Sunday, May 30, 2010

An Un-Finished Product.

So, right now, my leg is almost a finished product. At least as far as my plastic surgeon is concerned. The graft has taken very well, and that's what his job was. He's proud of his work. And really, he did do a good job. The Hole, as I call it, is completely covered with skin/scar tissue.

But, and this is a big one... it's not finished. I am currently able to walk on it, but not very well. No proprioception (the ability to tell where it is at) and no feeling in most of it. Medically, there is nothing that can be done. According to medicine, I will always have The Hole, and it will always be super sensitive. I will always have a nerve deficit, and will be unable to regain a lot of the function that's been lost.

But there's something even bigger than that. I refer to Him as God. You know, the Creator of the universe? He amazes me with His love and His faithfulness. He is my provider. My healer. And with Him? Exceedingly above and beyond that which I could ask or even dare to imagine. That's what He'll do for me.

I can't honestly tell you what my leg will be like when He is done doing what He's doing. I don't know how much I'll feel, or what I will be able to do. I don't know if He will get rid of The Hole (He can, you know - He can do anything), or minimize it, or if it will always be as ugly as it is now.

But I DO know this: His mercy, shown to me in spite of the fact that I picked up the blade, I made the cuts, and I ignored His pleading voice... His mercy has left me standing. Do you get that? STANDING. I can stand up. I have two legs. Both of them work well enough that I can stand. And I can walk.

Today, I visited a friend who was working in the long-term care unit of a local hospital. The people there can't say what I can. Many of them will never walk again, this side of heaven. It wasn't all that long ago that I lay in a hospital bed, my leg feeling like it was on fire, and wondered if I'd still have two legs the next evening. It wasn't that long ago that a physician advised me I should be prepared, because a lot of the bacteria that grew in my wound culture was completely resistant to treatment. It wasn't that long ago that I quietly pleaded for my life. So in a way, I do get what those people are going through.

But in a much bigger way, I don't. The reality is, "The Worst Case" has already happened to them. For me, it was a future possibility. At times, I was told it was a future likelihood. But, I have received MERCY. I cannot complain. Yes, my leg is hard to use. Yes, my knee keeps getting wrenched because my foot floats to some some absurd angle mid-stride. Yes, I lay awake at night unable to sleep because my leg is covered in goosebumps and quivering and shaking and jerking.

But there's more. Because I can stand on my own two feet. I can walk down the long hallway of a rehab unit to visit a friend. I can get in my car and drive. My foot has a pulse despite significant arterial damage. My skin graft took, the first try. 100% of it. I stood in front of a Martial Arts class last Thursday, and taught. Next week, I'll stand in front of a group of women and endeavor to give to them what's been given to me.

I'm not ready, yet, to share what is left of my leg. It isn't pretty. It isn't completely healed. I still have a huge red rectangle where the doctor took skin for the graft. I still have to have it wrapped all of the time, to try and prevent swelling. But you know what? I am ready to share that my God has preserved my leg. I still have it. It is still useful. And, despite so many emotions saying otherwise, so am I.

So am I.

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Saturday, May 29, 2010


I love the night. The dark that wraps like a blanket. The quiet. The way every sound that pierces the quiet, is somehow amplified. I love the coolness. The stars. The moon. Usually.

Sometimes I hate it.

But not tonight. Tonight, my husband and I went out for Date Night. We have Date Night every Friday.

On our way home, we stopped at a model airplane club on top of a ridge. Parked in their driveway. And we let the peace, the quiet, the stillness envelop us. And then cherished the aliveness of it all as the night sounds filled the silence. Watched as the moon rose and seemed to shrink, turning from golden to silver.

I will post more soon, I promise.

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Friday, May 21, 2010

Really Short.

So tonight's post is going to be really short. I want to write about connections - and will do so soon. I also want to finish out my series on the love of God.

But right now, I am under the influence of some strong medication, and do not want to risk posting something crazy, so I'll stick to just a general update. My leg is healing - during the dressing change on Thursday, we saw PINK SKIN underneath the sewn-on dressing. Actually, it's stapled on. But whatever. The doc has sewn a dressing over the donor site, some yellow mesh-type stuff. And over the graft site, he stapled some sort of peforated clear stuff that reminds me of plastic. It's great, because it means that dressing changes aren't ripping away newly grown in and healthy tissue.

As for pain, it comes in spurts. Tonight, there's lots of it. Last night, there wasn't. When it gets really sore, my entire leg gets covered in goosebumps, but no other body parts do. It's wierd. I still have a gigantic dressing/cast - a half cast wrapped on with large quantities of cotton batting to keep things soft and comfy. Still allowed only 20 minutes below waist level every two hours. Still no weight bearing or moving the joints above or below the graft. Starting to itch something fierce, meaning healing is definitely underway (as if the PINK SKIN underneath the dressing wasn't enough).

Saw the fertility doc yesterday. No, we're not doing treatments right now. Yes, we're looking at surgery again to address some adhesions. Yes, we will evenetually try another round of treatment. Yes, we're aware that now is not the best time to do so. So's the doc. We're all on the same page.
Yesterday, I ALSO saw my counselor. Have I mentioned that he is literally an answer to prayer? A God-fearing, God-LOVING, experienced therapist who knows what I need and how to get me there. It's one of those things that has been making a huge difference in my journey toward "healthy and whole."
For tonight, that's all folks.

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Thursday, May 20, 2010

20 Minutes and No Church

So, my surgeon had a lot of instructions when I left the hospital.

One of them was "No dangling your leg below heart level for any longer than 20 minutes in any rolling two hour period." I have been being very careful to follow this one. I've also been being very careful not to let myself put any weight on it at all (another of his instructions).

There was another instruction, that I have chosen to blatantly ignore. He doesn't want me going to church, as that is just too much time with my leg not sufficiently elevated. He obviously doesn't know me that well, nor does he know my church. You see, I went. We propped my leg up as high as we could, I guarantee it was fine, and all was well. I saw my church family. They are family. REAL family.

And I have a post I really need to write. Pertaining to tonight's service and the notes I took. However, for now, I have to go. I have taken my night meds and I am totally out of it right now.

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Sunday, May 16, 2010

Update. Graft Is Good.

Saw my graft site today. It looks really good. The skin is pink (full of holes, too). The edges have all adhered properly, everything looks as good as possible. I didn't realize that there would be STAPLES in my leg, but... I'll get used to it and there's only a few. I also didn't realize how much the donor site was going to hurt without the wound V.A.C. on.

So I made a choice today to spend another day or two here, receiving some I.V. pain meds and anti-inflammatories. Feels a little selfish and a lot wimpy. However... that's what I've chosen.

I also found out today that it will be a minimum of 3 weeks before I can begin any weight bearing on my leg at all. For now, it is allowed to be below heart level for a total of 20 minutes every 2 hours. If you think about it... I can go to the bathroom and that's about it.

But all in all, things are doing well. That's all for tonight - I'm off to watch a movie as I fall asleep.

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Saturday, May 15, 2010

Last Day?

This could very well be my last day here in the hospital. That would be fantastic, you know. I'm not sure what will happen tomorrow, though. I may go home to resume all activity, or maybe I'll go home for more bed rest. If it's the bed rest thing, I'm going to stay in the same place I spent my high school years, simply because everything is on one floor. Or maybe I'll stay here on total bed rest still. Or stay, but with "bathroom privileges." Really no idea.

Today has been a rough one as far as feeling just... crummy. I ache everywhere - all my muscles and joints. My head is pounding, stomach rolling. Foot has gone completely numb to the touch, but still feels constant pins and needles. Donor site is super sore - had to rip the bandage away so it isn't getting brushed, and even then... my skin twitches and it almost makes me yelp.

Yes, I used the word yelp.

Have been being a jerk today as far as company goes - haven't wanted any. A friend who works here stopped in, and it was good to see her, but... over all, I want to be alone. Completely left to my own devices and quiet and peace.

I have to figure out supper, and to be honest... I think I just want oatmeal and strawberries and yogurt and bacon. Not a typical "supper" but it's about the only thing that doesn't turn my stomach at the mere thought of eating it.

There is also that hot fudge and marshmallow sundae down the hall in the freezer for me. But that's not "healing food," it's just yummy.

The nurse just came in and did a "mental health assessment." She doesn't seem to know what to do with the answers I gave her (honest answers). Is it really that unusual for a patient to come in with PTSD and also be in the middle of some serious depression?? Here's to hoping she doesn't page some random on-call person for me to talk to. Blech - who really wants a stranger to talk to, ya know?

Prayer requests today - I don't want to stay here any longer than absolutely necessary. I don't want these aches and sweats and chills and new pain and new numbness to mean anything actually bad. That this is just a normal healing progression. Otherwise, I'll check back in tomorrow and let you all know the verdict - home, here, what can I do, all that jazz.

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Friday, May 14, 2010

It's a Heaven Day Today

Today is post-op day 3. That means that the day after tomorrow, I may get to go home. Which would be fantastic.

However, having spent the last five months fighting to get this thing healed up, I am not going to argue with anything the surgeon says or recommends.
For the most part, the care I have received here has been phenomenal. The therapist who leads my DBT group stopped by to give me the homework from the group I missed. The psych. nurse who assists with that group came down today and spent nearly an hour - it was actually quite helpful.
My psychiatrist has been in at least twice every day, making sure that as my body gets all wonky from the surgery, the psych meds are adjusted as needed. Have had a few nurses and/or nurse's aids who are rather bitter that my "bed rest" does not involve a catheter or bedpan. Not sure why - it's less work for them this way, and it's definitely less traumatic for me. If the surgeon had not agreed to the modification, the psychiatrist would have prescribed some pretty serious sedatives.

Plus there's the whole laptop that's been supplied for my use. And the fact that some friends have allowed me to borrow some of their movies.
I guess I don't really have anything else to update you with. The wrappings (half-cast and LOTS of padding) won't come off until Sunday, and we won't know if the graft took, or how well it took, until then. Can't say when I'll be home, because nobody knows.

But I do know that when I get there, my house will be amazingly clean. My wonderful aunt Barb came over today, and she worked hard (very hard, from what I hear) to make my homecoming easier and safer. Extremely grateful.
My grampa's sweet, dear sister Hazel has stepped into eternity to join that cloud of witnesses. Those of us still here will miss her, but truth is, she's never been better than she is now. Today is her heaven day.
Specific prayer requests - rapid regrowth of skin at the donor site, and rapid growth at the graft site. Less of the pins and needles sensation, less itching. And it'd be great if the really persistent and very uncomfortable aching in my tibia were to ease up a bit.
So, that's all I've got for tonight.

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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Day 2. Or 3. Depends how you view it.

Had my surgery early Tuesday afternoon.

There were no complications. The doctor wasn't able to do as much reconstructing as he wanted, but that is okay. He got the skin graft in place, put the biggest splint/bandage on my leg that I have ever seen, and is very optimistic that the graft will take.

I'm hooked up to a hospital grade Slurpee now, which is a pity. I miss my little one.

This bed rest thing... there are people who do this for months at a time and they stay sane. I don't get that. I suppose maybe if I were actually miserable, it wouldn't be such a bad thing, but the truth is, they've got my pain under control and I feel pretty great.

Fortunately, they do supply us with laptops to use. So I can tell you all in real time that I am doing well. Just ordered a late lunch (like 4 hours late - whoops). Will be taking a nap sometime shortly thereafter, unless the pigeons outside provide me with adequate entertainment. We shall see...

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Real Post

So, this is really me, in real-time. Not much to report... just stuck here in bed until Sunday. I can get up (with someone holding my leg so it stays above my hips) to go to the bathroom, and that's about it. trying to stay occupied.

Surgery went well, no arterial graft or rpair as he couldn't locate anything to really work with. Muscle fixed/reconstructed, skin graft in place. Giant (I mean GIANT) dressing and a half-cast (splint) that goes from my toes to half way up my thigh.

Struggling big time with some emotional things. My psychiatrist came in today to talk about that, which was good. Doing a bit of changing with my meds.

I have 2 funtional iv ports, wich rocks.

And now I have company. So goof bye.

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Scheduled Post # 2

So today is the day after my big day.

And I am excited. Finally, after five long months, my leg can start to heal.

I want to be able to do so much. Walk more than a block at a time. Run. Jump, even. Enjoy intimacy with my husband. I want to go to martial arts classes. I want to become excellent again. I want to be able to help teach WISE. So much that i haven't been able to do, that I will be able to do then. When this is healed.

Thank God for good doctors and for modern medicine.

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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Scheduled Post #1

Today was the Big Day. As written on my pre-op orders, my surgeon performed, on "the lower right extremity," a "deep structure, muscular, and vascular reconstruction followed by a partial-thickness skin graft." I would imagine that right about now, I am in my hospital room either asleep or wishing I was. I'm receiving some pretty heavy duty antibiotics to fight the three bacteria that grew out in very large quantities on the last culture, and have formed obvious colonies in my wound. I've got a couple big whitish-yellow ones, and a couple big greenish ones. Or I should say, I had those. The surgeon removed them.

I can honestly say that while I doubt the next few weeks will be all that enjoyable, I am quite convinced that it is the right decision.

I'm not proud, but the wound was self-inflicted a long time ago. Toward the middle of January, actually. We are now pushing the middle of May. That's five months spent trying to deal with one stupid cut. I'm going to tell you a little bit more about it, just because I want to write it out for my own sake. And maybe some of you will read it and get the guts to stand up for yourself more effectively than I did.

The cut was deep - one of the deeper ones I've ever made. My bone was exposed, a muscle cut through nearly all the way, and an artery severed completely. My husband came home and found me with that and several other cuts, sitting on the floor in a daze. He called 911 - I think I asked him to. I had lost a lot of blood, and was scared. Very scared.

The nearest emergency room happens to be one we don't prefer, but when one calls 911, one loses the option to choose. Fortunately, they allowed me to call my regular physician to come in and do the repairs. He did an excellent job - I was able to walk when he was finished, despite the muscle damage.

I was admitted to the psychiatric unit of a different hospital. While there, nurses changed the dressing on my leg daily. After about a week, I noticed that one cut did not look quite right. I pointed it out to the nurse, and she assured me it looked fine. I know my body pretty well, and knew it didn't look "fine," but I let it go. The next day, it looked even more "off." I pointed it out again, with my husband present. She said that all wounds heal differently and it looked fine to her. The next day, the same thing. 12 days after the original injury, the sutures were removed. The wound looked swollen, was hot, and just a tiny bit pink. But I had no fever and there was no visible pus. I insisted, again with my husband and two nurses present, that it felt very much infected and asked that they please have a physician look at the wound. The nurse practitioner barely pressed on one end and the whole thing split, revealing the infection I had told them was present.

It took a month for the wound to close. Most of that month, I was in the psychiatric unit. I was accused of wound tampering and told that I was the reason for the infection. Cultures grew out bacteria normally found in fecal material, as well as some found in dirt, and some found exclusively in certain species of pet birds. In other words, the infection came from someone who just didn't do a good job of washing his or her hands.

After the scar was fully formed, my leg would frequently swell and get hot just below it. I was assured that that meant nothing. No problem. When yellow fluid began draining from the corner of that scar and from several others, I was told again that it was normal fluid and there was no issue. I let it go. Again.

Nearly a month passed, with constant drainage, swelling, and pain. I was assured by physicians (not mine - he was not yet cleared to see patients following a horrid accident) that it was fine. Told I was being a hypochondriac. My chart was noted that I was suspected to be a Munchhausen's patient. (Munchhausen's is a disease where patients make themselves sick in order to get attention from doctors. For the the record, I loathe having to go to the doctor. For anything.)

I woke up one morning with a leg that was grossly swollen, red, and hot. I had a fever, ached from head to toe, and couldn't stand even the brush of my pant leg against my leg. I emailed my doctor, and waited for the clinic to open. I was given a 2:30 appointment. When we got there, the doctor let us know that a surgeon was on his way over to look at it. Two hours later, I was wheeled into surgery and the abscess was drained. A wide, eye-shaped hole was left that went all the way down to the bone and muscle, to allow all of the "fluid" to drain. Wet-to-dry dressings were applied, that I changed out twice each day. After two weeks of no visible healing happening at all, the surgeon decided he'd order a wound V.A.C. Meanwhile, I noticed that there were little black spots forming inside the wound, around the edges mostly. He assured me that these were just dried spots of blood.

And then the whole thing turned black. As if someone had dumped tar into the wound. And the black started to spread. The surgeon took two days to believe me over the phone, and I came in a day early to get the wound V.A.C. put on. He was shocked to see that it really was black. Rather than do anything, though, he applied the V.A.C. (henceforth referred to as Slurpy) over the top of the eschar. He said he believed it would take care of itself.

Four days later, when I went back in for the dressing change, the necrosis and infection had spread dramatically. Went in the next morning for yet another operation, and stayed in the hospital for 6 days. The day I went home, the doctor applied a special dressing that contained silver. He said that would help kill off any micro-organisms. It started to sting and burn as soon as it was applied, and within two hours, I was in nearly unbearable pain. The doctor did not believe me, said that it was normal for it to burn a little. A nurse brought up Munchhausen's yet again. I asked to either be transferred or released so I could seek a second opinion.

By the next morning when I saw a physician in a wound clinic at a different facility, the reaction between my body and the silver had enlarged the hole in my leg considerably. I was in absolute agony. I was angry, tired, and barely able to think. The dressing was removed, taking with it all of the granulation tissue that had formed during my 6 days in the hospital, as well as the facia over one of my muscles. Fortunately, the exposed nerve stayed intact. The nurse dumped saline into the wound, over and over. Each time, it briefly stung but the agony lessened. By the time she was done, it felt just like it should - sore, a bit of stinging, some aching... nothing even remotely unbearable. The wound doctor looked at the wound and photographed it. Noted that my tibia was exposed. Noted that there were areas of necrosis that went deep into one of the muscles. Noted the exposed nerve. Noted the end of a vein that had been severed by the last surgery. And then referred me to a plastic surgeon.

He took more photographs, looked at the wound more. Talked to me about the fact that he was pretty sure the wound would not heal without significant intervention. Scraped away some colonies of bacteria. Burned away a bit of necrosis. Flushed everything out with saline. Put Slurpy back on, with a normal slurpy sponge. And scheduled today's reconstruction and skin grafts.

The point here? If you know, and I mean absolutely know something is wrong in your body, don't let a doctor or nurse blow it off. I did, and here I sit five months later, waiting to have major surgery and praying that everything can be achieved in one operation. I am on narcotics, and have been for the last three months. I have three types of bacteria that are not antibiotic resistant, and yet continue to colonize the gaping hole in my leg. And if that first nurse, the one who said all wounds heal differently, had listened... well, I wouldn't be in this situation at all. Had it been treated correctly way back in January, all of this would have been avoided.

Speak up folks, and be loud.

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Monday, May 10, 2010

Lest You Doubt

Lest you doubt the advisability of my last Slurpy venture... when I spoke with the nurse today, she said that as long as I changed things out, and not the ER, then it was fine and I was good to go.


I NEVER have to feel the feeling of that stupid sponge ripping away from my muscle again. EVER. I'll be asleep when they do it tomorrow, and then... home free.


Tonight, the eve of my "lower extremity reconstruction," I am finding myself surprised. Because I am not nervous, afraid, angry, or feeling guilty (since it originally started with self harm). I am feeling sad. Incredibly, amazingly sad and I hate it. I am not very good at emotions. Usually, I block them out and try not to feel them. My therapist says I'm supposed to knock that off though, so I guess I have to just... well, feel sad.

And wonder why.

There's the obvious Mother's Day thing, but I don't think that's it. Hmm....

Now it is off with me to have an almost-midnight snack (10 chicken nuggets, lots of mac and cheese, and some corn) true to pre-op tradition. :) Or should I say :*(

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Sunday, May 9, 2010

It's Mother's Day.

Heaven Is The Face
(C) Steven Curtis Chapman

Heaven is the face of a little girl
With dark brown eyes
That disappear when she smiles.

Heaven is the place
Where she calls my name
Says, "Mommy please come play with me for awhile."

God, I know, it's all of this and so much more
But God, You inow, that this is what I'm aching for.
God, You know, I just can't see beyond the door.
So right now...

Heaven is the sound of her breathing deep
Lying on my chest
Falling fast asleep while I sing.

And Heaven is the weight of her in my arms
Being there to keep her
Safe from harm while she dreams.

And God, I know, it's all of this and so much more
But God you know, that this is what I'm longing for
God, you know, I just can't see beyond the door.

But in my mind's eye I can see a place
Where Your glory fills every empty space
All the cancer is gone
Every mouth is fed
And there's no one left in the orphan's bed.
Every lonely heart finds their one true love
And there's no more goodbye
And no more not enough
And there's no more enemy

Heaven is a sweet maple syrup kiss
And a thousand other little things
I miss with her gone

Heaven is the place where she takes my hand
And leads me to You
And we both run into Your arms

Oh God, I know, it's so much more than I can dream
It's far beyond anything I can conceive
So God, You know, I'm trusting You until I see
Heaven in the face of my little girl
Heaven is the face of my little girl

Today, I don't have any words of my own. Just a special dream, an aching heart, and a desire to be with my little girl. So I'm going to let Mr. Chapman speak for me. Use the player at the top of the post if you want to hear the song again.

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Saturday, May 8, 2010

Bad Slurpy and Bad Jenn

So, when I was given Slurpy, I was also given instructions as to the proper procedure if Slurpy stopped... well, slurping.

Step one, check for leaks. I checked for leaks. None found. Applied an extra layer of the plastic film that seals everything, just in case there really was a leak and I couldn't find it. Still no slurping.

Step two - change the canister on the machine, in case it's clogged and can't slurp. Considering the bacteria growing around the opening, that seemed pretty logical to me. Changed the canister and temporarily bumped the pressure to 200. Still extremely limited slurping.

Step three, is supposed to be take a new sponge and hose to the emergency room and have them reapply them. This is not a step I followed. It would cost $125. We have been told that in that case, we should be prepared for a mediocre dressing. One that may or may not hold up until the next appointment. SO....

I changed my own Slurpy sponge. Used lots of rubbing alcohol to make things sterile, was very careful to use plenty of DuoDerm to protect my skin. Made sure the hose has adequate contact with the sponge. Very carefully trimmed the sponge with clean hands and sterile (well, rubbing alcohol soaked) scissors. Very carefully secured the sponge so it wouldn't move when I put on the big sheets of plastic. Applied the sheets carefully, and then used more rubbing alcohol to clean the ends of the hose where it connects together.

And you know what? Slurpy is slurping along happily. The dressing looks GREAT, and since it's 11:00 on Saturday night, I think I can skip my Monday dressing change. I'll call Monday morning and ask. But... if they go for it, this will be the LAST dressing change for Slurpy that I am awake for. Well, I'll have Slurpy in the hospital, too, but it will be a different kind of foam that won't stick at all.

Only a couple things that concerned me. One is the amount of necrosis... the old spots have grown, there's some new ones, and there's a bunch under one edge of the wound. There's also a couple obvious bacterial colonies. Hopefully the antibiotics will take care of that, but if not, the surgeon said he can simply remove some of the flesh from underneath and it will be fine. Slurpy keeps things moving out, not burrowing in, so it's a little different than an actual "infection" of the wound would be. Otherwise, things looked good - lots of granulation tissue is growing, so my leg should hopefully not look too stupid once it's done healing.

And that's all for tonight folks.

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But That's So Selfish (Plus a Leg Update)

Forgive me if I include a very brief leg update for the curious: Still scheduled to be admitted the morning of May 11th, will go home 5-7 days later. The psuedomonas turned out to be susceptible to Cipro, so I'm taking very high doses of that and Augmentin up until that morning. A "colony" of bacteria was removed by the nurse today, which will be cultured and verified as something that either Cipro or Augmentin will kill. Slurpy's working well. Pain is decreasing. There are several small eschars (areas of hard, dead tissue) and several obvious colonies of bacteria, but over all, the wound is looking better than it has since the original surgery. Talked to the doctor about some concerns I have related to the PTSD. The result? He understood. I will have a private room. I will not be catheterized and I will not be required to use a bedpan. Over all, a very productive day.

Okay. Now that that's over with, the meat of this post.

Selfishness. Defined by Webster's as either "concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself: seeking or concentrating on one's own advantage, pleasure, or well-being without regard for others" or "arising from concern with one's own welfare or advantage in disregard of others." Certainly not a trait most of us want attributed to ourselves. In fact, I don't know that I've ever met someone who said to me, "I wish I could be just a little more selfish."

I have noticed that many people, myself included, seem to say "yes" to almost any request made of them. I want to give. I want to help. I want to be selfless. If it benefits someone else, I am all for it. Even if it hurts me. I have always used Galatians 5:13 & 14 to justify myself in this attitude. I've convinced myself that i have to "do it all" because... well, because that's the unselfish thing to do. Look at those verses with me for just a moment, will you?

It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don't use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that's how freedom grows. For everything we know about God's Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That's an act of true freedom. (taken from the Message Bible)

I could use this passage to try to convince you that we should do everything others ask. After all it says "serve one another in love." Right? We should serve others. In love. Because that's what we're told to do.

Let me ask you something though. Have you ever been SO busy that you cannot remember what it is you are supposed to do next? Maybe not. Have you promised someone that you'd be there for them, only to walk away with the sinking realization that you have another equally important commitment? I think that sometimes in our efforts to serve God, to love our neighbors, we fall terribly short. Not for lack of willingness. Not for lack of "yes" answers. But because we don't say no. We get so wrapped up in doing, going, and helping, that our own lives start to fall apart.

Look at Luke 6:41 & 42

"Why do you notice the little piece of dust in your friend's eye, but you don't notice the big piece of wood in your own eye? How can you say to your friend, 'Friend, let me take that little piece of dust out of your eye' when you cannot see that big piece of wood in your own eye?! You hypocrite! First, take the wood out of your own eye. Then you will see clearly to take the dust out of your friend's eye.

I always looked at that passage as sort of applying to them. You know, those other people who sit in church with you. But you know what? It's talking to me. The reason I didn't think it was? Well... I am pretty sure I would notice if I got a big piece of wood in my eye. Even if it was metaphorical, like getting entrenched in sin. Or failing to meet my commitments. Or failing to manage my finances. Becoming unsubmissive to my husband. Wouldn't I?

Maybe. If I had time to pay attention to that sort of thing. You know, in between all of the loving my neighbor that I have to do.

Face it. We cannot obey the commandment set forth in Galatians if we don't take heed to what's written here in Luke. Maybe that's why Luke comes first in the Bible? We absolutely, positively must take heed to ourselves. We have to take care of ourselves before we can take care of anything or anyone else. There is no way we can be of any earthly use if we are falling apart.

I am a very good example of this one. I got so caught up in wanting to "be better" and help people that I didn't even notice myself slipping back into the very dangerous, very scary habit of self mutilation. The mess I made is still being cleaned up (see the note at the top of this entry). And right now? I just need to let myself take care of me. I can't take care of others, can't see past my own mountain to help them. And that hurts. But truth doesn't always feel good going down - sometimes, it's bitter, like medicine. Right now, my truth is that I can't really do much for anybody else. I hate it. Loathe it. Want to deny or ignore it. Or both. But I can't. I have to heed it, or I'll wind up with not just a big stick in my eye, but an entire log jamb. And that would certainly help my neighbor, right? Well... maybe not so much.

A little bit further in Luke, it we see what exactly it was that Christ came to do. We are called to be Christians, or Christ-Like. So maybe we ought to read what He did, so we know what we ought to be doing. Read Luke 19:10 with me:

The Son of Man (Christ Jesus) came to find lost people and save them.

Well, that's simple. If we're to love people, and be like Christ, we should be out finding lost people and saving them.

I will be honest. Right now, I feel selfish. I am not out finding lost people and saving them. I am barely getting through my days, battling a systemic infection, fighting to keep my leg, looking at my 3rd urgent surgery in so many weeks. Praying that this one the last - the surgeon isn't sure it will be.

Am I a bad Christian for this? Am I failing? I've stepped back from some of the "helps" things that I usually do. I spend less time now "reaching out." I am asking others to help me. I am trying to force myself to let them. Everything in me is screaming out "THIS IS SO SELFISH."

But then I read this in Matthew. Matthew comes before Luke the way we arrange our Bibles, but this account is after the commandment to love, and after we see what Jesus came to do.

Read Matthew 14, verses 22 and 23:

As soon as the meal was finished, He (Jesus) insisted that the disciples get in the boat and go on ahead to the other side while He dismissed the people. When the crowd dispersed, He climbed the mountainside so He could be by Himself and pray. He stayed there alone, late into the night.

So. There you have it. Jesus, who was perfect, drew away for a time. He spent time alone. He prayed, and He didn't do it for just a little while. He did it late into the night. He didn't just happen to find Himself alone, either. He sent everyone away. He took care of Himself. I don't believe that He would have been able to do what He did if He didn't take this time, alone. This time to be restored and refreshed and rebuilt.

And so, while my flesh screams "SELFISH SELFISH WOMAN" my Spirit whispers, "Wisdom. This is wisdom."

Think about it... can you find a way to apply any of this to your own life? If so, please leave me a comment. I'd love to hear from you.

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Thursday, May 6, 2010

Update. Again.

So, you may remember that just over a week ago, I posted a link to this picture (as well as several that were a little more graphic):

Well, the surgeon I was seeing at the time (Dr. T.) was not impressed. He felt that despite several negative swab cultures, there was clearly a "creeping infection" in my skin. He said the only thing to do was to remove the dying flesh, as well as a a "fair margin" of healthy tissue, and then keep me in the hospital until he was certain things were healing. I had the surgery on Wednesday. I was warned by the anesthesiologist that evening that the "defect" was a lot bigger than Dr. T. and I had discussed. I was thankful for the warning - the next day during dressing change, I was shocked to see a hole twice as big as discussed.
I stayed in the hospital until the following Monday, recieving intravenous Timentin. I was discharged grudgingly when I requested that I either be transferred or released to seek a second opinion. A special sponge containing silver was applied with my wound V.A.C. and I proceded to have an allergic reaction to it. A LOT of diphenhydramine (Benadryl) later, I had my appointment in a wound clinic with an infectious disease specialist. He and his nurses spent nearly an hour picking bits of the sponge out of my leg, and then photographed the remaining defect. Sadly, the sponge enlarged it quite a bit. They reapplied the wound vac and set me up to see Dr. B. in plastic surgery the very next morning.
He took one look at the wound, had more photographs taken, and began talking about reconstruction and skin grafts. His nurse was pretty careful when applying the wound vac. You'll notice in the picture below that the wound is surrounded by something yellow and leathery looking. This is called DuoDerm. It's applied right up to the edges of the wound in order to prevent any damage to healthy skin. You'll also see some wound peeking out from underneath the sponge. That's fine - the general idea is to create an overall vaccum, and the sponge doesn't necessarily have to cover the whole wound to do so.
Unfortunately, the defect now covers a large percentage of my lower leg, as you can see in the picture below. Underneath the sponge, there is bone, muscle, a nerve, and several vessles exposed. There are some new areas of necrosis, one of which involves an abcess-type lesion in one of my shin muscles. Dr. B. has reapplied the wound V.A.C.
Because of the generalized swelling and infection, I have to keep my leg wrapped fairly tightly to promote healing to whatever extent possible. The more granulation tissue (healthy regrowth) my body can produce between now and the day I have my surgery, the better things will go.
As for the V.A.C. - it takes the yellow and green and red fluids from the wound, and sucks it at a constant negative pressure into a tube. This tube runs up my leg and out the top of my pants.
My V.A.C., which is named Slurpy, then makes all sorts of strange sounds (constantly, but especially when all else is still and quiet).
Lastly, the fluids are deposited into a canister containing a gel packet. This keeps things from sloshing around while I walk. I wear Slurpy in a pouch over my shoulder, sort of like a purse. Which I hate (purses, not Slurpy).
I am currently at home. Surgery is scheduled for Tuesday, May 11th. I will get a call tomorrow to let me know whether or not I need to come in prior to my surgery date for premedication. The latest cultures of my wound have shown a particularly resistant strain of pseudomonas. Dr. B. has to go back to the infectious disease specialists to find out if they think that IV meds during and after the surgery will be sufficient, or if they think I should come in early for IV meds.
The day of surgery, Dr. B will reconstruct many of the deeper structures in my lower leg, some of which were damaged years ago. Then the skin graft will be placed, the appropriate dressing and sponge applied to both the graft site and the donor site, connected to Slurpy, and I will wake up. I will be in the hospital for a minimum of 5 days, with the potential for significantly more given the persistent signs of systemic infection. Blood cultures were finally drawn yesterday, so the results of those should be available before surgery.
I guess that's it for my update. As always, I appreciate your prayers and well wishes. This is a battle I don't like fighting. Don't want to fight anymore, but I have to keep going. No other choice. So today, just like most days, I am entirely dependent on Christ for my strength.

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Saturday, May 1, 2010

Prayer Request (Again)

So I'm asking that you pray for me. There is some necrosis in the new wound, showed up this AM and has spread since. Also an area of obvious infection despite the IV antibiotics. Now my knee is becoming increasingly painful and is starting to swell. Temperature is going up in spite of the fact that I am surrounded by ice. Please pray that these negative processes cease and my leg begins to heal. If it looks worse in the morning, I will be requesting a transfer to a larger and more advanced facility.

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