Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A Good Report

Just returned from my weekly visit to the HEB Wound Clinic. First of all, I have to say how much I love Dr. Steven Sotman and his nurses and staff there. They are wonderfully caring in doing a difficult task and are swamped more often than not when I am there. Today I got a very good report. The bottom of my foot has wide spread areas where granulation for tissue growth is occurring. All who saw it were pleased and told me that when I first came in they were very skeptical. Dr. Sotman is hopeful that the tissue growth will fill in the hole and only perhaps make a skin graft necessary. He debrides and scrapes the wound every week to make it bleed to check for blood flow and it's covering almost the entire area now. He showed me the pictures he first took weeks ago and a progression until now. It appears the wound vacc is doing its job and they were very reaffirming about my hard work to get blood sugar under control and eat well.

This gives me great hope to keep on keeping on. It's very hard to sit here everyday dragging the wound vacc around and infusing antibiotics every eight hours wondering whether in the end I'll have done all of that for nothing. While it is still an iffy process, some growth there will produce other growth if I can just be patient. While not a perfect foot, I will still have a functional foot if all continues well. Keep praying.

I visit the plastic surgery office tomorrow and Dr. Sotman reminded me to have them look at his pictures to see just how far the wound has come. We will not do anything surgically without consulting Dr. Sotman and my primary care physician, Dr. Greg Hanson.

Please keep praying for the foot and for me to stay the course....lol.

Here's a thought for today from Jean-Pierre de Caussade:"...[W]e must live from minute to minute. The past is the past, the future is yet to be. There is nothing we can do about either, but we can deal with what is happening moment by moment." The sacrament of the present moment...

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Outing with Friends!

I had friends come from Dallas yesterday and take me out for lunch and then we made a trip to the grocery store. It's always a challenge to go anywhere with the walker - you have to get to the car, get in the car and then get the walker in the car - close the door and buckle up! Well, I managed to do all of that several times with the help of Tricia and Kay. They were very patient with me! We ate at the new 5 Guys in Fort Worth and it was a very good (hamburger was good but fries were great!) The restuarant was very crowded with lots of other people checking it out, too. Tricia let me off at the door since there were no handicap parking places available and no other parking spaces in the front. I made it in, ordered and was able to get seated without a whole lot of trouble. Of course, I needed help with my drink, ketchup and food pick up! Couldn't have done on my own.

Then we headed to the grocery store. Well, what an adventure! I drove/rode on the electric cart, Tricia had the regular cart with the walker and Kay was the item retriever. What a crew! Luckily the store was not crowded and we could move up and down the aisles pretty well. I was really afraid of not being able to drive the cart and hitting the grocery displays set up in the aisles, creating havoc in the store. That didn't happen. I enjoyed driving my little cart through the store and have decided that's the way to shop for groceries all the time. I'm not sure it was as much fun for Kay and Tricia but again they were patient and very helpful! We successfully completed the grocery shopping and got it all in the house and put away! Whew, we did it and I was able to make it without being totally exhausted. Kay and Tricia, thank you very much for my outing! Let's do it again sometime!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sunday Morning Musings

As I sit here in the Gilbert Infirmary this Sunday morning I'm pondering several things...

First, for most of my adult life I've kept the time schedule of an educator. That means the real beginning of the year is now, with the fall semester. Everything is always new and fresh and full of hope as another round begins. However, I'm realizing that for the first time in my career at TCC (in fact, almost my entire life) I will not be present at the beginning of a new semester. At TCC that means faculty meetings and in service and the Chancellor's Breakfast and all that comes with preparing for the new year. I will miss it, particularly seeing all the friends and colleagues I've made over the years at TCC from all the various campuses. I will miss you, my friends.

Second, I desperately miss going to church, to be with my Sunday School class and department. You have been wonderful in your care of us, but I miss being with you and exploring our lives with God together. And there really is no substitute for the worship at Broadway. Listening and watching online is one thing, but it is not being there in the midst of the people of God and worship at Broadway is a thoughtful, powerfully spiritual, magnificent experience. I long to be well enough to be back with you.

Third, I'm tired of the healing process on my foot being such a slow process. When I go to the Wound Clinic in HEB each week we measure growth of tissue and progress in .1 millimeters of progress which visually is hard to see. By the way, the nurses and staff there and at my Infusion Clinic are the best as is my infectious disease doctor, Steven Sotman. But its slow progress and the days slide into one another and are much the same, broken up only, not by weekends, but by my regular weekly doctor's visits. Being patient is hard, but in my devotional readings today I found this quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer: "But everything has its time, and the main thing is that we keep step with God, and do not keep pressing a few steps ahead - nor keep dawdling a step behind." I understand this well, I just hope I have faith to live it.

Fourth, my good friend, Ron Williams, came over from Dallas on Friday and took me out to lunch and to run some errands. Ron and I have made it a practice over the years of our friendship to spend time at the Old Fish Hatchery near White Rock Lake in Dallas. We both are bird and nature watchers and our beloved Hatch is a wonderful place to escape. In The Place of Wild Things, Wendell Berry reminds us of our need of such places.

"When despair for the world grows in me and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be, I go where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds. I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief. I come into the presence of still water. And I feel above me the day blind stars waiting for their light. For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free."

I miss my time in the Hatch with my good friend Ron and wonder if I'll ever be able to hike the woods with him again.

But I also have heard from C. S. Lewis this morning as well. "But as organs in the Body of Christ, as stones and pillars in the temple, we are assured of our eternal self-identity and shall live to remember tha galaxies as an old tale." :-)

"Nothing that has not died will be resurrected."

The eighteenth century writer Jean-Pierre de Caussade reminds us how we must
live with the idea of God's Providence as the keystone of our lives. "He teaches us to see everything that happens as coming to us from the hand of God. God addresses us through the people we meet and the work we do, through our hopes and fears, through our moods and dreams, through the good [God] sends and the evil [God] permits. De Caussade speaks of the sacrament of the passing moment because in each moment we are confronted with an opportunity of responding to God who is present in that moment." (The River Within by Christopher Bryant)

De Caussade writes: "Now let me tell you that the will of God is all that is necessary, and what it does not give you is of no use to you at all. My friends, you lack nothing. You would be very ashamed if you knew what the experiences you call setbacks, upheavals, pointless disturbances, and tedious annoyances really are. You would realize that your complaints about them are nothing more or less than blasphemies - though that never occurs to you. Nothing happens to you except by the will of God, and yet [God's] beloved children curse it because they do not know it for waht it is." - Abandonment to Divine Providence by Jean Pierre Caussade. I often wonder if this is the real meaning of the Book of Job!?

So, I set my mind to living another day with care for the present and hope in God for the future. I'm looking for God in whatever God puts in my way today...so as not to miss the sacrament, the mystery, of the passing moment...:-).

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Happy Flowers

A couple of weeks ago when one of our friends was here to mow the yard, she discovered a weed infested, empty flower bed at the front. Well, it just so happened that another friend was here at the time and she, too, had discovered this empty flower bed. They conspired and talked about the "flower fairies" coming to plant some happy flowers in this bed. Well, a week later I had flowers and herbs planted in the bed as well as rocks in the drain. They are beautiful and truely are happy flowers.

Now, if you know me, you know that having a "green thumb" is not one of my attributes. In fact, I usually kill anything green that comes into the house. I have managed to keep a plant alive that Tim got while he was in the hospital but barely. So, you can imagine my thoughts when I look out and see this beautiful array of plants and know that they are dependent on me to water them and keep them alive on my walker. Well, I'm here to tell you that my plants have survived a week and are doing just fine. Thank you, Joan and Beth, for the happy flowers!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Stairs - check!

My physical therapist came yesterday afternoon and we did our routine - check blood pressue and leg exercises. I looked at her and said, " can we try the stairs?" She has been a little protective just because I'm suppose to be on toe-touch walking on the walker but I must confess I'm walking more than just toe-touching. She said she really couldn't think of a way to navigate the stairs without putting weight on my right leg unless it was to do the butt slide. I really didn't want to butt slide the stairs, so we decided to give it a try.

I'm here to report that I made it to the top and back down just fine! Actually did much better than I was doing before I had my new hip! Stairs were getting harder and harder to climb prior to my surgery. The upstairs looked like a foreign land since I haven't been up there in 3 weeks! I didn't tary up there and really didn't even have my list of what I needed from there so I guess I'll have to make another trip. Not to worry, I won't be making it by myself for a while longer.
It was good to know that I could take the stairs - all be it slow - one at a time - without pain! yeah for me!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Why, O Lord?

"Now here I am in front of you, and you have your dreams too, or have had them. And I can tell you something.

That mistaken injection that paralyzed my leg was not a stroke of bad luck. It was a grace.

Let's be precise. There's no point in pious platitudes.

It was bad luck, yes. It was a misfortune. But God turned it into a grace.

I had a useless leg. I could not climb. So I got a jeep and became a meteorologist.

Through no wish of my own, there I was where I belonged: in the desert.

Instead of trudging through the snow I trudged through the sand.
Instead of mountain passes I came to know caravan routes. Instead of chamois I saw gazelles.

Life suddenly appeared to me as it was, an immense personal exodus. Now I saw the desert as an extraordinary environment of silence and prayer.

My crippled leg helped me to "stand firm" (Jas. 1:12)

I the runner - now stood firm.

I who'd always tried to do two things at once - now I stood firm.

No doubt about it, it was a plus.

Deep down inside I began to understand that I hadn't been cheated.

Misfortune had thrust me upon new paths.

Brothers and sisters before me with your misfortunes, I testify to you of one thing only.

Today, thirty years after the incident that paralyzed my leg, I don't say it wasn't a misfortune.

I only say that God was able to transform it into a grace.

I have experienced in my flesh what Augustine says: 'God permits evil, so as to transform it into a greater good.' "

-from Why, O Lord? by Carlo Carretto

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Blessing Blankets

We have received so many cards, emails, phone calls and facebook messages. We love hearing from you! Last week, we received a package from Birmingham that I thought I would share with you. (I had just the day before said to Tim that I wished I had one of those throws that the girls had in college because sometimes, not very often, it gets chilly sitting with the fan blowing straight on.) Woodlawn United Methodist Church in Birmingham, where Matt, our son-in-law is associate pastor, has had us on their prayer list for several weeks. They have a special way of sending their love and care to people in the hospital and that is to have a blessing service for these blankets that they give and then to take them to the people in the hospital as a way of blessing them. We now have two of these "blessing blankets" in Fort Worth, TX. Their ministry has extended beyond Birmingham, AL. Thank you members of Woodlawn for remembering us in such a special way!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Staples Out!

I had my appointment with my surgeon for my "10 days after surgery" appointment yesterday. She took x-rays and showed me my new hip and said everything was looking good. I did see two screws in the x-ray and asked about them. She said they were screwed into my pelvic - now I know I've got screws but they are not loose! (at least not yet!).

She also took a look at the incision and said it was looking real good, no redness, no drainage and the staples were taken out. I didn't know if I could watch this or not but I did. It's sorta like using a staple puller to remove a staple from a piece of paper. There's a sterilized instrument that goes between the skin and the staple and then they pull it out of the skin. Now, I'm not going to say I didn't feel each one as it came out, some hurt more than others, but they are all out (all 16 of them!) and the incision is now butterfly taped up! Of course today, the dogs have all wanted to jump on my lap on the right side and I keep having to push them away from fear they will jump right on the incision. I don't think that would feel so good right now.

As far as what's ahead, looks like I'm going to be on the walker for at least another month. She wants to see me in 4 weeks. In the meantime, I will continue my home health physical therapy for a couple of weeks. At the end of that time, we'll assess whether to stay with home health or go to out-patient physical therapy. Driving is still at least a month if not more away. Because it's my right side, we have to be sure of my ability and confidence to use my right foot before I get on a gas or break pedal.

So, I'm doing well, making progress and trying not to overdo. That's hard for me - have a hard time sitting or laying down but have to do some of that in order for the healing to take place.
Thanks again for all your prayers, meals and help with transportation. it is all appreciated and is the hardest thing for us to do - ask! but we're learning to do that!


Since we haven't blogged in awhile I thought it was time for an update. Karen says she will do her own blog update about her situation, so let me update you on mine. As you already know, it was my right foot that was infected and it was on that foot that they did the debriding surgery. They took out large amounts of dead tissue on the bottom and the top of the foot. The wound vac that I now wear is to help that tissue grow back. In addition, I have been taking infusions of antibiotics every 8 hours to try and kill any infection that's left.

My wound vac is doing well and the wound on top the foot is healing great. The bottom of the foot is more difficult, but we are making progress there as well. However, from the beginning my surgeon said there were places in the toe bones that did not look good and that might not respond to the antibiotics and the wound vac. I went to my surgeon today and sure enough, those places don't appear to be responding. He is going to have me visit a plastic surgeon he works with to evaluate it. It probably means some more debriding and reconstruction of the foot unless the bone responds. In the meantime it's more antibiotics and wound vac for two weeks. Continue to pray that the bone will respond to the treatment. If not, we will probably move forward with some further surgery that should move us forward in the healing process, but will probably mean the loss of some bone and maybe a toe or two depending. That sounds awful, but we are not talking the loss of the foot.

I'm learning to be patient aqnd do what needs to be done. My blood sugar is well under control and that will reinforce the healing process. I'm ready to get back to work, but it appears that will not happen anywhere near as fast as I want it to.

Karen's update will come soon and she has good news all the way around. I have to teach her how to sit still as she wants to do all sorts of chores...:-).

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Has it really been a week?

I would look at the blog through the week and think, "I should update that blog" but just never did. I really was hoping Tim would do it but he hasn't. So, here I am on Sunday night looking for stuff to do because Tim is watching the pre-season Cowboy game and I really don't have any interest in watching football this early. I'll try to give you some of the week's activities.

It's been a busy week! We've both had home health care in several days and Tim's had doctors' appointments and we've not killed each other yet. On Friday afternoon, we had my home health physical therapist, my home health nurse checking my blood levels, Tim's home health changing his wound vac dressing all at the same time. We just had to laugh at it all! The home health folks can't believe all they are seeing and are amazed at how well we're both doing with all that's going on.

I'm making progress each day. I think I've surprised the physical therapist with all the movement that I do have being two weeks after surgery. My friend, Carol Causey, said it well when she wrote on my facebook wall, "Hip, Hip, Hooray!" I'm not dancing or jogging or even climbing stairs but I am moving around with my walker. I have a doctor's appointment this tuesday and she'll hopefully take the staples out (I have 16 staples holding my right side together).

Tim is making progress each day. He is going to a wound clinic weekly and they are pleased with his foot. There is some new tissue starting to grow. He's still on the antibiotic infusion but this week had his antibiotic changed. He had built up a tolerance to the antibiotic he had been taking for the past month. The management of his doctors' appts, home health visits and medicine is a full time job.

It's taking a village to keep us well cared for and we are so appreciative for all that's being done. We've got people providing meals, transportation, yard mowing, running errands and helping with all the little things (You really don't think a lot about collecting the trash and putting it in the trash bin and then once a week putting the bin at the curb and returning it to the garage until you aren't walking). Thanks to everyone who has helped or is scheduled to help us in the coming weeks!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Sunday School Class

Here it is another day...went out on some errands with my friend, Carolyn, and then home for home health visit for my wound vac. Yesterday was Sunday and I miss my friends and family at church...the worship at Broadway, my wonderful Sunday School Department, and my Sunday School class. Speaking of my class, they have decided to study Job...not because of what happened to me I hope.

First, I have this admission. While I was in ICU some of you will want to know where I was. I'm sorry to say, there were no bright lights, or beautiful people waiting in the light for me, nor was I with the Apostles enjoying some glorious conversation and fellowship. In fact, I don't remember anything...several days of my life are just a blank. I went in on Sunday afternoon and the last memory I have is of the staff trying to get me through a scanner ring of some sort and the terrible feeling that I couldn't breathe. My next memories are vague memories of people visiting with me on Wednesday...although, as I said, those are vague. I have no further evidence in that direct experience of the existence of God than I had before I nearly died.

But it is from this that I think my experience is most like Job. (By the way, don't draw too close an analogy, because Job was a righteous man and I'm not...lol). In the face of overwhelming events in his life that seem to go against everything he knows about God, Job claims his faith..."I know that my Redeemer lives!" In the end, Job gets no explanation from God about why it all happend, just a reminder from God of God's power and majesty...just one more look into the mystery. In the face of that, Job still believes in a redeeming God. And in the face of all that's happened to me, I still believe in the redeeming God as well.

In the end, I know about God because of the wonderful love of God's people poured out on Karen, and the girls, and me. I'm simply overwhelmed by the richness and wideness of that care from people at church, in former churches, at work, and across the nation and the world. And that love continues to be poured out on us as Karen and I recover.

The late Rich Mullins had a short song titled "The Love of God" that was in a medley of three tunes. It's second verse goes:

"Well, I've seen no band of angels,
But I've heard the soldiers' songs,
Love hangs over them like a banner,
Love within them leads them on,
To the battles on the journey,
And it's never gonna stop,
Ever widening their mercies, and the fury of His love."

I've always loved the song, but I understand it far better now. I've seen no band of angels...but about the soldiers of the Cross...the banner of their love is everywhere. Everywhere there's evidence of God's love.