Stayin’ alive

A kidney dialysis/transplant diary

That which does not kill us

Adj. 1. exquisite – intense or sharp; “suffered exquisite pain”; “felt exquisite pleasure”

intense – possessing or displaying a distinctive feature to a heightened degree; “intense heat”; “intense anxiety”; “intense desire”; “intense emotion”; “the skunk’s intense acrid odor”; “intense pain”; “enemy fire was intense”
(Source: Free Online Dictionary)


“The pain is exquisite,” Dr. Knutson said. “Finally,” I thought, “someone knows what’s going on and what I’m feeling.”

Once the biopsy on my thigh was ordered, it was accomplished with speed thanks to a cancellation at the dermatologist’s office. I pushed for the biopsy and/or referral to University Hospitals in Iowa City pretty emphatically at the end of Monday’s painful treatment.

I told the nurse the pain was exhausting me, that I was concerned with the change in appearance at the core of the area because it appeared to be the beginnings of an ulcer, that it wasn’t so much that I needed a name for whatever it was, but I needed relief from the pain.  It was, I said in less lady-like terms, time to defecate or get off the pot.

When I arrived for treatment Wednesday afternoon, there was a note saying the biopsy was scheduled for 7:30 a.m. Thursday.  The speed of scheduling was due to a cancellation. The wait otherwise could have been as long as two months.

Wednesday’s treatment went much more smoothly than Monday’s. After I got home, I called work to let them know I wouldn’t be in until the biopsy was completed and depending on the pain, maybe not then.

Thursday morning I arrived at the dermatologist’s office a few minutes after seven.  I filled out the pre- paperwork and was in the consultation room a little before 7:30.  Dr. Knutson – tall, dark, handsome and youngish – looked carefully at the swelling and the irritated area and said he really didn’t need to do a biopsy to diagnose the problem. It is “lipodermatosclerosis with atrophie blanche.”

He hasn’t seen many cases of it on the inner thigh, but said it is a “progression” of the chronic stasis dermatitis on my lower legs, a byproduct of poor circulation and diabetes, I’m sure. Again, something with no cure but there may be hope in managing the pain and thwarting the progression now that someone knows what it is.

Believe me, it’s a relief knowing that someone knows what this is.  I’m not happy thinking that the woody feeling of my lower legs, their dark pigmentation and sometimes weeping blisters can continue up my legs, but for the near future, knowing the enemy is better than guessing at what horrible thing is now occurring in my body.

Even though the diagnosis required no biopsy, Dr. Knutson performed one to make sure there are no other complications involved. Well, you know, no other other than the obvious: diabetes, hypertension, venous stasis, kidney failure, etc.

Dr. Knutson prescribed some extra powerful hydrocortisone-like cream to apply to the left thigh which is much less compromised than the right thigh.  I’m to apply it twice a day for two weeks and then twice weekly.  I’ll need to wait on the application on my right thigh until the stitch closing the biopsy site heals.

Meanwhile the pain — which Dr. Knutson described beautifully as “exquisite” — and sleeping seem to still be controlled only through pain killers (hydorcodone) and sleeping aids (Ambien). I truthfully am not fond of those or their combination, but the pain is disruptive as is not being able to sleep.






May 25, 2008 - Posted by | diabetes, dialysis, fistula, health, kidney, renal diet, renal recipes, transplant, weight loss

1 Comment »

  1. Kathy, thank you for sharing your difficult journey. I’ve only read a handful of entries and find strength in your words.

    Thank you for the beautiful haiku as well.

    Comment by Karen B. | May 28, 2008 | Reply

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