Healing Gabriel

Healing Gabriel
Elizabeth Kelly's latest novel "Healing Gabriel"

Friday, 20 September 2013

Death by Shaving

The weather is starting to turn cool and I couldn't be happier.  Not because I hate the heat (although I do) and not because I'm looking forward to cozy sweaters and jeans and boots again (although I am), but because I hate to shave.   And let's be honest - there's less shaving of the legs in the winter.  I mean, I'm not going full on Sasquatch over here but I don't shave my gams every single day (sorry honey).

Lots of women hate to shave but I really hate it.  I like to think I have a good reason for hating it.  About fifteen years ago I nearly died from shaving my legs. 

I was in my mid-twenties and living on my own in a tiny little apartment.  One morning I woke up and realized that my leg was kind of sore.  In fact it was so sore I was limping.  Upon investigation I discovered a large red bump on the inside of my upper thigh, just above my knee.  It was so painful to the touch that I was forced to wear a skirt to work that day.  My pant leg brushing against it was like being brushed with fire.

Later that morning I went to my family doctor, a lovely woman named Dr. Meg, assuming I had a boil or something on my leg.  She took one long look at it, probed it gently with her fingers and then gave me a strange look.

Dr. Meg:  Elizabeth, you need to go to the hospital right now.
Me:  What?  I can't go to the hospital.  I have to go back to work.
Dr. Meg:  No, you're going to the hospital.  I am not kidding about this.  You leave my office and go straight to the hospital.
Me:  Um, okay?
Dr. Meg:  See how it's red all around the lump?  I'm going to take this pen and mark where the red is.
Me:  Why?
Dr. Meg:  It's an easy way to let us know how quickly the red is spreading.
Me:  Oh.
Dr. Meg:  I'll call ahead to the hospital and let the infectious disease people know you're coming.
Me:  Infectious disease?  Am I dying?  I'm dying aren't I?
Dr. Meg:  *pauses* Noooo...but you have a really bad strep infection.
Me:  Strep infection?  My throat's not sore!
Dr. Meg:  Sweet Jesus Elizabeth!  Stop arguing with me and get your ass to the hospital right now!

When I arrived at the hospital the infectious disease team was waiting for me.  I was hustled into a room and a stern-looking doctor and an intern showed up within minutes.  The stern-looking doctor examined my leg for a few minutes, poking and prodding at the lump as I hollered and cursed every time he touched it.

He frowned at the pen marks and asked when they had been made.  At that point, the red had nearly doubled in size and was well past the pen marks Dr. Meg had made.  When I told him twenty minutes give or take a few, he grunted loudly in alarm and turned to his intern.

Infectious Disease Doctor (IDD):  If we start her on IV antibiotics immediately there's a chance we'll be able to save the leg.
Me:  *blink, blink*
IDD:  She's allergic to pencillin so let's try her on clindamycin.  It should be powerful enough to knock back the infection.
Me:  Um, I'm starting to feel slightly alarmed here.
IDD:  Have you had clindamycin before young lady?
Me:  No, but if I may, did you say there's a chance you'll be able to save my leg?  Because it sounded like you said that but obviously I have misheard you.
IDD:  You heard me correctly.
Me:  Am I dying?  I'm dying aren't I?
IDD:  You have an extremely serious strep infection that is on the verge of turning into flesh-eating disease.  We're going to start IV antibiotics today.  If we're lucky and caught it in time and if the antibiotics are powerful enough, you'll keep your leg.  If it doesn't work and turns into flesh-eating disease, best case scenario - you lose your leg.  Worst case scenario - you die.  Do you understand me?
Me:  Perfectly.  Also - do you have a bucket I can vomit into?
IDD:  You can vomit after we get an IV into you and start the antibiotics.

Obviously the treatment worked as I have all four limbs, but it was the scariest moment of my life.  After a few days of having an IV lodged in my hand and going twice a day to the infectious disease center to have antibiotics pumped into my body, the doctor actually ended up lancing the lump (at that point, the most painful experience of my entire life).  Apparently it was full of an astonishing amount of pus.

Oh, and it turns out that I was also allergic to the clindamycin, but it had already knocked back a significant amount of the infection before I turned into a giant walking rash and had to switch to yet another antibiotic.

The strep infection was caused from an ingrown hair.  The ingrown hair was caused from shaving.  Ingrown hairs are quite common and happen to a lot of people.  Only in my case I nearly died from an ingrown hair.  How lame would that sound in an obituary?  Seriously, I would have been all, "Tell people I was killed pushing a small child out of the path of a speeding bus."

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