Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Hobbled

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?

29 comments:

Tree Huggin Momma said...

Gald you are on the mend. I acutally gave myself an abrassion on my foot this weekend as well (no where near as bad as yours), and I at first thought it was a series of bug bites (I was camping), but I found I was unable ot wear my shoes, and wow how hard it is to live without shoes. Its amazing to realize what this same situation can mean for someone less "priviledged" for lack of a better word.
Glad you are on the mend.

Katidids said...

Wow, that sound so painful! Glad to hear your on the mend. We ignore seemingly minor things at times and to tend to others ourselves. It sounds like you did everything right caring for it. The forced down time can be good for you in a way, take care of you!

Rachel said...

Wow! I'm glad the antibiotics are working! In today's modern world it's easy to take everything we do and have for granted. I'm notoriously bad at taking care of cuts and abrasions. Unless there's dirt visible in it I don't even usually wash it. I think I need to change my ways. Thank you for sharing your experience.

Chile said...

Yikes, what a scary experience!

It's good to gain those kinds of understanding, though. I found few people understood how debilitating foot pain could be - until something happened to them - back when I had severe plantar fasciitis. I'm struggling with elements of that now, along with heat intolerance, which is making me far less productive than I think I should be.

Did the doctor give you any insight into why this happened?

Wendy said...

Glad to hear you're doing better. That must have been very difficult, especially as you were alone.

wardhouse said...

Glad you are doing better. I will pay closer attention to any abrasions that may appear on my feet. A sore achillies is bad enough - cannot imagine an infection to boot!
Heal quickly.

Amy Lagerquist said...

My goodness, it sounds like you made the right decision by going to the clinic for help. Any idea what you scraped your foot on? I tend to forget that our beautiful garden soil can actually hide some really dangerous bacteria, and I, like you, go barefoot in my garden clogs all the time. It's a good reminder to be careful.

Glad you're feeling better!

maggie said...

Youch! I can totally relate to this. On multiple levels. I'm so glad you are on the mend and feeling a bit better.

In other news... I sent off your kale seed the day before the rain started. If it doesn't arrive soon, please let me know as I'm a wee bit worried about how I packaged it.

Tamar@StarvingofftheLand said...

With antibiotics so overused, it's easy to think of them as the bad guy and forget that their development is arguably the single biggest advance in medicine in the last hundred years.

There are lots of times we're better off letting our bodies take care whatever it is that ails us, but a serious infection ain't one of them. I'm very glad you're on the mend.

henbogle said...

Glad you are mending. A friend of mine had a brush with gangrene on her foot last year -- not fun. Happy you nipped it before it got worse. Why do these things always happen on the weekends?
Be well!

Nicole said...

Send someone out for Epsom Salt and make a soak with it. It will take the redness, swelling, pain & toxins out faster than the antibiotics. You can read more about it at saltworks.us or epsom salt council.com. We use it all the time.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Tamar- this is what antibiotics should be used for. Glad you're on the mend.
Drink plenty of fluid and eat live yogurt. And don't take ibuprofen without food. :0)
Hazel
PS update on the chicken war: nice man from the council said we were very sensible and reasonable (implying our neighbours...) but we've had to agree not to increase our flock size. Apparently they don't hear the 12 chickens 50 feet from ours that belong to a neighbour. No idea what we've done to upset them, but I'm glad it seems to be over.

safirasilv said...

I can't imagine how wretched it was to be alone while you were feeling so awful and not able to get around. I'm glad you got the right drugs and are on the mend.

This is a good lesson to stop my usual habit of gardening in sandals. I don't think I can go as far as socks in warm weather (I have this weird aversion to socks) but at least covering my feet would be smart.

Rina ... also Chester or Daisysmum. said...

One thinks little of this sort of thing but It is very dangerous! My husband is an diabetic, which makes healing harder, escaped an amputation yesterday only because an foot specialist was called in, if it was the resident hospital doctor it would have been removered.He has been in hospital for a week now. Blood poisoning is the biggest problem when you have high temp, swollen, hot feeling and red creeping up your leg.You did well hope you recover soon.

BTW Nice meeting you, Rina

Debbie said...

Wow, pretty scary for you. When ever I get a cut I immediately put some bactine on it. That stuff is wonderful. I once had a cut on my finger, quite deep from a bread knife which would not heal. It was turning quite red any angry looking with it going up my finger. I applied the bactine an within an hour the cut had closed and the red was receding. I learned my lesson and am careful now. On another note I received my kale seeds today. Thanks, if there are any seed you need and I have just ask you are welcome to them.

Anonymous said...

What herbal supplements do you think would cure something requiring antibiotics? I sincerely hope no one really believes these snake oil salesmen and their "herbs"...

Life At Cobble Hill Farm said...

So glad to hear you're doing better. Take care of yourself!
-Staci

Anonymous said...

Hi folks,
There's a time and a place for herbs and a time and a place for modern medicine. Both are valuable! I appreciate your blog and your comments. A couple of years ago I broke my leg. It really opened my eyes to how much I took my health for granted. On the plus side, my friends and family stepped in to help out- even my separated spouse. I pray for your continued healing.

The 4 Bushel Farmgal said...

I'm glad you got medical attention in time to prevent prblems. It's so easy for us to dismiss a swelling/redness as "minor", until the pain kicks in and we realize that something's wrong.

Sorry to hear that you were alone during the worst of it, but thank you for alerting all of us to be more mindful of ourselves. Hope you're back to healthy soon!

Best wishes!

Anonymous said...

Hi there, I've read your blog a few times just havent commented :-), but have to say I am so glad you went to get some antibiotics. My 7 yr old got a cut on his hand and it got infected spreading like a blister so very quickly earlier this year. There is a time and place for the herbals but I am so glad we have antibiotics, the thought of being without them is quite scary. Glad you're on the mend, it's a very unpleasant experience!

Susieq.

Jennifer Montero said...

Antibiotics aren't the answer for everything, but in your case it sounded like the only alternative. Those infections are exactly what they're there for.

I've known people get rose thorns or blackthorns stuck in their hands and feet, and figure it would just sort itself out. It doesn't. It creates a pretty amazing infection, pretty quickly. Perhaps you fell foul of one of those.

Whatever the reason, I'm glad you're healing and I'm glad you have insurance!

Anonymous said...

Get well darling.

Anonymous said...

Get well, darling.

Anonymous said...

My husband was just treated for MRSA that he got in the hospital - very fast spreading going from little with normal temp to bad and 102.5 in 3 hours.

Niece has had it 3 times and got the first from participating in team sports - again very fast and bad. Now she knows what to look for.

We've been told MRSA is everywhere so ALWAYS have a cut, scrape, etc checked if you even think it might be getting infected.

Glad you OK

swineinsanity said...

Check with doc about Herbs and chemical medicines... Some will not mix... I have read for example Licorice and Ibuprofin react... So be careful... Antibiotics were started with Herbal side I read.. and Chemical side took them over.. but I am not sure how natural antibiotics are now... So becareful... I researched medicine and found Pesticides are the beginning of Chemical medicine.. Trippy!

Fallon Shay said...

My mom and I stop by your blog and read it together...we had wondered where you had gone...we missed you. Take care of that foot and get better soon!

Robin said...

This is also why it's a very good thing to cultivate a good relationship with your neighbors. I'm sure you could have called on any of yours if something around the place really needed doing.

eatclosetohome said...

Take care - very glad modern medicine exists for acute conditions like this!

Might be a good time for a PSA for all gardeners to get regular tetanus shots...

cityhippyfarmgirl said...

Wow what a week for you. You poor thing! Something like having to slide to the bathroom on your bottom, makes you love your healthy legs that bit more doesn't it. Glad you are on the mend... and I wouldn't have minded a picture- but thats the old nurse in me :-)