What the heck is that on my head?
We’ve written a few stories now about the many great discoveries we had while we visited St. Augustine for a month. We found historical gems, cute little cafés, quaint gardens and side roads that led us to fun Geo-cache finds. What we did not mention to anyone was that I discovered something totally surprising about myself. A discovery that I honestly wish would have lain deep and dormant. But, hey, it’s out now. So, I may as well share it.
I’m probably not the only one that’s burned themselves with a hot curling iron. I’ve done this so many times in my adult life that I can imagine there’s a Conair brand on my forehead. Those suckers can get extremely hot and can leave serious burns. You may wonder why I keep using something so obviously dangerous to my health, but trust me I have crazy, wild, out-of-control hair and sometimes it needs to be hurt into submission. But, seriously, the curling iron incident was just a starting point. The series of events that followed this morning’s burn are what made our visit to St. Augustine one we won’t ever forget.
You see, it was a few days later and we were out and about in St. Augustine checking out all the great places that we planned to visit while we are there for the month. I then happened to mention to my hubby that a burn on my forehead from the danged curling iron was a little irritated. I didn’t give it much more thought until that evening after a shower, I noticed that the spot is now really red and puffy. I slapped on a little antibacterial cream and went to bed dreaming of the beach.
The next day the ugly red spot has company. It’s like it called in the troops and now I have three ugly red sore spots all lined up in a row ready for duty, and my forehead is starting to swell over my eye too. We start thinking that I must have gotten the burn infected somehow. So, we do what any smart person would do and Googled it. We each get onto our laptops and start researching possible ailments that could cause bumps and swelling. I got stuck on the horrible pictures of various people with skin diseases and totally start to freak out. Well, it was more of an internal freak out because I didn’t want Davy to know how close to death I was. His research of course finds a more logical, less dramatic possibility: “Cellulitis is a common bacterial skin infection that may first appear as a red, swollen area that feels hot and tender to the touch. It says it’s treated with antibiotics babe. Ya must have gotten something in it while we walked along the beach. Let me make you some garlic soup. You’ll be alright.”
So, we decided to give it another day before seeking medical attention and went out to do some exploring. Thank God for bangs! Right? As the day goes on, I start to notice a few other things that have me even more concerned. That evening I show my Dr. McDreamy the 4 swollen lymph nodes behind my ears and neck. My forehead is swollen even more and there are a few tiny blister thingys on my face that itch. Crap! I am not one to run to the ER with any little problem so I slather on anti-itch cream , pop 2 Benadryl sip another bowl of garlic soup and go to bed.
The next morning it literally looks like someone used my forehead to put out a cigarette just before they swung the bat into my face. I awoke with two very swollen eyes, a goose egg sized bump on my forehead and the itchy blistery thingys are now on my back and torso as well as my face. I fire McDreamy and decided it’s time to declare war.
I know that you must be wondering why I have not mentioned the obvious childhood virus, “Chickenpox.” I NEVER even considered Chickenpox because my mother always told me that I had it when I was three weeks old along with my siblings. And, everybody knows that you are only supposed to get the Chickenpox once in your life. I don’t have a fever. I’m not throwing up and I don’t have a loss of appetite. All of the things that should accompany adults with Chickenpox or Shingles. So what’s up?
We head out to find an Urgent Care hoping that a walk-in clinic would be able to give me an antibiotic or a shot or anything to make me feel better. Fortunately, we didn’t have to wait too long to see the nurse practitioner on duty. She stood back and eyed me with mild curiosity. She had obviously just come from eating lunch because she kept making little sucking sounds with her tongue and teeth. She never even touched me! I showed her a picture of myself on my cell phone to assure her that I didn’t usually look like this swollen hot mess. I then pulled down the collar of my shirt to show her the swollen lymph nodes. She assured me that lymph nodes always swell when your body has infection. She prescribed some cream for the burn and Bactrim antibiotics. Oh well, at least she did something. Oh, she did tell me that I wouldn’t die. How comforting.
I started using the cream and taking the antibiotic that night. Instead of improving, I now have itches everywhere and the swelling in my face is even worse. Still, I wanted to give the antibiotic a chance to do its thing. So all the next day, McDreamy is back feeding me lots of yogurt and baked garlic to keep the good bacteria alive in my body. I took the Bactrim a total of 4 times and this brings us to Wednesday morning when I see yet another swollen lymph-node on the side of my neck that is bulging. My eyes and face are swollen beyond recognition and did I mention the ITCH! If the circus was in town and needed someone to sit in for the crazy 3 eyed man; I think swollen face, connect-the-dot woman could have gotten a job. Not the workamping position I was hoping for.
We head to Flagler Hospital to see what an ER doctor has to say about this. Once they have me in a cubicle for observation I am told by Dr. Kate that she would like to get the opinion of another doctor because she is totally stumped. They go ahead and take a few gallons of blood while we waited. Okay, so it was just three vials but seriously, have you seen the size of those tubes? Dr. Kate returns with a male doctor in tow. I dutifully pull up my shirt and he makes a few noises deep in his throat when he sees the blisters on my back. He gently feels my lymph nodes before turning back to whisper something to Dr. Kate. I was listening real close for catch words like, dying, cancer, fatal… But, I couldn’t make out anything.
I look hopefully up at him through my swollen slits where my eyes used to be and wait for my prognosis . . . Nothing. Nada. No clue.
They did tell me that I am definitely allergic to the Bactrim and I shouldn’t take that again, well, unless I needed a job at the circus.
I am then hooked up with an IV and given a different antibiotic and a shot of steroids. All of my bloodwork trickles back in and one at a time she brings in the results. Everything is great. No elevated white blood cells and all looks good. Two new prescriptions later, one for a different antibiotic and one for a round of Prednisone, and we are ready to leave. However, she wants me to go down the street and get a dermatologists opinion before I get the prescriptions filled. She calls him and sets up the appointment for me.
The Doc is a bit quirky but he checks me out more thoroughly than anyone else has thus far. He is pretty sure that I either have chickenpox (which I told him wasn’t possible since I had it as a child) or shingles. But, he is completely mystified that I don’t have a fever and I don’t feel sick. In fact, he asks me so often about these symptoms that I start to feel a little nauseous. He had me take off my shoes so that he could check out my feet for signs of… well, I am not sure what that was about really, maybe just a foot fetish thing, but he didn’t seem too excited.
He snips off a few of the blisters on my back and says that he’ll send the biopsy off and he will let me know in a couple days. In the meantime, he gives me a couple more prescriptions. I wasn’t crazy about getting them filled before I even knew that they were the correct medicines for whatever the heck I had. At the pharmacy I find out one of them is $289.00. So, I said I would hold off on buying that until I found out the results of the biopsy.
I spend another miserable, itchy day inside the RV. Thankfully the rains had settled in too, so that helped my feelings a little. I had stopped taking everything and I could tell that the swelling had definitely gone down and I was itching a little less. Around 11:00 AM the skin Doc himself called to inform me that the results were in. Yep! At 51 years of age, I had the danged Chickenpox. Since it had been in my system so long he said that I didn’t have to take the medicine and could just let it run its course. He felt that the curling iron incident was just a coincidence and most likely was just bad timing. He then thanked me for throwing a Red Herring into his otherwise routine day. No problem! Glad I could help!
This whole crazy, boggled up experience has taught me a few things. Don’t assume that you had a childhood virus just because someone said you did. If I said that I didn’t know if I had Chickenpox, a test would have revealed it much sooner and I would have healed much quicker.
If something is wrong with your skin, eliminate the middle man and go straight to a dermatologist. That would have saved us a lot of time and money.
I have also discovered that you should never tell a doctor what YOU think is the prognosis. It just muddies the waters. And, finally, if Mama was right and I did have Chickenpox, then yes, you CAN get Chickenpox TWICE. So aren’t ya glad that we didn’t come and visit with you recently! Bah ha ha ha