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Maycee Barber gives health update after 9-day hospital stay ‘feeling like I was gonna die’

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UFC flyweight Maycee Barber is recovering after a nine-day stay in the hospital, and she is thankful to be alive.

“The things that we put our bodies through, it’s no joke, all this stuff on the backside [of a fight],” said Barber, who was hospitalized days after beating Katlyn Cerminara at UFC 299. “I would have never thought that I would be in a hospital for nine days feeling like I was gonna die.”

Doctors still don’t know what made Barber so sick. They suspect she may have contracted Streptococcus pyogenes, a serious form of strep throat, and a staph infection. She also contracted pneumonia and her blood pressure dropped to dangerous levels.

“I ended up … being on oxygen, having the blood pressure monitored, and everything being monitored at all times, and being stuck with like a bunch of different needles,” she said. “But we don’t have a definitive answer on what it was. From the moment I went into the hospital, they started giving me antibiotics, and giving me stuff to try to bring it down or figure it out.

“As they were doing that, they were also testing, they’re like, ‘We’re giving her this to help with it, but we’re also trying to figure out what it is.’ So they never really got a true answer as to what it was. But the antibiotics that I’m on now are slowly starting to clear it up. So I’m hopeful that it just stays gone and stays away, because for a minute there, I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it.”

The ordeal started just three days after UFC 299. Barber saw a red spot on her leg “like someone took a baseball bat to my shin” and began to swell rapidly. She suffered severe pain in the limb and contacted staff the UFC Performance Institute, who advised her to go to urgent care.

“It progressed so fast, and I end up going to the ER, and they ran tests, and tried to figure it out, and couldn’t figure it out, and then they were going to send me home that night,” she said. “I still had a pretty high fever. [My temperature] was like, like 102, 103 [degrees]. I went home, went to bed, woke up the next day, and I was like, 105, 106.

“They brought me back into the ER and started running more tests, and then that progressed into a nine-day course of, ‘We think it’s sepsis. We think it’s staph, we think it’s MRSA, we think it’s a blood clot.’ All these different things. They thought it was Strep A – is another form of strep – and then they were like, ‘We’re not sure.’”

By day four of her hospital stay, Barber’s condition had gotten so bad, she thought it might be fatal.

“I was in the bed, and my mom was staying the night with me, and for whatever reason, there was something that they had given me, it was like a painkiller, but it was also a narcotic that brought my blood pressure down too low after it was already extremely low,” she said. “I think that that like it was a mixture of that, mixed with pneumonia and not being able to breathe – I legit could not breathe at all. So when they had me on the oxygen, and the blood pressure was dropping, I just started crying. I looked over at my mom, and I just started crying.

“I didn’t want to tell her that, but I was like, ‘I don’t think I’m going to make it. I genuinely was scared, and I was like, ‘Damn, all the people that I’m seeing in the hospital right now might be the last people that I talked to.’ I called my friends, and I was like, ‘I don’t know…’ . It was tough, it was a scary experience, and I hope that I never have to go through that. But also I feel like it’s a testament to a lot of fighters that have had to go through something similar.”

Staph infections and MRSA are rampant in MMA gyms where fighters grapple and sweat on the mats. Several fighters have had close calls that required hospitalization; tiny cuts have led to gruesome injuries that required intravenous antibiotics.

In Barber’s case, there was no such injury that led to the infection. That only added to the mystery of her body’s response.

“The antibiotic that I was on is for severe skin treatments,” she said. “One of the things that I feel like was should have happened way sooner was, the doctors that they had working on me, they didn’t have answers. So then they had to bring in an infectious disease doctor from another hospital. That’s the guy that started to really have the answers for us.”

Barber’s energy is slowly returning; she played basketball on Tuesday after taking brief walks to test her strength. At the peak of her illness, she couldn’t walk upstairs without losing her breath.

She isn’t sure whether her illness was present for her fight with Cerminara, but she suspects it may have sapped her of her aggressiveness in the cage.

“The whole camp was a little bit tough, but I felt off in the sense of, I should have finished Katlyn,” she said. “I know in my heart that I could have finished her. I just didn’t have that little extra bit.”



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