No, cellulitis. That’s what I’ve got, with a touch of thrombosis thrown in for free. And no, that’s not cellulite, either, the spongy, pitted skin that larger ladies of a certain age often suffer from. I’ve encountered so much ignorance about this condition – and indeed, I knew nothing about it myself before I became a sufferer – that I’ve decided to explain precisely what I’m going through, in the hope that if you ever recognise any of the symptoms in yourself or a loved one, you will seek medical help immediately.
Cellulitis is a potentially very dangerous bacterial infection, usually caused by a tiny puncture of the skin, or athlete’s foot, where the skin cracks and bacteria can enter. I don’t have athlete’s foot, which leaves the mysterious, microscopic injury. The effects, however, are far from microscopic. My temperature shot up to nearly 40 degrees, and my CRP (blood infection count) peaked at over 200 (it should be 5 or less – yes, five). I spent two days with uncontrollable shivering and fevers (like a very bad case of ‘flu) and felt pretty bloody awful, I can tell you. My GP visited me at home, then sent me straight down to A&E for intravenus antibiotics, which continued for four days, followed by an extended course of oral antibiotics. I’ve also been into hospital for regular blood tests to check that the battle against the infection is being won. Until my GP pointed out the connection, I had assumed I’d come down with some kind of virus and suffered a leg injury separately.
For those with an interest and strong constitution, I’ve included a couple of photos of my leg taken last week: in fact, the redness and swelling subsequently got worse, and early this week there were fears that I may also have developed thrombosis in the knee, which swelled up to the size of a volleyball. Fortunately, ultrasound scans revealed that there were no dangerous blood clots.
Apart from the initial feverishness, which has largely subsided thank goodness, the main symptom is a constant throbbing and soreness, like a combination of bruising and sunburn, when at rest. The main problem, however, is that whenever you have been resting, as prescribed, with the leg elevated, and then go to stand up, it feels like you’ve just plunged your leg into hot coals, an intense and searing pain that can reduce even a big, butch feller like me to tears. It is at its worst in the evening and at night.
The doctors tell me that with luck, the infection itself should be beaten by the end of this week, but the swelling in the leg and associated pain may take until Christmas to recede, which is not what a grumpy, impatient patient like me wants to hear! Being a driven, self-employed publisher, this is all a bit of a nightmare, because I’m having to striclty ration the amount of time I spend at the keyboard. Because of the intricacy of the design and layout work I do for the magazine (and the Table Top Teaser Special currently in production), a laptop is no substitute for my monster 23-inch Mac screen, so I’m inevitably a little behind my planned schedule. I had hoped that the TTT book would have been with the printers on Monday just gone, but I’m afraid it will now be next Monday. I’ll keep you posted if the celulitis flares up and causes any further delays.
Meanwhile, I would like to extend my sincere thanks to those many well-wishers who have sent kind “get well” messages which have, in the nicest possible way, added to the mountainous backlog of emails that I am making every effort to catch up on. To those wags who imagine that I’ve suddenly got an opportunity to deal with all that unpainted lead, I need to remind them that if I can’t sit at the computer to work, then I can’t sit to paint either! Trying to paint when flat on one’s back leads, in my experience, to messy results, and it’s the work at the computer, not the painting, that pays the bills…
With luck, the next blog entry will be altogether more cheerful, but until then, I’ve got work to do!