Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Getting A Leg Up

"Walk tall and carry a big stick." -(Buford Pusser)

Well, I'm carrying a stick, but hardly walking tall. My stick: a cane.

Last Wednesday while on the job, I felt a twinge in the back of my right leg. I felt like I had possibly pulled a muscle. I walked it off but it remained a little sore the rest of the day.

The next day I awoke to a strange burning sensation in the same leg. On the inside of the leg just above the knee I felt a lump about the size of a quarter. It felt just like a "charlie horse," so I shrugged it off.

I went to work and by noon I was beginning to limp slightly favoring the "knot" in leg. By the time I arrived home I was limping noticeably and with a certain amount of discomfort. Being a typical male and having had numerous sports related injuries over the years, the macho-ego prevailed.

After getting up Friday and and feeling little or no pain, despite the fact that the knot seemed to be slightly larger, I set out for another day of work. Unlike the day before, I was limping in pain before noon. I decided to "tough" it out and finished my assigments for the day.

Friday evening at home, I discovered that there were a lines of painfully sensitive areas above and below the lump. The surface of the skin above the area had begun to turn reddish in color.

It was only then that I really began to get concerned. I have had a large abcess (also known as a boil or a carbuncle) on my hip, but it wasn't one of those! Again, the next morning I awoke relatively pain free although there seemed to a tightness to the area and surrounding skin. So again, stubborn as a mule, I perservered and ran some of my usual Saturday errands. Saturday here in New England was cold amid the hard wind-driven rain from the remnants of Noel.

Once I was home I decided it would be wise to spend the rest of the weekend off my feet as much as possible. In a word I lazed away the weekend and avoided anything requiring any physical exertion. I was relatively pain free and gained a false sense of comfort. I did discover that, however, that the spot had in fact grown in size. It and the surrounding areas were very sensitive to the touch and the skin was very warm.

It would seem obvious at that point, that I would get my ass (and the rest of me which happens to be attached to it) to the doctor's office - POST HASTE!

Ah, Monday! After all that weekend of wind and rain, what nice beautiful day Monday was! You guessed it, the stubborn macho-man idiot marched off to work! My leg ached and my feet ached, hell, my whole body ached by the time I fell into my Lazy Boy and struggled to lift my leg to remove my shoe. Funny, I thought as I went to remove my pants, but they seemed to be noticeably tighter on the leg in question.

My right leg was swollen so much it was half again larger than the left one. The swelling was evident from my upper thigh to and including my ankle!

It was then that I had an epiphany. Okay, okay. So it wasn't an exactly an epiphany - it was more like a "hammer-blow" of common sense smashing me on the noggin! The die was cast and my mind was made up - finally! I was not going to work on Tuesday. Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed or not, I was going to get my aforementioned ass in gear and to the doctor's office to seek treatment.

What is cellulitis?

Cellulitis is a common infection of the lower layers of skin (dermis) and the subcutaneous tissues (areas underneath the skin) caused by a bacterial infection. While cellulitis sometimes develops around wounds in the skin or surgical incisions, in other cases it arises without an obvious source for the bacterial infection. Staphylococci are the bacteria that most commonly cause cellulitis, followed by Streptococci. Less commonly, other types of bacteria may cause cellulitis.

What are the symptoms of cellulitis?

Cellulitis usually begins as a small area of pain and redness on the skin. This area spreads to surrounding tissues, resulting in the typical signs of inflammation – redness, swelling, warmth, and pain. A person with cellulitis can also develop fever and/or swollen lymph nodes in the area of the infection.

Who is at risk for cellulitis?

Anyone may develop cellulitis. Males and females and people of all races are equally likely to become infected. However, people whose immune systems are weakened for any reason (including from chemotherapy for cancer or other immune-suppressing drugs) and those with diabetes are at highest risk for developing cellulitis.
Cellulitis (sel-u-LI-tis) is a potentially serious bacterial infection of your skin. Cellulitis appears as a swollen, red area of skin that feels hot and tender, and it may spread rapidly.

Skin on the face or lower legs is most commonly affected by this infection, though cellulitis can occur on any part of your body. Cellulitis may be superficial — affecting only the surface of your skin — but cellulitis may also affect the tissues underlying your skin and can spread to your lymph nodes and bloodstream.

Left untreated, the spreading bacterial infection may rapidly turn into a life-threatening condition. That's why it's important to recognize the signs and symptoms of cellulitis and to seek immediate medical attention if they occur.
"...the spreading bacterial infection may rapidly turn into a life-threatening condition"... I want to tell you, THAT got my attention!

I spent nearly the whole day (10:30 am to 6:30 pm) at the hospital making acquaintances with many nurses, internists, doctors and specialists. Blood was drawn. I made a urinary donation. I was subjected to a sonogram. Lastly, I was given an intravenous dose of antibiotics.

As I was being given the paperwork for prescriptions of 14 days worth of an antibiotic and another for Vicodin (a pain-killer) I was instructed to stay home for the rest of the week. I have to stay off my feet as much as possible keeping them elevated and to use a cane any time I have to walk about. I do have to go back tomorrow morning to have my leg looked at to make sure it is responding to the antibiotics.

I hopefully learned a lesson and hopefully learned it well. I'm hardly in a position to give others advice, but from the voice of recent experience, when something isn't right about your health - get your ass to the doctor!

Well, there is another positive thing I can gain from the experience. I'm going to have a lot of time to catch up (Get a Leg Up) on reading all of your blogs from my blogroll, especially those of which I have fallen way behind!



lime said...

it only took me a little way into this to think to myself, 'he's got cellulitis!' my cousin spent weeks in the hospital and almost lost her leg to cellulitis. it is serious business not to be trifled with. glad you got to the doc in time. now do whatever he tells you while you recover. hope you are feeling better soon.

Jack K. said...

Glad to know that you are recuperating.

I hope a lesson you learned is to seek competent medical attention whenever you discover something amiss with you.

We would miss your postings.

In the Kansas City area there has been a serious outbreak of staph infections in the schools. Maybe outbreak is too strong a word, but it has been serious enough for schools to close for disinfecting.

Take care.

Rain said...

Ouch! I hope you feel better soon and take ALL of your antibotics until they are gone.

I agree with jack k. we would miss your posts.

Duke_of_Earle said...

Gee, Mike, at least it wasn't anything SERIOUS, right? I mean, it probably only results in death in a small percentage of cases, wouldn't you think?

A small suggestion? If there is a next time, GET YOUR ASS TO THE DOCTOR SOONER!

Thank you. I'd hate to lose the only author who has put me into a piece of major fiction!


Hale McKay said...

Lime - Thank you. I don't believe I ever heard of "cellulitis" before until this experience. But when I googled it, I found that it was similar to staff infections that sunk in for sure.

Hale McKay said...

Jack - There have been a lot of closings and concerns around here also, although I never made the connection until this happened to me.

I clean a lot peoples' homes and have been subjected to who knows what over the years.

Hale McKay said...

Rain - Thanks so much for the kind words.

Rest assured I WILL take all those antibiotics - faithfully!

Hale McKay said...

John - "Major fiction?" I assure you a little "life threatening" ailment isn't going to prevent the return of your namesake hero in a sequel.

As for getting my ass to the doctor - you can bet the house on that one!

Peter said...

A tough lesson to be learned there Mike, still it seems you have caught it in time, get well son.