Monday, June 11, 2007

Don't pick.

It all started with a zit.

It was a typical zit, close to his hairline. You know the sort: it grows and grows and gets painful, and finally you notice that it's got a head on it, so you pop it. The thing goes away for a while, but then it comes back. So you pop it again. Lather, rinse....

Six months later, it became obvious that something was wrong. There was that odd red mark where the zit had been, and he wasn't feeling well. Off he went to one doctor, then another, finally culminating with one of our gals for a CT and an MRI and a this and a that.

The various tests revealed various things: that his body was fighting off an infection, that he was losing his balance and having some trouble finding words, that he had been plagued by a constant headache for months. The scans showed an abscess just behind and above where the zit had been.

The abcess had eaten through his skull and into his brain. Lovely. You know it's bad when somebody's skull looks like Swiss cheese in one spot, with bits of dura poking out of the bone because of the pressure inside.

To the OR, then, and the bone comes out. The abcess gets drained. He's returned to the floor with powerful IV antibiotics...and then, quite suddenly, nothing seems to be working. Fever of 41 C (that's 106 F), heart rate in the 160's, big rash all over. We spring into action with cooling blankets, cultures of blood, sputum, and urine, chest X-rays, and fungal cultures of damn near everything else.

Further scans revealed that things had gotten nasty under his skull, so back he went for more draining and washouts. Right now he's in the unit with a tube going into his brain for further instillations of antibiotics and pressure reduction.

People, don't pick yer zits. I don't know how many times I have to say it.

Still, I guess it's better than that one gal who ended up with meningitis from brushing her teeth too enthusiastically.

8 comments:

Anastasia L said...

You can't possibly leave us hanging like that - share the menengitis story now!! :)

punchberry said...

Danger lurks around every corner.

lisa said...

Good Lord, really???? How scary.

Gwen said...

Gulp!

We're so close to the edge...

Heidi said...

Gah. There definitely should've been a "Don't read this while eating breakfast" warning at the top of this post. ;)

that big girl said...

I'm still going to pick. I can't explain it. It's ridiculous and stupid, but I like it. I don't think even a story about a swiss cheese skull as a possible sequelae to zit-picking will make me stop.

AndreaB_212 said...

I've been jumping around a bunch of nursing blogs for the day, this post caught my eye, and holy crap I'll never pick at my zits again. It's just habit, but after reading what you just posted, I'll break it. Oy.

~A

Anonymous said...

thanks...i was actyually googling tips to break the popping habit. i think this might work. maybe ill print it. :P hope your patient is okay.