It all started innocently enough: on Crystal Beach in Galveston, Texas while enjoying a family vacation. Due to 11 years of chemotherapy, I have neuropathy in both feet. As a result, I never walk barefoot, especially on a beach, unless of course, I go into the water. Which on the Saturday before last, I did. When I returned to my beach chair, with my feet all sandy and wet, I elected not to put my sneakers and socks on for the 50-yard walk back to our accommodations. Oh (literally), how I wish I had.
Not 10 feet from the end of the beach was a narrow strip of road (tar, concrete, I can't remember) which we had to cross to reach the grassy margins which would then take us to our house. No sooner had I stepped left, right, left, then I felt like a buffalo which had been shot on the Great Plains, as I immediately collapsed onto a neighbor's yard swearing in pain as I landed, as the heat of the pavement seared through the bottom of both feet. As I sat on the grass with my heels clenched and my toes pointing skyward, I thought,"I'm not going to be able to walk the 25 yards to our house." Somehow, within a few minutes, I summoned up the strength to stand and somehow I managed to hobble my way home. (I'll spare you the details of the excruciating pain I endured walking up the 20+ wooden steps to get inside our house.)
The following day, I remained inside with my feet off the floor and my socks on angling for some kind of relief. The only times I had to move (to visit the bathroom) were sheer torture. Later that day, I relented and let my wife, Dina, look at my feet. She removed my bloody socks and recoiled in horror. To say it wasn't a pretty sight isn't really stating the obvious. It's stating that I was oblivious. I suffered through the rest of the night, taking only Extra Strength Tylenol for pain. It didn't really work. The next day we drove to Urgent Care.
I was seen within 15 minutes of my arrival. The physician's assistant on call removed my socks and assessed the damage. He said I had second degree burns on the soles of both feet. He prescribed an antibiotic pill, a pain pill, and some medicinal cream. The cream was to be smeared on a non-adhesive bandage, which then was to be placed on the affected areas and wrapped with a self-sticking, ace-type bandage which was to be changed twice a day. I was given my prescriptions and a set of crutches. Soon I was out the door - via a wheelchair, and then Dina drove us across the street to a pharmacy where we picked up our goodies. Finally, we had a treatment plan and relief was in sight. Oh, (literally) how I wish it were so.
The next day was our last day of vacation. Of course I was no use to anybody as the house was cleaned and everyone packed their stuff as the cars were loaded with luggage (and back down those same 25 wooded steps). It was nearly three hours later (after a two-hour car ride) with Dina driving (don't tell the car rental place) as I squirmed in pain, until we arrived at our airport gate with yours truly getting wheelchair assistance.
Circumventing lines to drop off baggage and pass through security, with haste and super efficiency, we eventually were deposited at Gate A17 in plenty of time to make our departure. Unfortunately, the pain had not really subsided. In my mind, I knew I was going to Urgent Care later that night after we arrived home in Maryland. These painkillers couldn't kill a fly let alone the pain from a second degree burn. (We were seen that night at a local Urgent Care around 11 pm. They confirmed the diagnosis, but they prescribed a more serious painkiller: percocet. Which so far hasn't stopped the pain. Dulled it, maybe?)
Back at the gate, while we waited to board, a woman came over to sit next to where I had stretched out across two seats to minimize the pain. Dina explained to her the reason why I had my legs outstretched was because I was injured. She smiled and said: "Would you mind if I ... ?"
Stay tuned to this space for "Still Bedridden in Burtonsville" publishing Wednesday, August 4th.