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.
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.