May 31, 2014
I had a busy week with my two little kids back in April -- one 7 hr r/t drive to the Sierras to the last bits of the snow, days spent at the zoo and a local theme park, plus my normal yoga class and several weekly jogs -- nothing too crazy. My shins were both sore, along with all my muscles, by the end of the week, when I banged my right shin on my friend's suv tow hitch. 24 hrs later, my pain was focused on that shin, and I had to start depending on painkillers. For almost four weeks, including a 11 night holiday stint in Hawaii, my life revolved around high doses of Advil (~2100 mg/day), plus tylenol in the between hours, plus morning sessions writhing in pain. I saw five different docs, who thought I had a bone bruise, pinched nerve, bad shin splints, and a stress reaction/fracture, respectively. X-rays showed nothing, and a blood test did show my sed rate at 45 (normal for my age is <20) -- but it too could be explained by a typical injury. Finally, I saw an orthopedist the day after flying home, who got me a same day-mri. By early eve, she called me, asking me to get bloodwork that night. The mri had shown a bone infection or tumor. I saw an infectious disease specialist the next day, and the day after, had a surgical biopsy, during which the surgeon also cleaned out the infected tissue somewhat.
The biopsy ruled out bone cancer, thankfully, but pathology confirmed osteomyelitis. I don't fit any of the normal parameters for getting such an infection -- no broken skin or wound when I banged my shin, no other diseases (that the docs can find), etc. I was in the hospital for 4 days, getting IV antibiotics and recovering from the small surgery. Fortunately, my pain diminished dramatically, and a week later I was entirely off pain meds.
A blood test 10 days later showed a still elevated sed rate (43), but the cr protein level has dropped from 1.5 to .4 (normal is <.5) -- which is good news. I'm on oral antibiotics, cipro and clinda, around the clock, but grateful not to be on iv at this point, as the iv antibiotics left painful, swollen mounds on the vein site, and I couldn't straighten my arm for a week afterward. The cultures never developed bacteria, which is frustrating, as the exact cause is unknown, but the running theory is that the few white blood cells found in samples indicated my immune system had begun battling this pre-surgery and that particular tissue was already killed of bacteria.
Anyways, wish I could find more comfort from others' stories, and whether my remaining symptoms -- mild pain in my bone, discoloration and mild swelling/pins&needles when I walk short distances -- are normal and characteristic of recovery. Hoping so! It's 15 days post surgery, and I have several more weeks before the docs think a follow-up mri will give us any indication of my bone repair.