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An injection that changed the trajectory of my vacation

Hello Readers,

Hope you are doing fantastic. 

*** Long post alert *** But definitely worth reading. The intention of this post is to create general awareness, as this is indeed the first time I or anyone in my known circle had such a freakish experience with an injection!!

I have been off the writing wheel over the last few weeks, which wasn't something I wanted to. I had my blogging calendar well prepared, before I set off to India on a vacation. After years of wait due to covid and visa related issues, being away from my family for the longest period of time, missing the most important event in my life and innumerous functions, festivals and get togethers, this was the much awaited trip to my home country. It eventually turned out to be the most unforgettable too, due to an unexpected event, which changed the trajectory of my entire trip. 

I tripped off at the Abu Dhabi International Airport, during the layover of my onward journey and sprained my ankle. Somehow I managed to board the flight to Chennai, but over the next couple of hours, the ankle swell making my leg immovable. I wasn't sure whether it was just a sprain or a hairline crack. That was something which was unsolicited to happen, even before entering India, on such an anticipated trip. 

I checked with an airhostess for first aid, but surprisingly the airlines doesn't have a kit on board (more on Etihad services in another blog). Instead she offered me a bag of ice cubes. The ice pack provided me a temporary relief from pain and helped arresting the swelling getting worse. I dragged myself out of the airport, made through the immigration, baggage collection and met my family without giving them the slightest hint of what happened over the last 6 hours. After reaching home, it was so obvious to them as I had to climb stairs to make it to the first floor. 

With every passing hour the pain and swelling increased, similarly my anxiety. I really wished to be in a walking position sooner, as I had to travel to my hometown to see my relatives the upcoming weekend and complete a huge task list over the weeks to follow. Since it was a Sunday, not many clinics were open. So we went to a nearby hospital. The duty doctor told it could possibly be a sprain which will be alright in three days with some medication and an injection (DOLOKIND, which is a pain reliever). If not, we have to get a MRI for suspected case of fracture. 

Luckily, the injury turned out to be a sprain and got healed in the next 4 days. I went to my hometown and spent a wonderful time with my extended family and cousins. Everything seemed normal until Day 2 of my trip. All of a sudden, a swelling appeared on the injection site (ventrogluteal area in the hip) accompanied with high fever, chills and pain. We all thought it is normal to have swelling at the injection site and will gradually subside in a day or two and gave a hot pack. But nothing improved. Then I switched to cold pack and it started to harden. Unable to bear the pain, I took a DOLO 650 (paracetamol) tablet, which seemed to provide some temporary relief. The fever and pain reappeared once the tablet's effect is lost. The swelling became a lump approximately the size of my palm, bright red in colour and unusually hot. Something wasn't really right!!!

The very next day, after reaching Chennai, I went to the same hospital which administered the injection. The duty doctor on that day gave me left and right for not rubbing the injection area immediately after receiving the shot and put me at fault. I informed her that the nurse told me not to rub. She seemed to be furious and asked if I could spot the nurse then. But she wasn't on duty. Anyways, leaving all these aside, she looked worried and told me I have an INJECTION ABSCESS and needs to get a surgeon's opinion, who will be available in the same hospital after 3 days. 

We had to travel the very next day to Tirumala for my kid's tonsure. All of us know, how tough it is to get darshan tickets, leave alone our long wait to come to India. The doctor's concern, surgeon's opinion, planned travel along with the bodily ailment left me with multiple questions ringing in my head - what is an injection abscess? Is it very serious? If not, why consult a surgeon? Since it is a lump, would I have to undergo surgery? What would be the healing time? how to manage the kid until I recover? will I be able to travel back to Canada per our schedule? - These questions were enough to bog me down. 

After googling, I came to know that Injection Abscess is a pus filled mass that occurs at the site where injection was given, due to an infection.

Per another source (WebMD), "the vast majority of abscesses are caused by infections. Inside, they are full of pus, bacteria and debris. They are painful and warm to touch. Unlike other infections, antibiotics alone will not usually cure an abscess. In general an abscess must open and drain in order for it to improve." 

Overall, I understood injection abscess can turn dangerous, if not taken care of immediately. So we decided to consult a surgeon before heading to Tirumala. A surgeon Dr. A at a Multispeciality Hospital confirmed it is indeed an abscess (which is of an abnormal size), prescribed medication for temporary relief so that we can complete the upcoming trip, but imperative to get it operated as chances of it getting cured with medicines is very bleak. According to him, it might take a minimum of 3-4 weeks to recover from the surgery. As we couldn't do much at this juncture, we went ahead with our personal commitment while taking the prescribed medication. At least, we could tick off one important and long pending task.

After coming back, we thought of having a second opinion and consulted Dr. B at another hospital which is very reputed and our go to hospital since ages. He advised to give healing process sometime while I continue using the medicines for 2 more weeks. According to him it is too tricky to cut open and clean the infection, given the size of the lump. Along with antibiotics, he prescribed me IG paint for external application, primarily to reduce the size and make way for the pus/infection to get accumulated in one place, making it easy to operate once the size reduces. He couldn't specify a time period for surgery recovery as it is subjected to individual body's response, which made sense. At least, he gave me some confidence that it might get cured with medicines, if God wishes to🤞

He advised me never to take an intramuscular injection, that too an oil based one, as it is likely to cause such infections. Surely leg pain was lot better to handle than the physical and mental trauma I had to undergo. After 3 weeks of medication, my Doc said the progress seemed to be good and continue the medicines for few more weeks. The lump should either dissolve completely or calcify over a period, with 99% chance to be alright. It's been 6 weeks and I am still on medication. The doctor told me to carry one month's course in addition (as a precaution, if the lump doesn't dissolve completely).

I intended to do a lot during my stay at India - meet my granny, relatives, my friends (primary school with whom I reconnected nearly after 2 decades, college and office friends), take my kiddo to beaches in Chennai, watch a movie at a theatre (which had become a distant dream after having a kid), shopping etc. But one fateful incident shattered them all. I didn't even inform many that I came down to India, as my schedule was highly unpredictable. I spent most of the time at hospital for myself and kid (viral fever and other infections, apart from Surgeon's appointments) and consumed a lifetime dose of antibiotics and pain killers, instead of the spicy chats, chole bature, comfort homemade food, hot dosas (served to my plate directly from tawa), aavin's palkova etc. I was craving for, since a long time.

                                     When life throws you lemons, make a lemonade!!

At one point, I repented for even coming to India, but I had only 2 choices - continue repenting or accept the reality and make the best out of the journey possible. I gathered courage and made a road trip of close to 12hrs to meet my granny, uncles, aunts and cousins; spending hardly 3-4hrs with each of their families; few of the relatives met us at home. One of my best friends came down to Chennai defying heavy rains just to spend couple of hours with me. I quickly caught up with my another bestie at Chennai. Under normal circumstances, we could spend hours together chatting, shopping and eating. Though all the meet ups were short, I was glad that I could meet them at least once. I still regret for not able to see some of my well wishers and friends this time and look forward to have a pleasant and peaceful trip, next time. 

Right now, I am back to Canada, jet lagged and getting adjusted to the drastic climatic change (30 C to -5 C, right into a freezer from stove top😜). I should be back to my routine in a week and you could expect to read my posts regularly, as before!!!

Note: I am not a medical professional and this article is purely based on my personal experience and what I learnt in the process

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