Tuesday, November 26, 2013


it sounds a lot more glamorous... well, not really.  it sounds kind of gross.

but it's what i have apparently.

so remember the last time we spoke? i mentioned my new tattoo.  i'm now twelve days post-tattoo. the swelling has gone down dramatically - it's really not too swollen most of the time.  if i haven't elevated it for a bit, or do too much walking (like on saturday), the swelling is really concentrated around my ankle and a  bit around the tattoo itself.


ugh.  yesterday.

i kept my foot up just about all day and then went to an appointment at school.  putting my foot down was still painful - still a bit of that searing, burning pain as the blood drained back into my calf and foot.  but then the pain like actually behind the tattoo was still there.  over the past week, it was hard to get started walking, but once i started it was pretty painless.

not yesterday.

so when i got home i had a complete nervy b and lost my rag.  i was crying and having bad thoughts and considering a drive to the hospital.  it's not like i'm going to kill myself over a painful tattoo.  but if you're crazy like me and know depression lies, sometimes the lies come out of nowhere and ruin everything.

luckily i have an awesome husband and he helped me stay calm(ish).  i woke up early this morning to go to work and omfg my leg.  my ankle was ridiculous.  my calf, the area behind the tattoo, was killing me.  like really painful, even if i didn't have weight on it.  i thought it would work itself out, so i got ready for work and hobbled to the car.

i made it about 30 minutes down the highway and realized something was not right.  pressing on the accelerator was hurting my ankle.  my calf still hurt.  the pain was pretty bad.  like, bad enough that i was fighting tears.  i decided i had to turn around and do something.  i didn't want to go to the emergency room alone, so i thought i'd try a local urgent care center that just opened.

it wasn't open yet.  it opened at 8am.  it was 7:01.  so i drove home.  and spent probably the longest 50 minutes of my life waiting.

i did not elevate my leg because i didn't want it to feel better and then have to put it down and OMFG SEARING PAIN.  but leaving it down hurt.  that didn't happen yesterday - once it was down and the blood returned to the area, it didn't really hurt at all.  so i was very uncomfortable.  i hobbled back to the car and drove to the urgent care and filled out their paperwork and saw the nurse.  she said, oh, looks like cellulitis.  i was like, what's that?  super nasty swelling?  she was like, basically.  the doctor will be right in.

the doctor came in - he was very nice.  i told him that the actual healing of the tattoo seemed normalish for me - a bit slower than usual.  but the redness and scabbing seemed pretty normal compared to what happened last time.  he poked a bit at the area and started manipulating my ankle.  he said what i was saying almost sounded like a sprain - there shouldn't be that kind of pain, especially this long after the tattoo and considering how much the swelling has already gone down.  he felt the swelling and listened to what i said and considered my RA and the meds i'm on.  he decided it sounds like cellulitis.

so according to webMD and my sister-from-another-mister's mom (who works for her dad who is an amazeballs surgeon), cellulitis is a skin and sub-cutaneous tissue infection.  from the bit of dr. googling i've done since coming home, it seems that my RA medications lowered my immune system more than i expected.  i've never got an infection following a tattoo (it's not very common if you take care of your new tattoo) so what follows is all conjecture.

the swelling was more than normal, but it was a big tattoo and caused a lot of trauma.  i followed my normal after care routine but i think my suppressed immune system meant the tattoo wasn't healing as fast as it usually would, leaving more opportunity for bacteria to infiltrate.  once that happened, my suppressed immune system was not only unable to keep healing my tattoo well, but it couldn't fight off the bacteria as expected.

now i have an infection.  i think it is definitely sub-cutaneous now that i've read some symptoms and what not.  the pain i'm having in the area like behind my tattoo and towards the ankle sounds like it's more than just a skin infection.  and the absolute fuckton of antibiotics the doctor put me on makes me feel like it's way more than just a skin infection.  apparently, cellulitis can become bad enough that one needs to be hospitalized for intravenous antibiotics.

so, does this count as my first RA-related secondary illness?

the urgent care doc said that if it gets any worse OR does not get any better over the next couple of days, i should go to to emergency room.  so if it doesn't get better, i'll be spending black friday in the emergency room.

happy thanksgiving.


  1. I know it sucks, but it's also good that the doctor caught it so early. Without going into details that might freak you out even more (all was well in the end), I learned from a friend's experience that cellulitis can be pretty damn dangerous. Hope it heals soon.

    1. i made the mistake of clicking 'images' when i dr. googled cellulitis. not a good idea.

  2. Gah, that sounds horrible. Been considering new ink, but worried about how it would work with the anticoagulants (developed a blood clot while in hospital)

    1. yikes. most tattoo artists don't like to work on people who are on blood thinners/anticoagulants. depending on your artist, your dosage, your doctor, and the placement, it might be okay. smaller tattoos with less detail mean less work and less trauma - less bleeding. tattoos in some places naturally bleed more or less than other places, and if your doctor is okay with it, a tattoo artist might do it.

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  4. Hi there, how did this heal? I dr. googled and came across this article. Did you get better? I was diagnosed with the same thing and got 2 rocephine shots and a tetanus shot 2 days apart along with 2 different oral antibiotics (Bactrim and Cephalexin). Redness has gone down but I'm still a little red around tattoo area. Did your tattoo heal fine? I feel like I may lose a lot of ink around the middle which is where I see it the scabbiest and most broken.