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Simple medical appointment, complex reaction

I have diabetic issues, which is a fancy way of saying that my bloodwork bounces around between not-diabetic, pre-diabetic, and diabetic. I have trouble saying I’m diabetic at times because I feel like a bit of an imposter saying it. Like I’m over-claiming my issues. But what it means is that I should be doing regular bloodwork to check my A1C numbers.

When COVID hit, I was a bit behind on my bloodwork and was due for a new “update”, partly as the resident doctor I was normally dealing with at the family centre was no longer available, and I’d be getting someone new. We postponed until her arrival, but by the time I was set to do an appointment, COVID had hit, and my bloodwork got pushed. I did basic stuff over the calendar year, but nothing for my bloodwork. TBH, I didn’t really want to … the idea of going to a lab when I didn’t “have” to seemed almost scary risky.

Then I had all my leg issues in January, we agreed we should do some new labwork, but they wanted me to be off all my antibiotics and other related stuff so it would be clean, and my mental load was already high enough at the time. So I was going to go in March, just in time to have complications with my leg wound and another round of antibiotics. Fast-forward to April, and the doctor wanted me to do a totally different set of labs anyway, as she wanted to screen for mental health stuff too.

Enter the scheduling problem

I went online to book an appointment at a lab near me, and the first available date was almost 4w away. This was just after the most recent lockdown happened. I searched around, found another lab in the same group which has really good online results that I like, and I booked for about 2w later. All good. Way over in Gloucester somewhere, but whatever, it was the earliest available anywhere in the group of labs.

Fast-forward again to the day of the labwork and I woke up feeling a bit off, almost feverish. It didn’t seem like a great risk, and I was still having a bit of anxiety about going. Sure, I don’t like bloodwork normally, but this was more just about going for a health appointment to a general lab. I assumed, 14m into the pandemic and everything being appointment booking, that it would be relatively painless to go, but still.

I cancelled and rebooked, and my new appointment was this past week on Thursday. I prefer to do these types of appointment first thing in the morning if I can, but the available times were at 1:00 p.m. so would go over lunch. Great.

The appointment

I needed to head out about 12:30, and about 12:15, I grabbed the requisition that I had printed weeks ago, and my phone which had the address. I had never been to the lab before, so I wanted to look it up on my phone app to see the best route. Checked the address. Huh.

I mentioned above that the lab was in Gloucester, which is about 20m away. Well, the FIRST lab was there. Apparently when I rebooked, I had decided that going all the way to Gloucester was overkill, and I would have to wait longer in the booking system but I rebooked in my neighbourhood. I had absolutely no memory that I had done that.

Don’t get me wrong, once I saw where it was, I remembered thinking that I might as well go to the one close to me, but if you had asked me that morning on pain of death, I would have said I was booked in Gloucester. No doubt in my mind AT ALL. In fact, if I had known already where the lab was, I would have hopped in the car and driven straight there without checking anything. It was just that it was my first time going to that location, so I had to look at my phone to see what address I had saved in my calendar. If I had printed out the instructions the first time, I would have just grabbed them and drove. All that way for nothing. Huh.

Okay, moving on, I had a bit more time to kill, went over and entered the building. I was expecting some sort of “new procedure” to get registered but I wasn’t expecting chaos. There was a woman standing in the doorway, with her back foot kind of holding the door open while she took people’s forms and health cards. There was a pseudo line up of about 5 people waiting to hand her stuff, and another 10 people or so around the large hallway just hanging out, obviously waiting. I had thought, and I even thought I had read this on their site, that they weren’t doing “walk-ins”, only appointments. Nope, they were fully open for business. The only real difference from before to now was that they weren’t letting people wait in the same waiting room inside. They had to be “outside” the lab. Umm, okay.

I wasn’t really thrilled, I had expected extremely limited contact with people, and here was a 15-person queue with no indication where to sit/stand/wait, etc. Some were standing too close for my comfort, and I moved farther away. But that’s a lot of people hanging out in a hallway for extended periods of time.

Now, yes, I had an appointment, and after the woman went back in to register all these people and hand over the forms and health cards, I was the first person she called when she came back out. My appointment was at 1:10, I got there about 1:05, through the line about 1:11, and they called me into the waiting room (where about 3 other people were, all the other chairs removed) around 1:18, and then called me back to the cubicle about 1:25 or so.

One of the tests the doctor asked for is not covered by OHIP apparently, so I had to pay $13.00 for something, which is a bit unusual I guess, but whatever. When I got to the cubicle, there was nobody there, just me, and one person basically doing all the blood work. She was going from cubicle 1 to 2, 2 to 3, 3 to 4, 4 back to 1. When I got there, she was doing blood with someone in cubicle 3, so I had to wait for her to do 4, 1 and 2 before she got to me. Not long, maybe another 15m or so, but the whole time I was thinking, “What the heck am I doing in a small enclosed space for 15 extra minutes when I don’t need to be here?”.

My anxiety level went up the whole time I was waiting. The initial COVID screening amounted to the equivalent of “Do you feel sick or have you travelled?” and that was about it, so it’s not like I was feeling “safe” or that someone else might not have been sick and in the same airspace before me.

Literally, my skin was crawling. I wanted to just leave. I need the bloodwork, and my brain was likely over-reacting, but I kept thinking, “And this is what it is like when I made an APPOINTMENT?”. I noted when I was leaving that the waiting list (a digital one nobody in the queue can see because it’s in the old waiting room, not the hall) showed intake waiting period of 72 minutes, which was definitely NOT shared with anyone registering anew. If I had waited 72 minutes + another 20-25 to get through the bloodwork, I would have been unhinged.

Plus, there was something odd with my regular bloodletting. Because of my size and fatty arms, they can’t do blood in the crook of my arm, it’s just easier to do it on the back of my hand. Lots of people can’t do that, it hurts, but it’s minor compared to multiple stabbings in the arm. So we do the right hand, she needs 5 vials, and normally after the initial needle is inserted, it doesn’t hurt. This time, it hurt the entire time the needle was in. At the end of vial 3, my vein said “Okay, I’m done”, and closed up. It clotted fast. It’s never done that before.

She switched to my left hand, started in, got another vial, and that vein closed up too. She was puzzled, I could tell.

And it makes me wonder if it could somehow be related to the AZ vaccine…there are risks of people having blood clotting problems. Is it possible that even without bigger issues it causes faster clotting generally? I have felt more sluggish since I got the vaccine too, 3w ago. Who knows? I’ll mention it to the doctor when we review my bloodwork results. I have my results, my A1C is a bit higher than I would like, back a little in the actual diabetes range, but still lower than my highest and I’m surprised considering my eating and exercise habits of the last year.

When I was leaving, I thought about taking a picture of the waiting list and then letting people outside in the hall know their status, a “nice” shared group experience and instead I just bolted. I just wanted to go. We had all bonded briefly in the hallway when new people showed up and wondered “what do I do? where do I stand?” when the greeter wasn’t actually there. But nobody was looking to make friends, we were just helping out because there was no signage and nobody wanted others being stressed as we compensated for the poor setup.

Understanding my reaction

I’ve been thinking about my reaction since I left. I was in such a rush getting out, I paid for my parking and then tried to throw the stub to get out of the lot into the garbage can and just take the receipt. I wasn’t in a fog so much as I just felt “icky”. Like I needed to go home and take a shower.

But as I reviewed the experience, it wasn’t simply the chaos. Or the waiting. Or the blood-letting. Or the time.

I think what bothered me most was that after 14m of a pandemic, THIS is what they have in place? Really?

I was expecting streamlined, organized, something resembling intelligent delivery design.

Instead, I had a greeter holding the door open with her foot while she took forms from whoever happened to step up next. Every other medical thing I have done in the last 14m was handled better for COVID. This was a shit-show.




Posting when you don’t feel like posting

My blog is often my creative outlet, a way of making sense of the world. Taking an issue, wrestling with the details, framing it a certain way, putting a personal stamp on it. It is also stress relief. I talk through some of the things that are bothering me, a monologue with myself that I share publicly. Sometimes they provoke reactions, likes on FB or a comment or two. Many times they don’t. While I would love to have thousands of people hanging on my every written word, I write most of the time for me. A diary of sorts. Maybe a legacy that my son will some day read, wondering, “What did Dad think about that?”.

Yet because I write for me, sometimes as potentially the only one who will read the post, I also cannot hide in sophistry or metaphor. I believe strongly in as much transparency in relationships as they can handle, sometimes more than is comfortable, and that transparency has to apply to my relationship with myself. But even though it is sometimes hard, I know that my writing is good for me. An outlet of release.

Which is why I am posting something when I really don’t feel like posting or doing anything. I want to curl up in a ball and shut out the world. If it wasn’t for COVID, I’d probably want to go somewhere for a week, turn off my phone, and just shut down. To simply “be”, find my centre, and let my body and mind recharge. A form of CTRL-ALT-DELETE for my internal software and external hardware.

Except life doesn’t work like that, of course. You can’t run away from problems, and if they’re mental noise, they end up going anywhere you go too. I’ve often wondered if I’d be better off having an interest in alcohol occasionally. Something to just overwhelm the brain and shut it off for awhile. I tend to mute it through distraction instead, binge-watching something or a project. But I’m having trouble filtering the noise right now.

A good portion of it is COVID, of course. I feel like I want to go to a mall and just walk around. No shopping, no interactions with anyone, just go and walk around. Do something somewhat normal. I won’t, we are still a high-risk household, after all.

Some of it is the winter. I do tend to get squirrelly in February, although I’m barely noticing other than having to clear snow off the car. I barely even know it is winter or anything outside of the pod.

But my issues with my leg are getting to me. I can wrap my head around the compression socks, maybe not well, maybe not right away, but it’s noise. I did my fitting today for some custom socks, yay, and it’s not a big deal in the long run. Same shit, different day. Whatever.

I was able to wrap my head around the trips to wound care, constant wrapping, the extra hassles with showering, etc. Mostly because I could see a light at the end of the tunnel. My leg was improving, the wound was healing, the compression was helping.

And then last week blew that to hell in a handbasket.

My wound started to get angry and red again, I had multiple appointments by phone with my doctor to go back on the antibiotic horse pills for another 14d. I also had multiple “rush” appointments with the wound care people after I had to rip the compression off on Saturday and again today because the wound was starting to hurt like the Dickens. I think the bandage is somehow slipping under the compression over time, and it is “pulling” at the wound. My nurse thinks it is because I’m not keeping my legs elevated during the day, which while working at a desk for 8h isn’t a great combo.

So where does that leave me? Basically with a wound that is almost back to square one and the likelihood that my next stop is going to be an ER sometime. Who the f*** knows what they’ll actually do for me if I go, since I’m already receiving wound care and antibiotics. I suppose IV antibiotics is a possibility.

Yet when I look at that list, you know what I see?

Whining.

It’s not that serious in the end. There are people out there with real serious health problems and I’m not talking about simply COVID. I’m talking about chronic pain conditions. Things they deal with and live with, and I can’t help but wonder.

If I’m this much of a basket case with a simple leg wound, what will I be like when I get to a point with REAL problems to live with?

That is what is frying my mental bacon. The weakness, the face of the future, my comfort and ability to handle mental stress and emotional turmoil but which seems to fail me completely when dealing with physical discomfort.

With a slightly serious segue, it is made me think about the MAID legislation that is going through. Medical Assistance In Dying. And it makes me wonder. Is that me in the future? Am I going to be THAT guy? The one who is in some discomfort, isn’t dying anytime soon, is relatively mentally competent (or at least as I ever was) but simply cannot endure the day to day that is misery?

I already live in fear of mental decline. For someone who has always lived in his mind, has always used his mind to separate himself apart from others in school or work, who defines himself by his mind, the thought of that mind not being “there” to continue to define myself is relatively terrifying. If my fear of snakes was put in comparison with fear of dementia, snakes would be about a 2 compared to a 12 for dementia. Even while knowing that ironically, I won’t know if it does decline.

Anyway.

On the other hand, I’m not in distress, I’m not in crisis. It’s a setback, I’ll bounce back. I’ll write, I’ll do Lego, I’ll do some stuff on my website design. But first I’m going to take a mental health day on Wednesday, as I didn’t feel like I’d really accomplish anything at work anyway.

Oh, and I’ll take out the garbage and recycling. I’ve already cleared snow twice today (Tuesday) so I’m hoping I won’t need to do that on Wednesday too, if I can help it. More coming on Thursday. Yay.

At least I was outside for awhile, right?

In the meantime, I blog late at night, throwing my words out into the abyss. A week ago I reached 1500 posts, and I didn’t even notice. I probably need to celebrate that milestone somehow, just not sure what it is yet.




Two steps forward, one step back

I’ve posted already about trying to wrap my head around likely wearing compression socks for the rest of my life, etc., but quite frankly, I’m doing more “compartmentalization” of it than anything. I need to get through wound care first.

On the positive side, things seem to have “clarified” as to what was going on with the leg. As I mentioned previously, the area that is affected is an area with a bunch of scars from when I was a kid. Whenever I skinned my knee or scraped a shin, it was likely that leg. I lead with it, I protect the rest of my body with it, I fall more on that one than not. So it got dinged pretty well. One time dirtbiking, I smacked it pretty well with a foot peg on an ATV, and it was a giant black bruise for about a month. Probably should have had that looked at, but didn’t. Shake it off, just a flesh wound, right?

And now, as an adult, my streak continues. If I ding it, it is likely in the same spot. I hit it with the dishwasher door, my car door, or, a few months ago, the side of a laundry basket in the dark. No biggie, except, well, over the last few years with my weight and pre-diabetes stuff, I have swelling in my legs ergo more water, and that area has blistered. I thought it was just blistering on the scars, but now that things have healed mostly, you can see that it is around the scars, certainly, and in the area, most definitely, but in addition to the scars, I have simple blisters here and there. They fill with water, I catch them on something, they break, they leak, they dry out, they annoy me for a few weeks, they heal, the cycle starts again. Except this last time, I scraped a pretty big area and they didn’t heal very well. Partly the excess water, partly my age, partly that I’m not doing as regular a routine for early morning showering and scrubbing for personal hygiene as when I actually ever left the house. Not egregiously so, just not as regularly. Often because my sleep was screwed up, I was up late, I overslept, rushing to start work, no time some mornings for proper cleanse. Slam, bam, rinse you, ma’am? I dunno, there’s probably a rhyme there somewhere. Regardless, call it some form of leg ulcer, and move on.

And this time it got infected. Wound care and compression has helped heal it, and seeing the benefits of the wound care has shown me that this thing was NEVER going to heal on its own. Even without the infection, I’ve had proper care on it with compression for 3 weeks and there is still a small area that is “open”. But it’s working. One giant leap forward, right?

Plus, while I compartmentalized the future for compression socks, I finally got my doctor’s office to forward a prescription for custom-fit socks after two weeks of calling in order for me to now go on Tuesday to get them. Yay. Okay, not really “yay”, just “tick”, it’s moving forward. And I do have a tube compression on the left leg that is removable, which is nice to give me a break at night.

But if progress comes on one front, I normally see backsliding somewhere else. And in this case, it’s not that far away. I took antibiotics for 10d, seemed to fix me up, but this past week, my wound has been a bit sorer than normal. It’s covered, so I can’t monitor it daily, only every 3d, and on Monday they removed a bunch of dead skin around it, so not surprising that when they were done, it was quite red and annoyed. On Thursday, that redness seemed even more pronounced and a bit “wider”. The nurse marked the edges of it with a pen to see if it goes any further by Sunday (my next wound care treatment), but she felt it was a tad warmer than the rest of the area, so I took pics (as I do every visit), and forwarded a series of 6 photos to my family doctor. I then had a phone appointment this afternoon with a resident in the clinic and it was great. She agreed it was prudent to continue the antibiotics just in case, and although I’ve been on them before, it seems like a prudent risk. I don’t know that I would do the same ones again anytime soon, as I’m risking resistance, but once more into the fray. So I have antibiotics for another 14d. If I get flushed, nauseated, pain, shivers, etc. in the next 48h before the antibiotics take hold, I have to go to the ER. Fun times.

Two steps forward, one step back.

Which also means that I’m self-conscious now. Almost like memes about COVID. Wait, I have to watch for shivers? Well, I’m cold right now, what does that mean? Or my wound is giving me a sharp pain right now, what does that mean? Generally, it means I’m sitting in a cold basement AND I need to stretch my leg again that has been in the same position for an hour. Doofus. I’m supposed to stay vigilant, not paranoid.

On the other hand, Jacob and I binge-watched Captain American, Captain Marvel, and Iron Man 2 today, plus started a medium-sized Lego project, so it was a good day overall. Close two compartments, open another, onward!




The blah in blogging

Blogging is a strange world at times. Particularly for a personal site, where I try to embrace my inner muse and reveal what I’m thinking. Transparency is a regular mantra for me, with work, with personal relationships, with myself. And yet, when I’m feeling blah, I tend not to post about it because, well, I’m feeling blah about posting too.

This week I’m feeling a bit run down mentally, physically and emotionally. My leg has been giving me grief over the last few weeks, ever since it got infected. And while the infection seems to be gone, the resulting leg ulcer (if that’s the right term) remains. I am now officially part of “wound care”. But it’s not like I had surgery or was stabbed by a supervillain. I literally scraped my shin on a laundry basket and 4m later, the damn thing hasn’t healed properly.

Some of that is my weight, some is pre-diabetes (with the two obviously linked), and some is just the spot on my leg that I keep hitting it so it takes longer to heal as I age. Adding to the problem is that I have swelling in my legs. It seems to be venous, i.e, my veins are not doing an adequate job of pumping my blood back into my body. Weak calf muscles, I guess.

But the wound itself, and needing “wound care” is only a third of the problem. In and of itself, the need for wound care because it was gross and infected was basically that I didn’t take good enough care of the wound. I should have kept it covered better, washed and cleaned it better, put more anti-bacterial cream and stuff on it. And taken more care to avoid whacking it yet again. So that’s a small nudge to my self-esteem. I have no one to blame but myself and my own laziness. Stupid me, stupid leg, as I blogged previously.

However, on top of that, I had a problem last Friday. The previous three bandages I had on it were with a silver nitrate layer that helps sterilize the area and kill the infection. On Friday, they put on a new layer of stuff, and I didn’t really ask too many questions. I just thought it was a different layer of bandage. I was distracted by something else going on, but I’ll come to that in a minute. The short version is that the new bandage thing wasn’t likely to be a problem so I didn’t expect anything with it. However, as I posted on FB, it was an iodine layer designed to do the same as the silver layer had, except I tolerated the silver just fine. The iodine? Not so much.

It went on around 1:30 p.m., and by 6:00 p.m. I was going crazy. I took off a compression bandage that I thought was causing the problem and it lessened the issue for awhile. By 8:30, I was jumpy again. By 10:00 p.m., I would have considered amputation. That is not an exaggeration. I was considering a visit to the emergency room. What had started as a simple occasional twinge was up to 60 seconds of pain, 90 seconds of release and then another 60 seconds of pain again. Not like level 10 or anything, just a strong 6 or so. But it was constant and I couldn’t relieve it. I needed a solution, and I had no idea what the problem was. Finally I had to look at the wound, so I removed the bandage to find this brown “goop” that I no idea what it was (turns out it was the iodine patch). It didn’t look “normal” so I washed it off, took 2 advil and a sleep EZE pill, elevated the leg and tried to sleep. It was a bit more complicated than that, trying to wash it off while in a lot of pain and having NO idea what was going on with the wound, but we got it sorted out, and I slept. I kicked Andrea to the guest room because I thought the night would be hellish, but as it turned out, it wasn’t bad. I managed to sleep.

The next morning, I called the wound care clinic, and went in to see them after lunch. We decided it was the iodine patch as the pain went away afterwards, and so in hindsight, what I was feeling was essentially the equivalent of iodine being applied directly to the open wound every 60-90 seconds. It wound normally sting anyway, but after 8h of it, I couldn’t take anymore. If I was at a hospital, I would have been begging for a TENS unit (spelling? the thing they use instead of epidurals to disrupt the pain signals), some painkillers, or amputation. I had no idea what the cause was, I just needed it to stop.

Not my finest hour, dealing with the constant pain, and it’s left a residual taste in my mouth of self-disgust. Both in handling it as well as the original cause.

But what’s making me blah is that part of the challenge with the healing is that my lower legs are swollen. Weight, venous issues, pre-diabetes, take your pick, but I have excess fluid in my lower legs. There’s a simple solution of course, compression socks. I’ve used them before, it worked well, but it was never a huge problem and more out of inconvenience than anything, I stopped using them.

Well, now I basically need it again. And the part that is kicking my brain is that I will, in all likelihood, need them for life.

So if it gets warm in the summer, and I don’t wear them, my leg ulcer is likely to return as the leg swells. And I’ll end up back in wound care. Plus, if you don’t wear them for a while and your legs re-swell, the socks won’t easily fit and I’ll have to get separate wrapping to do it.

Maybe I’ll be able to lose some weight and I won’t need them; maybe I’ll be able to strengthen calf muscles. Maybe a genie will appear from a magic lamp and give me three wishes. Maybe things will improve, maybe they won’t. I can do a 1000 things to improve my life for other things, and it may make no difference for venous insufficiency, the current cause of my problem.

So.

Compression socks.

For life.

In the summer, when I’d like to wear shorts, etc. and not look or feel like an old man. I already have enough self-esteem issues that I feel uncomfortable wearing shorts lots of times, tend to prefer baggy sweat pants or regular pants, but comfort is also important, right? Apparently if I want to go swimming, I *can* take them off to do that, but afterwards, they should go on right away.

Or if I get careless for a few days, the legs will reswell and I’ll have to reset everything with separate wrapping to get the leg down to normal size so I can wear the custom socks.

Is it a big deal? Not really. Jacob deals with worse on a daily basis with his AFOs, and he has adjusted just fine. All I have to wear are simple socks, no major surgery required or anything, and yet it’s knocking my mental health back.

Some part of my reaction is simply mortality, one step closer to the great dirt nap. Some of it is simple ageing. Some of it is the embarrassment that I’ve declined to a point from which I can only partially recover. Some of it is February blah. Some of it is the pandemic isolation effect. Some of it is just me wallowing.

But much of it is just trying to wrap my head around the uncertainty of the future, what it will be like trying to go places where it will be warm and hot, where I’ll have to wear compression socks that I won’t be mature enough to want other people to know, and so I’ll likely have to wear pants instead of shorts. And, according to the nurse (who is admittedly a bit hard-core), likely for life.

Which is leaving me somewhat blah today.




Stupid leg, stupid me

For those who have read my blog before, you know that I’m relatively transparent about things in my life that are about me. I might hedge on stories that intersect with Andrea or Jacob, particularly where some things are not my story to tell, but on my side of life, I’m fairly open. I feel at times that it is part of my zeitgeist with respect to the blog. There’s no point having a blog of my experiences if I am sugar-coating part of it, or turning it into a “sunshine and rainbows”-type social media feed, where you only post photos and updates that reflect well on you.

So over the last couple of years, I’ve talked about my weight, some heart stuff, tests here and there, etc. But one thing I haven’t talked about, mostly as it wasn’t that significant, was a problem I have with my legs. Like many overweight and/or diabetic/pre-diabetic people, I can get swelling in my ankles and shins, extra pooling of water, and normally you can “dispel” the water by wearing compression socks. Exciting, sexy, squeeze the water out of your shins, stockings.

I have a couple of pair, and if/when things get bad with my legs, I can wear them for a few days or weeks, and things return to some semblance of normal. It’s not super comfortable, but it gets the job done.

But I also have a specific spot on my right shin that I bang regularly. I’ve banged it for years, all the way back to being a kid, and while lots of people have scars on their knees, I have a bunch where I scraped my shins. It’s a little bit gross, I admit, but when my legs swell, the scars tend to fill with a bit of water. Once in a while, I’ll break the tissue layer on something, the water will run out, it leaks for a day or two, it heals, it goes back to normal. Annoying, but not exactly serious.

Then about 3 months ago, I rapped my shin a good one. I seem to recall it being something simple like a laundry basket of clean clothes sitting near my bed. I walk from the bathroom to the bed in the dark, and if I forget that I put the basket there, I can easily catch the side of it on my shin as I pass by. I do, and I did, except this time? It took a very large chunk out of a big area, and it has taken a long time to heal. It bled initially, I didn’t even notice at the time other than it was stinging, and I ended up washing it all off in the morning. It leaked, no biggie. Except, as I said, it hasn’t healed.

Now, lots of older people in their 80s and 90s get these types of skin breaks that take time to heal, but young guys like me (as the nurse said earlier today hahaha) should heal faster. In the meantime, I was in a cycle of it being irritated, drying out, showering, getting irritated, drying out, etc. A few months ago, it was annoying me, and I put some anti-bacterial cream on it for a day or two with some bandages, kept it covered, seemed fine.

Until last weekend.

Last Saturday / Sunday, it started to get sore. And a few times this week it really suddenly “pinged”, like a sharp pain almost like someone stuck me with a pin. It was sore to the touch, started being redder, but then it would fade, all good for a bit. More worrisome, but not alarming. Until last night. What had been simply red and irritated suddenly looked all yellow, gooey, and gross, like it was infected. Plus it hurt like the Dickens (the devil, not the writer).

So I snapped a pic, asked Andrea to be equally grossed out and validate my concern that I was a gross, overweight slob who was probably now infected too, and reached out this morning to my normal doctor’s office to see if I could get an appointment.

Now, I need to step back a moment. My doctor is part of a larger “teaching clinic” so there is the supervising physician and several resident interns usually, and they are housed within a long-term care hospital, so the rules for visiting are a bit strict. I tried to have my eye looked at in the fall, when I had pink-eye which negates going pretty much anywhere, and didn’t get very far. I ended up just doing AppleTree who did tele-medicine for me. Honestly, most of the time it is easier to get into AppleTree after a couple of hours of waiting rather than my clinic’s several days to get in. One nice part for the main clinic was that it was close to work, so if I was going for a regular appointment, I could pop out and back during the day. Now? Not so convenient.

But the magic words are “I think it might be infected” and they managed after much juggling and texting between triage and the clinic to find me a spot this morning at 11:30. It was a crapfest of a day for my schedule at work, but 11:30 it was.

Off I go, they even had room in the parking lot for a change, pass through screening level 1 and then 2, and then arrive in the empty waiting room. As an aside, the screening person told me I could put a new mask (PPE-style) on over top of my existing mask, which seemed odd, but okay. Then as soon as I arrived in the clinic, one of the doctors immediately told me I had to take my regular mask off and just wear the PPE. Okay, I live to serve. Just tell me the correct rules, I’ll follow them! You’re the ones on the front line, I’ll do what you tell me.

Appointment was relatively fine. Sure, I know the horror stories out there. People whose infections don’t get under control, spread up the leg, cause lots of pain, huge risk of sepsis and even death, although far more likely to lose the leg than anything, if things go south. Or north as the case may be.

Anyway, mostly I was just pissed at myself. The reason I’m having this problem is that I haven’t taken advantage of the last 9m at home to really turn some health corners. I’ve held my ground, and made a bit of progress, but there are bigger gains on the horizon once I get there. This however is one of the types of complications that comes from NOT solving the problem earlier. 100% preventable. And if it expands, there’s only me to blame.

Fortunately, the infection hasn’t spread, it’s still local and not too extreme from the looks of it. Anti-biotics and some clean dressings should have me right as rain in a couple of weeks, hopefully. They are worried about the excess fluid in the legs, so I’ll have to revisit compression stockings, and they have custom ones that fit better apparently, which sounds oh, so wonderful.

I think the doctor thought I was over-reacting a bit until I showed him the photo from last night. He didn’t even think it was the same wound at first as I’ve cleaned it up and taken a shower this morning to clean it all out. I got high marks for wound care, at least.

I also took advantage of my visit to revisit my gaping hole in blood work to make sure my blood pressure and diabetes-related meds are working, and he was not as impressed that it has been so long since my last test. I was due last spring, just before the world collapsed, so he wants that done asap, and some other referrals related to the wound care (CCAC, etc.). A few things to put in place as soon as possible, and while not necessarily critically urgent, I’m trying to tick as many boxes as I can today. The day was already a crapshow anyway.

I won’t post actual photos of the leg, it’s pretty gross looking, and I’m having a bit of a self-esteem problem already today. Hopefully I can use that as a bit of a motivation for change, but I’ll settle for a short-term motivation to get the wound healed and try out some new compression socks.

Like I said in the title: stupid leg, stupid me. But at least it’s not irreversible and relatively easily treated to start. Fingers crossed.