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Friday, August 19, 2011

Gross Anatomy (Long Post, Lots of Pics)

There will be some gross feet pics in this post, so don't go any further if you're squeamish!

This post is going to be fairly long, so grab yourself a snack or a cuppa joe and relax!

In my last post, back on Aug. 9th, I wrote about my trip to the podiatrist and the diagnosis of my very tight Achilles tendons. I posted a photo of my feet and the way they were taped and thought nothing more of it - just figured I'd follow instructions, take the tape off after 3 days and let the podiatrist know at my follow-up exam how things went.


I noticed on Wednesday (8/10) that my feet were getting very red, irritated, and itchy where the tape was, and it was driving me bonkers so I removed the tape and called the podiatrist's office to let them know I was having a reaction to it. They said not to worry, just be very careful about walking and try not to stress the tendons - which, by the way, felt GREAT while I had the tape on.

Being human, I tend to scratch when I itch...my feet were itchy, so I scratched them. I put some anti-itch cream on them, which worked a little, but the itch still wouldn't go away. I just figured it was typical of my sensitive skin and didn't worry too much about it.

By Thursday night (8/11), I knew something was wrong. This was not a normal itch. My feet where the tape had been were VERY red and little blisters were starting to form. Uh-oh. Looked a lot like the reaction I had last summer when I used Bullfrog sunscreen on my arms. 

I kept medicating it on Thursday, then Friday (8/12) rolled around and it was time to go out of town to my sister's college graduation in Beaumont. When I woke up Friday morning, not only was my rash worse, but my eyes were VERY swollen as well. Weird, because I didn't have a rash around my eyes...but I remember now that they were very itchy Thursday night and I rubbed them a lot. I probably rubbed them after I had touched my feet and just wasn't aware of it. Oops!

Luckily, Sig was able to come on the trip, too, and she drove the whole 8 hours up to Beaumont. By that afternoon, my feet were looking pretty bad and my face was still swollen. We stopped in Corpus Christi so I could get some Benadryl to help with the itch - it helped, but knocked me out for pretty much the rest of that day's drive. By the time we got to the hotel, I was feelin' pretty low. It wasn't a fever or anything, just a general sense of all-around malaise. My itchy feet were driving me CRAZY, but I doctored myself up as best I could and enjoyed the time with my family. There was NO WAY I was going to waste this precious time with my family and the wonderul celebration of my sister's accomplishment!

My AWESOME sis and her hard-earned Bachelors degree! SO PROUD!!

Saturday morning (8/13) my eyes were still swollen, but they got less so as the day wore on. I will confess that I sat through the graduation with my shoes off, because my feet were so itchy I couldn't stop scratching. I hadn't taken any Benadryl because I didn't want to sleep through the ceremony, so I gritted my teeth and tried to ignore my stupid feet as best I could. After a while I was so caught up in the joy of the occasion and my pride in my AWESOME sis that I forgot about the itching for a while.

August 13

My swollen face on Saturday afternoon. Looks better than it did that morning!
 On the way home, my feet were beginning to swell and the itch was getting worse. I took my shoes and socks off the entire way back and let the air conditioning cool my feet, which really helped. Sig told me - FIRMLY - that she was going to drive the whole way back and she wanted me to take more meds, so I did and slept most of the way home. By the time we got home, my feet were both itchy AND swollen, and I could barely walk. I managed to get in the house and do what needed to be done, VERY grateful that I still had Sunday and Monday to recuperate before starting school again on Tuesday (in-service all week).

Sunday morning (8/14) I woke up, eyes still swollen, feet still itchy and blistery, and a new development - my lower legs were now red and beginning to blister as well. What the heck?? I was seriously confused about what was going on. I got Sig to take a look and she was equally confused and concerned. This was when I decided to start taking pics to document this weirdness, which I am now sharing with you (lucky reader)! I was also feeling very fatigued, so I took Benadryl all day and slept most of the day away.

August 14
Rash is spreading and blisters are forming

Same thing on right foot

Ankles and feet starting to swell

Swelling on both feet
By Monday morning (8/15), it was clear something was seriously wrong. My feet were even more swollen and covered with blisters that had started to weep a honey-colored fluid, and the redness was still moving up my legs. I also noticed there were large clusters of blisters on BOTH of my arches, making it painful and nearly impossible for me to walk. I was due to see the podiatrist the next day, but I decided to go to my new family doctor first to see what they thought. Sig graciously drove me to the doctor - on her day off, mind you - and I managed to get in fairly quickly as a walk-in.

August 15
Rash spreading and getting worse

More swelling

The cute brown feet are Bailey's  ;-)

Blisters forming in right arch

Blisters forming in left arch
The young man who came to examine me took one look and asked me what the heck happened, so I explained that it all started with a reaction to adhesive put on by my podiatrist. He said, "Honey, that's not an allergic reaction - you've got a bad case of impetigo and I'm worried about infection!" 

What the heck?? I've never had that in my life, so I had no idea what it was. He looked a bit more, wrote out a couple of prescriptions, then walked out with my chart, saying he'd be right back. While he was gone, I got my handy Evo smartphone out and started looking up impetigo (every physician's nightmare, right?). Yikes! Everything I read was NOT. GOOD!

The next person who came in was the nurse who had originally brought me in, and all she did was hand me my prescriptions and basically tell me to get lost. Well, not in so many words, but she blew me off by saying "You really need to follow up with your podiatrist" when I started asking questions. I asked if the man who had seen me could come back and answer some questions, but she said he was doing a procedure and couldn't be disturbed. I was NOT impressed.

Feeling a bit downcast, I shuffled/hobbled back out to the lobby and Sig drove me over to get my prescriptions filled. One was for a topical antibiotic and one was for an oral antibiotic. We picked them up and I started my medication regime, still VERY itchy and in a lot of discomfort and pain when I tried to walk.

After suffering through an incredibly itchy night - for some reason I forgot to take any Benadryl before I went to bed - I managed to get up and wrap my legs in gauze for the trip to the podiatrist. Sig, in all her kindness, took the day off again to drive me to the podiatrist on Tuesday (8/16). The two assistants who initially saw me were VERY kind and sympathetic and did everything they could to make me feel comfortable. The doctor came in and was very concerned when he saw how bad things were - by this time, the blisters were all oozing and the bandages I had put on - both to protect my raw skin AND to be kind to the general public - were stained where the fluid had seeped through. After some discussion, he prescribed a strong hydrocortisone ointment along with a powder that I was to use as a wet compress to help dry the blisters up. He seemed a little confused when I told him what the other doctor had prescribed and even questioned why I had been given an antibiotic. Anyway, the two assistants kindly wrapped my legs for me again and off I went to fill two more prescriptions.

When I got home and Sig and I were trying to sort the meds out and come up with a schedule for how to take and apply everything, I started getting very worried about mixing drugs that I know absolutely nothing about. Yes, I did a lot of reading online, but that can get confusing as well. I spent the entire afternoon and night upstairs because it was too painful to try and go downstairs - plus, I have a very sweet little brown doggie who feels it's her duty to heal me, so she tries to lick my legs every chance she gets. I really didn't feel like fighting her off, so I stayed upstairs and did a lot of reading. I called both doctors and asked some medical folks I know for advice and was told it was safe to use all the meds I was prescribed, so Sig made a written schedule for me so I'd know when to take what! During these phone calls I found out that the guy who had seen me at the family doctor clinic was a PA, not a doctor. No offense to PAs out there...but I really didn't feel like he helped me much beyond his initial hasty diagnosis and the prescriptions so I wanted to be seen by a doctor.

August 16
Taken at the podiatrist's office

If you look closely you can see the oozing crusty goodness my body was producing. Ew.
Sig also took all of Wednesday off so she could help me, because I was feeling like crap and having a lot of trouble keeping up with this medicine regime. Those who know me know I absolutely HATE going to the doctor, but HATE taking medicine even more! My taking this medication regime so seriously shows just how concerned I am about what's going on with my legs and feet!

By late Wednesday afternoon (8/17), having done all the washes, soaks, ointments, and oral meds, I was looking at feet that, to my eyes, were getting worse instead of better. The blisters on the arches of my feet were getting bigger and more painful and it was all I could do to keep from letting Sig pop and drain them. The areas where the tape had been had turned a very dark, sinister reddish purple and blisters were forming there, too. My ankles were now almost solid dark red, and I had red splotches going up both shins and calves. I was depressed all day long because not only was I missing my first VERY important week of in-service at school (new principal, new way of doing things), it was also becoming clear to me that I was probably going to miss the first day of school at the very least. (Photos courtesy of Sig)

August 17
Left foot

Blisters in left arch

Left arch

Big mofo blister in right arch


Lesson learned - do NOT shave legs when you have a rash!

Left leg is worse than right
SO, Sig and I discussed it and decided to call a good friend of ours who is a medical professional, sent her the above pictures of my feet, and got some really good advice (and, more importantly, reassurances). Sig had all along been very skeptical of the podiatrist's solutions, feeling that he was treating the itching rather than dealing with the infection, and after the friend we spoke to confirmed this (and yes, proved Sig right!), Sig took yet another day off (bless her!!!) and hauled my hobbly self down to the family doctor again. This time I insisted on seeing a doctor instead of a PA, and even though we had to wait a couple of hours, it was worth it. My doctor is FANTASTIC and treated both me and Sig with a lot of respect, compassion, and humor. He answered all our questions in ways we could understand and was very clear in how he planned to treat me, which I really appreciated.

 August 18

Still lots of redness going on

More blisters and interesting colors

Same on the right leg

Big mofo blister

That dang blister practically fills my arch!
The end result is, I have an infection as a result of a severe contact allergy reaction. It's NOT impetigo and is NOT contagious (which is nice to hear, since Sig and I have been boiling everything in the house, changing towels and sheets every day and washing them in hot water, and wearing surgical gloves to handle anything that has come remotely close to my legs or feet), but I do have a lot of very raw skin exposed and he's concerned about me picking up a secondary infection. Plus, I still have those huge blisters on the arches of my feet and he wants me to leave them alone since they are protecting the new skin underneath. Bottom line is, he wants me off of my feet as much as possible for the next 7 days...which means I will be missing practically my whole first week of school. I'M SO BUMMED!!! Luckily, I have a WONDERFUL co-teacher who has everything under control and I know the kids will be in great hands...but I have to say, I really miss that "beginning of school" excitement. I do realize, though, that my health is important and I have to deal with this so I can go on with the rest of my year. Doesn't mean I have to like it, though!

That's my story so far. What started out as an innocent trip to the podiatrist has taken a VERY wrong turn and has become a nightmare...but less so now that I seem to have gotten the right meds from the right doctor and some very good advice from trusted medical folks. I got a steroid shot yesterday and am taking a course of Prednisone for the next 15 days, plus the oral and topical antibiotics and Benadryl as needed. I feel better today (8/19) than I have all week, at least mentally. It's still very painful to walk around, but the itching isn't as bad. I was warned that the Prednisone will make me feel very energetic and may cause insomnia so I'm trying to save the Benadryl for night time when I need to sleep. My legs don't look or feel much different than they did yesterday (as can be seen in the pics below), but I finally feel somewhat human again and that's a big step. I've been in a funk since Sunday because of all this. I just can't wait until this thing is cleared up and I can go back to normal life again!

August 19

Not much change

Still got the blisters

Swelling has gone down a bit

Skin is starting to dry out nicely - no more oozing ;-)

The blister that ate the world

Still a little swelling

Two very unhappy limbs!

I would be remiss if I didn't mention how INCREDIBLY GRATEFUL I am to the wonderful Sig, who has literally put her life on hold to help me for these past three days. I honestly don't know how I could have dealt with all of this without her. Sig, YOU ROCK!!!!    
More updates later!