I got the preliminary results today of the culture the doctor did when he removed the fluid from my armpit on Friday. Kind of anticlimactic. As it turns out, there's no sign of infection.
So what is it? Well, he thinks it's probably a seroma, which is basically just a collection of fluid. Seromas are most often caused by surgery or injury. Most of us have probably had a scrape or a sore that oozed or weeped a little at first, which is just the body's protective response to the injury. Well, a seroma is a little like that, except underneath the skin. Another way to think of it is kind of like a bruise but with a pocket of clear fluid instead of red blood cells.
Why do I have it? Good question! So far as I know right now, there's no real answer or reason. It has occurred to me, though, that with the strained or pulled nerve the workers comp doctor diagnosed a couple weeks ago, perhaps that caused some tissue injury, which resulted in the seroma. Total speculation on my part, I admit. It may just be some kind of coincidence that both are in the same general area.
The swelling has slowly started coming back since the doctor drained it, and I suspect I'll need to go back and see him again in a couple days. He doesn't want to keep poking me with a needle, though, because if I DON'T have an infection now, poking me with a needle is one way to get one. So I don't know if he'll poke me again or what--I'm sure I'll let you know though, blow by blow with none of the gory details omitted!
A couple readers have mentioned the possibility of cat scratch fever, but except for the fact that the original sore on my lower arm was caused by my then-kitten, none of the other symptoms of that disease fit what I've been experiencing. One of the cat scratch fever symptoms is swollen lymph nodes, which I wondered about before I saw the surgeon, but once he stuck that needle in my armpit, I soon found out it wasn't my lymph nodes that were swollen! I'll mention it to the doctor next time I see him, just in case; I'm sure by then, I'll have imagined several alternate diagnoses that I'll want to explore anyway.
Sheesh! It seems like it's always something, doesn't it?