March 30, 2015

6 Months of Trying to Heal

Sort of healing.

Halfway healing?

It has been six months since my husband was hospitalized for multiple infections and debridement of infected areas on his right heal and the middle of his chest.

I've been saying I would write up an update on how things are going that is more than a short quip on social media about doctor appointments or home health visits....

I've procrastinated, though. It's kind of hard to give updates on something that is fluid and ongoing. We haven't really had answers as to where things were going or any sort of end result.

Such is the nature of chronic illness. It's difficult to explain HOW THINGS ARE GOING when things, well, aren't really going anywhere.

Not to mention all the feels.

Anyway. Mark had a wound on his right heal so bad the Achilles tendon was exposed. His vascular surgeon thought healing unlikely, that Mark would probably lose his foot.

His chest wound was caused by broken sternal wires left in place after Mark's heart bypass surgery in 2010 that caused the surrounding tissue to become infected. Cleaning out the infection left an 18cm long wound down the center of his chest.

Because Mark has diabetic neuropathy and peripheral artery disease it seemed logical that Mark's vascular surgeon was correct about the difficulty in healing his heel. But I thought for sure his chest would heal.

However, in true Mark fashion, the opposite has occurred. His heel is doing very well, while his chest came about halfway, and then just kind of stopped.

Mark's wound care team have had him on a would VAC this whole time. It is supposed to provide a sanitary seal and drainage, as well as encourage blood flow to the area to help promote healing from the inside out. This seemed to be working until sometime in January when measurements of the wound kept coming up the same week after week.

There has been so little progress since the beginning of the year that Medicare no longer thinks it's justifiable to pay for the wound VAC. The company who supplies the VAC called Mark the other day offering to assist with returning it.

But there isn't any better dressing or help for healing of this kind of wound....besides major surgery.

The idea of a reconstructive surgery called a muscle flap was brought to us before Mark ever left the hospital last September. That hospital stay was pretty rough, so at the time, we felt that he had been through enough, and declined the surgery in favor of trying wound VAC therapy.

We met with the plastic surgeon Mark had been referred to a little over a month later, and Mark was still not up for surgery. This time more mentally than physically. He simply had a bad feeling about it, which is unusual for him.

So we've stayed the course of the VAC dressings, antibiotics and weekly wound care appointments....a holding pattern, if you will. Which isn't bad, per se....unless you look at how much weight Mark has lost. His height is 5'8" and he's down to only 125 lbs. Pretty much skin and bones. His cardiac surgeon took one look at him at a recent wound care appointment and told us he thinks trying to heal these major wounds is simply too much for Mark's body, that he needs that surgery now.

So we started tweaking our thinking toward being OK with Mark undergoing the muscle flap surgery. The process of getting things done, however, isn't always easy; just when we are resigned to it, it feels as if the universe is conspiring against us.

We had to go see the plastic surgeon again. Then Mark had to think more about things. Then we went to another wound care appointment, and THEN we he felt ready (enough)....but I called too late last Thursday. The scheduler had already gone home and wouldn't be back until Monday.

Now we're all (everyone) antsy and wound up over the how, when, where....ifs, ands and butts. I got a hold of the scheduler today....and she came back with May 20.

We knew there would likely be a three to four week wait, but SEVEN? When Mark and I sputtered, "May 20th??" into the phone, she offered to see if she could swing anything sooner. One week, May 13, is all she could manage.

I'm sitting here shaking my head in surprise and disappointment. I mean, this turn of events is bothering me so much I feel like I could cry. I can't put my finger on why, though.

Perhaps it's because of what I said at the beginning of this post:
"It's kind of hard to give updates on something that is fluid and ongoing. We haven't really had answers as to where things were going or any sort of end result."

photo credit: Long road via photopin (license)

March 24, 2015

How to Build a TARDIS

Or, How to Get Your Creative DIY-er Best Friend to Build You a TARDIS Pantry.

One day a few months ago my husband and I (I think it was me, he thinks it was him) had a Whovian epiphany.

That you could totally make a pantry cabinet look like the Doctor's (Who, that is) TARDIS time machine!

I am slightly creative, but I have a few very creative friends, one of whom happens to enjoy DIY projects....

March 20, 2015

Old School Blogging: Things You're Dying to Know

The theme of my life this week is "old school".

From my best friend since high school visiting, to the kick-ass new cabinet she built me*, to finally getting the retro diner style table I've always wanted....

Yeah, old school.

So, Elaine says that Old School Blogging this month is "full-on random".

Random works for me because, along with old school, everything feels pretty random to me right now as well! (I cannot seem to have a day go according to plan to save my life.)

If you could be on a reality show which one would you choose?

Drunk History. Because drinking and telling cool and often lesser known stories from history. It's awesome and hilarious!

Name one thing you have saved from your childhood?

I can't think of one particular thing....I have my baby book and photos, a hand-sewn blanket, some of my report cards and class pictures. I have kept notes passed in high school.

If your life had a theme song what would it be?

That is a really freaking hard question! I'm gonna have to go with "The Rose" by Bette Midler. It has always spoken to me, since I was very young. I think of it like you're going through life learning and growing until one day, you bloom into who you're meant to be.

Where is your happy place?

Cuddling with my children.

What is one thing about your home that you and your spouse disagree on?

The purpose of a garage. I think it's where you store stuff. He thinks it should be useful, like for actually parking your car in or a workshop.

What is your favorite fruit?

I think grapes. Cold grapes are so refreshing. And wine comes from grapes.

Bow tie or regular tie?

I think ties are kind of stupid. I mean, who thought it would be a good idea to tie something around a man's neck for fashion, anyway? But just for argument's sake, I'm gonna say bow ties, because DOCTOR WHO!

Mexican or Italian (food, not men)?

Mexican. Love me some pasta, but I love me some burritos even more!

Where do you want to go on Summer vacation?

I don't care. I would go anywhere at this point.

What are your go-to shoes in your closet?

These little white slip-on walking shoes.

*I will absolutely have more on the kick-ass cabinet my BFF built for me LATER. Promise. You may have already seen a picture or two on social media.

March 11, 2015

Who Are You and What Have You Done With My Daughter?

Dear 14 Year Old Girl I Call My Daughter,

Every single year something changes in you. Often it starts the month before your birthday in July. For example, when you turned 14 last year you finally began having more of an opinion on what clothes you wanted to wear. You also got very into anime.

I thought that might be the extent of the changes for this age. Boy, was I wrong!

Everything about you morphed into something different after starting high school.

During the first four months of this school year, you went from being my sweet, funny, quirky little girl, to a full-fledged adolescent with an attitude to match.

March 3, 2015

10 Things That Piss Me Off About Chronic Illness and Caregiving

Having a chronic illness and caregiving -- both -- are tiring. And often frustrating. In different ways, but sort of the same too.

It's not about being happy or unhappy, per se. It's just stressful and overwhelming....and it gets real easy to see some annoying things about your situation.

So I'm gonna take a moment here to get out some of the peeves I have, m'kay? Because it's healthy to do so, right? Right.

1. It's chronic, meaning continuing for a long time.

February 26, 2015

An Inventory of Feelings

Everything that has occurred over the past year with my husband's diabetes and dialysis complications has caused many changes that we are still grappling to deal with and adjust too.

It doesn't happen over night. Just when I think we might be getting the hang of it, we have a terrible day that feels like taking 10 steps backward.

That may not be true, but it feels that way.

Mark and I are both doing our very best to take things in stride. We can problem solve -- how he will get to and from dialysis or having grab bars strategically installed -- but there are many feelings that come with the physical challenges.

You can't really problem solve feelings. Except maybe to express them, get them off your chest.

Sometimes, though, someone's feelings hurt your feelings.

February 23, 2015

No Colds or Flu This Winter? Knock on Wood!

This is a sponsored post for SheSpeaks/P&G.

February is almost over.

It's unseasonably warm. Where I am, anyway.

Chirpy birds are once again trying to make their springtime home inside a vent opening on the side if my house.

Cherry blossoms are budding, even blooming.

All of this is happening....and no one in my family has had a bad cold or flu.

February 20, 2015

What Compassion Means to Me

Earlier this week I posted about what a pretty perfect day for me would be like.

I wrote it that way because of how overwhelmed by my life I was feeling in that moment, and I wanted to speak up for my personal happiness and sanity.

But before sitting down to write that post, I had thought I might write about what I would want for the world at large, if I had my way.

About things that really matter to me, that tug at my heart and I feel compassion for.

Not that fixing any of those things would be easy. But in a perfect world....


I asked my 9 year old son if he knew what compassion was. He said he sort of does, that "it's when you have compassion for people".

When I asked him to clarify what having compassion for people IS, he didn't really know what to say.

I told him that you have compassion for others when you are able to put yourself in their place for a minute and try to get a sense of what their life is like. When you see what some one's circumstances are and feel something about it. Maybe you want to help, or maybe you just show concern. It's also when you are KIND to others because they need some kindness.

My son's attention started to drift so I stopped there. But there's quite a bit more to it, isn't there?