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 today...rest 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 pictures...here 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 leg...here are some recent photos.



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

23 comments:

Unknown said...

Did they ever identify the specific bacteria responsible for your cellulitis?
A loved one has something very similar that is very stubborn to get rid of!

Michael Hollands said...

No...they never did, (or if they did they never told me) but they did attack it with some pretty powerful broad spectrum antibiotics to get rid of it.

Liza said...

Geez!! Thanks for sharing! My husband was just diagnosed with cellulitis yesterday and we had to take a trip to the ER today. He was on an IV drip for 2 hrs. He's now on codeine and oral antibiotics. Im praying it doesn't spread anymore.

Michael Hollands said...

Good luck to you guys! Mine was nasty and I hope his doesn't get this bad.

Liza said...

Thank you! And thanks for your great day to day posts with pics. You did a great job documenting it👍.

Regina Phalange said...

I was diagnosed with cellulitis on both legs two weeks ago. I took antibiotics for 10 days and one leg has started to scab, the other hasn't. Both still look equally disgusting and I'm contemplating a trip to the ER because I feel like by now, it should be improving more. Your post gives me hope, though, that there is an end and my legs will somewhat return to normal again. I look forward to the day I can walk without pain!!

Rick said...

Howdy, Mike! Names Rick, Hailing from Brazil. I've stumbled upon this post after my dad got the same damn thing. Looks and probably feels very nasty. His legs are scabbing right now, but everything hurts on his leg. He can't even walk, because if he does all his scabs open and he starts to bleed out!
I'm wondering: You got the same worries?

Rick said...

Switch "Worries" by "Issues"! Bit of a clumsy Joe there.

margret giboney said...

I stumbled upon your post and I'm impressed with your documentation. Very interesting. Sorry you had to experience this

Kerry Goulding said...

How long roughly did it last, I only ask as my mother's started on the 12 of march 2017 and is just getting worse and worse, the hospital and doctors are saying it looks fine but she's got massive holes in her and they are just getting deeper and bigger, I'm very worried she will lose her leg. What bandages did they put on ? Sorry if I'm being nosey, thanks Kerry

Michael Hollands said...

I started on an oral antibiotic for a few days, then 3 different IV antibiotics for 3 weeks, then finished with another oral antibiotic for 10 days.

I suffered another mild case again this year, but because I knew what to look for I went straight to the ER for the IV. One week of IV and I was on the mend.

I am not sure what bandages I needed in the beginning, but you can see in my photos that the day after I removed them and let the wound dry out that the healing really started.

I would ask for a second opinion for your mother. These bacteria can be a real problem and people have been known to lose their leg.

Taryn Bagwell said...

My husband has been on the IV antibiotics for a week now. I wanted to know if you experienced any burning and sharp pain when changing positions? It hurts most when putting his leg from an elevated position to standing or even a sitting position. If you felt this, how long did you have this pain for?

Zain Tsunshi said...

This has helped me SO MUCH. I knew something was wrong with my leg but couldn't figure out what. I was able to use oral antibiotics, and i did go in for a normal iv because i was really concerned about getting dehydrated. It looks like im pretty lucky and the antibiotics are taking care of some other problems too. Thank you so much for documenting this.

Joyce Scherer said...

My husband got cellulitis after a nasty case of athlete's foot. He has been on meds for 20 days. He had large red patches on shins and smaller ones on back of calves. Never felt sick just swollen feet which he tried to elevate several times a day. His skin stayed flat no eruptions. It has taken forever for the red to subside. We are, finally, seeing it get lighter, but feet still swollen. He is a healthy guy who works out every day. He stopped for a while to heal this stuff; but, has returned using caution. Never exposes his feet to gym floor. How do you know when the infection is entirely gone? The skin looks a little dried out where it was once so red.

KLJ in KC said...

I had flu-like symptoms, much like yours, the weekend after Thanksgiving. I did have a sore spot on my leg, but I went to the ER for the flu symptoms, not for my leg. My leg very suddenly got much worse; I was taken to the OR for the first of 4 surgeries on my right leg. My leg looked a lot like yours did. I was transferred to the burn unit, where the best care for large wounds is available. I spent 4 weeks in the burn unit, and 1 week in a rehab unit. I ended up with skin grafts on the leg, and am now still in the healing process with some open wounds. You're right; this was quite an ordeal, and a complete bolt out of the blue. The hospital/doctor statements are still coming in, and are now up to nearly $500,000.

Mark B. said...

I have had more than one round of cellulitis and we now know what to be on the lookout for, I have spent a few days in the hospital on round the clock antibiotics, yes it is indeed painful, I am surprised that you were not hospitalized with your case. It is an ordeal for certain, I am now an amputee left below knee, not due to cellulitis, I now am battling a case of cellulitis in the end of my stump, it makes it hard to get around to say the least. Thanks for posting your story, I know that some people who have never had it will now be on the lookout for this infection.

Pascaline Sakir said...

My mother is having the same thing...on the left leg and the she was hospitilized to treat it...but the doctors gave her discharge and she was on oral antibiotics..she had it on 10th of march 2018..with a high fever vomiting pain and all...we were so worried that she might lose her legs...and i saw your photos and showed it to her...now i see that she is recovering slowly..and some of them are healing but still swollen ,red at some place a bit and pain..hope she will get better soon...pascaline from mauritius island.

TERRY B said...

I consider myself an educated guy but never heard of cellulitis . My infection is my lower right leg between my knee and my ankle. my infection began April 5, 2018 is now lasted for about 2 1/2 weeks . One week in the hospital with IV anabiotics & 1 + 1/2 weeks at home with IV anabiotics
Dr. is hoping to stop the IV next week but says I may have to wear pressure garments for a year and the discoloration may never go away .
Right now the biggest thing is the severe pain when ever I lower my right leg beneath my body core - I will keep you all posted and wish all of you the best of luck beating this horrifying infection
Terry B

stephen knutson said...

Terry B., my leg looked just like the pics in the post. I had mine Oct 22, 2017. My leg is still very discolored purplish and has very dry skin. I almost forgot how much it hurt to lower my leg to the floor to walk until you mentioned it. I found dipping mine leg into the hurt zone in and out got me going more quickly. I hope this helps you and best of wishes.
Stephen K.

Ktsnan said...

After having suffered this horrible complaint a while back just wondering what creams anone has used to help with the skin peeling please. Glad to hear you are now much better terry as it is the most painful thing I have ever dncountered. Wishing all sufferers all the best for a speedy recovery.

Unknown said...

Your pictures look exactly like what I went through with the cellulitis in my legs. Except I had it in both of my legs. I am about 7 1/2 weeks in now. My main symptom is swelling & then there is the discoloration. You didn’t mention a lot about swelling. I know that obesity and diabetes can cause more swelling/edema. I am neither of those. I am thin and besides the cellulitis, I am otherwise healthy. You mentioned the compression tube sleeve (I got those a couple times so I know what you are talking about). But you did not mention compression socks (true compression socks). When I wake up in the morning, I have zero swelling, but if I go about my day with nothing on my legs, they swell little by little until they are really swollen & throbbing. If I wear TED socks and wrap each leg on top of that with an ace bandage, it keeps the swelling away so what I really need are compression socks. My plastic surgeon is going to take measurements to determine what size is best for me. But what I’d like to ask is if your swelling got to the point of needing true compression socks. And if so, what did you wear (or still wear if that is the case).

Unknown said...

I am seven months in with the exact same thing except mine crept up a lot faster. I was at work at 9am on a Wednesday morning with flu like symptoms and some major leg pain (like I broke it or something) and was sent home. I took a nap (not my smartest move) and woke up unable to walk on that leg at all. I texted my husband who came home and took me to the ER. They admitted me that night. I had no rash on my leg or anything. Turns out I had a blood infection from a small cut on my toe (they think) and cellulitis in my lower leg. Over the next few days it rashed up and eventually blistered for what seemed like centuries. My left leg from the knee to the toes blistered all the way around. I couldn't walk on my foot, couldn't bend me leg etc it was so bad. The blisters oozed for days and we didn't wrap it right away until the weeping slowed down. They sent me home from the hospital looking like a zombie leg. MEMORIES RIGHT??? My healing process took about two months. Then needed physical therapy because I was unable to use my foot for so long. This was like living a real nightmare. Anyway, at this point I am healed, back to work and walking small intervals. My question is this......did the discoloration ever go away. I still have some significant tenderness in my leg and my whole leg has the same discoloration you have. I saw your last set of pictures was from two years later so I am not hopeful it will ever go away but any response would be greatly appreciated.

Michael Hollands said...

Sorry for my tardy responses...to the person asking about compression socks, I did get a "prescription" for some, but never followed through. Instead, I found some on a Groupon that looked nicer than the prescription ones and use those a few days every week. Basically, if I know I will be on my feet more, or out later than the end of the work day, I wear them. It helps, although the medical ones probably do a better job.

To the person asking about the discoloration...I hate to tell you this, but mine has not gone away yet. 4 years and counting. I will try and update the original post with recent photos.