Thursday, September 13, 2012

Adventures in (non)healing

For the last few days my left arm, underarm, and breast have all felt heavy, achy, and sore and I was having a hard time lifting my hand up high because it hurt in my underarm. I figured that the biopsy and my previous surgery taking out lymph nodes caused a buildup of lymph fluid in those areas so I massaged them. I'd been taught how to do the use massage to move the lymph fluid and get it flowing better way back when I had the lymphedema in my arm. I'd noticed that the area around the stitches was a bit warm and a bit red but I figured that this was related to the swelling and buildup of lymph fluid.

Imagine my surprise when I was having a bath and I noticed that the area around the stitches was bright red and there was that particular yellow crust around the stitches that signifies infection. My dermatologist had told me to call if anything looked strange and so I called right away. He would have liked it if I could have gone to see him this afternoon but he was leaving in an hour and it would have taken at least an hour and a half to get there because Ian had the car.

He told me that in this case, I should go to the emergency room and have them look at it since he couldn't prescribe something over the phone. I asked if I could go to a walk-in clinic and he reluctantly said yes but preferred the emergency room.

I called Ian right away, told him what was going on, and he came home to take me to the emergency room. I was worried that I'd end up there for at least six hours... and I almost did. The main treatment area was not moving at all and was really backed up. They were able to get me into the minor treatment area where I was seen by a nurse practitioner. She took out the stitches, gave me a prescription for Keflex, and we were on our way in just over two hours.

If the Keflex doesn't work I need to go back to the ER and they'll put me on IV antibiotics. That's one outcome I'd like to avoid but if it does come to that, it's actually a good thing that I went to this ER - the one associated with the cancer center. As much as I'd wanted to go to a walk-in clinic, going to this ER meant that they had more information about me and my cancer treatment. Ian was right to make me go to the ER even though I was whining about having to be there for six hours.

I see the dermatologist on Monday. He expects that the infection will be cleared up and I hope he's right.

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