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!
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.
I am a fan of the Canadian rock band, Rush. One of the last albums they made before disbanding was an album called “Vapor Trails.” Perhaps, my favorite song from this album is “One Little Victory.” The material on this album deals largely with the healing process their drummer went through after some very dramatic losses in his personal life.
For example, the song “One Little Victory” addresses how hard it can be even living from moment to moment when you are experiencing periods of grief. In my struggle with depression over the last few years one verse from this particular song often comes to mind:
Celebrate the moment as it turns into one more/Another chance at victory, another chance to score/The measure of the moment is a difference of degrees/Just one little victory, a spirit breaking free
Sometimes it is difficult to see the forest for the trees, especially when your mind is clouded with the doubts of depression. Oftentimes, the only thing worth celebrating is a particular moment. Its these “little victories” that enables one to keep moving forward when the “big picture” cannot be seen.
I have been in the hospital for the last four days. Laying in a hospital bed for nearly a week can cause you to lose focus on the positives. Therefore, I have been looking for the “little victories” each day that will spur me on to getting back home.
For instance, tonight I learned that I no longer have to be hooked up to my IV unless the nurse is specifically running medications through for me. My veins, my kidneys, and my bladder are all thankful for the rest! It will be heavenly to go to sleep tonight not having to worry about accidently ripping a needle out of my arm! These “little victories” can feel huge at times.
Hopefully, within the next few days I can return home. I miss Amanda and our boys. Being separated from them is the hardest part of this ordeal. However, I am going to wake up tomorrow and look for at least one “little victory.” There is sure to be at least one.
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.
Scars are ugly, at least that is what many people think. I would disagree. After having undergone dozens of surgeries, I have scars. I have them from the top of my head all the way down to my feet. While they are not things of beauty, they are reminders of healing. What once was torn is now mended.
At one time I hated the scars that line my body. However, the older I get the more they remind me of the battles I have fought. These are battles I have won. I know this because I am here to tell about them. Having surgery no longer frightens me as it did when I was a child. I must admit I kind of enjoy the feeling of anesthesia. It makes you feel like you are leaving your body just as you lose consciousness. Surgeries to me are just another opportunity to find victory.
This victory comes from knowing that my body will heal, as it has dozens of times. I know there will come a day when my body will give up the fight. The wounds will no longer physically heal. Despite this I will still have victory.
I have faith that I will be given a new body once I depart my earthly one. This new body will be free of scars. There will be no more pain or sorrow to endure. No more battles will need to be fought. I will be healed for an eternity.
So you see, scars are not ugly, they are what is left after healing has come. Likewise, they can be badges of honor if you choose to see them as such. If you are in a place where you are feeling defeated, look at your scars. You may have physical ones, or they may be mental scars. Let them remind you of the healing that has taken place. You’ll live to fight another day.
One of my favorite songs is by a band called Rush. The song is titled “One Little Victory.” To me this song perfectly captures what it feels like to struggle against the forces we often face. It is a song that helps to motivate me when I feel I am losing the battle. It helps to remind me that I have scars but that those are merely emblems of victory.
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…
The past few days have put me through the ringer. It all started this past Sunday around 4 p.m. That unmistakeable knotting pain began to form just below my sternum. In the past I have had this pain, but it usually lasted just a few hours and it was gone. However, that was not be the case this time. I did not sleep at all on Sunday night as the tightness in my chest was relentless. It seemed like no matter what position I contorted myself into, nothing helped. I knew that I was having a gallbladder attack.
Fortunately, I was off work on Monday due to Veteran’s Day, as most of my time would be spent in the ER. I checked in there around 6 a.m. on Monday where they ran blood cultures, did x-rays, EKG’s, and then sent me home with a prescription for acid reflux medication. I was kind of dumbfounded. Here I was doubled over in pain and I was sent home with instructions to come back if I started feeling nauseated or feverish. At this point the doctor knew that I had gallstones, as the x-rays had shown. However, I was supposed to wait three days before seeing a general surgeon. Perhaps, I did not express succinctly enough just how much pain I was experiencing.
After stopping by the pharmacy and getting the prescription for acid reflux medication, a problem that I didn’t really have, I went home laid down and tried to get comfortable again. However, this was not to be. I did start to feel nauseated. So, just a little over an hour after leaving the ER, I went back and was not going to leave until my pain was addressed. Finally, I made some headway with the ER staff and I was was given some morphine. This allowed me to get some rest as I waited an inordinate amount of time to hear what was next on the docket for treatment. I was sent for more tests, and then it was finally decided that I would be admitted. That was with the caveat that I may or may not have surgery the next morning. I would be put be on the surgery schedule, but only tentatively. They’d get to me if they had an opening on the schedule.
I understand that my case was not critical. I also am aware that most surgeries are scheduled at least weeks in advance. Likewise, I don’t believe that my condition was critical. However, to have to “fly stand-by” while I was in so much pain was not a comforting feeling. It was also frustrating to know that I was truly not listened to the first time I visited the ER. I was having a gallbladder attack, not a problem with acid reflux!
Fortunately, as noted above, I was finally admitted and was kept comfortable throughout the night with morphine. However, I did not get much sleep, as I was connected to an IV, heart monitor, and an oxygen mask. I understand that since I was taking a very potent narcotic, the nurses were interested in keeping a close eye on my respiration. However, with no sleep on Sunday night and very little sleep Monday night, I was at my wits end. The only positive at this point was that the pain in my chest began to fade away early Monday morning. This is good because much of Monday was spent waiting to hear if they could “pencil me” in on the surgery schedule.
I will say that all of the nurses that I had were very caring and professional, but I found there to be a lot of disorganization throughout the whole process from the ER all the way up to the time of my surgery. Feeling that things were not being orchestrated very well behind the scenes produced some anxiety, which is never a great thing when you are in the hospital.
It was around 2:30 on Tuesday afternoon that I was finally wheeled into surgery. Having surgery is not something that scares me. I have had around 30 different procedures throughout my life. So, I know the process once an individual gets to the operating room (OR). The nurses have you transfer to the rock-hard OR table. They then drape warm blankets over you. These actually feel like a little bit of heaven, as the OR is usually the same temperature as a meat locker. I am sure this is to help negate the heat that radiates from the enormous lighting fixtures that are mounted over the OR table.
A mask is then usually placed over your face that is pumping oxygen. Then, in order to put you under for the the procedure, the general anesthetic is sent through the mask. This sends you into a euphoric state that quickly fades while you slide into unconsciousness. I do enjoy that euphoric feeling. It is just too bad that does not last for very long. It seems like almost no time has passed until you are once again awake. That is when the pain from the procedure sets in and seems to get worse before it gets better. That is where I am today.
Currently, I feel as if I have gone a few rounds with Muhammad Ali while he was still in his prime. To have laparoscopic surgery where your gallbladder is removed through your bellybutton is an unusual thing. I don’t like to have my bellybutton poked, much less to have it cut open. I am sure that this too shall pass, as the pain from other surgeries have. It just always seems when your body is healing that it will never get back to the state where it was before. I am ready to be able to move again without pain. No more surgery for me for a while. I have had my share.
I love blues music, especially the style that originated in the Mississippi Delta region of the United States in the 1920’s and 1930’s. This music is about life, especially the hardships experienced by those who invented this musical form. Robert Johnson was perhaps the best musician to emerge from the Mississippi Delta in the 1930’s. Despite the fact that he recorded only 29 songs, he is considered to be the master of the Delta blues. Several of his recordings have a haunting quality, especially those where he sings about selling his soul to the devil for his musical prowess.
The legend has it that he met the devil late one night where Highways 49 and 61 cross each other in the town of Clarksdale, Mississippi. It was at these crossroads where Johnson made a pact with the devil to become a master of his craft. This is a story that has been passed down through the years. No one knows for sure if he truly sold his soul to the devil for his musical abilities. However, it does add a mystique to his songs.
Upon a close listen to his recordings, Robert appears to play both lead and rhythm guitar at the same time. This is one thing that makes these songs truly great. He was virtually a one-man show on the guitar. Robert died at the age of 27 under mysterious circumstances, but he left behind a legacy that would influence other musicians that came after him. There are some spiritual truths in his music that are quite profound if you truly listen.
The Delta blues eventually made its way north to cities such as Chicago, Detroit, and Boston. This occurred during the 1940’s and 1950’s, as poor, black sharecroppers moved to the industrial centers of the north to find jobs in factories. Shortly after travelling north, the Delta blues became electrified by the likes of Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, John Lee Hooker, and various other musicians. It is this style of electrified blues that gave birth to rock and roll in the 1950’s.
Perhaps what I like best about the blues is the honesty of it. Life can indeed be difficult, but we can all find ways to rise above. To me this music also has a very spiritual quality to it. It is music that speaks of sin, despair, and oftentimes redemption. Despite the themes of the blues, it is often uplifting. I think that is because much of speaks to the soul of a person. In the most difficult of circumstances there is always a light that shines through the darkness.
Life is indeed difficult at times. We have all been dealt different challenges. However, we can rise above those difficulties. Music is one thing that really speaks to my soul and helps me to rise to the various challenges I have faced in life.
If you have been a regular reader of this blog, you know that I often find myself in the hospital. In fact, as I write this I am laying in yet another hospital bed waiting to be discharged.
I had my gallbladder removed yesterday, as there was no longer any blood flow to it. This is due to the fact that I had three, fairly large gallstones which had formed. These stones blocked the normal functioning of the gallbladder and it shut down.
This is just another curveball that life has thrown my way. However, I have learned to hit the curveballs head on as they come. My faith plays a large part in this, despite the fact that it is often hard to have faith when things go wrong. Ultimately, I know God has a plan and it is my responsibility to look to Him for guidance.
One of my favorite blues muscians is Muddy Waters. As noted above, he is one of those who brought the Delta blues north. A well known song of his is “Rollin’ Stone.” This title was taken from the old proverb which says that a “rolling stone gathers no moss.” I think this means we must all remain active or we will go stagnant.
I certainly have gone stagnant in many areas of my life. For instance, I used to be a fairly healthy person. However, over the last few years I have become someone who has neglected my health. I have eaten poorly and have put on weight. This weight is not healthy for several reasons, especially due to my spina bifida, as it adds extra stress on my hips and legs.
My poor diet is something that I am sure contributed to the problems that I have had with my gallbladder. I plan to learn from this experience and once again become a “Rollin Stone.” My body can’t handle the moss that has gathered on it. If you are a praying person, please pray for strength for me to keep rolling. My gallstones have motivated me to become a “Rollin Stone.”
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.