Christmas shopping is the last thing I want to think about on this beautiful autumn day. However, last Christmas I made a promise to myself that I would do all my shopping and wrapping early. Normally I procrastinate until Christmas Eve for last minute gifts, wrapping, and food prep. Last year taught me a great lesson on not putting off work until the last minute.
It was December 24, 2016, my husband was off from work and my kids were home. I had my day all planned out. My intention was to sleep in a little later to hopefully give myself a boost to face the holiday hecticness. Of course my unwelcome enemy, Ankylosing Spondylitis, had other plans for me. I woke with my hips in such severe pain it felt like someone jabbed knifes in each hip joint. I slowly made it through my morning. The stiffness I feel in the morning lasted longer that day. I chalk that up to the stress of the holidays. One thing I have learned the hard way is stress can cause flares. Anyhow, I had put the turkey in the oven. My husband is a wonderful cook and he handled all the brining the night before. I asked him to help cleaning the house and had each of the kids working on projects. I still had almost all the presents to wrap plus my mother was hosting a dinner at 6pm for our side of the family. My 80 year old mother had asked for my help preparing the side dishes at her house as well. So, yes, I was almost in a panic mode.
I began noticing a burning sensation on my leg. I have peripheral neuropathy so I am accustomed to tingling, numbness, and burning sensations in my extremities. However, this was the worst burning I had ever experienced on my leg. I raised my pants leg and my leg looked like it had a bad sunburn on it. I thought it was really strange but tried to continue with my responsibilites. At some point it became almost unbearable. I didn’t want to have to deal with this right now, even though my husband was insisting I go to the hospital emergency room. Who wants to go to the ER on Christmas Eve? So in order to dodge his insistence I told him I would post a picture of my leg in my AS support group. Maybe one of them could tell me what was going on with my leg.
I truly value my AS support group. They have helped me through some very difficult days. Plus there are times I believe first hand experience with a condition might be more valuable than what a doctor read in a textbook. I was surprised by the number of people who responded considering it was Christmas Eve. The consensus was I had cellulitis, an infection in the skin, which can be dangerous if not treated. Everyone felt I should go to the Emergency Room.
I made a few calls, left my oldest child in charge of the turkey, and headed out the door. My support group was correct, it was cellulitis. By the time we arrived at the hospital the redness had spread all the way up to my knee. The doctor started intravenous antibiotics immediately. She said on any other day she would have admitted me to the hospital overnight. Since it was Christmas Eve and she knew I had children she agreed for me to return home to spend Christmas Eve with my family. Of course, the condition of my release was I take more antibiotics in pill form and return if my leg worsened. The doctor got a pen and traced the shape of redness on my leg, if the redness crossed those black lines I was to return immediately.
Thankfully the redness began receding. Those IV antibiotics are fabulous! I made it to my mom’s house in time to visit with everyone. My daughter did a wonderful job with the turkey.
Plus I discovered, kids love presents even when they are in Walmart plastic bags! I didn't have time to get those presents wrapped.
With a chronic illness, you learn to expect the unexpected. This year I will be prepared just in case AS visits.