This post I have to report a serious health crisis – but, thankfully, we are making it through. ❤
Initially, my left foot flared pretty nastily last month with my CRPS and my Rheumy tried a huge dosage of prednisone daily to see if that would knock it out – and it appeared to do so.
BUT – the pred weakens the immune system and increases the risk of infection so what looked like another CRPS flare was actually something far more sinister brewing in the past week. . .
Oh, Wednesday Night
Throughout the week, my left foot had become more swollen and painful, with the swelling concentrated on one side, which is atypical for a CRPS flare, and, by Wednesday night, it had become just unbearable – with CRPS nerve pain also shooting through the swollen area.
At that point, Sara and I had decided to go to the ER.
Unfortunately, my precious Henry also dug into a hidden stash he had somewhere of mini Milkbones – I am so serious – and ate one and began vomiting – and we couldn’t get him stopped. 😦
So first we went to visit our friends at Steel City, where they checked Henry’s blood sugar – and found it to be running pretty high – and also gave him a shot for nausea.
We stayed with them for about an hour and Henry was feeling as good as new – and we were on our way, heading to get me some treatment.
First, The Almost Really Bad
Normally, if I have a bad experience, I am discreet about naming names here. I generally don’t.
However, as y’all will see as my post unfolds, this “bad experience” could have had potentially debilitating or even life endangering consequences had I not been aware of what was happening because of my medical background – so I am absolutely going to share all of the details of what happened to me.
After we left Steel City, we went directly to the UAB West Freestanding ER in Hoover and i was immediately admitted to Dr. Kiara King.
She came in, took one look at my foot, and declared that it was an abscess that had to be opened right then.
I stopped her and told her that:
- I have CRPS and I can’t just “be drained” without imaging and assessment – as it will spread.
- I was on day six of Keflex 1000 mg twice a day AND doxycycline 100 mg twice a day and those would take care of a simple abscess so I was concerned that more was going on.
- I had been experiencing a CRPS flare and was unsure what was happening with my foot with respect to that.
- I have multiple stress fractures in that foot that were also an issue.
- I have primary rheumatoid arthritis that triggered all of this that is a concern in those joints as well.
She proceeded to get out a surgical tray, place it on the over-bed table, say “I’ll give you a Percocet” and WALK OUT OF THE ROOM, ignoring everything I had said.
I was in total disbelief.
She intended to lance my left foot with no labs and no imaging, completely ignoring my medical history.
I told Sara I had a bad feeling about all of this, we collected our things, and walked right past her and out the door.
Thank God For The Right Place and The Right People
From there, we went to Grandview Emergency Department and were taken straight back and assessed by a wonderful physician – who ended up being my saving grace.
She immediately performed an ultrasound on my foot herself and ordered labs and IV pain meds in addition to a CT scan with contrast.
The CT was done quickly and the tech told me that the radiologist was reading it right away.
I knew then that something was seriously awry.
A Diagnosis and Being Admitted
Within about 30 minutes of the CT scan, my nurse in the ER came to my room to draw blood cultures – and give me IV Vancomycin.
Oh. My. Word.
At that point, she very gently held my hand and told me that I have osteomyelytis – a bone infection that occurs in 2 of 100,000 people – in my foot, in addition to the abscess, and that I would be staying at the hospital after all.
I immediately began letting my family know – as it was literally one of the two days of the YEAR Courtney is out of town – and my Al came to get Sara and Henry from the hospital for a bit.
I was just shocked.
I was taken upstairs quickly to wait for attendings to round.
During the day Thursday, I met with Infectious Disease, the Orthopedist, and the Hospitalist.
- that I would be starting insulin to control my blood sugars to help the infection clear.
- that I would be going to surgery on Friday – for the foot I was told previously could never have surgery – if I wanted to keep it.
- that I would be getting a PICC line and receiving IV antibiotics for at least six weeks post op – and possibly longer.
- that I would at least be in the hospital for five days.
- that I would likely leave surgery with a wound vac and be non-weight bearing for six weeks after the procedure.
So much to process. I was both incredibly grateful to have found the right place to help me – and devastated.
Surgery – And Nothing Short Of A Small Miracle
Needless to say, I was nervous for so many reasons going into the surgery – but just prayed for the best.
I was told I was going to go back at 3 PM – so we were all shocked when they took me a little after 11 AM.
And I was BLOWN AWAY when I came to and my foot looked like this. . .
Though there was PLENTY of infection – more on that in a bit – I did NOT have to have a wound vac and I have a walking shoe!!! I am so so grateful!
I was able to stop and dress on my way back to my room from surgery!
(the only crazy weird thing I DO have is that the left side of my neck is super sore – separate from the usual sore throat – and I even have a finger print bruise from being intubated. I bruise like a peach.)
That evening, my sweet family came to visit and my better half brought the most beautiful flowers.
It also worked out that, because Henry is a service dog, he was given a special bandanna so that he can stay on the hospital premises with me around the clock. ❤
He and my Sara Bug are indoor camping with me all weekend and Courtney is taking them back and forth for Henry’s vet visits.
It helps so much to have them here. ❤
Especially as there have been some challenges. . .
Unfortunately, the type of PICC line I need is not available until Monday and the antibiotics I am on are very hard on my veins so my IVs keep blowing.
Yesterday, it took six sticks to get a new one.
I am just praying my current IV will hold until tomorrow.
I can honestly say, though, that the nursing staff here have all been wonderful to us and we are so so grateful.
I know that God has watched over me through all of this.
Discharge Diagnosis And Home Planning
I was told yesterday by infectious disease that I – for sure – grew regular staph in my blood and bone specimen and will be on the IV Vancomycin for six weeks – and possibly longer.
They are allowing me to administer it myself at home, thank the Lord.
The final cultures will be in on Monday and we will know if more antibiotics need to be added as well.
This definitely explains why I was getting weaker and weaker last week as my pain was worsening.
I am so grateful they caught it in time.
A Few More Thoughts
As I’m getting ready to go home, please keep sending all of the prayers and warm fuzzies and good vibes our way. Henry and I both need them for sure.
And, also, had I allowed Dr. King at UAB West to cut into my abscess – and spread staph – whilst leaving my bone and blood infection untreated – I might not be writing to you now.
So, I again want to remind you to always trust your instincts and advocate for yourself and your people. You have every right to refuse ANYTHING you aren’t comfortable with – and you should. It never hurts to get another set of hands and eyes on the problem.
It just might save you.
Be well, everybody. Take care of yourselves and each other.
Grace and Blessings.