On the morning on July 17, 2013, Marilyn drove me to my podiatrist. I had been feeling terrible, and now I had another toe that looked infected. Our stay there was a short one, as they took one look and once again sent me off to the emergency room. After my two week visit the previous November, this was not a place I longed to return to- but you have to do what you have to do. So back I went.
A decision was made very quickly that I was going to lose another toe, this time the 4th toe on my right foot. At least I would be balanced now- 4 toes on each foot. Things progressed quickly, and early that very evening I was off to surgery. By the time they put me under, the doctors had made it clear that they would actually be taking the 4th toe AND the 3rd toe, just for precaution. So much for balance. It was two for the price of one day- except that this was part of the health care system, so it was more like two for the price of three! The surgery was uneventful, and I woke up in recovery pain free and very aware of my surroundings. I was back to my room in no time. By lunch the next day I had been up and walked to the restroom. Nurses were amazed. For better or for worse, I knew how to handle this toe amputation stuff...
But as they say in every VH-1 Behind the Music, "behind the scenes things were falling apart." Before I continue, I need to make something perfectly clear. The nurses and staff of the hospital could not have been more caring or competent. I didn't require a lot of attention, but they were always there when I needed them, and the showed concern for me at every turn- including worrying with me about my doctors. I had several doctors who were in on what should happen to me next, and they couldn't seem to agree on anything. To make this a bit clearer I need to tell you about the wound left by the surgery. With a toe amputation, it can't be just sown up like you would think- that leaves too much opportunity for recurring infections. The wound is left open, and can take months of treatment to heal properly. So there are 3 areas of medicine heavily involved in planning that treatment. The surgeon (who by virtue of seeing himself as a god thinks no one else knows anything); the infectious disease doctor (responsible for managing my antibiotics in the weeks following leaving the hospital); and the wound care specialist who makes sure I actually heal. In addition, there is the "attending physician" from the hospital staff who supposedly coordinates all of this. When I had been in the hospital the first time, I understood very little of this or how things would work, and had been left just just nod and smile at everything I was told. Thus I was there 14 days. This time, I KNEW what I needed. The wound from my big toe amputation had healed in half the promised time, and I saw no need to change what we had done before. And I wanted to get started right away. Send me home. Let me go for a daily antibiotic IV with the infectious disease people for as long as needed- they could also help manage the wound area. Then ship me off to the wound doctor who would pump up the recovery speed and finish the job. It seemed both proven and simple to me. But the doctors chose not to listen and to keep debating a plan of action. The surgeon kept saying he wanted a wound vac placed on my foot, and absolutely NO ONE else agreed with him. He kept fighting, yet never ordered the vac. I laid in a hospital bed for the next couple of days getting more and more frustrated while basically NOTHING was being done to treat the wound. I was stressed beyond words. The attending said he was ready to release me on day 2 but couldn't until the surgeon signed off on it. Finally, after 5 days and some serious "prodding" from my wife. the head nurse started making calls and go it done. I went home- never having seen the wound vac.
|The foot as it looks today|
In addition to the joy of daily trips to get antibiotics, there was also an unexpected joy in the post-surgery period. I had been so stressed the last few days in the hospital that my blood pressure went up significantly. I have never had blood pressure issues, but they put me on blood pressure pills. Within a week after my release, I began to have dizzy spells and feel light-headed almost every time I stood up. I thought it was the antibiotics; in fact. I now had LOW blood pressure. I am now off the pills and feeling fine. The foot is healing well, and I am seeing the wound doctor once a week. I feel blessed that I am receiving such good care, and that my body heals as fast as it falls apart. But much healing is still needed, not just for my body but for my heart, soul and spirit as well. If you are inclined to pray, I covet your prayers.
If you know me, you know I often look for humor in dark places. It occurred to me at some point while laying in the hospital bed that I now have 7 toes, and that my new nickname could be Seven Toe Jones. I say that name and picture an old pirate, or perhaps a gunslinger in the wild west. Or maybe a tap dancer (NO!). It is a name about which songs should be written (working on that) and tales should be told. So as I recover from this round of surgery, I proceed forward with a new identity and a smile in my heart. I know that in this life there will be troubles. And I know that Jesus is with me through it all. I know God never gives us more than we can handle (although lately I have wished God didn't trust me quite so much) and so I trust in his healing power. This summer beat me up pretty badly- but it didn't BEAT me. I am still standing. It's just on 7 toes...
Because of Jesus,