Urgent help needed for "leaky" legs! - British Heart Fou...

British Heart Foundation

30,148 members19,708 posts

Urgent help needed for "leaky" legs!

Hollysmum profile image

Good morning! My husband, who has heart failure, and also has bilateral osteoarthritis of the knees, was diagnosed with cellulitis in June. Since then, he's had perpetually "leaky" legs, and is currently on his fifth course of antibiotics. I dress his legs twice a day for him, using Dermol cream, Atrauman moist gauze dressings, Zetuvit pads and Yellow Line bandage to top it all off. He has a very poor quality of life at the moment as a result. His circulation is, obviously, not what it should be, and he becomes breathless with not too much effort. He is unable to put on shoes unaided - only one pair, a stretchy pair of beach shoes, can go on his poor feet at the moment - and this means he is housebound unless I'm around. I work full-time and on Saturdays, as he was forced into early retirement by his illness. We need to get to the root cause of why his legs will not dry up - our GP surgery is just ridiculous at the moment, there are no permanent doctors, and the admin staff never know if a locum is coming or not, and the nurse practitioner is run ragged. My husband has an irrational fear that, if he goes to A&E, or the drop-in centre, he'll be admitted to hospital, and then he'll never come home again - he's spent a lot of time in hospital in the last two years, so this is perhaps understandable. He is amazingly tolerant, but inevitably has his moments. I am not a professional nurse, clearly, and I can only do my very best with the First Aid knowledge I do have and instruction from the nurse practitioner. Frankly, I'm becoming desperate - I so want him to be as well as he can be, and to be able to do the things he was doing before June, and I don't want him to suffer the discomfort that his poor legs give him. He's recently acquired a mobility scooter, but has been unable to use it because of this issue with his legs, and we really want to be able to go out again, even if it's just shopping locally. He is due an appointment with the non-invasive cardiology unit at our local hospital, and I wondered if it is worth mentioning this issue at that appointment. Thank you for reading my (lengthy) post. Catherine.

8 Replies
MichaelJH profile image
MichaelJHHeart Star

Certainly mention it at his cardiology appointment. I suffer with PAD (peripheral arterial disease). Before my bypass I used to get odema (ankle swelling). This no longer occurs now the heart function has improved. Overall I suspect it is due to both his heart and potentially circulation issues in his legs. A CT or MRI scan of his legs might be appropriate. It may also be useful to see a vascular surgeon. Is he on a diuretic as this might be beneficial.

There is quite a bit to think about. Another thought - a friend's late uncle suffered from this (he was in his mid-eighties) but the dressings were only changed two or three times a week so his legs were not disturbed too frequently.

Hollysmum profile image
Hollysmum in reply to MichaelJH

Michael - thank you so much for your reply. I believe that my husband also knows that this has now gone beyond "local" treatment. He does take several diuretics - bumetanide and something else, twice daily. I will suggest that he speaks to the staff at his appointment next week, and see if we can get some additional action!

Personally I would badger him to seek help sooner. If you can get him to attend A&E then it his choice as to whether he will agree to be admitted or not - they cannot force him to stay although from the sounds of things it may be the best idea. If in doubt ring 111 for help & advice.

Hollysmum profile image
Hollysmum in reply to shopman

Hi, shopman - I agree with you totally, and I tried this about four weeks ago, when he was in constant pain. I managed to get him as far as the Nurse Practitioner, who, thankfully, found an effective pain relief regime for him. But the leaking has not improved, of course. I will report back on any progress....

MichaelJH profile image
MichaelJHHeart Star

This website may be useful if you have not seen it:-. lymphoedema.org/index.php/i...

Hollysmum profile image
Hollysmum in reply to MichaelJH

Thank you Michael - that's really useful. I've printed off a selection of pages to show to my husband.

MichaelJH profile image
MichaelJHHeart Star in reply to Hollysmum

Glad to have been of help. One thing to remember is to seek medical assistance at the first sign of infection. As the tissue is already comprised infection can get hold and spread quickly. Hope you get a full diagnosis and treatment plan soon.

Hollysmum profile image
Hollysmum in reply to MichaelJH

Indeed. My biggest fear, of course, is that if he does continue to get infections, one day it will escalate to the dreaded sepsis. He's into his second week of the current course of antibiotics - flucloxacillin. It was interesting to note from the website that this isn't necessarily the most effective against cellulitis with oedema.....

You may also like...