I didn’t do any research or write a post yesterday after returning home from work because one of the fingers on my right hand had swelled up to the size of a small eggplant. Quite painful, too, I admit. An infected finger, something I haven’t had since I began taking curcumin. In Italian it’s called giradito or patereccio; in English I found the translation “whitlow.” If you are interested, more info can be had on this BBC health page: http://tinyurl.com/yjv45c
Well, in the pre-curcumin era I had always successfully treated these bloated objects with my family doctor’s simple home remedy, so I knew what to do. I wrapped my finger in an alcohol-soaked bit of cotton and waited. But the remedy didn’t work this time…I must have caught a resistant sort of super-germ. My finger continued to hurt and swell. So I went on Internet, painstakingly using my left hand (I am right-handed, so manoeuvring my mouse with my left hand took quite a bit of patience…), and found an Italian “grandmother’s remedies” website. The remedy for giradito that made the most sense to me was to dip the injured finger in boiling, salted water. Just like pasta.
So that’s what I did. OUCH!
The only result was that the germs inside my finger angrily gnashed their little teeth and increased the pain in my finger (actually, I think this remedy does work, but perhaps the water doesn’t need to be so bloody hot…!). My whole hand began to throb at that point, and my formerly-normal thumb also started to hurt and turn red. Not a good sign. When Stefano got home from work, we even considered going to Careggi hospital’s emergency room, but it’s August (most of Italy is on holiday) and it was late at night by then, so we quickly nixed that idea.
Stefano looked through the medicine cabinet and found an antibiotic that I had taken last September for my bronchitis. Bronchitis, not giradito. But the directions said that it would work also against generic “bacterial infections.” Good enough. I took a pill.
I then smeared my finger with Polysporin, an antibiotic ointment, Stefano bandaged it loosely but carefully, and we went to sleep. This morning my finger was much less swollen and less red. It still feels a bit like an alien appendage, but the pain is gone. Yeah!
By the way, just as a precaution, this morning I called my doctor, who interrupted me halfway through my story with the statement: “you need to take an antibiotic.” He was pleased to hear that I had gone ahead and done just that. I mention this because I think it’s a good idea to get in touch with your doctor when things like this happen—infections are no laughing matter!
So how did I get this germ? Well, after work I usually stop to do some shopping at a large nearby farmers’ cooperative. I stopped there yesterday, too. I got a shopping cart, wheeled it inside the store and strolled over to the fruit and vegetable area where I put on plastic disposable gloves, the kind that you use to avoid touching produce with your bare hands. I felt the first prick of pain in my finger right after I had slipped on the right-hand glove. How odd, I thought. But I ignored my finger until I got home…
At any rate, it would seem that I had been attacked by a super-germ. And the only thing that I had touched until that first stab of pain had been the shopping cart. And here we get to the main reason I wrote this post, that is, to warn you to be more careful than I was. Germs are everywhere, and particularly those of us with compromised immune systems must be a tad more cautious than others. Under certain circumstances, perhaps it is not a bad idea to wear disposable gloves (perhaps brought from home!).
We shouldn’t go overboard, of course. Not all germs are harmful, so, when you go shopping, chances are that all you will need to do is keep your hands away from your face and then wash them carefully with soap and warm water when you get home.
This reminded me of a show on germs that I watched years ago on U.S. television. All sorts of objects, including supermarket carts, were swabbed and analyzed. A scary finding was that flesh-eating bacteria were found on shopping cart handles. Makes you think, eh? And have a look at this 2006 ABC news report: http://tinyurl.com/56ntdq 1,100 germ colonies? Yikes! And if you thought that your office desk was safe, read this: http://tinyurl.com/6httab Mamma mia! But, as I said, there are good germs and bad germs.
Well, at least I can type now. And I still have all of my flesh. That’s two good things that have happened today…