It started with a blister, or so I thought. A nasty, opened blister on my thumb that happened while working outside. For the rest of the week my thumb alternated between itching and soreness, and my hand swelled up like a baseball mitt. But this past weekend, things took a turn for the worse. The blister had healed and was fine, but my thumb was in such great pain and was continuing to swell. By Sunday evening in it the massive pain dulled to a numbness and we watched in horror as the infection deep under the skin spread to my hand. I could not move my thumb, and the Mister was concerned that it was cellulitis. After several friends at Sunday night group meeting encouraged us to not wait any longer, we made the decision to spend out Sunday evening at the emergency room. It turned out to be the right decision. There was no wait- the staff immediately took us back and gave me an injection for the pain. The doctor was concerned about the aggressiveness of the infection, and felt strongly that it was the dreaded MRSA infection. He noted it was crawling towards my lymphatic system. After drawing some blood, I was hooked up to a powerful antibiotic through an IV.
There is one thing more insidious than the infection, and that is how I got it to begin with. We have no idea. The doctor pointed to a tiny scab on my thumb, no bigger than the period at the end of this sentence. He said THAT was the source of the infection, which may have been an insect bite or tiny scrape that I got while going about my business outside and never noticed. But since I had such an obvious source of blame in that awful opened blister on the same thumb, I had just assumed the infection stemmed from that.
Well. So now I am at home with a swollen thumb which is alternately throbbing with pain or numb, and the limited use of my right hand is KILLING me. You know, I am one of those people who think that even if I am home sick, there ought to be something that I can get done around here.
In the Garden: Well, we have everything up and flowering, but our lettuce is coming to an end. I am enjoying the black raspberries which are doing well, but wish we had planted more of them. For now I am going to freeze them, and when there is enough, can pie filling.
For some reason, black raspberries are difficult to find in our area markets, and prohibitively expensive when you do find them. Last year when we visited Ohio I remember getting so excited when I found giant bags of frozen berries at the store, it may have been my favorite souvenir from that trip!
In the Kitchen: Cantaloupes are hardly in season yet here, but they must be in season somewhere since I found them on sale and brought home a couple, which were so ripe and sweet I could have devoured them myself in a couple days time. One thing I wanted to try making was spiced cantaloupe, which I love at picnics during the summer. I was going to call my Aunt M- and get her delicious recipe, but I knew exactly where she would send me to get it. That old stand-by, the Mennonite Community Cookbook. So I took that recipe and refined it, and scaled it down to make one quart.
1 medium-large cantaloupe, cut in strips, chucks, or melon balls.
1/4 Tablespoon alum (to help the melon keep its shape)
1 quart warm water
2 cups sugar
1 cup vinegar
1 cinnamon stick
1/4 Tablespoon whole cloves
Cut up your cantaloupe. I did a combination of chunks and melon balls. Dissolve alum in water and bring to a boil. Add fruit and cook for ten minutes. Drain. Combine vinegar, sugar and spice, and heat. Add fruit and simmer for about 15 minutes.
At this point, I let the mixture cool, poured it into a quart jar, and refrigerated it for us to enjoy cold. It tastes like early summer!