Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Stingray Sting, Aftermath & the Tasty Travels Along the Way...

WARNING this post alternates between tasty pictures and descriptions of food and gross descriptions and pictures of a stingray incident 2 weeks ago and counting!

A couple of Wednesdays ago, June 12, I decided to enjoy my first day off from the new job with a relaxing day at the beach. So my boyfriend and I headed out to Siesta Key, which we never really just chill out at - usually only go for parties because its always so crowded; but we figured, its off-season, it should be almost vacant. We chose to go to one of the beach access points rather than the main beach for even less crowds.
<-- a pic of my boyfriend setting up our umbrella at the beach.

So after a few beers, we deicded to cool off in the water. I did notice that the tide had gone out pretty quickly - like within the last 20 minutes or so and it was now noticebly low tide. He was walking in front of me, and all of sudden was like "Wow! Look, a stingray!" as it swam off, he said "I almost stepped on it". Not 10 seconds later, I felt an excrucitating pain run up my leg, and as my thoughts scrambled from crab claw to lobster to pointy shell, I raised my foot to see it was gushing with blood!! I was freaking out, it was then that my boyfriend pointed out saying "Oh my gosh, you stepped on one, there it goes!". It was another stingray that apparently didn't want to follow its partner out of the way of my foot. Luckily, it had only slapped me with its tail, but that was enough for it to still inject me with its venom, and cut a nice sized chunk below my ankle. My boyfriend helped me hobble out of the water (we were only in about 2 feet when it happened), and set me on the beach.
The pain was INTENSE - some of the worst I've ever felt in my life and came in throbbing waves. To our total luck, a beach officer was cruising by on his 4-wheeler just as I was realizing elevating it, applying pressure and slamming a beer was not going to help. He ended up taking me into Siesta Key First Aid were they told me another case had just happened down the beach with an older man, who had called an ambulance to pick him up! The key to alleviating the pain of a stingray sting's venom, is to soak your injury in hot water as hot as you can stand. I did this, switching out buckets of water for about 20 mins. To my shock the cut was barely visible: (see pic at right -->) a small puncture wound and some purple bruising was all I had to show for the intense pain I was in. 

The first aid responders then suggested that I head to the ER since it'd been over 10 years since my last tentinus shot and if I was still in pain after soaking it more. By the time I'd gotten home, the pain had all but stopped, but as soon as my mom heard about the incident, she demanded to take me over to Doctors Hospital ER in Sarasota. They gave me my tentinous shot, some pain killers (even though the pain had subsided) and an antibiodic: Cipro, told me to bandage it up and keep it clean and elevated.

I was on the road to recovery, elevating and soaking it every day anytime the pain swelled up, and wrapping it in able to go into work. About 3 days after the incident, the wound started to develop a blister - which I read online as being "the venom escaping the wound". My boyfriend and I decided it would be best to try and pop it to eliminate it popping on its own and possibly getting infected while I was at work. So we would pop it each morning, I'd clean and wrap it and go into work to stand for 8 hours a day.

I had some scheduled time off to travel to San Francisco for a wedding a week later, and figured it was looking good, and I only had like 2 pills left of the antibiotic, so I should be fine to travel. I cleaned and wrapped it and took off. During my layover in Dallas I noticed it had begun to itch TERRIBLY around the wound. I had read something about it online regarding the skin "dying" around the sting from the venom.

During my layover in Dallas (which I planned because I knew DFW has good food), I found a Pappasitos (awesome Tex-Mex) <--pic at left and decided on a giant margarita and some cheese enchiladas. Even through the giant margarita, the intense itching was becoming a major issue, so I asked my waitress if she knew of a first aid near by and explained my issue. She brought me some cortizone cream which I applied and got instant relief (or maybe it was a combo of the cortizone and the margarita, ha). By this time, it was nearing time to board, so as I hobbled over to my gate, I saw a Dickey's BBQ (awesome TX bbq) and since I was extremely full from the enchiladas, I decided on just a beer to help ease me into the buzz from the marg and possibly help me get some zzz's on the plane. The nice guy at the cash register gave me a child's to-go cup so I could pour my beer into it and take it with me! Only in Texas (pic of yellow cup above)!

By the time I arrived in San Fran, the wound had turned slightly purple, the blister: gigantic, the area around it red and inflamed. Upon arrival, and to distract my uncomfortable ankle situation, my boyfriend and I decided to find a cool place to drink since we had a few hours to kill before the rehearsal dinner. We asked the concierge at our hotel who suggested a whiskey bar called Rickhouse (pic on the right -->) that was "4 blocks down and 3 blocks over". The plan was just to drink away the pain that developed, especially after walking all that way, and just have a good time. For the first time in like ever, I was craving "brown drinks" - I usually drink vodka and somethings but today I was all about anything scotch, whiskey, or bourbon! And this was the right place to go - they had a thousand different kinds, not to mention a menu of selections that included blackberry-muddled bourbons, lemon-infused scotches, tinctures, special aged varieties, fresh fruit, etc. It was really exciting and I tried about 3 different cocktails before we decided it was time to head back to the hotel to prepare for the rehearsal dinner.

The following day, I awoke to find my foot was significantly worse: the reddening extended all around the puncture site and slightly up my ankle, the puncture wound itself had turned a dark purple color and the pain had returned in full force; I could barely even stand on it! After I sent a copy of this picture <-- to my mom, she suggested I go into the Medical Center ER to get it checked out (this pic really doesn't do it justice, but you can see the swelling around my ankle and the redness that extended up my leg).

The Dr at the ER told me I had developed a bacterial infection called Cellulitis which had occured because the first antibiotic prescribed to me was not strong enough to have prevented me from catching the infection. And he was very surprised that they had chosen to give me it at all! I was originally afraid that flying or the cortizone cream had made it worse, but it turns out I could have just stayed at home and it still would have gotten infected. The Dr gave me 2 new stronger antibiotics: Cephalexin and Doxycycline and a CANE! haha (they tried to give me crutches, but I was like "crutches aren't cool!"), and told me to keep it elevated and stay off it as much as possible. I mentioned we were in town for a wedding that evening and would be traveling all the following day, to which he was like "Use the cane!".

To cheer us up (and get our minds off the fact that we'd spent the entire morning of our one day in San Fran at the ER) my Mom said she'd treat both of us to lunch - we went back to the concierge at our hotel (after filling my prescriptions) who suggested we try Boulevard off Mission and Stewart St near the Ferry Building. This has got to be one of my top 5 best lunches ever! To start, we each got a cocktail: mine a cucumber-infused scotch and his a muddled Manhattan. Second course was appetizers: I got the Roasted Beet Ricotta and Fava Bean Pea Pyramid Ravioli with beurre fondue, peas, arugula and chantrelle mushrooms, my boyfriend got the Ahi Tuna Tartare (Ginger and hearts of palm salad, cilantro, fried garbanzo beans and peanuts with Siracha aioli - it was like the best tuna tartare I'd ever eaten).
For an entree: I had the Short Ribs with roasted peppers (they were similar to shishitos), shrimp & crab-stuffed calamari, arborio rice, lima beans & peas with arugula in a demi glace. My boyfriend got the Kobe burger with fries.
This lunch proved to be to-die-for and from here we left to prep for the wedding.

After a long flight home (every flight was delayed at least 1 hr due to the American Airlines pilot strikes), and a blown out tire (hit something, I obviously didn't see) on the drive home, my foot is doing better. It still hurts from time to time (which I manage with Advil) and is still blistery, but the reddening has reduced down to just around the wound and the swelling is obsolete . As I was sitting here writing this, I accidentally popped the blister (I guess with my leg sitting cross legged) and some red goo oozed out - yuck! So who knows when it will be completely healed, I mean geez - exactly 2 weeks since it occurred and I'm still feeling the wrath of the stingray that got away! REMEMBER: at low tide, always shuffle your feet! Or wear booties! Cuz staying out of the ocean entirely is not my idea of the way I want to live in Florida!

I think we need to even out this post with just one more gross picture of the ankle - this is a few days later, after my first day back at work since flying home.  -->


Anonymous said...

I googled "how long does it take for a stingray wound to heal" and came upon your blog. I was the victim of one in Treasure Island 2 days ago. Yesterday, it did not feel so bad. Tonight, it is throbbing. The paramedics acted like it was no big deal and just put me in the bathtub with scalding hot water and Dawn dish liquid. I was delirious with pain. Now I am worried that it might become infected. So, I am not sure what to do at this point!

Lauren McElroy said...

To ease the pain, just soak in scalding hot water until pain resides (you may have to change water a few times when it gets cool and pain returns). Also, pain killers help w discomfort. As long as you keep it clean and don't expose it to anyone with an infection (I think I got mine when I went into ER), you should steer clear of the major complications I endured. Good luck!!

Anonymous said...

how long did it take for your foot to completely heal from the sting? any other complications?

Lauren McElroy said...

After finding out I had MRSA in the wound and taking antibiotics/ laying off my foot was all said and done, about 4 months. June 12 when initially stung till about mid oct