For the first time this week, I am able to sit at my desk to try and write something, anything, to take my mind off the discolored lower left leg that kept ER docs working feverishly to stop me from becoming Capt. Ahab with a peg leg.
Sorry, bad joke. A throbbing, sharpy-discolored leg turned out to be a serious cellular and blood infection that sent us to Carilion Medical Center Monday.
For a 75-year-old man who used to ignore risks as a way of life, based in part by the granddad who used to say “if you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much room.” such things were considered part of life.
In five accidents over the last sixty or so years, I have faced a serious possibility of amputation of a left or right leg (below the knee) and/or death.) In too-typical macho style, I laughed it off, including the motorcycle accident in 2012 that caused TBI (traumatic brain injury), the possibility of amputating my right leg below the knee, and other internal injuries.
Problems from those injuries continue today but I shrugged them off and stupidly decided to tackle a plumbing problem that shut down our home waster system earlier in the year.
After four weeks of struggling with aging PCV pipe, worn-out connections, elbows, and leaks, I managed to restore the system two weeks ago but came down at the end with Pink Eye from something I came in contact int that damp, unsanitary crawl space.
With treatment, the eyes were getting better when I fell last week and appeared to injure my left ankle. It was swollen and discolored last Friday and my wife urged me to go to the ER, which I stupidly ignored. By Monday, the leg was dark purple with tight, swollen, stretched skin that was hot to the touch and hurt like hell. A trip to our local Cariliion office brought suggestions from nursing assistants that I either had an “infected spider bite” or a blood clot. They urged an immediate trip to the ER.
The ER doctors quickly dismissed a spider bite or blood clot, but immediately felt we were dealing with cellulitis and blood infection. They were right. After working through the night, they brought my temperature down from life-threatening levels and administered hardcore antibiotics.
Three days later, on this Thursday morning, I am home, sitting up (only for a while) and trying to make sense of what happened and why it did. The conclusion is simple: Stupidity on my part. I worked for four weeks in a toxic crawl space without proper masking and no eye protection in a job that could have been completed by a competent professional one-third of the time.
A stupid stunt for a youngster and a nearly-fatal one for a 75-year-old man with COPD, and chronic bronchitis. Will I learn from this? I sure as hell hope so. The leg still hurts ad recovery is proceeding but work remains to make sure the use of the leg fully returns, along with the ability to walk.
Carillion will examine the mess I’ve created again on Friday and their recommendations will be followed, without question. This one scared me a lot and the pain is not yet over. I prefer to continue walking on two legs and have a little time left on this third rock from the Sun.