Hello everyone! I hope this update finds you having a wonderful Wednesday.
My last update was written right after my skin graft surgery which was a successful operation (I like the pun-like sound of that phrase :). The healing from the surgery thus far has been a mixed bag. Here is a medically-focused recap of the last week (this is where I'll insert my usual squeamish warning - skip this post if you don't like medical stuff!):
- Thursday evening was quite comfortable. Don't know if my drugs kicked in or what happened, but I felt great considering the events of the day. Much better than the "don't move an inch or you'll die" Thursday afternoon sensations. Maybe after I hit "post" on my journal update the magnitude of simultaneous prayers did the trick!
- I expected Friday to be a walk in the park since I felt fine Thursday night. But while we were having lunch, I noticed the skin graft "harvest area" (I know that term is unpleasant) was leaking quite a bit of blood. This was not a fun thing to find. We did what the medical team had recommended upon discharge which is to put sterile gauze inside the ace bandage wrap.
- Saturday all good all around. Including a fun girls day with me, Mom and Morgan. The guys (Dad, Aaron and Mitchell) went to the K-State game in Manhattan. We girls hung out outside in the nice weather, watched some football (though the KSU game wasn't avail) and took in a little more Dolphin Tale of course ("can I watch Dolphie mama?"). We closed out with our own pizza and spa party. I had Morgan singing "girl party" all evening. We would all normally have went to the game in Manhattan, but we made the situation fun. Skin graft kept quiet as long as Morgan hung out on the left side of me.
- On Sunday we had our nursing visit from home health. While they were here, Aaron and I took a look at the skin graft site and noticed the wound dressing (ie fancy Saran Wrap) was peeling back considerably which was not supposed to happen. The worst part was the gauze we had been using and replacing to catch the leakage outside the protective dressing had slipped into the actual wound area and was stuck. Not a good situation!! We called the doctor on call and they said to leave it and call the office in the am. So needless to say Sunday night I was completely worried about what was to come. We (ok, mostly me and Dad) tried to distract ourselves by watching the Miss America pageant which I hadn't watched in decades. Made me feel like a kid again watching Miss America with my Mom and Dad. Was pretty funny on many levels. Miss Kansas and Miss Missouri made it into the top 15 by the way. Miss Kansas contestant is a Sergeant in the Army. Too cool.
- Monday was a tale of two cities. I'll start with the bad one first. We stopped by the clinic to see the medical staff regarding my skin graft issue. As an aside, the entire medical team associated with my doctor is out of this world awesome. My doctor's medical assistant is my personal hero and luckily was available to help us on Monday (she even lets me text her personally when we have a problem). She removed the gauze and re-dressed the wound. I wasn't allowed to have any local anesthetic as that's not an option in the regular clinic. So holding - and at one point almost biting - Aaron's hand had to suffice. She was as gentle as can be but the experience was horrible. If you've seen the chest hair waxing scene from the movie the 40-year Old Virgin, you have a sense of what the visit was like! But it was over and I could move on!
- The good - no great - part of the day on Monday actually happened before the whole gauze scene. We had our first appointment in the Hanger office regarding my prosthetic. We weren't exactly sure what the visit would entail but we ended up getting my leg casted. Before I explain that I will mention we did also do an evaluation of my left leg and how it is healing, etc. There are some unique aspects of my limb as the surgery was a trauma vs a planned procedure. In either case but especially in trauma cases, its not uncommon to have to have a follow-up surgery or two to make the limb more suitable for a prosthetic. I was relieved to hear our Prosthetist say he thinks we have a good starting place and should begin the process. If we need additional surgery down the road, we will cross that bridge then. But the hope is to work with what we have. Casting process. Essentially, it entails putting plaster on your leg to make a mold. I guess they can even do this with laser readings today, but our Prosthetist has tried both and believes he makes a better product by actually touching and feeling the limb with the plaster. He will take this cast and start to work on the first version of the socket for the prosthetic. The socket is critical as it is the part that attaches to your residual limb and is primarily responsible for fit, comfort and function. The Prosthetist is a true artisan, hand-making this key portion of the prosthesis in-house. The socket will attach to a foot which is purchased from one of many manufacturers. We discussed which foot is right for me and he has narrowed it to a couple of final candidates. Once we make a final selection, I'll include a link to show you my new foot. It will look quite robotic when you see the online pics. The final step is adding on the leg and foot covers over the robotic parts. I might decide to "go robot" every once in awhile and leave the cover at home! :). By the way, we did discuss my love of the water as well, which I mentioned in an earlier post. I will end up purchasing a separate (and far less complex) leg that is made for the water. Maybe I will indeed have a closet full of various leg options. :) (Aaron is cringing at this thought as other husbands cringe at their wives buying too many shoes-ha!). At the end of our visit on Monday, we were advised to set up another appointment for next Monday where I will try standing in the initial prototype. We were excited leaving the office. This train is moving!!
- And finally, I had one more appointment at the doctor on Tuesday. As a quick aside, I could have waited to take care of the skin graft issue at my scheduled appt on Tues but I preferred to get it over on Monday...this ended up being the right choice so the issue didn't get worse and to give me peace of mind. We had actually texted a picture of the issue to the doctor's assistant on Monday morning and their team reviewed it and gave us either option on when to come in. I think it's fascinating how communication and technology advances have changed the medical world. We texted in a picture for quick feedback. The medical team texted pictures of my wound to the beaches of Mexico when my doc was on vacation. Crazy. Anyway, on Tuesday the main point of the visit was to assess the main wound and remove the vac. Great news the skin graft took - almost 90% success (and the remaining 10% is non-problematic). The wound vac is off. All good stuff. I will say the procedure began with ripping off tons of tape - I felt like it was Groundhog's Day! But we made it through and left sans wound vac. Yay. I also visited the hand clinic and increased my exercises and changed my splints. I was cleared to only wear a nighttime splint and the daytime option when desired. Another big step forward.
I got to see my Granny on Tuesday afternoon which was the cherry on top of being done with all of those procedures. It was great to see her! Big thanks to my Aunt Lori for taking the time to bring Granny and come see me too!!
As for today, I've been getting back into PT as much as possible with my therapist this AM. We worked a lot on the left leg, ensuring we're keeping it strong despite the right leg being on PT pause as it heals. Sometimes I feel like I have two children (my legs in this reference!) that need equal love and attention. With all the focus on the right leg this week, the quiet and well-behaved left leg has been a little neglected. Sorry little buddy, next week is all about you. :)
By the way, speaking of the interrelationship between the two legs and a general update on the phantom sensations in the left...here are a few interesting things that have been happening. If the right leg is in pain due to a procedure, the left leg will generate a strong phantom sensation of some sort. They are connected. During a normal day, the phantom sensations will come and go randomly and tend to emulate the feeling that someone is pushing on the bottom middle portion of my foot which I've mentioned before. I've also had a few times this week a very strange and annoying sensation where it feels like my "ring finger toe" is caught in a sock. Like it is catching on the fabric while the rest of the sock is on properly. I want to push it to correct it but of course it won't go away. It's like an itch you can't scratch. It isn't really that big of a deal, just more strange than anything. I can't even begin to describe how very real it feels though. If I close my eyes, it is 100% believable. I'm so curious as to what is occurring between my nerves and my brain to create the specific sensations.
With all of the happenings this past week, this post was a hard-core medical update. I've continued to have new life learnings along the way and will be sharing the latest on that front too over the next few days.
I am attaching a few pictures sometime later today or tomorrow as well so check out the photo section. Most of the new pics will be of these amazing pictures that adorn the walls of the hand clinic. Each one is an animal likeness created by a painted hand from an amazing artist (I'm not sure of his name yet). They are so cool I wanted to share.
This week's medical journey has been trying at times. But like I said above, we made it through!
A huge thanks to my Mom who is staying with us right now. She has gone above and beyond to help with everything imaginable this week. And she's given us a lot of grace as we displayed every possible emotion (including some fun we've worked in!). Thanks to my Dad for spending extra time with us this weekend. I always love spending time with my parents so having them around so much is a bonus of this journey.
I'm thankful for the steadfast belief inside of me that this is a journey I'm meant to be on. This belief always helps me find my center. For this I am extremely grateful.
Last but certainly not least, thanks to all of you who continue to send meals - send caring messages - send prayers - send words of hope and humor and encouragement. You guys are lifting us up - truly.
Enjoy the hand animals!