I tripped over my dog jogging — now my face is falling off

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A freak accident left a Delaware woman with portions of her face “falling off” after taking a nasty spill while on a jog with her dog.

Shelley Puchalsky, 39, tripped over the Shih Tzu, Chloe, and plummeted face forward on a trail, suffering multiple major lacerations to her nose and forehead.

Although it happened in September 2019, complications from the hellish wound have been a living, recurring nightmare for Puchalsky, who now lives in St. Pete Beach, Florida, for insurance reasons.

“I had to get [40] stitches, and they became infected and wouldn’t heal. I went to a doctor who said he could help me, so he did a skin graft over my nose and restitched my forehead,” Puchalsky told Kennedy News and Media.

“It was a botched surgery. In hindsight, I don’t think they realized it was infected when they put the skin graft over it, and by the time I went back and let them know, I wasn’t taken seriously.”

Things only took a turn for the worse from there as the infection left the mom of two’s skin “just falling off the bone.”


Puchalsky wants to have another surgery leaving her like her former self before getting married this winter.
Shelley Puchalsky, who tripped over her dog while out jogging and landed on her nose, was left unable to leave the house for two years — after the wound became infected and half her face “fell off.”
Kennedy News and Media

A horrible surgery mishap left Shelley Puchalsky with unbearable wounds on her face.
A horrible surgery mishap left Puchalsky with unbearable wounds on her head.
Kennedy News and Media

‘I probably didn’t go out in public for two years, I still don’t go out much … I try to time it really early in the morning or late at night.’

Shelley Puchalsky, 39

“It was terrible,” she said. “It had eaten through my skin down to the bone. There was a huge mango-sized hole in my forehead that just kept getting bigger, and you could actually see down to the bone. “

Just more than a year later, Puchalsky was diagnosed with bone inflammation, called osteomyelitis, inside her skull. Subsequently, she found out she was battling sepsis at the time.

“There was a spot on my nose with no skin on it,” Puchalsky added. “The skin on my forehead was all the way gone, [then] it started going up into my scalp and moving [my] hair — just chunks of skin and hair.”

She opted for a major surgery in February 2021, in which she had to be cut from “ear to ear” to remove the infection and rework her skin grafts.


Puchalsky is seen after her 2021 surgery.
Puchalsky is seen after her 2021 surgery: “I don’t recognize myself when I look in the mirror. I don’t look in the mirror a lot, I feel like the person looking back isn’t me.”
Kennedy News and Media

Puchalsky said skin had been falling off her head from the infection.
Puchalsky said skin had been falling off her head from the infection. Still, “I feel lucky to be alive: I’ve seen other stories of people who’ve had sepsis who’ve had it much worse off than me with missing limbs, and I feel lucky to have walked away with what I have.”
Kennedy News and Media

Although the invasive surgery was successful overall, the procedure had complications and became reinfected.

Since moving to Florida in November 2022, Puchalsky, now pursuing a Ph.D. in education, has been under the care of a specialist as she continues fund-raising for a reconstructive procedure that would help mitigate the years of damage and deterioration.

“I probably didn’t go out in public for two years, I still don’t go out much, every now and then. I try to time it really early in the morning or late at night,” she said. “I don’t recognize myself when I look in the mirror. I don’t look in the mirror a lot, I feel like the person looking back isn’t me.”

The goal is for Puchalsky — who has only been seen by close friends — to have the operation fully completed before she weds her boyfriend, real estate developer David Miller, 59, in December.


PuchalskyPuchalsky wants to have another surgery leaving her like her former self before getting married this winter.
Puchalsky, pictured here with her fiancé David Miller, wants to have cosmetic surgery returning her to her former self before getting married this winter.
Kennedy News and Media

PIC FROM Kennedy News and Media (PICTURED: SHELLEY PUCHALSKY (39) FROM ST.PETE BEACH, FLORIDA, US, IN 2018 ON HOLIDAY IN THE BAHAMAS WITH HER SONS ROMAN PUCHALSKY (12) [LEFT] AND JACKSON PUCHALSKY (14) AND FIANCE DAVID MILLER (59)) A mum who tripped over her dog while out jogging and landed on her nose was left unable to leave the house for two years - after the cut became infected and half her face 'FELL OFF'. Shelley Puchalsky said she was out running with her dog Chloe back in September 2019 when she fell face forward onto the trail and suffered lacerations to her nose and forehead. The 39-year-old had her wounds stitched up but as they wouldn't heal, she visited a plastic surgeon six weeks later to have a skin graft on her nose and forehead stitched back together.DISCLAIMER: While Kennedy News and Media uses its best endeavours to establish the copyright and authenticity of all pictures supplied, it accepts no liability for any damage, loss or legal action caused by the use of images supplied and the publication of images is solely at your discretion. SEE KENNEDY NEWS COPY - 0161 697 4266
Puchalsky and fiancé Miller on vacation in the Bahamas with her sons Roman and Jackson Puchalsky.
Kennedy News and Media

Initially, two reality TV shows offered to fund the surgery, but ultimately “backed out,” according to her GoFundMe.

No matter what happens though, Puchalsky — who is in therapy — knows she has “a great support system” and that “the scars will heal over time.”

“I feel lucky to be alive: I’ve seen other stories of people who’ve had sepsis who’ve had it much worse off than me with missing limbs, and I feel lucky to have walked away with what I have.”

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