Today has not been a good day.
Two days, ago, this past Thursday, I was trying to coax Mr. Maylith into taking a little more care of the backyard. There are lots of little baby trees sprouting, and we were pulling them up. While I dislike doing that to a tree, having a densely overgrown forest in our rather small backyard is not a viable option.
The forest fought back. Or rather, something did. I was, silly me, wearing sandals, and as I took a step through last year's fallen leaves, I felt the most incredible CHOMP on the first toe of my left foot — the one next to the big toe. The pain was incredible, and I nearly fell down. I honestly expected to see exposed blood and bone when I first looked down at my foot, it hurt that badly.
Instead, there was a small dot inside a slightly whitened circle on the top of my toe. And oh, did it hurt. That pretty much ended our little jaunt into yard care for the day.
I sat down for a while, elevated my foot and put a cold pack on it. I figured it would smart for a while, then eventually dissipate.
By that night, my toe was red. It didn't just hurt; it burned.
Friday, it was worse, not better. The toe, plus the base of the adjacent second toe, was swollen and red. The redness had spread into the skin on the top side of my foot by a patch about the size of a thumbprint. And worse than hurting (which it did), it ITCHED. It also felt tight, as though the front part of my foot and toes had been crammed into a glove several sizes too small for them.
Though I was still trying to delude myself into thinking this would be the end of it, I did think to myself that this wasn't good. Before I went to bed, I took a pen and traced the furthermost outline of the redness on my skin. More cold packs that night did little to help me sleep, and I tossed and turned all night.
Today, Saturday, I was due to go back to work at noon. Pulling my shoe on that morning hurt. I had more of that sense of tightness, and walked with a limp. I thought of seeing my doctor, but his office isn't open on the weekend. I thought, well, play it by ear. I went through my "morning" routine, trying to ignore the steadily increasing pain. I figured (in the moments I had time to think about it) that the increase in pain was due to the fact that I was now sitting in a chair or on my feet; the previous two days I'd kept my foot well elevated as much as I could, as well as iced.
So the morning passed, otherwise uneventfully; I made a few minor sales. Around 3:30pm, I happened to encounter into my supervisor. I asked her, Do you happen to know anything about spider bites? She said something to the effect of, Actually, yes, I do. What's going on?
I explained the situation to her. It was important for business reasons as well as personal ones that I should do so, as I'm supposed to walk the floor when it's quiet and if I don't have anything else to do. So, I took off my shoe and sock, and we both had a look.
I hadn't looked closely that morning while dressing, as I'd been in a hurry. Right away, I noticed that the toe wasn't just red and swollen anymore. The skin was deep red, tightly stretched over heavily swollen flesh, and shiny in appearance. I could barely flex it the tiniest bit. And that line that I'd mentioned drawing the previous night? Well, the redness was well past that, nearly three inches (8 cm) from the bases of my toes, and spanning my foot from side to side. There was some redness on the underside of my foot, too, mostly just those two toes.
She told me to go to see a doctor, like, now. This is rather embarrassing, actually, but sometimes when it's you, it's harder to see something, or easier to deny it. Had it been anyone else but me, I would have said the same thing days before. Anyway, looking at it then, I instantly knew it was bad.
I was scheduled to go to lunch at 4 pm. I thought (ha! silly me) that maybe I could get this taken care of and, though I might get back a little late, I wouldn't lose too much time. My supervisor suggested the walk-in clinic not a quarter mile away which our company uses for work-related health problems. I was less than thrilled with this idea due to my previous experiences with that doctor, but I agreed anyway. I clocked out right at 4:00pm.
It didn't take me long to get over to the walk-in place. I hobbled out of my car (driving a manual transmission car with a bum foot sucks almost as much with a bum knee, by the way) and up to the door. Locked. I peered inside. There were a few people sitting in there, looking back at me. I rattled the door. No one came. I then looked at the sign on the door; they closed at 4pm. My watch read 4:04.
I suppose I might have rousted them out if I'd made a huge fuss, but knowing those people, I doubted it, and I didn't want to waste my time. I got back in the car and headed for the emergency room, several miles away. I made a quick stop at a 7-11 for a sandwich, thinking I wouldn't have much chance to eat later.
I got to the hospital a little after 4:30pm. Though the ER was crowded, intake went smoothly. It turned out, though, that I was running a moderate fever and both my blood pressure and pulse were elevated. Are you allergic to anything? Yes — penicillin, and anything remotely related to it.
The rest of the evening was spent playing the waiting game. I wound up on a gurney parked in an aisle; there were no rooms free. Eventually, a physician's assistant showed up, poked and prodded a bit, and told me I had a bad infection. No, really?? How did I feel? Crappy. Was I nauseous? A little woozy, maybe. Did I have a headache? Yes. Was I sore? Yes.
I couldn't get warm, despite the heated blanket I'd been given, and later on, I kept alternating between feeling too hot and too cold. A candy striper was nice enough to remember to feed me. It was only apple juice and crackers, but it helped to eke out what little of that sandwich I'd managed to wolf down in the car. Another interminable wait later, a nurse came by, drew some blood, and started an intravenous antibiotic. Slightly after that happened, a medevac helicopter landed, and all hell broke loose.
I can't even begin to tell you all the weird things that were going on. Cops were escorting one patient around. I heard, down the hall, a nurse telling a patient in a no-nonsense tone that if he touched his IV line one more time, she'd have him restrained. I was parked right next to one of the external phones, so I also got to hear all kinds of gossip as well.
It was interesting, too, to hear the interchanges amongst the staff. I was bored out of my skull, so I was listening to anything and everything. Pretending to nap, I heard about the set of films that accidentally got swapped, though someone caught the error.
Later on, I managed to startle a pair of techs standing nearby. The shift had changed 30 or 45 minutes previously, and they were saying to each other, "Where on earth are the suture kits?" I rolled over and said, "The only ones left are in the storage unit in 1. And you'll have to go to the main pharmacy for tetanus vaccine." They both stopped and just stared at me with hilariously identical expressions, then went off wordlessly... to room 1. They came back out, still wordless, carrying the suture kits and stacked them where they were supposed to go, in another storage unit about 10 feet from the foot of my gurney. All the while, I'm getting these looks. I finally relented and explained that before the shift changed, I'd heard a number of conversations about where the remaining kits were. "I've been here for over four hours, now, and I'm learning where everything is." They had a huge laugh over that, of course. "If you can't find something, ask the lady in "H"!" one of them quipped.
Mr. Maylith appeared around 8:30pm; I'd left him a message on his cell phone. They finally set me loose about an hour later. The blood work was okay; no sign of systemic infection. I was given prescriptions for painkillers and a powerful antibiotic (Keflex), along with orders to take Sunday off. I was to keep my foot elevated, use warm compresses, check with my doctor on Monday or Tuesday, and go back to the ER right away if anything got worse. The official diagnosis was acute cellulitis. Cellulitis is a potentially dangerous bacterial infection of the connective tissue of the skin. It can lead to gangrene and/or septicemia if not controlled.
Ouch. I only had eight hours of sick time left, and I needed twelve... but I could use vacation time, and the way I was feeling, I didn't care anymore. I did have to drive all the way back to work, though, to get my timesheets signed, as I wasn't about to go back in on Sunday.
Mr. Maylith came along with me, not just because he's a dear, but also as a witness. You see, when I called work from the ER to tell them I'd be late coming back from lunch, and then, later, that I wouldn't be coming back at all, the manager on duty (not one of my supervisors) had the sheer effrontery to question whether it was, in fact, an emergency. At the time, I said only, tersely, yes. I was determined to nip any potential problems in the bud.
So, I hobble into my workplace with Mr. Maylith, the hospital bands still on one wrist and a patch of bloody gauze taped to the back of the other. I had an appointment for Sunday, and I thought to clock in briefly and call them (though it was late) to tell them I wouldn't be able to make it.
Turns out that manager (apparently and allegedly) can't stand the sight of blood. Oh no, don't clock in. No need. I'll leave a note for someone. Here, let me sign those for you; I'll take them back to the computer room myself. Oh, I don't need a copy of the doctor's order, I can see your hand...
It was amusing.
I stopped at the supermarket on the way home to pick up some easy-to-prepare food, some yogurt (in preparation for devastation the antibiotics were about to inflict on my digestion), and most importantly some cortisone ointment, since the itching was driving me crazy. The extra walking there did me no good. I shouldn't have gone there, I know, but I was moving on sheer momentum.
Once home, I continued on momentum, emptying the dishwasher, cuddling the cat (who was very put out with me for not having come home at lunch), and taking some notes for this writeup. I was too restless to go to sleep, so I sacked out on the couch to watch some mindless television and spend time with the cat. Sometime around midnight, I felt suddenly incredibly ill and had a rather violent bout of projectile vomiting. After that, Mr. Maylith sat on the couch with me, cradling my legs in his lap to help me keep my foot up. We dozed off and on — watching Iron Chef, I think — until 2 or 3am, after which I took a heavy duty painkiller and he helped me get upstairs to bed.
I woke up around 5:30am out of habit. My stomach was in a much more amenable mood, thankfully, and I was quite hungry. I got up, so as not to wake hubby, and hobbled downstairs for some food.
I think one of us must've sat on the TV remote last night, because it doesn't work anymore. I ended up watching Shrek on DVD for a while instead — not being up to anything more challenging — and puttering with this writeup some more.
As of 9am, Sunday morning, my temperature is a bit below normal. A pair of bruises now darkens my right wrist where the IV used to be. My first toe on my left foot still looks like an extremely angry, fat, shiny red sausage, and you cannot see any of the tendons on the top of that foot the way you can on the right one. I think the swelling is slightly less, but it's hard to tell. The whole foot feels strange, too, but as long as I keep it elevated and don't touch it or move it, I can, with effort, tolerate the sensation. Then again, I probably still have some meds in my system from late last night. The gentle heat from the compress feels good, though, which I had not been expecting. Hubby said he'd go get my prescriptions when the pharmacy opens at 10am.
The fun didn't end there.
Many thanks to doyle and Lometa for their advice and reality checks.