Tuesday, November 01, 2011

I'm tired of this body. Can I trade it in?

First it was six months of constant sinus infections. Then it was cancer, and not even a cool kind of cancer with pretty ribbons. Oral cancer comes with a maroon-and-white ribbon, which is not a good color combination for me. In between all that, I screwed up my neck and threw out a knee, then the other knee. Then I got an abscess. In my groin.

Of all the things I've subjected myself since I started writing this blog, getting a doctor to take a gander at the egg-sized, painful lump in my right groin was the most humiliating. Lying in an exam chair, with my right leg out at an angle, pointing to the problem while modestly covered by several sterile drapes is not going to go into my personal-best album.

The doctor, who was wearing a pink button-down shirt and a bow tie, was pleased. He called it a classic presentation, and pointed out the various identifiers of an abscess to the nurse standing next to him. I was busy trying to be someplace else, at least mentally, and didn't pay attention until he hit the thing with freezing spray and incised it.

I'll spare you guys the details. Suffice it to say that the nurse said admiringly, "This ought to be on YouTube." The bow-tied doctor took cultures, irrigated the area with sterile saline, gave me aftercare instructions and a prescription for Bactrim DS, and left the room. The nurse dressed my groin with sterile gauze and antibiotic ointment and a cubic yard of tape. I went to the pharmacy for drugs and then came home, figuring that that would be it.

Until yesterday morning, when the kindly doctor called me himself to tell me that he'd decided, on the basis of the cultures, to add another antibiotic to the regimen. I'm now on both Bactrim DS and Augmentin, eight hundred and seventy-freaking-five milligrams of the latter, both twice a day.

Turns out that it's nothing I did: I quizzed him quite thoroughly on that. It seems that there are bacteria that live normally on your skin and keep it healthy (that I knew) and are quite peaceful in their proper places. When they get inside your skin, though--and this can be through a small abrasion or cut or just by chance--they turn into the sorts of bacteria you don't want anywhere. That's what made me end up with a kiwi-fruit-shaped mass of crap in Area 51: normal skin flora and fauna.

I'll say this for Doctor Bow-Tie: he's human. He told me the story of his own abscess, which he got while a resident, and how it was a tossup whether to have a fellow resident deal with it or go to an outside doctor. He praised my wisdom in not tackling the thing myself, given the proximity of various blood vessels and lymph nodes, some of which were already badly swollen and tender. Apparently he sees several of these a week: who knew the human body was such a soup of potential horror?

The most painful part of the whole ordeal was calling in to work. I was told, solemnly, not to work the day after, to monitor my temp every four hours, and to call the doctor's office if I developed a fever or chills. Trying to tell your boss that you've had an alien removed from the house next door to The Queen of All She Surveys is not easy. Telling a blog audience of a couple thousand is cake by comparison.

So, People: watch yourselves. No amount of personal cleanliness, good diet, or virtuous living can save you from the horror that is quad antibiotic coverage. A one-to-ten solution of bleach to water might help, but I'm not going to bathe in that.

28 comments:

Phiddy said...

Been there and done that.
It is soooo embarrassing when you live in a small town and work in the only hospital in said small town. And the doctor and the nurse are friends of yours.

messymimi said...

That's what i had -- on my face. My doc, who also wears a bow-tie, go figure, said the same thing. This happens, he sees a few a week.

Hope you never have to go through it again.

clairesmum said...

oh oh, that's a MAJOR owwiee! keep up the fluids, and the yogurt or probiotics = you know what follows all those antibiotic pills, don't you?!
feel better soon, Jo, and head scritches for Max.

Anonymous said...

As a surgical nurse, we see abscesses all the time! And it is the one thing I am most terrified of!! Bless you and hope it never returns!!

bobbie said...

Ouch! Hope he also gave you an Rx for prn Diflucan ~ wouldn't want yeasties growing right next to where the lump was!!

woolywoman said...

uhm, why do you have to tell your manager WHY you are sick? I just say that I am, and my Dr's note doesn't give any clues, either. Do not forget to eat yogurt and buy yeast infection cream.

Might as well, can't dance... said...

I so thought you were going to say that when he "lanced" it - it squirted his bow-tie! I was thinking of my encounter in a small Texas ER in which the MD who I was standing behind told me I might want to duck... It was a bartholin cyst, though - and ducking turned out to be wise advice. Hope you are feeling much better! Yogurt tid so you don't get a mother of yeast or diarrhea from your massive abx!

Dr. Alice said...

I went through a bout of what I'm sure was MRSA about two years ago. Fortunately, none of my carbuncles (yes, they were multiple) were large enough that they had to be incised and drained. I got a script for Bactrim off one of my colleagues and the problem went away. Thank goodness.

Silliyak said...

I thought abscess made the heart grow fonder?

Rosanna said...

Oh. man. 'Highly-vascular and painful area for infection. *V.E.R.Y.* ~ *P.A.I.N.F.U.L.*, for sure, for poor you, Jo. (Was this a regular tissue abscess or an abscess of a gland, specifically a Bartholin's gland abscess? And if you'd rather not say, that's perfectly okay, too.) 'Hope you feel better soon!

giftsofthejourney said...

I do love how you tell a story. I posted this on my Facebook page so others could stop by and have a look at all of your personal places.

The sentence that really got me, " Trying to tell your boss that you've had an alien removed from the house next door to The Queen of All She Surveys is not easy. "

Seriously though, I hope you heal quickly.

Jo said...

Rosanna: It was not a Bart's abscess, thank Frogs. Just the thought of that makes me want to hide in a corner and shake for a while. Normal ordinary skin. Eek!

Leslie said...

Ooh no fun at all :-( Heal well and quickly!

darev2005 said...

I've found that when calling in to work it's best to be as graphic as possible. Even a bit over zealous in the descriptions. That tends to make them quickly say "Never mind! Just come back to work when you can!"

Penny Mitchell said...

I would make you tea and do laundry, if I could. (((((Jo)))))

Ivanhoe said...

Oooh that's big. Mine was only a big blueberry size and I took care of it myself (in same are 51- hahahahaha). For a biggie like that I'd go see a doc for sure.

degratrj said...

I had a Bart cyst the size of a c breast implant which developed in the weeks after my wedding. While I did excite the ER PA that had to drain the half liter of goo that it produced, I freaked my poor husband out. I cleverly managed to imply it was his fault,though,so even now,3 years later, he approaches "the deed" as if he isn't worthy and I'm doing him a favor. amazing

Allison said...

I can offer sympathy and solidarity on the sinus thing. It's a mystery to me what goes on in there. Every cold morphs into a sinus infection, which then requires that same dose of Augmentin.

anissa_roy said...

Youch! You have the most interesting life - and by that I am referencing the supposed ancient curse that says "May you live in interesting times." I've spent the last two weeks reading your entire blog and laughing, raging, and weeping along with you.

Funny how it's easier to tell you couple-thousand blog readers than your employers, hmm?

Oh, and Phiddy - I live in a big city. I was in the ER a few years ago, and wound up getting a Foley. Only after I'd been there for 3 hours or so, and the nurse had removed said Foley and was helping sponge the blood off my mostly-nekkid body, did she ask, "So how is Lois lately?" Lois being my fiancee, and the ER nurse being her best pal from when Lois worked at the hospital.

I humbly submit Anissa's Law: The more embarrassing a situation is, the more likely you are to meet someone you know during it.

Anonymous said...

I had the same type of thing, in the same area, and ended up on antibiotics for a long, long time. My body just couldn't get rid of it, no matter what we tried.

Infections settled into my body and stay there, I have spent a lot of time hospitalized with many, yet that was the most painful one.

beth said...

I had a staph infection on my face, which I thought was just a really bad break out. I'm a clean freak... Never found the source but I'm sure it was from the dirty ER.... I get concerned with all alien forms that appear on me.. I think every healthcare worker should be concerned.

beth said...
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Abilene Rob said...

I worked five in a row this week, or I might have been tempted to fire up my brand-new (totally not pirated!) copy of Photoshop. The time for photochopping is past, which is probably for the best. I don't think I'm man enough to go Googling up the images I would need.

Love to you and yours.

Johnn Parker said...

Hope you have healed a bit by now! I love your style of writing. Thanks for the funny article!

Linda Carole Bloom said...

Somebody left a torn-out magazine beside the printer and I read it hahahah and got your blog name. I'm a new follower (crit care RN in trauma). Love the cyst story - glad it wasn't me though!! (sorry). I gave MRSA to one of my dogs several years ago - it showed up as a skin infection, after I caught her chewing on one of my nursing shoes. The vet didn't believe it until I sent her three case studies in which MRSA was passed from human to canine - all the dog owners were healthcare workers. Nice to meetcha, Love, Linda
houseofbeautifuldogs.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

Those things are horrible. I have had an abscess in my right groin area. It was ridiculously painful. I felt embarrassed and gross because I had a large, weird bump in that area. Thankfully, the doctor who looked at it was a nice guy and told me it was nothing I had done to cause it. Luckily, I didn't have to have it incised. I got a prescription for Bactrim, and the next day I was lying in bed and felt an itchy feeling on my inner thigh. I reached to scratch the itch, but felt something wet. I looked at my hand and thigh and they were covered in the goo that had just come out of that thing. Ew.

Anonymous said...

I had one of these right on The Queen of All She Surveys that was full of staph that my very handsome doctor got to drain while the nurse looked on in horror. So embarrassing and so painful. The call in to work was nice too since they illegally wanted an explanation of course. So me being the biotch I am gave the graphic details about my awful fever, the green pus I was still leaking, how it hurt to move... Gotta love those corporate policies.

joykenn said...

Ah,HA! I know why both doctors are wearing bow ties. They're recommended as an infection control thing. It seems they cultured docs ties and found horrible, gross stuff growing. I mean they wear them multiple days (weeks if they don't eat soup)and the tie dangles over patients and they touch it etc. etc. What about if you wore a dangling necklace every day? Think IC in Sunnydale would like that? I think not. Docs in Gr. Britain have all kinds of dress codes including no ties.