In 2010, I ruptured the ligament on my left ankle. I had surgery, but for some reason my wound didn’t heal all of the way. I had my staples removed, and there was a tiny hole down to my bone.
My orthopedist placed me on two antibiotics. I started Rifampen first. This made me seriously nauseous so I stopped it. Then I started the sulfa antibiotics. I was on these for a couple of weeks…
I was seeing an infectious disease doctor to figure out why my wound wasn’t closing. On the second visit with this doctor, my blood pressure was low. It’s normally low, but not as low as it was this day. During our consult, I mentioned to him that it felt like my lips were frying off of my face. He asked me what medications I was on. He told me to stop the sulfa. He was concerned that I was developing an allergic reaction to them.
Two nights later, I felt awful. I was extremely tired and also extremely cold. I was clothed to the hilt and was laying next to my heater. I had called my friend who told me I needed to take my temperature. I told her that I couldn’t. I didn’t have enough strength to get up.
She called some mutual friends of ours that live closer to me. My friends came over and drove me to the emergency room.
My blood pressure had dropped further. It was 70/50. My temperature was 105.6. The ER team immediately took me back and tried to get an intravenous (IV) catheter in me. No suck luck. As soon as the nurse poked me, my skin bruised. I think after the fifth try, they finally got one in me. They took blood to run some tests…
My red blood cells and platelets were extremely low. My white count was also low. Platelets, also known as thrombocytes, help our blood to clot.
Five Long Days
After running some tests on me, I was admitted into the hospital. The first night was hell. I was freezing and the nurses packed ice around me. I was shivering and absolutely miserable.
The nights and days ran together. I had no idea what time it was. I was taken to get x-rays and an MRI. Lots of blood tests were run on me to see if my numbers were increasing.
The third day, they tried to put a picc line in me. A picc line is a catheter that’s used for several purposes: taking blood, giving medications, etc. This procedure was so uncomfortable and painful. The nurse inserted it too far. She took me down the hall to radiology. Then she took it out a little, back down to radiology. Then she inserted it in a little more. Back and forth we went. It was excruciating. She finally got it right, but my arm was still tingling.
As a vet tech, I have some knowledge of what was going on with me. I also knew that my urine output was not matching my fluid input. I wasn’t eating, yet I was gaining lots of water weight. This also made me uncomfortable. The nurses were supposed to be giving me pain meds, but I didn’t get any. I asked for them, pointing to their board but no pain medicine came.
The Fifth Day
I was supposed to have another consult with the doctor, but he hadn’t made the rounds on the fourth day. My Mom was with me, and I was done with everything. I had gained 8 pounds in water weight. The picc line was still uncomfortable, and my patience was wearing thin.
It was almost 4:00PM and the doc promised he’d come by. My Mom waited with me, by my bedside. A nurse came in to say the doc wasn’t going to be able to make it to see me, but he’d be there first thing Monday morning. I told the nurse that there was no way I was going to stay in the hospital over the weekend. I told him I missed my pets, and I would be leaving. He said I couldn’t leave. Excuse me?
The doctor, being told that I was leaving, finally came by to talk to me and my Mom. He said my numbers were still extremely low. I told him that if they were really that low, he could give me a blood transfusion or a plasma transfusion, but since he wasn’t administering either of these, my numbers must not be that low. He was scared for me to leave the hospital. He asked if there was anything he could do to keep me there. I told him that if I could have some of my pets with me, I’d consider staying. He said that he couldn’t do this, so I told him that I had to leave.
I was to be very careful around my pets. They wouldn’t be able to scratch me, or anything. I told him that this was fine.
Leaving Against Medical Advice
I was dressing into what I came in with, but my pants wouldn’t fit. I was a size 10. My Mom had to go to the department store for a huge pair of pants. She chose size 14. I was able to get the pants over my swollen legs, but wasn’t able to zip them up. 4 sizes in 5 days?!
Apparently there are at least two diuretics with sulfa in them… I didn’t know this. Usually a person is only allergic to sulfa antibiotics.
I saw my primary doctor the following Monday, and he prescribed furosemide, a diuretic made with sulfa. I took this medication for about three days before I ended up with a rash. I stopped this medication immediately. It helped enough to make me start urinating more frequently, and I lost the water weight.
I saw a plastic surgeon who mended the hole in my ankle with bovine collagen. 🤢
It took a year and a half for me to completely heal from this surgery. Apparently I was allergic to the sutures the doctor used beneath the staples to repair my ligament.