treatment, and they are selling lounge suites and second cars to pay for it."
Ms Allen has since taken to selling old furniture online to cover some of the costs associated with treatment.
"This GoFundMe was set up. The cost of travel, pain relief. The dressings are so expensive, sometimes it varies from $500 to $700. And there are hidden costs too, you have fuels and sometimes motels," she said.
"I haven't been able to live a normal life for so many years. If this was fixed I wouldn't even know where to begin. It affects my family life so much as well.
"That is probably the hardest part for me.
"Sometimes my son comes and sits next to me on the couch and bumps me and it hurts. It is so hard. It is not fair on my partner, it is not fair on anyone."
Beyond the costs of travel and dressing the wound, Ms Allen has been looking to raise enough money to undergo surgery and remove the cancerous cells in her arm.
It takes a toll on everything. The children miss out because the mum is in pain.
Ongoing complications with the COVID-19 pandemic have placed Ms Allen on long waiting lists. She has decided to fund the surgery privately to speed up the process.
Ms Allen thanked everyone who had already donated to the GoFundMe, and who had supported her through her journey.
"I would like to thank family, friends, community members, medical staff and also strangers, who have helped me in any way, shape or form," she said.
"I truly appreciate it from the bottom of my heart."
She also hoped to raise awareness for people suffering under similar chronic conditions as hers.
"Even though I have this chronic wound, I understand there are others out there with chronic wounds and they also have to pay for it themselves," she said."
"Sometimes, it feels like you are swimming in the ocean and there is no land in site, no escape.
"But even though sometimes you feel like you are in an ocean and there is no land surrounding you, eventually you will get to land and there will be a party there waiting for you. I know I will get there one day.
"Just for a little while you have to struggle, but you have to lean on those around you and put your hand up for help when you need it."
To donate to Ms Allen's cause, visit https://au.gofundme.com/f/gx3232-25000.