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
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)