Days 2017

Days 2017

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

How to get Really Soft Fingertips

I am looking down at my hands and notice that all my fingertips are completely young and healthy looking.  No cracks or snaggy skin or calluses.  I don't think they've looked this good since high school.  I also told Mark today that I don't think I've had this long of a "break-up with make-up" since maybe I was a kid.  What's the secret?  Lie around in bed all day and let other people do all the work. 

This has been one crazy adventure that we are hoping is about over.  I think that Heavenly Father knows that for me to deal with the tough stuff it has to make a story and that it is way better if it's something I can laugh about later.  Well, here's the story.

Almost two weeks ago I was picking up Macy from her basketball clinic (the one we forgot to make sure she had sneakers for.)  It was dark in the parking lot and I misjudged my distance from the car door as I was slamming it.  It caught my kneecap pretty good and I yelled but then forgot all about it.  The next morning it was swollen and hurt to walk, so Mark took me to the Instacare to make sure nothing was dislocated or torn.  They said structurally it was fine, gave me some pain medicine and an anti-inflammatory and told me I'd feel better in 3-4 days. 

It kept swelling and hurting but I thought, no big deal, I've sprained my ankle a time or two and this is what it feels like.  I borrowed crutches, went to church Sunday and propped up my leg.  That night I was talking to my folks on the phone and they asked me how my knee was looking.  I huffed with exasperation and said, "Well, it looks all swollen and red." 

"Red!" They both said.  "It's not supposed to be red!"  Dad has had a
Sunday night, 3 days after banging it.
lot of knee problems and told me that sometimes knees get infected even if there is no flesh wound.  I didn't really believe them so I called my sister the nurse and sent her a picture.

She said that yeah, it was kind of weird and that I probably needed to go back in.  So Monday morning, we went to a regular clinic that had an orthopedic doctor.  The doctor who saw me kept asking questions and finally said, "The problem I see does not fit with the injury you are describing."  (I felt a little like my integrity was being insulted.)  He ordered some blood tests and I knew it was serious when the ladies there in the lab were like, "Hmm.  We haven't done this one for a while.  Let me ask so & so," etc.  The doctor said it was probably cellulitis--which I am unfamiliar with--and gave me an antibiotic and a stronger anti-inflammatory.  He also said that I needed to keep it rigid straight to keep the infection from spreading and wrapped me and gave me a knee brace.  He said to come back Wednesday to check the progress and go over my lab results.

Did I mention that all this time I was in pretty awful pain, Friday on?  Sleeping very little, zero appetite (which most likely had something to do with the meds) and making comparisons to child labor pains?  The Bryan Regan ER bit about "Say 8!  Say 8!" (rating your pain) was flung around a few times.

Tuesday morning we started to get scared.  (Actually Mark said he was up in the night about those lab tests--they were checking for leukemia and all kinds of fun stuff.)  The red had spread--quite a bit.  I kept thinking of, "If you see infection racing toward your heart..."  We called the doc back and he said our lab results were back early so come in early. 

As we went to back to the exam room, Mark cracked a joke to the nurse about amputating and she didn't even smile.  The doc sat down and I said with a grin, "Well, is it flesh eating bacteria?"

"I cannot entirely rule out flesh-eating bacteria."  (This doctor is a bit straight-laced.)  He did tell me, however, that my white cell counts were way up and that they were not nearly high enough to indicate something like leukemia (he also said I did not have rheumatic fever, gout, and maybe a couple of other things I've never heard of) but they were high enough to let us know that this infection was much more serious than we first thought.  He saw my new red leg, "Well, that is just impressive!"  After consulting with the ortho doctor, they decided to try one more kind of antibiotic and see me the next day.  He drew a line around the infection so they could track it.  I kept thinking of that episode of Little House on the Prairie when Ma is home alone and hurts her foot and almost self-amputates when she reads the bible verse about "If thy right hand offend thee..."
Cellulits, Tuesday afternoon.

The next morning it was not better and had in fact spread and darkened.  Mark drew a new green marker line around it (didn't get a pic of that one).  The docs looked at it again and sent us right to the hospital in Payson, which has actually been really nice because it is very not crowded and easy to park at.  The doctors there hooked me up to an IV that delivers a certain kind of medicine, vancomycin, which is the only thing that beats this kind of staph infection (MRSA).  It drips for an hour or two and then I go home and come back in to the ER every 12 hours.  For 3-5 days at the least.  (it will probably end up being 10-11 days for me).

At its height, the infection got all the way to my ankle and about 4 inches from my hip.  And still no wound!  CRAZY stuff.  I had no idea there was such a thing.  It hurts to stand for more than a minute or so although that is getting better. 

A doctor yesterday reminded us that, yeah, lots of people complain about getting old--without thinking of the alternative!  We laughed and I am very grateful to be getting older.  Pretty scary.

My favorite moment of this whole mess though, was on Friday.  We'd had a terrible night's sleep, and as we were bundling up at 5 AM I looked over at Mark and he was white as a sheet.  I wouldn't let him drive until his face pinked up a bit and he insisted he was ok.  Once we got to the ER he grabbed a barf bag and huddled in the chair through the whole treatment.  I was actually starting to feel much better by now since they had taken me off of the oral meds that were making me feel so sick, and I was excited that two of my friends were coming over that day to take care of me and Luke.  Mark stayed in bed all day.  Once my friends had left, I came in to check on him.  He hadn't needed the barf bag but was running a fever.  I just laughed and was kind of worn out so I crawled into bed with him. 

We called our Home Teachers to come over and give Mark a blessing.  He simply could not be sick.  They walked into our room and we were both lying there looking like death warmed over and their faces...I just will never forget the looks on their faces.  Shock and awe, baby.  They just kept shaking their heads.  The Little House on the Prairie metaphor keeps sticking with me and I described the whole scene later as, "It was just like we were Ma and Pa sick in the wagon bed with malaria and the wild Indians (our happy, rowdy kids running the rest of the house) were circling the wagons with their war paint on."

A few thoughts I have had as I lay here on my back, softening up my fingertips.

1.  I want to serve others WAY more.  Yesterday I made up a list to show the kids all the service that has been done for our family in the last two weeks.  Babysitting (it is really not safe for me to babysit a toddler while on crutches!), meals, goodies, cleaning, rides to the ER, rides for my kids, shoveling snow, videoing Cooper at the spelling bee, filling in for meetings and responsibilities, etc.  It filled up the paper and brought me to tears!  I am excited to start paying it forward and also will cherish the close feelings that come from being served.  So, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!  You know who you are.  It has been extra cute to hear Luke talking about all "the 2nd mamas".   As in, "the 2nd Mama gave me a sandwich", "the 2nd Mama said,..."

2.  Moms should be thankful that they have legs.  Every minute of every day.  Walking, carrying, picking up, kneeling, standing to cook, driving, getting dolled up.  It is pretty tough to do what I need to do from my bed.  Although we've had a little fun with that... On Saturday as I made up the job lists I told Macy she had the toughest one:  being my nurse for the day.  I thought it would be fun to train her a little with some CNA skills... She did great being at my beck and call all day long.

3.  It's super important to laugh about things when you can.  It just is.  As the great Marjorie Hinckley once said, "You can either laugh about things or cry.  Crying gives me a headache!"  We have had a lot of laughs this week over the sheer absurdity of it all, also with how cute our kids are.  Luke keeps calling my crutches "crushes".  They have also loved the barf bags Mark brought home from the hospital.
It has been very difficult to keep the kids from playing with the crutches.

I bet Rocky trains with these.
4.  I just feel so blessed.  I get to get old.  My leg should go back to normal without any long-term damage that I need to worry about.  I also feel like the Lord set us up well for this one, like He always does.  We had just spent the last two months bed shopping and finally settled on just the right one--but in the process got stuck with an adjustable power base that we can't return.  We've been trying to sell it with no takers.  Why would we need something that lifts the feet, lifts the head, etc.?  It has been great!  I also barely bought brand new beautiful pinstripe flannel sheets and a new fleecey red paisley blanket bedspread.  And guess what I asked for for Christmas, out of the blue?  A floor-length bathrobe.  Boy has that ever been a lifesaver as we bundle me in and out of the backseat at the crack of dawn in a foot of snow and as I wait in the ER or in my hospital room while they bring me a blanket.  I also felt really strongly when we moved here that I wanted to organize a babysitting co-op like the one I participated in in our previous neighborhood.  Little did I know I'd be the one desperately needing it!
Also, January is just a plain boring time of year.  I am happy this didn't happen when we could have been hiking, biking, camping, playing.  Might as well take it easy with some books and a drawer full of chocolate, right?

So, the docs are saying I probably will be coming to the ER through the weekend.  I am in much less pain, practically none unless I am standing on it, which still burns pretty bad.  Here is the last hairy leg picture I will be posting publicly.  Enjoy!


The Haynes Herd said...

looking good!! so glad to hear you are getting lots of help :)

Brooke and Jared said...

You are one tough mama! Love you and wish I could be there to take care of you...although it sounds like you've had plenty of help!

Brian Heagy said...

That is scary! Glad you are getting better. Did you know your Uncle Brian (the good looking one) had a bout of Cellulitis on his elbow while we were living and working construction in Ennis MT. He was inside an engine wrangling a wrench on a nut or bolt and hit his elbow on the engine, thought nothing about it until a few days latter when it was swollen, red and hot. Dr said yep it's a Staph infection and no open wound. Antibiotics did the trick. That was 15 years ago. Now that I think of it that elbow was the one that he shattered 5 years ago... no worries just like the starfish when they loose an appendage, he grew a new one.

You are right you either laugh or cry. Counting our Blessing...
Brenda (& Brian) Heagy

Millie Killpack said...

Oh my goodness, this is just scary, crazy and amazing. I am so glad you are okay now. What an ordeal. Thank the Lord for modern medicine. Wow, just amazing. Please take care of yourself. Mark too...not that you need to take care of him, but he needs to not over due it. Even though the end is in sight, it's tough not to get discouraged or frustrated while the wild Indians rule the roost. Still, I know you are grateful and have a happy attitude. Much love for you and your family!