Or, “How to Kill Antibiotic-Resistant Cellulitis With Extreme Prejudice“.
This saga really all started when our family cat was brutally killed in our front yard, last fall. It was a beautiful Saturday morning, the first weekend in October, and some jerk let his two large, mean dogs run loose. Our cat was 10 years old, and smart, they must have caught her sleeping. Fast forward a couple of months…
I decided to adopt a cat for the children for Christmas, and found exactly what I had in mind: a fluffy orange male in dire need of a caring home. He was scrawny, he was sick, his fur was falling out: he was perfect. We named him Clyde, because the dog is Bonnie and I’m corny like that.
What does this have to do with cellulitis, you ask?
Wait for the plot twist: it’s coming.
I immediately began nursing him back to health, making him nutritious food, treating his cold/eye infection, and as soon as he felt better…he bit the hand that fed him.
In all fairness, he was having hisself a kitty panic attack at the time, and didn’t know what he was doing. He’d felt well enough to investigate the girls’ parakeets, knocked over the cage in the process, and went berserker when I picked him up from behind. Sadly, it had not occurred to me that his delicate feline nerves might be in a state of discombobulation after the noise and commotion of the falling cage. I simply picked him up, and found myself with a bundle of slashing claws and piercing teeth stuck to my hands.
Literally stuck to my hands.
When I finally got free, I treated the wounds with topical antibiotic and thought no more of it, having had 4 previous cats and never an infection from a cat-inflicted wound.
Some of you are wincing right now, because you know what’s coming.
Those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, google “Cat bite infection” and click on Images. But only if you have a strong stomach, or a strong desire to lose weight by losing your appetite.
The back of my right hand sustained puncture wounds as well as scratches, and five days later I woke up to little red bumps covering about 80% of the back of my hand. Bacteria deposited deep in the tissue had been spreading under the surface the whole time.
I thought I had an easy solution, and covered the entire affected surface with a wet charcoal poultice that evening, wrapping it well to keep it moist all night.
Guess what charcoal does to a subcutaneous infection under unbroken skin?
It sucks it up closer to the surface without pulling it out. So, all those little, red bumps had spent the night turning into Very Large and Angry Red Bumps with a hefty side of Pain.
Great. Just great.
This was the first time anything ever got worse after applying charcoal. Using it for a skin infection was how I discovered the stuff in the first place, so you can imagine my chagrin and worry. If charcoal doesn’t do it, what will? I already knew from a family member’s previous experience that things like raw garlic don’t reach the fatty layer of the skin in enough quantities to kill an infection there. Sure, it’ll keep the infection out of the blood and out of the muscle tissue, but it can still eat its nasty way through the layer of cellulite under the dermis, virtually unchecked.
After experimenting with OLE internally and externally for a few days while the infection grew steadily worse, I broke down and went to the urgent care for antibiotics, 10 days after the initial injury. The doc took one look at my now grotesque hand (no, I didn’t take pics, because disgusting), and started palpating my lymph nodes and waxing eloquent about hospitals and IV antibiotics. Since I had no fever and my lymph nodes were blissfully unaware of any infection (it not having spread to the blood, because I at least knew how to prevent that), she gave me a scrip for 10 days of doxycycline and sent me on my merry way.
Maybe the subtitle already gave this away: the infection started coming right back within 5 days of the end of that prescription. I’d suspected it would, because Story of My Life.
By this time I was thoroughly freaked; the infection was not only coming back around the original wounds, it was coming back around the edges of the surface area it had covered, too. As in, it was not only not dying, it was still spreading.
Honestly, I couldn’t think what to do other than keep taking the natural meds that keep it out of the blood and muscle, and go back for a different antibiotic. They gave me cephalexin that time, and by the 3rd day I could tell for sure that it was doing ABSOLUTELY NUTHIN for that infection.
It was now 3 weeks after my initial doc visit, meaning I’d had this infection for 31 days, and two different antibiotics hadn’t done the job.
I tried charcoal again, because what the hell, I had nothing to lose. This time, since the skin over the infected areas had opened up like tiny blisters, the charcoal WORKED. The pain, redness, and swelling had decreased by about 50% in two hours. This is when it began to dawn on me that, if I’d waited and re-applied the charcoal several weeks before, after the angry red bumps opened and began oozing lymph fluid, I could have skipped the antibiotics entirely.
“FML”, as the kids say.
If they still say that.
That’s not the end of the saga, however. After about 5 days of almost constant poultices, I started just using them at night, because all I had left were a few red dots, and I was eager to be done with all this crap and get back to being able to use my right hand.
What I didn’t realize is that during the day while my skin was open to the air and dry, the surface of my skin was healing over before every last bacterium had been drawn out of the deeper tissue, meaning that they were once again quietly multiplying and spreading under the surface of unbroken skin.
Nine days after I started the charcoal treatments, I woke up with subcutaneous pain and swelling once more. It was now February 19th, and the infection was still spreading, located under unbroken skin where charcoal couldn’t suck it out. What to do?
The urgent care place wasn’t going to give me a third prescription: I would have to find a dermatologist and wait weeks to see him/her, and I had no guarantee that anything they gave me would work. It would, however, be guaranteed to cost a lot of money we really didn’t have.
After perusing the internet once again (where all the terrifying personal testimony is about un-killable infections they’ve had for years) while sending up an earnest prayer for wisdom, I made a wet paste of ascorbic acid powder and applied it all over the painful area.
I’d recently read that Vitamin C can help fight staph (which is the bacteria transmitted in most cat bites/scratches), and I had a bag of powder already, so I applied it externally and took it internally. (I mixed a few drops of water into loose powder to make a paste, and drank a scant teaspoon mixed in water)
The paste idea came from seeing a suggestion for applying moisturizer with Vitamins C and E: I figured pure Vitamin C might be even better, and it’s what I had, so I went for it.
I left that paste on for less than five minutes, then rinsed it off.
Lo and behold, the skin over the infected areas had formed little blisters, and the healthy skin was unaffected. My hopes rising, I applied a fresh charcoal poultice over the now open skin, and waited.
By the end of the day, I could feel the pain and swelling decreasing. I repeated the Vitamin C treatment twice a day, reapplying the wet charcoal poultice after each one. The swelling went continuously down, localizing around the little blistered spots where the charcoal was drawing the infection out. The spots gradually got smaller and less sensitive to pressure, till they finally closed up and healed. It took over two weeks, but the remainder of the infection was slowly but surely destroyed, and all I have left now is one small scar.
Oh, and a little PTSD.
And, get this….even though I did a few charcoal cleanses during and after the antibiotics, they still did exactly what I’d feared: they messed up my gut and gave me a UTI.
Because why the hell not, right?
Fifteen days ago, about a week after the last sign of cellulitis healed, I woke up to slightly suspicious-smelling urine. I took 4 OLE with breakfast, 4 with lunch, and didn’t have any other UTI symptoms, so I kinda forgot it for a few days, thinking it a false alarm.
Then the same symptom reappeared and I took a test on March 25th. The nitrites lit up like a neon sign. *sigh*
I took OLE and oil of oregano (both of them Vitacost brand: I fill empty capsules with their liquid OoO). I already had both, so I was able to start them immediately, and I’ve tested clear for the last 6 days. Catching it before it really took hold, it only took 5-6 days to kill it. I couldn’t test for a few days, because of course I got my period the second day after testing positive, so I’m not sure exactly how fast it died. I kept my bladder flushed out with lemon water and took 12-16 OLE a day, and 12 size 0 capsules of oil of oregano a day, and did a charcoal cleanse. Presto, gone.
So, that’s what my year has been like so far!
I’ll cover what happened to me last fall in another post, on the exciting and thrilling topic of how to diagnose and naturally treat severe hypothyroidism caused by grief and stress!
(and a deficiency in B vitamins and iodine)
Oh, and on Clyde the Strictly Indoor Cat: he’s more than doubled in weight, he’s grown a magnificent new coat of silky, stripy orange and white, and he’s healthy as a horse and frisky as a kitten.
Sooooo…..worth it, I guess?