Saturday, 24 November 2012

Shoes that work – a readers picture

In relation to some of the comments on this page reader Hutch here on the blog send me this picture of shoes that works for her. Thanks, Hutch! I like all of them, they are very feminine. Number four is my favourite. I haven't worn heels since Lymphedema started but now I feel adventurous and might look into it. I wear a super ugly toecap that makes my toes a great deal wider so I am not sure what I can get my foot into, even with a bigger size on the Lymphedema foot, but I am going to investigate. Shoe number one is a great Summer option with a long skirt. Thank you so much Hutch, for sharing!


I recently got these low cut boots and I love them. I got them in two different sizes and it works very well. They are from a "cheap-and-cheerful" shop but who cares, I think they look stylish, and they work for me. They have an elastic insert on both sides of the foot which makes it possible for me to wear. I can even use them with the compression stockings that has the pads. I have worn them with dressy, black trousers and also with a long dress (see the dress here, first picture). I am thinking about getting another set to have when these ones are too worn to use. I'd like to do that more now, buy two when I find something that works and that I like.


Today I've been busy in the kichen, baking a great no-knead bread in my clay cooker and then this very delicous (and very, very naughty) prune cake. Oh dear, it's good! Check it out!

Monday, 12 November 2012

Dad and Melanoma

While I was away my Dad went to a clinic for a scheduled appointment to have a couple of suspicious looking birthmarks/moles removed. The doctor send them to a lab as I imagine is standard procedure and when the results came back Dad had to go into hospital to have a little more of them taken away. Things were apparently more serious than first anticipated and they took three lymphnodes in his groin, so now he is at risk of developing Lymphedema. This morning he went for a checkup and to get the results from last time and he is now in the clear, thank God! I am so relieved! When he had the three nodes taken out the doctors said they might have to take all his lymphnodes in groin AND armpits but luckily they didn't have to.
Before the surgery they casually mentioned the possibility of Lymphedema but as if it was nothing. Dad knew better and said so, told them about me, I think that shook them a bit. I wonder if they were just ignorant of how much Lymphedema can affect a persons life or if they thought he would make trouble and resist if he knew the full extend of the sideeffects.
So far there is no indication of Lymphedema and hopefully it will never come. I can't bear the thought of Dad having to deal with the hassles of the compression stocking and not being able to wear shorts and sandals in Summer.

On the night before I went into hospital in Spain I looked up the Latin name for Rosen, Erysipelas, and when I first got to the ER I mentioned to the doctors that there was a possibility this could be it, or Cellulitis. It is just an idea but perhaps it is handy to have the names in ones phone or on a piece of paper in ones purse when travelling abroad – or domestic, I guess. The sooner a diagnosis can be made, the sooner the right treatment can be given, which I think is very important with Cellulitis and Rosen. A hint may speed up things instead of doctors spending precious time figuring out what is going on.

Coming soon: A readers picture of nice shoes that works! I also want to show you some pictures of new pants and boots I got a little while ago.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Cellulitis

To new readers: The following happened during my big walk in Spain.

So I had Cellulitis for the first, and hopefully, only time.

The beginning
It started the day before I realized it had started. One day in the afternoon after about 15 kilometers of walking I was feeling kind of tired. Not just because of the walking, which I usually hardly felt after a little rest, but some other kind of tiredness. I was certain that it was because I hadn’t been drinking enough water, combined with the time of the month and also the stress I had experienced coming into that town. It was a larger town, it was marketday and very busy and I just couldn’t find the hostel I wanted to go to. Old ladies wanted to sell me cheese but I wanted them to show me directions. Eventually I found it, drank water, unpacked, went out for lunch, came back, showered, drank lots of water and rested. I think I even fell asleep for a bit in the afternoon.

Next morning I didn’t notice anything unusual so I set out for 14 km of walking. After only perhaps two km I felt sick and before I knew it I was throwing up and shivering with fever. I was in a forest and as I went to "the powderroom" I pulled down the compression stocking to check my leg as it felt warm I saw a red patch. I thought it was just the stocking having rubbed against the skin. I continued walking but had to rest every chance I got. After another two km I got to a little cafe where I decided to have a break and a cup of tea. I was miserable. I knew there was another ten km to the next hostel and as I sat there I realized it would not be safe to walk much further so I got the guy behind the bar to call for a taxi. As it pulled up I was spewing my guts outside.

Having arrived in the nearest town I found a little pension where I got my own room and bathroom. I found a heavy blanket that I put over the bed and went in with all my clothes on, I was shivering. After a bit I took the stocking off and most of my leg was very, very red and burning hot. The thought of Rosen/Cellulitis indeed struck me but I had never had it before and I wasn’t sure exactly what it was supposed to look like. I slept and rested for the rest of the afternoon.

I hadn’t eaten much so by dinnertime I decided to wrap my leg with the few rolls of bandages that I brought (didn't dare put the stocking on the red, hot leg) and went to the next door restaurant to eat. That went fine and I even went to check my e-mail afterwards at an internetplace. I decided to wait till next morning to make a decicion about seeing a doctor. I knew that the leg would still be red next morning but perhaps it would be a little better. It wasn’t. In fact it was worse. Stepping out of the bed to go to the toilet the leg felt tight and sore and at first I couldn’t even stand on it. It felt and looked very much like a very severe sunburn. I asked the staff to call for a doctor but they said that I had to go to the doctor as the doctor would not come unless it was really, really bad. I dragged the poor fellow into my room and showed him my leg and when he saw it he went "I’ll carry you to the doctor myself"!!! He didn’t have to though, as paramedics came and took me to the local clinic.

In hospital
The rest is history, as they say. At the clinic they took a quick look at me before sending me to a big hospital in Santiago. There I first went through all the standards – blood tests, blood pressure, cardiogram, ultrasound, X-ray etc. Around dinnertime they gave me the first bag of antibiotics, intravenous. I had never tried that before and I hope I never will again. I had quite a fever, more than 39°C so that was a lot. It took a good few days before they got that under control.

Already after the first night of antibiotics the looks of my leg had improved. Not nearly as red and hot so that was good. Still, the second I put my leg on the floor to go to the toilet it turned dark red/blue and puffed up. As if no valves or anything was working. That had me quite worried but after a couple of days that too got better. At first I worried a lot about whether the doctors knew what they were up against and if I was given the correct treatment, but once I heard the diagnosis – Cellulitis – I was certain that they were right and that the treatment was the right one. And it was. I asked the doctor if she knew about Lymphedema and apparently she did a little. That was also reassuring.

After perhaps four or five days the medicine started being a little harsh on my poor veins and they had to shift the IV several times. I was so worried that all the injections would cause Lymphedema in my arm. The last time they shifted it was rather traumatic. They had a very hard time finding places to inject as my veins apparently are not very visible. When they finally did and I afterwards lay in the darkness with both arms sore and wrapped up I couldn’t help a good cry. The next day they put me on tablets instead. The first ones made me sick but then I shifted to some powder that I later found out is for children ;-)

Day by day my leg got better, both the colour and the puffy sensation when up. The last couple of days there I was up for an hour or two each day walking around carefully, with the stocking on. Preparing for life outside the hospital.
After ten days in the hospital I had persuaded them to let me go, so an early morning I was put in a wheelchair and taken to the airport where staff took me to the plane in a wheelchair and I flew home. Even though Dad had just gotten out of hospital that morning (more about this soon) he and Mum collected me and took me home to my flat. Wonderful to be home again. My bed felt so soft and comfy.

My stay at the hospital wasn't horrible. Almost all of the staff was very kind and I was treated very good. Unfortunately only a couple of them spoke a tiny bit of English so I couldn't communicate much. The last couple of days a really kind American doctor working there came to see me. The worst bit was by far the IV. I hope I will never have to go through that again.

What brought it on?
It is hard to say. The doctor at the hospital thought it started with a small infection I had had around the nail on the big toe. I am not sure about that as it seemed to have healed up nicely and also because the red, hot sensation didn't seem to start from the foot but more around the knee area. Who knows... I imagine it had to have come from the outside, not just from a weak body so perhaps the doctor was right. I guess I should have been much more carefull with all those blisters but it was the good old "it won't happen to me" – or rather, it just didn't cross my mind because I had never had Cellulitis before and I consider my skin and my health in general to be quite good.

Now
I am good now and I am finally off the tablets. Still feel tired but I guess that's only natural after all this. There is still a tiny bit of discoloration to see a couple of places but hopefully that will disappear over time. My skin has been very dry since I got better, especially on the foot. It seems like the skin is renewing itself, a little like after a sunburn. I am like a snake, changing its skin. After all those days of lying down the size and shape of my leg was better than it's been for years, how ironic! It still looks allright but will probably fill up soon.
Some say that having had Cellulitis once one is more prone to it in the future. I hope this is not true. Hopefully my leg and my skin will become just as strong and healthy as it was before, and in the future I will definitely be more careful.

The trip altogether came to be much different than anticipated. A curious thing is that for months and months ahead of the trip I had been longing for some kind of break from my life at home. For example lying in a seaside hotel somewhere starring at the sea, reading books. I got my break, but in a hospital. For the first week I was alone in a three-bed room which was nice. One had to put coins in the TV and after a day or two I ran out and no one could change for me so there was really nothing to do but just lie there or read. My sweet Mum was super, on the second day she send me a package with newspaper, magazines, a book, knickers and chocolate, it arrived the next day with a courier. Also, the doctor went out and bought me a book, really sweet of her!

If you want you can see a couple of pictures I took on the night before I went into hospital. I took them so I could compare the next morning. They are not too gross, I just thought people should have a choice of not seeing them. I put them here. The next morning it was worse than this, by then the knee was almost all red.

Thank you so much for all your comments! I have some catching up to do with replying but I am working on it :-)

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Big walk, day 15

Hi all. This is not day 15, I am home now. I prepared this post around day 15 but never got to publish it. Believe me when I say that lots have happened since I wrote this. Cellulitis, hospital (in Spain), Dad having Melanoma (and lymphnodes removed!). Anyway, I thought that now that I wrote the stuff below I might as well post it. In the meantime I will write about my ordeals. I am good now and it is wonderful to be home again. See you soon.

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It’s me again, I am about 50 km from Santiago now. Feet are much better, I look after them good now. I am enjoying the walking very much. The weather has been quite nice lately. It is only about 16°C but it doesn’t matter, one heats up from the walking and the sun being out is the main thing, I feel.

Among the people I have met since my last post is a Canadian family of two sisters, their father and the one sisters little son, seven years old. He was such a trooper, they would walk about 20 km each day and he never complained. Every time they had a break or when they finished walking for the day he would run around pretending to be a car or a plane. So much energy! Yesterday I was walking with an Australian lady, perhaps 60 or so. We had a good talk and the 16 km flew by. She had lost her son three years ago in a car accident. Now she walked the Camino trying to figure out what to do with the rest of her life. Like me.

So a day in the life of a pilgrim here on the Camino starts around six or seven in the morning when the early risers starts rattling with their plastic bags, getting their stuff together. At many of the shelters they want you gone by eight, so that’s when I leave. Then you walk till sometime in the afternoon, get a bed at a shelter and perhaps rest for a bit. Then it is time for showering and washing the clothes you’ve been walking in so they are ready for the next days afternoon. Usually by then, for me, I write a few notes in my journal and then it is time to think about dinner. Most places one can have a menu of the day or a pilgrims menu, I have had that many times. However, in some shelters there are kitchens so some cook. A couple of times I have gotten a frozen lasagne or something and heated it in the microwaveoven. Around eight I start getting ready for bed and it happens that all the pilgrims in the dormitory are in bed by nine. Tired from the days walking, knowing an early start awaits. That’s pretty much it. Some arrive early in the day and have time to check out the town or village, though often there is nothing to check out. I’ve got enough on my plate taking care of my feet and trying to take it all in.

I've taken some pictures here and there along the route but can’t get them out of my camera before I am home, then I will post some so you can see how beautyful it is here.