Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Cellulitis (warning, graphic photos in this post)

I just had the misfortune of coming down with what my Dr. called a "Serious case of Cellulitis".  I am going to share the experience with photos documenting the progression of the infection.

Warning - this post contains graphic photos documenting the progression of the infection in my leg.

Oct 20 - started as any other day...I got up and went to work.  About an hour after arriving I felt really cold, to the point where I was wearing 2 hoodies!  A few hours after that I started encountering body pain and what can best be described as "flu-like symptoms".  By home time I had no energy, was sore all over and generally felt really bad.  I had to walk 4 blocks and literally had to stop 3 times to rest and catch my breath.  I don't recall ever feeling that bad.

Oct 21 - I called in sick to work and noticed a round red mark on my shin.  It was sore and warm to the touch, which indicated to me that there was an infection.  I went to the Dr.  He listened to my symptoms, looked at my leg and made the diagnosis.  He prescribed some antibiotics and pain killers and said it generally clears up in 10 - 14 days.

Oct 22 - I again called in sick as the pain had worsened and the "rash" had spread a bit.

Oct 23 - I awoke with a huge amount of pain and the redness had spread to about 3/4 of my lower leg.  I made the decision to go the the ER as this did not seem right.  I spent the afternoon in the ER and they put me on IV antibiotics with at least 5 sessions.  This meant a trip to the IV Clinic once a day for the sessions.  Also, at this point the pain was intense and they gave me Percocet for the pain.  Here are some photos of the leg at this point:

Oct 24 - I went for an Ultrasound on the leg to rule out any clot of some kind.  Results were negative which is good!

Oct 25 - the leg looks brutal!  The swelling and redness has consumed a large portion of the lower leg and has started to cover my tattoo.  Everything that is red is HOT and sore to the touch.

Oct 26 - I was awoken by the ER Dr calling me to say she wanted to see me due to some abnormal blood work results.  I spent the next 7 hours in ER.  More blood work, a chest xray and a new IV antibiotic - this one 3x a day.

Oct 27 - I saw the Dr. of Internal Medicine who checked me out.  The infection had spread and blisters were forming.  They tested for MRSA to rule that out and wrapped the leg in bandages to protect it.  At this point they wanted to change my IV spot but were unable to establish one so the decision was made to go with a PICC line.  That was scheduled for Oct 28.  I was also able to get on their Home IV program which allowed me to administer my own antibiotics at home rather than coming into the IV Clinic 3x a day.

Here are the photos before they bandaged me up.

Oct 28 - I came in for my PICC line and that was not too bad...way easier than worrying about the IV.

Oct 29 - Not much and IV's and painkillers...

Oct 30 - Saw the Dr. again today...continuing the 3x a day IV antibiotics, and he also put me on a new oral one for 10 days...says the infection is resistant and wants to see if this will help.  The pain has started to subside and T3's seem to be enough now.  All the blistered skin has turned a nasty shade of green with infection.  While changing the bandage you can see where some of the skin stuck and tore off.

Nov 3 - Weekend was more of the same...forgot to take photos of leg after bandage change on Saturday...  Met with Dr. this morning and he is worried about the lack of progress with the infection.  Has put me on yet another IV antibiotic, this time a stronger more expensive one.  This one is only once a day, but I can do it myself at home so that is good.  As you can see, the infection is still running wild.  The nurse took a gauze sponge and tried to get as much moisture out of the leg as she could...this was NOT fun.  This is probably the worst it looked the whole time.

Nov 4 - Went in to Home Care to get my PICC dressing changed, and they changed my leg bandages too.  What a difference!  With most of the liquid squeezed out yesterday, most of it had a chance to actually dry out a bit and scab over.  It's almost like I can see a light at the end finally!

Nov 8 - A few days passed with not many changes and no are some from todays bandage change.  All scabbed over now and dead skin peeling off.  We peeled some of the scab off that was easily removed...

Nov 10 - Met with the Dr. again today...he is keeping me on the expensive IV for another week.  He and the nurse spent some time peeling dead skin and scab from the leg...looks significantly different now.

Nov 12 - next bandage change I went to town and peeled pretty much all the scab off.  There are a few spots that are still raw and will scab over again, but over all it is healing.  Still really red and swollen, but not like before.  The tattoo looks to be mostly intact, so once everything heals it might not be as bad as we feared.

Nov 14 - The leg is really drying out now...lots of dry skin to peel off, and the raw spots did scab over like I expected.  Going to have to start with some moisturizing cream to see if that helps.

Nov 17 - Met with the Dr. this morning and he says it looks like I am good to go.  He stopped the IV antibiotic and prescribed one last week of a new oral one.  They removed the PICC line and fitted me with a "tubey grip" compression stocking to help with the swelling.  The Dr. says the discoloration may stick around for months still.  Lots of dry skin, still a bit tender to the touch, but back to work tomorrow!

I may update with new photos as it continues to heal...This has been a BRUTAL experience and I am so glad it is almost over.

EDIT - Nov 24 - Here are some photos from Nov 23...almost a week and you can see there is a difference.  It is still red, still a bit swollen and tender to the touch, but is definitely on the mend.

EDIT - Dec 15 - Here are some photos from November 30.  Not much difference I don't think...

And here are some photos from December 14: The redness looks to be calming down...

Update from January 12, 2016 - 13 months after the last set of photos were taken.  I am amazed as to the amount of discoloration still present in my leg more than a year later.  

Update from October 2016 - These photos are from 2 years after the infection.  There is still a LOT of discoloration, and I expect it will last forever now.

Update from December 2018 - 4 years post infection.

There is still discoloration in the are some recent photos.

It has faded a bit, and perhaps even gotten smaller, but it is still there.