Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Now what?

I haven't posted anything on the blog recently.
Instead I've been plodding through my doctors appointments and nightly iv antibiotic infusions and trying not to stare at my hand so much.

I guess I was hoping that if I didn't write about it that maybe my thumb would be ok.

The plan worked...
until this morning when I found that the gauze dressing had turned red in the night.

I'm not positive that this is the end of my hip/thumb, but it sure doesn't look good.

To end this post on some good news -
My new prosthetist is going to come to my house next week for our first meeting. 

Strike 2

Last night they removed the metal plate holding the piece of my hip-bone that is standing in for my thumb and shaved down enough of the bone to close it back up.

The franken-thumb is a bit smaller, but the doc says he's still hopeful that the bone will continue to fuse with my hand.

I now have to keep my eye on it (check) and if there is any sign of infection the bone will be removed.

I'd cross my fingers if I could, but am relieved to know that my native hand is not at risk of getting smaller.

Here's a picture of the plate and screws that were in my hand.
I had no idea they were this long.  
Now I'm curious as to how they removed them.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Who am I kidding?

I know I posted that I dodged my Monday surgery, but...
my hand couldn't pass up the chance to have another surgery.

Yep, the franken-thumb decided to act up this morning so I'm back to Stanford tomorrow.
The plan is to take out the plate, wash out the trash that's taken up residence & then put in some clean wire.

Hopefully it will be out-patient, but my last out-patient surgery had me in there for a full week.

Non-hand related:
I had cable tv installed today (I've managed without it for about 10 yrs) and have been enjoying the Olympic trials coverage.  Swimming starts tomorrow.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The weekend just got better

I received a text telling me that the surgery on Monday (to swap the plate for wire) has been cancelled. 
It doesn't mean that it will not have to be done, but at least I made it another week.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

This might hurt a bit

This morning I went into the pain clinic for the neuroma that has grown in my right arm. 
Most of you will not know what a neuroma is (I certainly didn't), but it is a nerve that has gone rogue.
My neuroma is about the size of a bean and acts like a button labelled "press here for pain".

Typical treatment is to inject a variety of substances in and/or around the nerve mass to numb it.
The biggest downside is that even if the injections work, they only last a few weeks to several months.
Knowing this, I had hoped to have it surgically removed (especially after reading that the location and size of my neuroma should increase the success rate of surgical removal without it re-growing).

Unfortunately when you walk into a pain clinic you have to follow their protocol so they did an injection guided by ultrasound.

As the doctor ran the probe down my ulnar nerve it turned from a tube to a bowling ball.
"Well, that's not very subtle" he says (duh!).

So then he starts to inject into the neuroma and I am right back to Sept 3rd - laying in the back of a Maui ambulance quietly begging for morphine.  I have never claimed to be tough, but these two instances were the most pain I have ever experienced.  When he was done the pain at the neuroma was almost completely gone, but I WILL NEVER DO THAT AGAIN.

On the upside, it's taken my mind off the fact that they may remove the plate holding the hip-bone that's connected to my hand on Monday (I'll find out by Friday). 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Going native

My front lawn was once green and healthy.
I used to pull the occasional weed, monitored the sprinkler timers and (sometimes) mowed it.
I had a gardener that would feed and aerate it and pitch in when I slacked on my mowing duties.
Then my gardener moved away and my lawn mourned.
Then I moved to SoCal, the gophers moved in and my lawns condition became terminal.

When I came back home I decided that I was going to dig it all out and replace it with a yard that could survive a non-gardener owner, but then I saw something shiny...

Luckily for me (and my neighbors), Nicole made saving my front yard her mission....
and when Nicole wants something done - It gets done.

So while I was in the hospital dealing with an infection, a large group was busy at work.

From what I heard:
Pete from East Bay Wilds donated the design, a crew, some plants and directed the install. 
Jay, Jeff, Nancy, George, Gabor and my dad strained and sweated.
And Katie supplied sandwiches & cookies (This would have brought a big crowd if published ahead of time)

Thanks to all.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Bringing the hospital experience home

Sure I was released from the hospital last Wed but that doesn't mean that I had to miss out on all the "fun".
That's because an outside agency has been shipping drugs and supplies to the house and taught my parents to hang IV antibiotics and flush a line that goes right into an artery. 
This is expected to continue for another 5 (or more) weeks.

Unfortunately neither one of my parents ever dreamed of being an RN so we all get to suffer.

The good news is that one of the antibiotics was switched so I no longer have 8hr injections and everyone gets to sleep in.

Oh yeah. 
Anthem sent me a letter approving part of my prosthetic arm... the non-myoelectric parts.
It's not over yet.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Happy Dance

John is doing a happy dance, not because he got released from the hospital, but because his roommate did. John is still in the hospital awaiting the results from the cultures. Hopefully tomorrow, but at least he will at least have a pleasant evening tonight. Mom

Monday, June 4, 2012


I had my tunnel PICC (peripherally inserted central catheter) line installed this morning so now I can have my IV antibiotics and blood draws done from a single port for the next few weeks. Once we get the last antibiotic nailed down by the ID (infectious disease dept) and set up some home care I should be able to leave. Hopefully this will be tomorrow because my roomie has been trying my patience. I know it's not fun being in the hospital and that stress and fear can bring out the worse traits in a person, but I have yet to hear "please" or "thank you" even one time from this guy and he is pretty high maintenance. A couple of nights ago he barked at the phlebotomist for turning on too many lights before making a blood draw and he even complained that his dinner showed up 10 minutes too EARLY!!! A real piece of work.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Stanford is a nice place but...

I really don't want to live here. Met with my doctor this morning and he says that it looks better than he thought it would. He also said that most surgeons would have been happy with the skin he transferred from my groin/hip. The tissue is now considered safe, but unfortunately I am not in the clear yet. The Infectious Diseases Team are treating me with the assumption that I have a bone infection (worst case) and will have me on intravenous antibiotics for (+/-) 6 weeks with regular visits to their offices. (yippee!) The good new: I will be able to have the injections done at home (possibly by my parents)once my PIC line is in and they decide on the best drug cocktail. And more bad news: They have not been able to ID the 2nd bacteria yet AND it does not look like I will get my port in until Monday...so +2 more nights in the hospital. On the upside I have been able to walk around the grounds more and even visited with some of my nurses from D2.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Update on the Franken-thumb

My scheduled 1 hr out patient surgery for Thursday went out the window when pus started coming out of the base of my hip-thumb on Wednesday. After describing my situation to one of my docs I was told that I would have a hospital bed and bags of antibiotics waiting for me in Palo Alto. After checking it out in person he felt there was no advantage to having a rushed surgery but I was moved up the list for the next mornings procedures. Of all the outcomes I feel I lucked out; the finger is now about 3/4 inches shorter, but the tissue looks good and they think the stuff I saw was from the end/dead part of the finger and the hip bone (and more importantly to me) my hand do not look to be at risk. They are still hitting me hard with antibiotics 4 times per day, but I will be able to leave on oral drugs once the cultures come in. Who would've guessed that I would be more scared 9 months after the injury than I was in my Maui hospital bed?