Dazed and Infused

I have become an IV drug user. It was just a matter of time before it happened. Fortunately, I am not hooked on heroin or cocaine. My drug of choice is meropenem. This a powerful antibiotic that will be treating the osteomyelitis in my left foot. I will be giving myself infusions through a port in my chest for the next five weeks.

I also came home from the hospital with a wound vac on my foot. This device suctions to my foot and sucks any drainage that might seep from the closed surgical wound. The vac when doing its job sounds eerily like a velociraptor that is about ready to pounce. So, I am now basically a member of a chain gang that is being chased by a deadly dinosaur.

Steven Spielberg, if you are out there, give me a call. I have the story for your next summer blockbuster. Middle-aged man with spina bifida chained to a medical device that sounds like it is about ready to disembowel him. This movie will shatter box office records.

Who should star as the leading man in this story? If you have any ideas drop me a reply. I’m off to take a nap. Hopefully, I will dream of further details for this film. I can smell that Oscar now!

The Patient Who Lost His Patience

I surely must be in the midst of a nightmare. It is 1:45 a.m. and was just woken up by a nurse requesting that I “sit up” and “sign a consent form for surgery.” Oh, and while I am at, I also need to complete a “risk assessment for anesthesiology.” This couldn’t wait until sunrise for me to complete?

I am having surgery today. This will be my third procedure in a week. I have osteomyelitis, which is an infection in my bone. This past Wednesday I had a surgery to remove some infected bone from my left foot. Yesterday, I had a procedure to close the wound on my foot. This morning I will have one to put a port in my chest, through which I will receive IV antibiotics for the next 6 weeks.

Don’t let anyone fool you. Hospitals are not a place where one goes to rest. I actually have had very little of that since Wednesday.

I am quite certain I didn’t really need to fill out a risk assessment for anesthesiology. Especially, since I have done two of these with an anesthesiologist in the past week. However, I was too tired to argue. I could have asked to speak to a supervisor, but it is too early for me to put up a struggle. So, I signed the consent and completed the assessment.

I wonder if nurses are even made to play the patient while they are in school? If not, perhaps they should be. For the most part I’ve had very empathetic nurses this past week. However, there have been a few who could learn some things about patient care.

Having been in and out of the hospital quite a lot over my 45 years, I have seen it all. Perhaps, I should start a side hustle as a “professional patient.” I could consult with hospitals as to the quality of the care they are providing.

However, for now my patience as a patient has petered out. I am actually looking forward to surgery. Maybe I will get some sleep in the operating room. If not, I might need to conduct my own “risk assessment” with the anesthesiologist.

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.

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?

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.

Omphaloskepsis

As I’ve noted before in a previous blog post (see The Summer of Ryan), I enjoy the sitcom Seinfeld. I relate to the character of George Constanza, as I tend to be a bit neurotic at times. It is for this reason that my mind usually goes to extremes after I have had surgery. I worry that there will be complications that will delay healing, which has actually happened a few times after previous surgeries.

Today, I have had some chills and a low-grade fever. In truth, this is probably because I have become a little dehydrated. However, my mind instantly goes to the possibility of infection, despite there being no indications of this. Should I go to the ER, or should I just stay home? I often weigh these questions heavily. I also feel quite run down, but I guess that is to be expected a few days after having surgery.

It is difficult to be patient when you are the patient! I want to be back on my feet doing everything I could do a week ago before my gallbladder became my worst enemy. Despite this, I know that healing takes time. It is just a little frightening when your body is doing things it normally doesn’t do.

For instance, I had a blister inside my belly button that popped this evening. It almost appeared as if someone was trying to blow a bubble from my umbilical area. I was thinking this might be a new party trick that I could unveil at Christmas – “Step right up and watch me blow bubbles from my belly button!” I could even take this show on the road. I’m sure there is an audience somewhere that would appreciate my act.

Having surgery is nothing new to me. I have seen my body in much worse shape than it is tonight. However, the paranoia sets in when something unexpected happens. You’d think I would have learned by now to be more patient as the patient. However, at 42 my mind still wanders to the “what ifs.” What if I do have an infection starting? What if I will never be able to have another bowel movement? What if I feel like going to work on Monday, but I can’t get any pants to sit comfortably over and around my surgical wounds?

This is a busy time of year at work, and I am not there. How big of a stack of things are waiting for me upon my return? I would say probably quite a few.

These are all things that I will pray about. Life will go on and I am sure I will be back to my old routines soon. Until then I’ll continue to navel gaze. I’ll let you know if the bubbles keep coming. I am off to take my temperature…

Four statues which stand in the Louvre, depicting the fine art of naval gazing. I like the Greek word for this practice much better, which is “omphaloskepsis”

The Winter of My Discontent – Part 2

After discovering that I had a rather serious infection I went to the emergency room. The doctor there didn’t seem to think that the infection was too serious, despite the fact that some of my skin had turned black. He merely sent me home with a prescription for an antibiotic.  What I did not know then was that a whole series of events was about to unfold that would have some very serious consequences. 

I went home and began to take the antibiotics.  The next day I went to see my family doctor and he too thought that the infection was not bad enough to warrant a stay in the hospital.  I was doubtful of his opinion but decided to go home anyway and tried to suffer through with just the antibiotics.  Another four days was spent trying to get over the infection.  In the mean time I had completely lost my appetite and was unable to sit down because of the inflammation in my rear end. Likewise, a very foul odor began to emanate from the infection site.   I wanted all of this to just go away.  However, it did not and by Saturday I was back off to the emergency room.

Finally, things had gotten bad enough that the physician who was on-call in the emergency room stood up and took notice.  An infection that had started from one little pressure sore on my butt had now tunneled its way into my groin area and into other parts of my body.

It was not long before I was wheeled into surgery where a surgeon removed a large portion of necrotic tissue from the left side of my rear end. Later the surgeon informed me that I had three different types of bacteria that had ravaged my body. Fortunately, the doctor was able to remove all of the infected tissue. After surgery I spent a week in the hospital surrounded by characters that seemed to be ripped from the pages of a Stephen King novel.

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