Sunday, June 23, 2013

Report from Pillville: Facial Cellulitis

The phrase "opportunistic secondary infection" popped into my head when I took a look at my mom after my return from the gym Friday morning. I think the term is mostly applied to the immunocompromised like those with HIV, but I'm guessing my mom's immune system has a couple hundred thousand miles on it and isn't quite running like a top. Things had been pretty swell here in Pillville with the circulation restored to her feet, and the digestive ills much improved, and the CPAP sorted out. There were little things--like the irritated nose from the oxygen cannula before we finally found the right CPAP mask. There was a spot on her left cheek, then another one, but they healed--more or less. Maybe the plastic from the mask was rubbing her face, we thought Then came a bigger spot on the other side of her face on...was it Wednesday? Thursday she looked a tiny bit worse but assured me she was dabbing the spots with peroxide and neosporin. Thursday night she abandoned the mask for the oxygen cannula.

Friday morning she was still asleep when I left for the gym. I phoned the doctor about a minute after I walked in the door. Yes, the doctor, a geriatric specialist, had an opening. He prescribed an antibiotic, said it didn't really look like MRSA. Are we all going to die? the lovely M asked later. Earlier on the way to the doctor, my mom said she would be really upset if she didn't make it to her birthday, and it occurred to me once again how vulnerable she is at her age with her laundry list of health conditions. Yes, a bump on her skin could be the straw that tips the old camel into the sand. I gave myself a little pat on the back for getting right on it.

Not so fast.

Saturday morning was a repeat. Mom sleeping. Me off to the gym.

Then I come home from the gym. While it would be an overstatement to say the elephant man's sister was standing in my kitchen, the fact was she looked much worse. Pink was now purple. Swollen lips. The healed spots coming back. A new patch of swollen pink creeping down her neck. Her throat was sore, she said. And she had a headache. And maybe the toothache where she had the root canal was back. "Hey, how about you get dressed and we go to the emergency room?" I ask. "No big rush, but when you're ready, let's go." So we go. Three hours later, she has a diagnosis of facial cellulitis and a prescription for a second antibiotic. Really important to nip this in the bud, the ER doc said.

Today things are improving slowly. She can't chew because she can't wear her upper plate and is sustaining herself ice cream smoothies, but the sore throat and headache are gone. The man who loves me is here with a new cocktail recipe that seems to be an effective prescription for me. So it's Sunday in Margaritaville. The warring city state of Pillville is threatening to overtake us, but we have a new thrift store cocktail shaker, and I'm about to lay in a new supply of ice cream. We have a barbeque and a piece of fresh caught yellowtail. We have classic movies on the iPad--close-captioned for my mom. We have so much good stuff here, we ought to set up a stand in the front yard and hand out samples to passersby.

But that said, people, the bear is back.


Ms. Moon said...

First off- I've never seen that ad and it's darling and I now sleep on one of those beds and yes, it has actually changed my life. So.
But. God. Your poor mother. My mother got cellulitis in her arm. Gnarly stuff. And it can be really dangerous. I'm so glad you got on top of it.
I hope the cocktails and ice cream and yellow-tail made the weekend's end a lot better. And of course, the pills.

Suz said...

oh my
glad you got her into the ER
poor thing, she suffers alot
but she is blessed with you and the mwly
again...I love reading what you every post
I care

Andrea said...

I missed this post until just now. My god. Yikes! What awfulness, but how fortunate you are her caretaker. And, as always, your writing draws me right in.
Very happy to hear about closed captioning for classic movies on an iPad. If this is easy to do, I might try it for Alice. You're just giving me lots of ideas tonight.