And so the leg problems return

leg c2002 150x150 And so the leg problems return Leg ulcer

The red gaitor area.

Around c. February 2002, I again returned to the doctor with problems with the leg. It was swollen, painful and reddish in the gaitor area. He diagnosed me with “Cutaneous Cellulitis” and I was told to take anti-diuretic tablets and also antibiotics in case of infection. I still had not linked anything together, however, that is unsurprising because neither had they! The leg then first broke down into an ulcerated state. It started I think with a cut on the shin. I returned to the Doctor and I was told it was just a cut and because I still had Cellulitis, it was just taking longer to heal. I was sent off with a lot of antibiotics and told to return if it was no better.

Around May 2002, it had not improved (actually it was bigger and more painful), it had also ended up being quite sloughy and smelly. It was so bad that when people walked into the room, they could smell it.

If you have never had an infected wound, you probably don’t understand the distress it can cause you. You know others can smell it and it plays on your mind. You try everything you can to try and disguise the smell. I’ve used allsorts to try. I’ve used aftershave on top of dressings, even at times Febreeze! Nothing works other than antibiotics and a full dressing change. However this was the time when it wasn’t fully dressed and was exposed. It was a. Definate low point.

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The wound in April 2002

I decided I needed to return to the doctors and ended up seeing a different Doctor than my normal one. He instantly said on seeing the wound that it was a leg ulcer and needed to be treated as soon as possible. He booked me into to see the nurses the very next day to have it cleaned and dressed properly.

For the next year, I was treated to various medications and treatments to heal the ulcers, nothing seemed to work. It would heal up a little then break down even more. The time when it seemed to get worse was when they were using adhesive dressings on the wound. They would stick to the surrounding good area, then when dressing change time came around, it would be removed and some of the good skin would come off, leading to more ulcers. It was a “Catch 22″. I was not in compression bandages at this time, just some soft bandaging and tubigrip.

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The leg ulcer in June 2002

In November 2003, I then ended up suffering with calf pain again. All the classic symptoms of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT). I had another doctors appointment and was sent to the hospital immediately as they suspected a DVT. I was sent to the ward and they told me they had no beds so could I wait in the Reception area. The next bed coming up was still being used by an elderly patient who was waiting for her lift to turn up. By now, I was having a few problems breathing and the pain was excruciating.

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The leg ulcer in July 2002

The nurses and doctors didn’t seem to want to hurry the other patient out of the bed. I even had the WRVS volunteers coming up to me and asking if I was all right. I was getting tearful while speaking to them as I was beginning to think I was in serious trouble and was going to die in a comfy chair outside of the ward!

My father then came to the ward to see me and was shocked that I was in such a state and did not have a bed. He went to the nurses station and complained bitterly that I needed treatment NOW. They shuffled the old lady off into the waiting area and got me a bed. I had a lot of blood tests and was made as comfortable as possible. The main test which is undertaken is a D-dimer which detects certain particles in the blood which are present after a clot has begun to break down.

The interesting thing is that apparently my results all came back “normal” and I did not have a DVT. I was told it was another Superficial Vein Thrombosis. I now believe this to be wrong as I have letters that went from Doctors to Doctors where they say they are surprised a DVT was missed and that they had got the diagnosis wrong.

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  1. My story – Updated | Leg Ulcer Blog

    5th January 2010 at 8:14 pm

    […] And so the leg problems return […]

  2. Shirley Andreas

    15th August 2011 at 11:57 am

    I’m worried about my mother-in-law, she lives with us for 16years now!
    Lately she’s losing weight, and the leg smell is getting worse, she kept the wound clean and all times.
    She decided not to go the hospital for check ups anymore, I don’t know what to do. I don’t want to invade
    in her private life because she’s a very private person.
    How do I help her!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • admin

      15th August 2011 at 11:19 pm

      You do really need her to see a doctor as it certainly sounds like she has an infection and these will obviously not get better on there own and will be incredibly painful. If it is an infection, the ulcers will get worse and deeper and there is a real risk of septicaemia. And if it got really bad there is probably a risk of gangrene, not nice however you look it it!

      I can understand why she is private and doesn’t like checkups. One thing about leg ulcer sufferers is they try to hide the fact they have them because of the smell etc. People tend to shy away from groups of people, even if the intention is to help. I know this because I am the same.

      When I have an infection, I tend to be very quiet, don’t like to go out and will be at the back of a group. I suppose you could say they cause social stigma in the person who has them.

      Basically, you really MUST get her to a doctor as soon as possible regardless of her being private or not as there are serious problems that may occur, perhaps consider a home visit if she doesn’t want to sit in a waiting room which could increase her anxiety.

      Hope everything works out!

      • Shirley Andreas

        16th August 2011 at 11:44 am

        Thanks so much for your reply!
        I think my mother in law has already septicaemia or
        gangrene because the holes in the leg is so deep, and she kept putting on viocort which i think does’nt help at all.
        She spent up to +/- a R1000.00 a month on supplies for the leg but the smell is still in the house.
        I know that i need to take her to a Doctor, but how do
        i do that, if she is such a difficult person?

        • admin

          16th August 2011 at 10:17 pm

          This is, unfortunately, something which I cannot answer. However, I really think you need to impress on her the potential outcomes of not treating the infection.

          I don’t want to seem dramatic but I am sure you are aware that the outcome of septicaemia is not good! Also if it did turn gangrenous, there is the possibility of either loss of the leg or it spreading.

          You really must explain the problems to her. I know its not easy being a leg ulcer sufferer and sometimes you just want to ignore it but if it is really bad, she really can not keep going on as she is. She may be a private person but she must understand as well that her actions affects others around her, like yourself!

          I suppose your best bet is to speak to her and explain the bare facts and the outcome of not treating the infection. The pain she must be in must be really bad I would expect. Then at least she can make an informed choice.

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