Days 2015

Days 2015

Sunday, February 28, 2016

One Week Off

I had a pretty full week feeling wonderful before I had to submit to surgery.  After 3 1/2 weeks of going to the ER every 12 hours for treatment for this crazy infection (that's 48 IV treatments and enough hours there to count as a full-time job) they set me free.  Woohoo!  Although there were still some hot, bruisy looking places to the side of my knee, there was no more redness and they hoped the rest of the infection would go away with oral medication.  The last week of treatment I was comfortable enough to drive myself to the ER (which was a huge help) and my knee was bending well so I could get around pretty good--which included watching Luke by myself.  By the time they turned me loose, though, my arms were pretty hashed from switching out IVs every 2-3 days and drawing blood.  Some of my veins had reacted badly to the medicine and actually felt like bee stings.  So, since my knee was feeling better, my biggest concern started to be Where on Earth are they going to put the Next Needle?  (I had resorted to reciting the United States Presidents in order while getting poked to keep from getting the cold sweats.  Once I only got to Madison, usually to about William Henry Harrison, once I got all the way through twice--student nurse.)  At one point I threw up an offer in my prayers, that if I could just have the week off--just one week--from the IV, I would be okay if the infection relapsed and I had to come back in.

Here's what happened.

Last Friday I "quit" my hospital job after my last IV treatment.  I came out of the hospital and the sun was shining.  Mark kind of wanted to take me out on a date but I told him I had already been asked--the Elementary school was hosting a Mother/Son Superhero party.  I wasn't sure what to expect, but the boys and I got dressed up and went.

 It turns out it was a dance.  We had a blast and I loved the irony of going out dancing after getting released from the hospital.  I also thought the DJ was brilliant to bribe the boys with candy bars for the best dancers, also to throw in a few songs that the moms would respond well to--my sons have now danced to the Spice Girls.  Since most of the time the boys sort of ignored me while they were dancing, I took lots of pictures and videos.  Pretty hilarious I think. 



Sorry that last one is upside-down, but it's the funniest.

On Monday I met with the regular doctor who agreed that my infection was shrinking so slowly that I would probably need more than one round of meds.  Frustrating.  That night, however, he called and said that he wasn't comfortable with the way the knee was looking and that he wanted the knee doctor to take a look at my MRI.  Great.  Whatever it takes.  Thursday he looked at it ultrasound and pointed out several pockets that had basically sealed off and were not getting touched by the medicine.  (It looked like a flattened sponge.)  I was hoping that it would just be one pocket that he could drain with a syringe or something, but he said I needed surgery the next day to clean it all out.

So that day I did some major spring cleaning, checked several things off my to-do list, went shopping and attended the Blue & Gold banquet for scouts, also a Young Women's activity with Leslie.  I was extra privileged that night to speak with a mom-to-be who is expecting a baby with birth defects, and since I've had a couple of those, I hope I was able to put to rest some of her fears.  That night as I lay in bed I was thinking about her instead of my surgery, also how much the Lord had blessed our family through those precious previous experiences.  One thing I had mentioned to her was to look for ways that the Lord prepared her for this particular trial.  I hadn't thought very much about that for myself in light of this surgery, but there were a few things, the biggest was that I had already told Leslie that she could play hooky Friday from a dumb field trip, so I had a babysitter all lined up and ready!

Friday made it one week exactly for my break from IVs.  And listen to this:  I KNOW that HE deals with us with SUCH a light touch.  I do have to be on IV treatments for two more weeks, but this time they gave me a pic line that just stays in so I don't have to do ANY more needles.  Also a huge bonus is that I don't have to go back to my job at the ER--the home health nurse is handling it, and even she only has to come every few times because Mark or Leslie can handle hooking me up to the medicine--which means I can be home with the family in the evenings. Another huge deal is that this time I have a stop date so I don't mentally feel like I am in bondage to the treatment until some unknown date in the distant future.

Surgery went well and I was surprised to be in very little pain when standing on my bum leg.  I do have to have it in a brace for the next two weeks, which is annoying and means no driving, but I can walk on it.  Although I would rather not be such a drain on the neighborhood (again) I am excited to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  In a good way.

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!