30 December 2011

Why did I have Leukocytoclastic Vasculitis?

This was Christmas in hospital.

I was looking forward to the holidays.
Looking forward to Göttingen.
Looking forward to Berlin.

And then I ended up in hospital.

After writing my last post, things only turned out worse for me.
How lucky could I be to have fallen sick during the holiday season?
Seriously. I couldn't find the medical attention I need because every damn doctor was on holiday.

I am now writing from Göttingen and doing so much better than I was earlier in the week.

A rash or maybe not
I thought I had a rash. Until it didn't stop spreading all over my lower legs causing so much excrutiating pain that I couldn't walk.

3 different doctors 
The first one was optimistic, gave me something to reduce the swelling and told me that it would go away reaaaally soon. But two days later it only got worse. I couldn't even shower because my skin thinks that I'm setting myself on fire.
Then I went to another doctor, who - after looking at the condition of my skin - turned pale and told me to go straight to a dermatologist. But wait, there's more: of course I couldn't go to a dermatologist, they're all on holiday! Hurray.

2 different hospitals
So, in pain, I walked to the hospital in Goslar that was like 20 minutes away on foot. The most agonising 20 minutes of my fucking life. At the hospital they told me that the dermatologist (aka skin specialist) is on holiday too and they've got no one to treat me.
So the next day Michael's mum drove us from Goslar to Göttingen, while I could barely walk. She drove me straight to the hospital - of course, to one that also didn't take me in because they've got no one to look at my condition.
We tried another hospital and they accepted me and I was just relieved to be on a wheelchair and then in bed where I could finally stop moving because I had pain in my muscles, joints, bones - in other words: in my legs, just all over. Whatever that was attacking me, was really nasty.

Bandaged where it's worst.

Diagnosis: Leukocytoclastic Vasculitis
In simple english: inflammation of the small blood vessels. I was bleeding under my skin. Just like that.
The Doctor said that it could be a virus, or something we will never know. Something that made my blood vessels go haywire that they explode all they want. He told me that this could affect my internal organs, especially the kidneys.
But after doing the blood and urine tests, everything inside me was fine.

The Treatment:
Painkillers, and Prednisolone (a corticosteroid drug to reduce the inflammation)... a LOT of it.
I thought... wow, if this 'virus' doesn't kill me then these drugs eventually will.... if I have to keep taking lots of it over a long period of time.

Mind over body:
All I understood was that it could have been fatal, if... and only if... this attacks my vital organs.
I had to decide... and I decided that this aggression will not stand.
I wanted to get better.
After a day in hospital I could stand again. I could walk again. The pain subsided and I felt better.
Each time I went to the toilet I made sure that there's nothing suspicious. And with a good book, I could keep myself busy.

My bed.

Not such a wonderful view.

Hospital food. This was lunch on the first day.
*Sigh*... I was so hungry.

This was dinner on Christmas Eve... I got chocolate... 
Maybe it was supposed to cheer me up...

Just threw everything on the piece of bread...
Tasted like nothing.

Breakfast on Christmas morning.
Got another Santa Claus chocolate figure.

Dinner on Christmas Day... this was vegetarian steak with mashed potatoes, steamed vegetables, joghurt and soup.

Roses from Michael, another chocolate figure from his mum, and a little sad snowman.
I just wanted to go home.
This was day 3 in hospital.

I wanted to go home
On the third day in hospital, the bleeding under the skin had reduced. I had no more pain. I felt better. All they did was gave me something for my symptoms but they couldn't do anything to cure vasculitis. It's not something you can just fight off with drugs. There are none against it. And the funny thing is, no one knows the cause either. I might have gotten this from work... from one of the kids... or an allergent... something... anything... I'll never know. Great.
It's like a glitch that's somehow being set off in your body that confuses the hell out of it, makes everything go crazy.
My body has to figure it out on its own. Has to heal itself. 

I told the doctor that I wanted to go home and she told me that it could get worse.
I said it's just a risk I'll have to take, but all I know is that I felt a lot better. She told me to pay close attention to the skin and each time I go to the bathroom - so make sure that the body's healing.

And so I went home... last Monday.

I still had bleeding under the skin afterwards. It still turned up. My blood vessels still wanted to explode at the slightest pressure. But okay. By then it was no longer something new to me. I had to accept the way it was. I had to accept how insanely horrible my legs (and my arms) look. I decided not to post pictures because you will freak out and I'm not going to put you through that :)
Google "Leukocytoclastic Vasculitis" if you want and you can imagine what it was like for me.

Painful. Just painful.

But it's almost over now.
I'm recovering.

PS: I did make it to Berlin. Will be posting pictures soon.


  1. OK, I looked it up on Wikipedia, and was really surprised how short the page was on this. You're right, nobody knows much about this. From the pics I saw on the page, it almost looks like your skin has aged, but probably worse.

    I can only imagine how awful it has been for you. I hate hospitals, and if it were me, I'd go crazy after one day. (how the heck do these hospitals operate with no one working during the holidays? bullshit)

    I'm glad you're all right now. I have to ask though: will your skin be able to heal all the way back to what it was before it happened?

    Anyway, I'll see you next year. Happy 2012.

  2. Huh. I guess hospital food here in vancouver would be better than what you have there. and how the hell can that even be called dinner....

  3. @Aaron: the vasculitis on my arms are almost gone and my skin looks just like the way it was before, so I suppose it will heal.
    My legs, however, had been badly bruised due to the bleeding, and on places where it has healed, I see scars. Whether that will clear up is a matter of time.
    And as for the vasculitis, I just have to wait for it to go away.

    @Yelly: then I wish I was in Vancouver. The food was so depressing at the hospital here.