May 082008

Remember the Cellulitis from hell post? You probably thought that was long since resolved, right? Wrong.

Right after I wrote that, the client cut that same foot again on the same bit of weirdly venomous metal. One long ragged cut across the top of the foot. I could have cried. Despite nearly immediate treatmen the foot proceded to blow up bigger than it ever was, and the red rash spread rapidly up the leg. At this point, the toes were cold and numb, the pain intense enough to warran the use of crutches and color of the skin a disturbing purple/brown/scarlet. As it continued to swell (in spite hourly treatment, internally and externally) the skin started to split in places, leaving angry and inflamed wounds. Veins popped all over the leg and foot, resulting in bright red lines. Amazingly enough, there were still no signs of septicemia or similar, no swollen glands, chills, fever etc. The client felt fine besides the extreme pain and throbbing in the now immobile foot. But it was getting worse every hour, and I was deeply stressed about the whole thing.

At this point, I was recommending the client at least go to the doctor to see if they had any clue as to the exact nature of the infection and any constructive ideas for treatment. The client reluctantly agreed to make an appointment for the next day. As an afterthought, the client mentioned they’d been having some indications of a slight sinus infection. After a brief discussion I recommended a medium dose of Yerba Mansa to be taken until symptoms cleared. Client went to the doctor and the doctor was beyond baffled at the whole thing, she kept saying thins like “it looks like cellulitis but…” and “those look like broken blood vessels but…”  and “ummmm, I just don’t know” in the end, she couldn’t find a single distinctive pattern of symptoms to make a diagnosis with. She prescribed antibiotics of course.

Client went home and didn’t take the antibiotics. Continued suggested foot regimen plus the Yerba Mansa. Sinus stuff cleared up by the next morning, AND the food suddenly, miraculously turned a corner. After looking at the decreased swelling, I agreed we might be ok holding off on the antibiotics for another day or so, as long as it didn’t start to get worse again. Every day since then (about five days ago) the foot has increased in leaps and bounds. Every day the swelling receded a bit further, there was less heat coming from the foot, the skin splitting wounds healed and the dead skin slowly sloughing off to reveal healthy new skin underneath. Today, on close examination, there is NO heat coming from the wound or surrounding area. There is very little swelling, no redness except a faint pink directly around the most recent cut, no sign of cellulitis whatsoever, no numbness in the toes and best of all, no pain or impediment to walking, not even a trace of a limp. Client can actually wear shoes again without any discomfort (though I don’t recommend shoes much at this point except for needed protection).

The only remaining symptoms are a very small amount of residual swelling, some stiffness in the ankle joint, and slight sensitivity on the wound site. The regimen has been scaled back in the last three days to include foot soaks (Rose, Mugwort and Beebalm just now) four times a day, with a very light herbal cream applied afterwards and tinctures of Usnea and Yerba Mansa internally. Was it the Yerba Mansa that caused the shift or was it just ongoing intensive treatment by a stubborn herbalist? I dunno. I’m not stopping the Yerba Mansa for another few days though, just in case. Gentle massage has also been used for the last three days since the inflammation has died down in order to increase circulation and healing. The client feels that this is very helpful in this stage of the healing process.

I can’t even express my huge relief over this, as it was more than severe enough to freak out the doctor and had the potential to go systemic and therefor possibly endanger the life of the client. I am thrilled we were able to work through with herbs rather than resorting to what probably would have been multiple rounds of antibiotics.  I think I’d like to have a little foot party now, toasting the recovered foot with homemade prickly pear wine and strawberries.

Never underestimate the remarkable power of weeds!

  2 Responses to “Success at Last: the Cellulitis Followup”

  1. Dear Kiva

    congratulation for your success and your braveness!
    Hopefully your client can remove this particular rusty metal from the property…

    Love from middle earth 😉

  2. Dear Kiva,
    As an outsider to the herbalist tradition I read the story of the foot with baited breath. I admire your courage and confidence so much! This case sounds like it was a big test for you, and I am very glad you shared it with us and that everything turned out well. Thank you for teaching us about the weeds and the medicine woman tradition and most of all, about dedicated, patient service. May the earth always bless you.

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