I've been laid low the last several days. When the days were blazing hot last week, I went about my garden chores wearing my beat up garden shoes without socks. I got an innocuous looking rash on the base of my toes which looked like it might be athlete's foot. I didn't yet realize that it was an abrasion, and so treated it generally, just washing it, putting some salve on it, and keeping it well dry and aired. Turns out, this was a bad move.
By Friday night it was looking not so great, and worse still on Saturday. Sunday morning I was running a fever and I could barely walk on my foot. It was clearly an infection, with my fourth toe swelled up and angry looking. I did what little I could, keeping my foot on a heating pad, taking a variety of immune-supporting herbal supplements, and mostly letting my fever take its course. It got above 101 F. The infection had no pinpoint location, everything was swollen and ugly pink or red. Had there been anything to lance, I would have done it myself. But this was something beyond my abilities. Monday morning early I took myself to a walk-in clinic, using a cane and wearing a slipper. The doctor took one look at the infected foot and put me on antibiotics. As an afterthought, he asked if I wanted anything for pain. I thought it wasn't a bad suggestion, even though I hadn't thought to ask. The pain had been increasing, and it was to get worse still before things started to turn around. I'm glad I took his offer. Yesterday any amount of standing or walking was painful and difficult. At times I scooted to the bathroom on my butt. Yay for wooden floors!
Things have turned around now. It doesn't look a great deal better, but the redness is receding slightly. I can tell because the doctor marked the edge of the infection with a sharpie marker. The pain and swelling have reduced enough to let me walk on that foot now, even if I favor it with a pronounced limp. It was a relief to be able to tend to the poultry this morning, knowing I could move the pens, if slowly and carefully, and that I could clean their waterers and give them fresh water rather than obliging them to make do with what remained from the day before.
This has all given me much food for thought, which is good because I've done a whole lot of sitting around the last few days. There's no doubt in my mind that without antibiotics this would have been a very serious situation. Maybe with the herbal supplements and many hot foot baths my body would have fought off the infection. Maybe. But I can just as easily believe that I might have ended up with amputated toes or a whole foot lost. I might even have ended up dead. In earlier times, the chances for one of the more extreme outcomes would have been very high indeed.
I'm not into illness. I'm sort of the stoic type. But that doesn't mean I was toughing it out and ignoring something that obviously should have been attended to. It just didn't look remotely serious when it first appeared - a little abrasion because I took my socks off and did routine garden work. Big deal! Well, it turned out to be a very big deal. This is chastening on several levels.
I'm chastened because even though I rarely make use of our health insurance, it's there, and I didn't worry about paying for my treatment beyond finding an approved doctor under my plan. I know not everyone enjoys that luxury. I'm chastened because I now have a better appreciation for what it's like not to be able to move easily even around one's own home. I know how quickly a kitchen can disintegrate into a smelly mess when dishes can't be done and neither the compost nor trash get taken out. (My husband's traveling for work this week.) I've a new appreciation for leftovers and more sympathy for those who find it very difficult or impossible to cook due to physical limitations. I had to leave the garden to fend for itself. Fortunately we've at least gotten rain in the last few days, but I could have lost an awfully big investment of my time, effort and money simply because I couldn't get out there for three days. If I'd been incapacitated and alone last week, lots of stuff would have died in the heat. Our garden isn't our livelihood, and I know its loss would have been minor in the economic scheme of things these days. But I can see how an infection like mine could cost other people, other families, a great deal more than a backyard garden.
Anyway, I'm on the mend by the looks of things, and I've got a follow up appointment to confirm my impressions. Aren't you glad I spared you a header picture?
An Update on Kelly
5 hours ago