Elephant’s Leg


CATCHING UP: HEALTH
Pyoderma gangrenosum

Pyoderma gangrenosum

My health is generally fine. I’ve only taken one day off work since moving here, due to a particularly violent bout of food poisoning. I’ll spare you the details, but on two occasions (the other being on a weekend) I have been rendered utterly housebound by the ill-effects of dodgy food. I guess this comes with the territory when living in the tropics, and twice in less than a year and a half is not bad, really.But I am still trying to resolve a health issue which I brought with me from the UK – a leg ulcer which has been present for two years now. I have a skin disease called pyoderma gangrenosum (PG) and I must be very special, because it affects just 1 in 100,000 people!

It is basically an inappropropriate immune response – the immune system attacks a wound or blemish, but gobbles up good skin, too. This is what creates the ulcer and what continues to prevent it healing. Unfortunately the rarity of the condition means there are not many doctors experienced in dealing with it, and on top of that, the same cure does not work for all sufferers.

Luckily I found a doctor in Bangkok who has dealt with PG before and while progress remains annoyingly slow, progress is being made and my doctor does know his stuff. Thankfully I can afford private healthcare here – no waiting months for an appointment with an NHS specialist, or spending thousands of pounds on a private healthcare membership, as would be the case in the UK! For anyone looking for a decent, affordable private hospital in Bangkok, I recommend the Bangkok Christian Hospital on Silom Road.

But the PG is more an annoyance than a hindrance. It doesn’t usually hurt or itch, and it doesn’t affect my mobility, it’s just there, it’s ugly, it requires dressing, and the unknowns are bothersome – how long will it take to heal? Will it heal? But it could be worse. There are much more virulent diseases, and even PG itself can be much worse than in my case. A 4cm x 4cm wound on the lower leg is not so bad when you see how some others have been affected:

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f1/Pyoderma_gangrenosum_01.jpg

http://www.john-libbey-eurotext.fr/e-docs/00/04/28/3F/texte_alt_jleejd00278_gr1.jpg

http://dermatology.cdlib.org/122/case_reports/penile/1.jpg


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