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Osteo Update

Jun 04, 2014 - 0 comments

Since my last entry, I received my first evidence that the infection is healing -- X-rays on Tuesday, 2.5 weeks post surgery and treatment, 6.5 weeks post symptoms appearing, show that the hole that the infection bore through my bone has begun to close up!  For the bone to heal, the infection must first depart this area, so I'm hugely relieved.  Slept my first good night's sleep since this thing started.  Another symptom since Friday is peeling skin on the affected leg... my infectious disease specialist indicated this is a good sign, that infection is leaving my body.  

I have found an absence of community around osteo, and mostly chilling, scary accounts of cases with worst-case outcomes.  Hoping this provides some comfort to a parent or adult in my situation, that healing does happen!  So eager to get all better, but still mostly laid up.  Ah well -- on the right track.  

Osteomyelitis

May 31, 2014 - 0 comments

I had a busy week with my two little kids back in April -- one 7 hr r/t drive to the Sierras to the last bits of the snow, days spent at the zoo and a local theme park, plus my normal yoga class and several weekly jogs -- nothing too crazy.  My shins were both sore, along with all my muscles, by the end of the week, when I banged my right shin on my friend's suv tow hitch.  24 hrs later, my pain was focused on that shin, and I had to start depending on painkillers.  For almost four weeks, including a 11 night holiday stint in Hawaii, my life revolved around high doses of Advil (~2100 mg/day), plus tylenol in the between hours, plus morning sessions writhing in pain.  I saw five different docs, who thought I had a bone bruise, pinched nerve, bad shin splints, and a stress reaction/fracture, respectively.  X-rays showed nothing, and a blood test did show my sed rate at 45 (normal for my age is <20) -- but it too could be explained by a typical injury.  Finally, I saw an orthopedist the day after flying home, who got me a same day-mri.  By early eve, she called me, asking me to get bloodwork that night.  The mri had shown a bone infection or tumor.  I saw an infectious disease specialist the next day, and the day after, had a surgical biopsy, during which the surgeon also cleaned out the infected tissue somewhat.

The biopsy ruled out bone cancer, thankfully, but pathology confirmed osteomyelitis.  I don't fit any of the normal parameters for getting such an infection -- no broken skin or wound when I banged my shin, no other diseases (that the docs can find), etc.  I was in the hospital for 4 days, getting IV antibiotics and recovering from the small surgery.  Fortunately, my pain diminished dramatically, and a week later I was entirely off pain meds.  

A blood test 10 days later showed a still elevated sed rate (43), but the cr protein level has dropped from 1.5 to .4 (normal is <.5) -- which is good news.  I'm on oral antibiotics, cipro and clinda, around the clock, but grateful not to be on iv at this point, as the iv antibiotics left painful, swollen mounds on the vein site, and I couldn't straighten my arm for a week afterward.  The cultures never developed bacteria, which is frustrating, as the exact cause is unknown, but the running theory is that the few white blood cells found in samples indicated my immune system had begun battling this pre-surgery and that particular tissue was already killed of bacteria.  

Anyways, wish I could find more comfort from others' stories, and whether my remaining symptoms -- mild pain in my bone, discoloration and mild swelling/pins&needles when I walk short distances -- are normal and characteristic of recovery.  Hoping so!  It's 15 days post surgery, and I have several more weeks before the docs think a follow-up mri will give us any indication of my bone repair.  

Hives and Strep

Mar 02, 2013 - 1 comments
Tags:

hives

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strep

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urticaria



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At 32, I had my first outbreak with hives after a perfect storm gathered within my body.  I had swollen tonsils, but otherwise felt pretty healthy.  Seasonal pollens had just started in my area (regular allergies), plus I was in a house with lots of cat dander that day (moderate cat allergy).  It was also an emotional day: a fight with a loved one, the death of another.  I think that for all these triggers, my hives began this day, of all days.  That evening, I had what looked like mosquito bites on my bottom and thighs.  The hives mostly disappeared by the next day, but returned with a vengeance that night, and I was prescribed the steroid pregnisone to help with the inflammation (50 mg), and benadryl.  The following day, the hives spread to angry welts over my limbs and lower trunk, and I couldn't sleep or find any relief from the burning and pain (7 out of 10 scale, 10 being natural childbirth).  I went to the ER, where they gave me epinephrin and a breathing treatment (was wheezing), and tested me for mono, and strep throat.  I also began taking the antibiotic keflex in advance of the strep reading, because my hives were so severe.  Doctors also wondered if there was something else going on besides hives; I began to consider I was dying.  The hives subsided for a few hours, but again, became so debilitating that I returned to the ER, concerned with additional symptoms of nausea and a strong headache.  None of the medicines helped, aside from benadryl, which helped me fall asleep.  I couldn't function at all -- my husband had to stay home from work to take care of our children, and my mother would take me to the doctors.  

On day 3, I learned that I had strep, and felt some hope at first that I might heal.  A dermatologist performed a biopsy of my rash, and confirmed by day 6 that it was indeed hives.  The hives continued to mutate in appearance, looking like serious burns, to grey/purple, mottled bruises, to infected insect bites -- my hope of healing danced around responsively.  It also moved everywhere: my scalp, my face, my chest, my armpits and ears.  I was nursing a 3 month old, and was terrified my milk might be bad for her with all the drugs I was taking (all considered 'safe', but still...).  I was given an 80 mg shot of pregnisone on day 4, along with the 40 mg of pregnisone orally, and there was no dent in the progression of these hives.  I was also taking pepsid (type 2 antihistamine), benadryl, claritin, and keflex.  On day 5, I asked two different doctors permission to step entirely off the drugs except the benadryl and keflex, and they felt it would be fine since I hadn't been on pregnisone long.  Unfortunately, they were mistaken, and I suffered severe, lying on the floor abdominal pain and nausea for a few hours until I started taking 30 mg of pregnisone again, as well as pepsid, which I learned I now needed to protect my stomach from the pregnisone.  

Beginning on day 5, I began to see improvement with sleep, where the hives would abate and shrink/lighten.  But movement/activity would flare up the welts and discomfort, and before long I would look and feel horrible again.  Days 7 and 8, the hives near completely disappeared by the morning, aside from some purplish scarring on my abdomen and legs where I had the worst welts-- but movement again would spread the hives all over my body and face.  Today, day 9, I feel the most myself, and the hives are light and completely manageable, just a little itchy.  The purplish scarred patches remain, but will probably fade with time.  I'm fairly certain that this awful experience is coming to an end.  It has been a dramatic, fast recovery, just as dramatic and fast as this completely debilitating nightmare began.  In addition to the exhaustion and physical pain, these hives have been just as traumatic psychologically -- with their constant mutation and movement, and medicines/doctors/online research didn't help at all with my specific case.  Now, in retrospect, I believe strep was the culprit, and it had been brewing untreated in my system for a while: I had swollen tonsils for over a month prior, and periodic sore throats.  Several months before, when my strep symptoms began, I went to the doctor, but the test returned negative.  I now know that 10% of strep results are false negatives, and in the future, I will get a second test if my tonsils remain inflamed.  

There's so little published about strep and hives, and I hope that my story may offer comfort to someone who goes through this.  I also truly doubt that the steroid and antihistamine drugs, aside from the antibiotics, offered any help whatsoever to my condition -- although the epinephrin shot in the ER and breathing treatment did help my system endure the strongest phase of its reaction.  I think that the hives, once started, had to just run their course, spread and conquer my body, and then begin to vanish -- as insensible as that may seem.