Thursday, June 23, 2011

Plug me into the Matrix.

So before I make the trek across the Pond today, I figured a quick update on my back might be of interest to some people. I haven't really mentioned it before I don't think, but it has grown into quite the situation and we will be keeping our fingers crossed that it won't be even more of a situation while in Africa.

It started with a simple mole in between my shoulder blades that the the dermatologist didn't like the look of. No biggie. He did an in office little slice of it with a razor, along with a spot on my leg. Leg came back fine, the back one needing a little bit more to look at. More than he would do in the office, so enter Dr. Barnard, plastic surgeon (the most time efficient doctor on the planet, I have walked out of every single appt within ten minutes of the designated start time, plus he's just oozing with swagger charisma). We had a consult, and a week later the real time line started.

Thursday, June 2nd: Surgery #1. Despite being an outpatient procedure, making an incision in my back about 1.5" long and .75" tall, it still involves going to the big kid OR at the hospital. Goes well, much better than I thought it would. Doctor and nurses were rockin, took a little extra numbing, but I felt nothing and felt good coming out of it.

For the next 10 days, it didn't hurt much, but the itching was almost beyond tolerable. All the time, itch itch itch. Pretty normal.

Tuesday, 14th: I go in to have the stitches taken out like planned. He snips them out, but notices two points of infection in the suture holes, nothing crazy, prescribes an antibiotic, and that is that. Still itches a bit, but no more fear of pulling out stitches by rubbing it.

Wednesday, 15th: Tim was changing my bandage in the evening, and notices a hole in my back. Right where the incision was. About the size that you could stick a pencil eraser into it, only when you see a hole AT ALL in your own flesh, it's a huge freak out moment. We called Barnard immediately in the morning. And he basically said that's pretty expected with the infection, gave me an extended antibiotic to last throw my entire trip to Africa (an ENTIRE other bag of worms, open wound with third world water....bad news), and said come in and he would check it after I returned. Sounds good to me.

Saturday, 18th: I hadn't been paying too good of attention to it, and for some reason I thought to have Tim take a closer look at the wound, and I am glad I did because we learned that basically the entire 1.5" incision had ripped right open. There was a hole close to the size of a half dollar between my shoulders. And this isn't like a layer of skin or two deep, this is a good deep crater. Melt down at my parents house. Determined not to go to the ER, called Barnard immediately Monday morning for an appointment, mere days away from Kenya, thinking up all the different ways to keep the wound completely covered so no baby droplet of water hits it, but is still able to heal. Not exactly an ideal worry to think about for a mission trip.

Tuesday, 21st: Check in with Barnard, who immediately started manipulating the skin to figure out the best way to go back in and sew it back up. I guess I should mention in all of this that short of the initial surgery day after pain, and the itching (which could be painful at times, with the inability to itch), it hasn't hurt at all. None. And in figuring out how to sew it back, it still wasn't hurting. I mean, this HUGE hole was taking a manhandling with nothing. So I have that to be majorly thankful for.

Wednesday, 22nd: Surgery #2. Back to the same OR to have it all done again. I was NOT a happy camper to learn that he was going to be restitching it shut. For numerous reasons, but mainly the stitches themselves. The itch factor, the lack of comfort factor, and being freshly raw for a 24 hour travel adventure to Africa, and then 10 days with new stitches, and not just new stitches, but ones that have been redone, meaning they are that much tighter across the back, is less than awesome. No backpacks going through the airports, rubbing on the seats, I can't really stretch yet, then just being there. No yoga. No working out. Ugh. What he thought would matter, but doesn't (at least to me) is that he did THREE layers of stitches, and the first time he tried to kinda hide them in the skin, but this time, it was old school in and out over and under, and WIDE. So the scar is going to be less invisible. Whatever, Im not that vain.

Its a little under 24 hours later, and I am in a lot more pain than I was the first time around. Partly due to the stiches, partly due to the fact that the injection sites for the numbing were covered by adhesive, and if you saw my back right now, it has been a red railroad of reactions to adhesive. Its been 3 weeks pretty much solid in adhesive bandages. And is about to continue to be another two weeks. No breathing for this skin. Its an issue.

As a gross side note, not only did he just stitch it back up again, but he did something I didn't think possible. I had a hole in my back, the "wound." Well, he removed "the wound," how you remove a hole, I wouldn't know, but he pulled out a glob of skin that made it look like he took a melon baller to my back. I half thought my spine was exposed because of the blob of bloody flesh that he showed me. I nearly threw up in the OR. So maybe thats what hurts.

He's going to check it a few days after I get back, but then the stitches will be left in still another week (three total, as opposed to 12 days the first time). As he said, I am going to be "best friends" with these stitches by the end of it. Which short of the pain and itchees on the trip, I am ok with. I REALLY don't need to go through this again. I need my yoga practice ;-)

So any and all prayers accepted for this wound. It's going to be a challenge to keep it clean, but its non negotiable. It MUST stay clean. Infection is not an option. I can handle some itch and some pain, but its a handful right now, and any prayer for it to notch it down a few levels would be amazing.

That's my story! Sorry to gross you out if it did. Just be glad I didn't post the pictures. Because I do have some. No really super awesome shots, mostly all of them are slightly out of focus, but enough to NOT post on the internet to save people's upchuck reflex. :-)

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