From the lab results:
Gramstain: Gram positive cocci present
Culture: Moderate growth of streptococci species
Huh? I had to look it up. It appears that I probably don’t have a Staph infection after all— I have a Strep infection! I was not previously aware of this, but Strep can cause a number of problems, ranging from strep throat to scarlet fever to the rare “flesh eating disease.” As a result I have now switched antibiotics—again—this time to Levofloxacin (500mg).
I’ll be travelling to Nairobi tomorrow to be inspected by doctors trusted by the Peace Corps, just to be safe. I get to stay in a hotel and have a toilet and a shower, which is very exciting. If all goes well, I’ll get back to Mombasa just in time to attend my first Kenyan wedding! I bought the gift today, so I’ll be ready. Things appear to be on the upswing.
I told all the other teachers today what was going on, and everyone was very kind. My neighbor even brought me bananas and milk. Your comments here (as well as your concerned phone calls) are also much appreciated. It’s an odd state of being, knowing that I have an infection that could become very very bad, but also knowing that I can only do so much about it. I alternate between doom-and-gloom and flippant fatalism. I tend to write my blog in the latter mindset.
Here’s a medical timeline for those concerned. Hopefully this meticulous documentation turns out to be a waste of my time, and that this thing gets knocked out by this round of antibiotics, but it seems worthwhile to elicit any opinions.
- July 1: Begin feeling occasional shortness of breath at random times during the day. Definitely nothing I’ve felt before, but not terribly alarming either. I assume I’m holding my breath due to stress (and maybe I am). Have a small shaving cut close to lip that is stubborn and won’t heal. Not noteworthy at the time.
- July 3: Notice small bump on arm, visit doctor. Diagnosed on the spot as having a foliculitus infection, due to the appearance of a tiny bug bite in the center of the bump. Begin taking Augmentin and Cataflam. I forget the dosages.
- July 10: Antibiotic treatment complete. Visit doctor again, who concludes that the infection is gone and all that remains is an “antibioma” that will go away on its own after two weeks. I am given the option of having it removed if i don’t want to wait, but I want to avoid getting a scar. Begin applying Mupirocin to the area.
- July 21: Almost two weeks later… bump almost gone, but slight arm pain begins.
- July 24: Pain spreading and feeling sharper. Notice a new tiny bump on upper arm, under the skin, that cannot be seen, only felt.
- July 25: My original shaving nick is still there, and just a tiny bit worse. It’s been scabbing and flaking with no progress. New, small red spot also appears on face. First arm bump is growing again. Doctor diagnoses small arm bump as swollen lymph node. Large bump is drained. Lymph node returns to normal size. Blood tests show no obvious reason for shortness of breath (blood sugar levels OK, etc.) Begin taking Flamox (250mg) and Lysoflam.
- July 26: Lip swollen due to my sloppy application of Mupirocin on original shaving nick. Goes away same day. I continue application on Mupirocin on face more carefully.
- July 27: Dressing changed on arm. Infection is back. Incision made and infection removed in entirety, including antibioma. Culture taken.
- July 29: Dressing changed again. No sign of infection rebuilding in arm. Culture results reveal streptococci. Stop taking previous medications. Begin taking Levofloxacin (500mg). Continue with Mupirocin on face. Face still the same—two red spots, but both seem to be drying up. Still sometimes short of breath. Headache.