I Should Be on That Show ‘Mystery Diagnosis’

I’ve had a scary few months. It all started probably a year ago (maybe longer since I can remember it starting around the time my mom passed away)… I noticed a small pimple on the inside of my left thigh, near my knee. I didn’t think much of it since it didn’t hurt and I had had something similar on my right shin back when I was in high school. I saw a dermatologist about it and was told it was nothing and would probably go away by itself eventually, which it did. There’s some scarring, but the bump itself has disappeared.

Anyway. Sometime around the beginning of this year, I shaved over the new bump. It bled, so I put some Neosporin on it and kept it covered with a band-aid. This went on for quite some time and it never seemed to get better. In fact, it seemed like it was getting worse because the center turned very dark, almost black. I left it alone and tried to ignore it, but it didn’t change.

I finally went to see my doctor about it in March. He took a look at it and told me it looked like a cyst that had gotten infected, and he thought that it had probably turned into an antibiotic-resistant infection. He said I should see a dermatologist and have it removed. I found the number of the derm I saw several years ago for my acne and made an appointment for the following Tuesday. I told her the story and what my doctor suspected, but she told me it wasn’t a cyst, it was just a skin infection. She drained it (ew) and prescribed a topical antibiotic. She told me to use that for a couple of days, and if it didn’t get any better, she also gave me a prescription for an oral antibiotic. I started the topical on Wednesday and by Saturday morning, it was looking worse. The area around it was starting to get red, and it was starting to hurt. I filled the oral antibiotic that morning and started taking it immediately.

By the following evening, I had a fist-sized red, swollen lump on my leg and I could hardly walk because I was in so much pain. I couldn’t sleep because it hurt so bad, so I finally decided to go to the ER at about midnight. Luckily we live literally down the street! The triage nurse told me it was definitely infected and sent me to the back. I explained the whole situation to the doctor and he didn’t seem all that concerned. He left and a nurse came in, who told me that he thought it was a boil. What? Do people still get those?? Whatever, I felt relieved that someone finally put a name to it. The doctor came back and gave me the first dose of a new antibiotic and told me to follow up with my derm in the morning. My discharge papers said I had cellulitis.

I went back to the derm first thing in the morning and told her what happened. She told me to stop taking both antibiotics and wrote me a prescription for antibiotic number three. She drained the boil again (ew and ow), drew marks on my leg and told me to call her if the redness spread beyond the lines.

I finished the antibiotic and the redness and swelling disappeared, but it definitely did NOT look good. The whole area now looked kind of bruised and yellow. When I took a shower, it all turned purple and black. I saw her again and she told me how fantastic it looked, that it was healing, and that the discoloration was normal. She told me the infection had been very deep and it would take a long time to heal.

Fast forward to the beginning of May and it still didn’t look any better. I went back to my doctor and showed him what it looked like. He couldn’t believe it. He said it looked like I might have MRSA and that I would need to try ANOTHER antibiotic and then possibly go see an infectious disease specialist to be tested for various infections, Lyme disease, etc. The medicine, doxycycline, tore me apart, but I was terrified and was willing to take anything to get rid of this thing. I started Googling MRSA and sent myself into a complete panic. I was convinced I was going to die.

I finished the doxycycline and went to follow up. He said that since it still wasn’t gone, there HAD to be something else under there. He wanted to rule that out first so he sent me to a different derm. This one took one look (literally) at my leg and told me there were two cysts under there. He took them out (turned out to only be cyst remnants) and sent them out for testing to determine if it was infected, or skin cancer, or something else. He stitched me up and told me he doubted there was any infection at this point, but that the discoloration would probably never go away due to the “trauma” the other doctor inflicted on me.

The tests all came back negative (yay!) and I got the stitches out a little over a week ago. The blackness is gone, and there are no more bumps, but it looks like I have a vampire bite on my leg (the nurse even made that comment, LOL).

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I’m VERY relieved I don’t have any crazy kind of infection because I was dreading having to go to the hospital and have IV antibiotics. Thank God that didn’t happen. I can live with a couple of weird red marks. It’s not ideal, but I’ll take that over anything worse. I asked my doctor why I keep getting cysts (I have one in my neck, one in my boob, and now there were these two) and he told me that unfortunately some people are just prone to them. He assured me there is nothing I’m doing to cause them, nor is there anything I can do to prevent them. I may have to deal with them for the rest of my life, but he said as long as I get them checked out right away, I should be fine. As long as they’re not causing me any pain, it’s supposedly fine to leave them where they are. I may have the other ones removed, although I’ve had the neck one removed once before and it came back almost immediately – which I’m told is common – so I’m not sure there’s any point.

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