Six Weeks

Yesterday was my last dose of antibiotics. This was cause for celebration. It has been a long six weeks of medication, home nursing visits, doctor’s appointments, and sleepless nights. There were times it seemed like it would never end.

However, my body has healed. My PICC line has been removed, and life is slowly getting back to normal. Now it is time to once again build up my strength. My body has become very weak, as I have been quite inactive. Working from home has not helped this situation. Despite this, I am thankful to have a good job. Likewise, I am thankful that my body has healed.

I am curious to see what the next few months will bring as we head into autumn. There is a lot to look forward to, especially with Baby Boy here. For instance, Halloween should be fun with a little one. Thanksgiving and Christmas will be extra special as well. Hopefully, 2021 will be a better year for us all. I know I am ready to say goodbye to 2020!

My parasitic PICC line. It felt like a worm slithering through my vein as it was removed from my arm.

Drip, Drip, Drip…

I seem to be living life one drip at a time these days. Four weeks in to being on IV antibiotics and progress is being made, despite the drip, drip, of time. The wound on my foot has healed, for the most part. However, there are still two weeks of antibiotics to go.

I am dreaming of the day when the PICC line will be pulled from my arm. If all goes as planned this should happen the week of September 21. After that I hope things will get back to normal.

In the time I have been down, Baby Boy has begun to crawl. This has presented some challenges, as I cannot always catch him before he gets his hands in to things where they don’t belong. For instance, he has sampled some cat food, explored the bathroom floor, and played with television remotes. I am hoping he hasn’t purchaed anything from Amazon while I wasn’t looking.

The next two weeks will drip, drip, drip on by and my left foot and my left arm will once again be fully operational. I can then be on full-time baby patrol every evening. I’m sure the cats will appreciate that. I know Amanda will, as she has been working overtime keeping our household running. Without her I’d be lost. She has been wife, mother, nurse, housekeeper, chauffeur, and friend all while holding down a full-time job.

Doctoring in the Time of COVID

Going to the doctor in 2020 feels more like how going to the airport used to feel when we still went places. You check in and are “wanded” across the forehead so that your temperature can be checked. Fortunately, mine has been holding steady at 98.7 degrees or so. You are then “interrogated” about your health, with whom you’ve been in contact, if you experienced body aches or chills recently, and then you are allowed to pass through to your “gate.”

I think I might just get a t-shirt made that has my full name and date of birth printed on it so that I can just point to the front as they take me in for yet another test. Today, it was an ultrasound on my neck and arm to check for a blood clot. The area around the entrance to the PICC line that I had inserted into my arm a few weeks ago looked suspicious to my home nurse as she visited today. Therefore, I was sent to see my doctor, who at first thought I had an infection in the line. However, as noted above, it turned out to be a blood clot. Fortunately, it is was not a clot that tends to cause any problems.

So, tonight I find a pressure bandage around my right arm. Warm compresses will be used as I climb into bed. Then tomorrow another PICC line will be placed in the opposite arm so that I can continue to receive my daily dose of antibiotics. I sometimes wonder if all of this is real. Each week of 2020 just seems to get more odd.

Amanda got a flat tire this past Friday. I layed on my glasses last night in bed, which bent the frame and popped out a lens, then news of a blood clot in my arm today just seemed to be the icing on the cake.

I think tomorrow when I go in for my procedure, I’ll pretend like I truly am at the airport. I’ll check my bags, and ask for a glass of champagne as I take my seat in first class, then I’ll recline my seat and drift off to sleep. Perhaps, when I wake up it will be 2021. Then again, I’ll probably just be asked, “what is your full name and date of birth?”

The Eye of the Tiger

Do you ever feel as if you have no fight left within you? Living life in a disabled body, especially when that body breaks down is overwhelming. I have been luckier than most in my life. My independence has not been as limited as others who are disabled. However, the past few weeks has left me feeling like I am down for the count.

Battling a bone infection is tough work. I’ve actually done it a few times in my life. It saps your energy. Being treated with heavy doses of antibiotics is not pleasant, as these drugs often kill the normal bacteria that grows within your gastrointestinal system. This often leads to unpleasant side effects for your bowels. Fortunately, there are probiotics that can reverse these side effects.

Struggling with physical ailments typically increases the anxiety, which often bombards my mind. Usually, my first reaction is to get frustrated, which leads to anger. I often question God why He allows suffering of any kind. I think sometimes it is a way of getting our attention when we are stubborn. This is especially true in my case. I am a very stubborn person, who often refuses to listen to others.

My stubborness led me to avoid treatment for a wound on my foot, which then became infected. This infection then entered my blood and bone, which if it had not been caught in time, could have killed me. This realization has been frightening. According to my doctor, I am still not out of the woods. I will be on IV antibiotics for the next 4 to 6 weeks.

Some days are better than others. Frankly, I feel like a boxer who has been knocked down one too many times. How much more do I have left to give? This is a question I have pondered lately. My body is tired. My mind is exhausted. My nerves are frayed. However, I am not ready to quit.

I came across a story tonight about a little girl who is in the hospital fighting for her life. She has multiple IV tubes running into her neck, which are delivering heavy doses of antibiotics to her body. I pray that this little girl has a lot of fight left within her. What I am battling is minor compared to what she is facing.

One of my favorite movies is Rocky IV. It is essentially a David vs. Goliath story, where a much smaller, slower fighter is tasked with defeating a giant, genetically engineered monster. Just before the final fight sequence begins this behemoth leans down into Rocky’s face and says, “I must break you.” I feel as if that is what this infection has said to me.

However, much like Rocky, I have the will to win. I am bruised and bloodied, but no one is going to throw in the towel. I have plenty of people in my corner, many of whom I know are praying for me. This giant will be defeated. Can you hear the opening chords to “Eye of the Tiger” yet?

The Trash Bag Ladybug Monster

God usually teaches me humility in humorus ways. My latest lesson has involved showering. If you have been keeping up with my blog, you’ll know that I am currently undergoing treatment at home for a bone infection that I got through a wound in my foot.

I currently have an intravenous line in my right arm, through which Amanda administers antibiotics every morning. I also have a bandage on my foot that Amanda changes every other day. I am lucky to have such a loving wife that is willing to do this for me. However, she does like to have fun with me as well.

For instance, in order to shower I need to duct tape garbage bags around my right arm and left foot. This is to keep my foot dressing dry, as well as my IV line. The duct tape that Amanda chose for me has ladybugs on it, which look great with the black garbage bags. Once I am all suited up I look like the “Ladybug Trash Bag Monster.” I then “climb” into our shower, which is the size of a small phone booth. It is fortunate that my shower chair even fits in there.

Getting out of the shower takes a leap of faith, as I am never quite sure how I am going to stick the landing. This morning I gave myself a 9.0, as I did not fall. I also maintained pretty good form through the dismount from the shower chair.

After I am out of the shower comes the fun part, the removal of the bags. This involves ripping strips of hair off of my legs, and some hair from my right armpit. I am beginning to think I should just wax myself down. That way the agony of the tape removal would be lessened. In addition, I’d probably become more aerodynamic as I race through the house in my wheelchair.

Yes, I choose to laugh at these times. If I didn’t life would be a daily struggle. However, I know that God is there. Likewise, I know He sees my struggles. He uses these to keep me humble. I am often frustrated, but I take comfort in knowing God has never taken His hand off of my life. My duck tape with the ladybugs and those black trash bags are reminders that God has a sense of humor. He continues to care for me even when I fail Him.

PICC Your Poison

Coming home from the hospital always does a body good. I slept last night better than I have in weeks. That is despite the Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter or PICC sticking out of my arm. This is the line through which I’ll receive a daily dose of antibiotics through September 21, that is if things go to plan.

This is not the first time I have had a PICC, however, I am hoping it is my last. It is fascinating to watch a PICC line being inserted. An ultrasound machine is used to find an appropriate vein. Then through the use of ultrasound imaging the catheter is guided up through the vein until it reaches a point just above the heart.

The next several weeks will be filled with follow-up appointments with doctors. I’m also going to attempt to return to work here at home. It is going to be an uphill battle, but I have a great partner with whom to fight. Without my wife Amanda I would not be able to get through my days.

I am hoping my body responds to treatment as it should. The sooner all of this is in the rearview mirror, the better. I’ll be praying for strength and endurance for both Amanda and I. Likewise, I’ll be praying for healing. My body is weak, and my mind is weary. However, I know this too shall pass.

I am thankful to have such a wonderful family and group of friends who are willing to help wherever it is needed. I’d appreciate your prayers through this trying time.

What is There to Fear?

If you read my last blog post you know I have been struggling physically the last few days. I thought things were looking up until I went for a follow up with primary care doctor today. The infection in my foot appeared to be getting better. However, upon closer examination the wound on my foot had a sneaky, little hole that was leading down to my bone. Through this hole poured some of the infection. What this means is yet another surgery tomorrow.

As I have gotten older I have begun to question just how much more my body can withstand. I’ve had over 30 procedures done in the 43 years I have been alive. It seems there isn’t a part of my body that has been left unscathed by a surgeon’s scalpel. I have seen large chunks of flesh removed from my body, my head has been shaved bald, and I’ve had muscles removed from one part of my body and transferred to another spot.

I’ve had some great doctors. I have also had some fairly incompetent ones. The nurses, on the other hand, have all been terrific. They are the ones who really know what is happening. I’ll ask a nurse something before I ask any doctor. A nurse, even if they don’t know the answer, can usually do some investigative work and get you the information you need. Plus, they clean up all of the messes!

I don’t mind having surgery. It is nothing that scares me. I’m confident in the doctor who is performing the surgery, so I know I am in capable hands. There are great nurses around as well. Likewise, I know prayers are already being spoken for me. Therefore, it is in God’s hands. What is there to fear? I just hope they ask me what kind of music I want to listen to as I drift off to sleep!

P.S. I had my first test for COVID-19 today. It felt like someone shot onion juice up into my sinuses, as my nostrils begin to sting and my eyes began to water! After that I feel like I can face anything.

Saturday Night Fever

One of the most difficult things about having spina bifida, at least for me, is the lack of sensation that I have below my knees. Along with this lack of sensation is also decreased circulation. Having no feeling in your feet can’t present various problems. The decreased citculation can magnify those problems.

For instance, I have to wear leg braces to keep my feet from flopping around aimlessly. Likewise, I can easily cut my foot and not even feel it. I’ve actually had a chronic wound on my foot for several years now. Unfortunately, this past weekend, my wound got infected. This is despite always keeping it clean and dressed with a bandage and antibacterial ointment.

Friday afternoon I began to feel a bit feverish. Likewise, chills also began to rack my body. At first, I thought this was perhaps just some dehydration, as I had drank a lot of coffee and very little water throughout the day. I woke up Saturday morning feeling a little better. However, that was not too last.

I thought as the fever and chills continued throughout the day on Saturday that I might have contracted a UTI. This can be a fairly common issue for those with spinal cord injuries as well. Therefore, I started drinking lots of water and cranberry juice. I then went to bed and slept all afternoon and night.

On Sunday morning when I woke up I was feeling a little better again. However, I think the Tylenol that I had taken the night before was merely masking my symptoms. As I looked at my foot as I do every morning. It looked angry. It was very red, streaky, and warm. I now knew the real cause of my agony. The wound on my foot was infected.

It looked fine on Saturday morning, but I now knew I needed to get the emergency room. Amanda dropped me off there around 9:30 yesterday morning. They drew blood, swabbed the wound for cultures, and ran two different IV antibiotics. I was then sent home six hours later with a prescription for two different oral antibiotics, which I am happy to say, seem to be working well. Today, I feel like my body has gone a few rounds with Mike Tyson in his prime.

My foot does look a lot less angry. I haven’t had any chills since last evening. In addition, I don’t have a fever at the moment. I am not sure I am out of the woods there yet, as it seems like once the Tylenol wears off the fever slowly creeps back up above normal.

I am sure I am in for a weekly visit with a wound care specialist now until my wound heals. At 43, despite having been a patient all of my life, I still don’t have the patience to be a patient. I think I might have prayed for patience one too many times. The only problem is, I still have not learned that skill. Perhaps, this will be the turning point. It is comforting to know that we live two doors down from the hospital. Especially, since I am there about every 6 months!

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