Sunday, 7 August 2011

How I fought a big bad bite in Kalkan, Turkey

This is the strange tale of my right leg's holiday in Kalkan, Turkey recently.
I have taken preparation for my holiday seriously this year.  Not in any practical saving money for it sense, sadly.  Rather in losing lots of weight so that I look and feel better.  This has involved going cycling lots amongst other things.  And that is what I did a month ago in Devon and again a few weeks ago in Brighton on the Downs.

I felt quite pleased with myself by the week I went on holiday.  I'd lost several stone and felt pretty fit and toned.
However, there was a little problem developing.  The weekend before my cycle ride on the Downs I'd woken up one morning with a small but very itchy bite on my leg.  I thought it was probably a mosquito - awful things.  I must admit I scratched a bit, but not excessively.
On the cycle ride I drove through numerous cow pats and other lovely country things, replaced my chain, helped others do stuff with their bikes and generally got stuck in.  I can't say I noticed my bite at all.
Then on Wednesday - 12 hours before I was due to set off to Turkey on my holidays I noticed my bite was feeling itchier and looking a little red.  Hmm.  I decided to go to the doctors to be on the safe side before I zoomed off.  The doctor reckoned the bite was showing signs of infection and rather apologetically prescribed some antibiotics for the first week of my holiday.  Hmm, not great but they weren't going to stop me enjoying myself.
So a few hours later, in the middle of the night, we set off for Gatwick.  I'd managed to grab a few hours sleep, but my leg did not feel any better.  By the time I got on the plane the swelling had started to spread and my leg felt rather hot and uncomfortable.  Still, I knew the drugs would kick in soon.
This was my leg after about 3 hours on the plane.  Flying was probably not what my leg really needed, although it seemed ok at the time.
We arrived at Dalaman airport at midday and strangely it was hot, hot hot!!!!  Luckily the transfer we'd booked to take us to Kalkan turned out to be a very comfortable BMW with loads of leg room.  I covered my leg with a cool damp flannel, but my leg was getting hotter and swelling more.  Also I noticed that a few blisters were developing.  In all we travelled for about 6 hours - 4 on the plane and 2 in the car.
By the time we arrived at our apartment in Kalkan I really wanted a swim to cool down.  The pool looked so inviting.
But what to do about my leg?  One of the blisters had really expanded.  However, it didn't hurt and I needed a dip So I covered it with a dressing and a plaster cast covering we happened to have - my son having broken his arm a few years before.  This worked a treat, protecting the other guests from the sight of my nasty bite and keeping it dry and clean.
However, the blister continued to grow - as did the swelling in my leg.  It didn't stop us going out for a meal, but it was getting a little uncomfortable to walk up and down the steep hills of Kalkan - particularly the up bits naturally!

By nearly the end of the evening my leg looked like this:  I couldn't believe how much the blister had swelled up and I was concerned at how red my leg was.  Naturally I was worried about the blister bursting - the skin was stretched so tight, but luckily it still didn't hurt.  It reminded me of one of those shiny bars of posh soap you sometimes get...  I put my leg up and then suddenly my daughter said what was that.  She had felt moisture on her legs.  When I looked down, the blister had burst and there was fluid all over the balcony.  Yukk!!!!!
However, it was bed time so I kept taking the tablets and slept with my leg on a pillow.  I was sure it would all look much better by the morning.

But that was not to be.  By the morning it was just as swollen and getting redder.  Also there were more blisters forming on my lower leg.  I was worried.
Luckily our rep was available and very kindly took me to the local clinic.  The unfortunate news was that he was called away just before I was due to see the doctor.  Not a word was spoken but eventually I realised he was asking me to get out of his surgery and let his nurses dress it, whilst he saw a real patient - but not before I'd laid down on his couch which is what I thought he wanted!
The nurses had big needles and lots of pots of orange and purple potions.  There were quite a few blisters by this point and they popped them all, which worried me a little.  They then applied loads of gunk to my leg - but it still didn't hurt much.  After that they wrapped it up so it looked a bit like this.

Luckily, I had my plaster cast cover and I was still able to go in the pool - carefully.  However, the instructions were to keep it covered with the gunk for the day and then remove the dressings.  By now I was getting plenty of advise from people as to how to deal with it and I also consulted the internet and all its quackeries to see what I should do.  I was worried.  I had visions of losing my leg, or worse, to that nasty flesh eating bug and I felt that the antibiotics had not had much impact - it was 2 days by now since I'd started taking them.  However, local advice from several Turkish and English people was to go swimming in the sea so that the salt could start to dry out the wound.  And the following day that's exactly what I did.
Luckily the sea round Kalkan is crystal clear and beautifully clean.  So I grabbed my snorkel and off I went.

My leg looked like this after the blisters had burst and stayed a bit like that - with some added orange and purple colouring for a day or two. Blisters seemed to develop and ooze, which was lovely for everyone!

But after my first swim in the sea there was a noticeable improvement.  My leg looked less angry and the swelling had subsided a little.

 The same thing happened after the next swim, and the next.   It stung a bit when I climbed into the sea, but that must have been the salt doing it's work!  My leg was starting to return to normal.  My antibiotics ran out after a week and I decided not to take another course that the Turkish doctor had given me, as I felt he didn't understand I was already taking some.  Plus, it seemed on the mend.
As the weeks drew on my leg improved enormously, almost visibly subsiding when I came out the sea.  However, I had one nasty experience to come.  One day as I was walking towards the sea a dog appeared - a pet of some Turkish guests at a local hotel.  He saw me and barked rather aggressively and then came up to me and started licking my leg.  I thought he was going to bite it.  The owner took  no notice and I had to almost kick him away with the help of a nearby waiter,  before the dog would leave me alone.  But I survived intact!
It still hasn't completely healed over two weeks later, but it's getting there.  It looks more of a burn than a bite and I am curious as to how and why all this happened.  I reckon that dirt got into the bite when I was on my cycle ride - but I could be wrong.  Either way it was a little added interest on my holiday and it really didn't spoil anything at all.
Kalkan is wonderful and I love it and lots of the people there.  In fact I love it almost as much as my right leg - but not quite!

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