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.