*I started this prose piece 2 weeks ago. It is the revised and extended version of a piece I wrote a couple months ago, titled, Nine Stitches and a Limp. When I wrote that piece, I had no idea how long I would have to take this journey by foot.
I seldom write about a trial while I am in the middle of it. Today I am, just to see how it all pans out. Eight weeks ago I injured my foot. I guess it would qualify as a freak accident. My husband and I had just gotten home from a dance recital. It was one a.m. and we hadn’t eaten dinner. I decided to whip something together quickly. After dinner, I washed a plate and put it in the already full dish rack. The plate fell out of the rack, hitting the metal edge of the trash compactor on its way down. It shattered into several pieces. The largest piece ricocheted down and sliced the back of my left foot like a knife. It was gross enough to make me feel faint. I felt like Scarlet O’Hara in “Gone with the Wind.” I automatically put my hand on my forehead like I had rehearsed the gesture over and over again. Prior to this, if someone had asked me how I would react to the sight of blood gushing from my ankle, I would say it wouldn’t bother me at all. How wrong that response would have been!
My husband came running over and looked down at my foot. I felt sorrier for him than I did for myself when I saw his face. He froze for a second before he got something to stop the bleeding. I told him I was fine. I lied for his sake. I felt so badly for him because he felt so badly for me. His voice was very reassuring and he was calm, but his eyes looked fearfully concerned. I knew then that I would probably end up at the hospital. At the advice of my husband, daughter, sister, and finally my physician brother-in-law, I went to the Urgency Care Center in my neighborhood. Yes, it took that many people to convince me to go.
When I got there, hours after my injury, the doctor explained that my cut was in the same area as my Achilles tendon and would have to be stitched up immediately. As my husband watched the doctor and nurse gather tools for the procedure, I tried to think of a gospel tune that would calm me. My husband’s gaze averted from them to me and he said something like he needed me to be strong. I thought, What in the world am I in for now? I figured he saw something on the table that looked like it would inflict great pain. I braced myself, forgetting the words to every gospel song I had ever known.
While I lay on my stomach, holding my husband’s arm and expecting the worst, they gave me a few needles in my foot to numb it before they stitched me up. It wasn’t that bad actually. Just the idea of someone sewing a piece of my flesh back together was enough to disturb me a bit. Since I didn’t have a better option or medical degree, I didn’t object to anything they did, even though the doctor admitted, “In all my years of practicing medicine, I have never stitched anyone on this area of the body. This is a first.”
“I’m a dancer,” I told him in a panic, realizing how such an injury could change my life. “I’m a dancer,” I repeated, remembering how I had just told someone that teaching dance was not a job, but a ministry. Like writing, I taught dance to change lives.
The doctor continued, “You know, you really should have come in earlier, right when it happened. You may get an infection, but I had no choice. I had to stitch it up, but I’ll prescribe an antibiotic, just in case.”
The nurse gave me a tetanus shot, and the doctor wrote me a prescription for Cephalexin. For the next two weeks, I did everything I normally do. I went to my speaking engagements and I taught my dance classes. However, I mostly taught dance from a chair. After awhile, my wound turned red and irritated, so I went to my primary care physician and she told me to use Neosporin. I followed her instructions, but my foot continued to worsen. What used to be smooth skin evolved into something that resembled multiple volcanoes. Each pore swelled and emitted either a clear fluid, blood, or both, and you could clearly see each miniature volcano erupting. I know it sounds gross, and I am so sorry if I have offended you, but I figure, if I could live through it, you can read through it. At least you have the option of skipping to the next paragraph or turning your computer off. This thing was on my foot; I could not get away from it. It was the most frightening thing I had ever seen on my body. I instantly went into Scarlet O’Hara mode again; I looked at it and cried. Then I covered it in a glob of Neosporin and wrapped a large bandage around it as quickly as I could.
Instead of going to the doctor right away, I tried to take care of it myself. I took a hot shower and neglected to cover it. I poured peroxide over it a few times a day. I used Neosporin when the peroxide dried it out, and I used Benadryl when it itched. I know I should be too embarrassed to write this, but I have to just in case there is someone else out there who is just as dense as I am when it comes to first aid. I wrote this to help that person specifically. My other readers will probably just get a good laugh out of my idiocy.
I finally called the doctor and they called the pharmacy. The nurse told me they were treating me as if I had a Mercer Staph Infection. I was prescribed Bactrim, a much stronger antibiotic. So, here I am now, over eight weeks after my injury, discouraged and disgusted. I am on my third round of antibiotics and I do not see a whole lot of progress. I still have 6 pills left, so maybe this wound will crust over a bit more by the time I take the last pill. It is, without a doubt, the slowest healing I have ever witnessed on my body. Then, of course, there is the anxiety that goes along with it. Maybe there is something else wrong with me. Why isn’t my immune system kicking in? I had blood work done a few months ago. The hematologist told me I was fine. I don’t have any diseases that could lead to a wound that won’t heal. Well, I must admit it is difficult to accept that I am mostly responsible for the freak accident and the slow healing. Ugh! Why did I decide to cook so late? Why didn’t I use the dishwasher? Why did I keep the dish rack full of dishes? It was an avalanche waiting to happen! Why didn’t I go to the Urgency Care Center right away? Okay, so they didn’t tell me how to properly care for a wound…I could have looked that up on the internet. And why didn’t I already know? Isn’t that in the common sense category? Everyone else around me seemed to know what I should not have done.
I am going to fast forward a bit, since I am continuing this piece a week after my rant. After I finished the Bactrim, my foot still looked infected. I sent a picture of my foot to my physician brother-in-law, and he told my sister, “It does not look good.” I called my doctor’s office. The doctor on call, returned my call. I described my foot to him over the phone and he said, “It sounds like herpes.”
“Herpes! Herpes! on my foot?” I said, thinking of every place my bare foot had been. I am a dance instructor. My bare foot had been all over the place, especially lately because I was not able to wear a jazz shoe on my injured foot. “Herpes?” I repeated.
“Now, herpes are just cold sores,” he explained.
“Oh my goodness,” I mumbled.
“Come in and see me tomorrow afternoon at two.”
I went in to see the doctor the next day. He doctor examined my foot. “Well, it’s not herpes and it’s not Mercer. It’s not even an infection.”
“Well, what is it?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” he said, staring at it strangely. “I have never seen anything like this before,” he looked up at my husband. “Isn’t this something?”
“Well, at least it’s not herpes,” I said, relieved. I still couldn’t get over the idea of someone having foot herpes. I still couldn’t believe there was such a thing, but I looked it up on the intenet and there it was. Oh boy…
“Well, I would rather you have herpes. At least we would know how to treat it.”
I could not believe the doctor had just admitted that he had no idea what was wrong with my foot. I kind of thought it would have been better if he had just lied to me. All sorts of crazy things went through my mind like, Great…I am probably the first person to have this rare foot disease and they’ll probably name it after me. What a way to get famous. While I was lost in my thoughts, I almost feel off the exam table.
“Now move over,” the doctor chuckled, shaking his head, “before you fall off the table. You have to watch her,” he looked at my husband.
“You have no…idea,” my husband laughed, getting a real kick out of the doctor’s personality.
The doctor decided to send me to a dermatologist in the area. In the meantime, he gave me a prescription for Cortisone Cream. While he was writing the script, he said, “And don’t wrap it up so tightly. As a matter of fact, you don’t have to cover it anymore. Let it get some air, and if you feel like you have to cover it, make sort of a top hat out of the Band- aid when you put it on.”
“Well, maybe I should cover it on the way out ,so I don’t scare the patients in the waiting room.”
“Good, scare them off,” he said, “Maybe they’ll run out of here and I won’t have to treat them today.”
My husband and I laughed, and I tripped on my way out the door. I looked back at the doctor and he said, “Be careful,” shaking his head.
In less than twenty-four hours, after using the Cortisone, my foot improved. The little volcanoes faded. I put a small amount of Neosporin on the edge of my wound, to see if I were allergic to Neosporin as I had suspected. It started to itch so much I wanted to rub it across sandpaper. In a very short period of time, the volcanoes started to erupt around the edges. I know this sounds insane, but this is the truth. My sister, who had been praying with me throughout this whole foot ordeal, googled “allergic reactions to Neosporin.” There were pictures that looked similar to my foot. There was no pus because there was no infection. However, when you are allergic to Neosporin, a clear milky white fluid emits from swollen pores. Again, I am embarrassed to mention that my brother-in-law told me to stop using it weeks prior, but I didn’t listen to him. I listened to my primary care physician who stated condescendingly, “I do not think you are allergic to the Neosporin,” after I tried to convince her that I really thought I was allergic to some ingredient in that topical ointment that so many people swear by.
I am fine now, but my foot has an ugly scar. I can deal with the scar, though. At least I still have a foot. The most difficult thing for me this summer was not being able to write. I had planned on completing the rough draft of my second devotional; book, and I was unable to do so because I was so distracted by my raw, grotesquely disfigured left heel. However, I was able to write something. At the advice of my sister, I wrote this. In saying that, I have awesome advice for any artist who is reading this: If you are too distracted to write, write about the thing that is distracting you. The same thing goes for painting, singing, dancing, etc. Write, paint, sing, and dance where you are.
1 in 4 people are allergic to neosporin: