Monday, January 15, 2007

MRSA Maims Again

No, not me. This post is not about me at all. Bear with it for a bit, because it'll seem like it is. It's for a reason.

With everything that's been going on - a heart attack and triple bypass for Walter, another lingering MRSA infection laying me low - I haven't been posting near as much as I like. Much of the material logjammed in Picasa and my gmail drafts has to do with showing all of you what a difference my new scooter has made in my life.

I have pictures from my first trip to the garden center at Home Depot; pictures of how the carrier works; pictures of the beat-up store scooters I was using to shop - that is, when I could walk from the parking lot into the store to actually get one - unless I found out after walking in that there were none available.

There's been another level of improvement in the foot, too. It was holding steady on a pain plateau since around a month after the terrible infection in October. Judging from past experience, I was pretty sure it wasn't going to get much better any more. This meant permanently less mobility, and worse permanent pain - the kind that gets to be untreatable.

But then, this last month, it did improve some more. Enough that I don't need to go up another step in the Fentanyl pain patches. The longer I can hold steady, the longer I'll keep the pain under control. And I have no doubt whatsoever that being able to use the scooter, and stay off the damaged foot, is what allowed further healing to take place.

I'm a little less feverish now, and Walter is slowly getting better too. I finally have enough healthy heart food stocked up so he's a little more independent in his meals, something we were both aiming for.

So...the last few days, I've been able to work out in the yard a bit. A lot of you already know how very much this means to me.

These few days, the reason I'm posting less is because I've been having so much fun, instead of just hanging around being a bit dreary and sick. That's always nice, huh?

Since the left leg infection set in last October, I only went into the back yard one time, with my neighbor helping me walk. It had a terrible spooky aspect to it, with everything I'd been working on just lying in place, where it was when I dropped it and ran to the doctor, my tools and plants and little stacks of work left in situ, and weeds growing around them. A ghost town sort of feel.

This Friday I took my second look back there. I could do this, you see, because of the scooter. And I went back there and saw it was much the same, of course - but suddenly I knew I could deal with it. I'm ready. And I'm capable of going back to my landscaping, despite stricter new limits on my physical activity, for one reason only: that scooter. It keeps me off my bad foot and means the risk of new infections is greatly reduced.

I'm trying to impress upon all of you how very much this seemingly simple thing has improved my life.

The pain is better. I can help my husband, who at age 51 just had a heart attack he should not have survived, who needs some care while recovering from surgery. I can make it to the doctor without fainting from trying to walk. Go to the store and get fresh produce. I can start getting some exercise again, which we all need, and I need especially now that I have diabetes. See, diabetes makes it much harder to heal from infections like MRSA or other kinds of cellulitis.

A number of you contributed financially to the scooter fund, when the herd of horses was unleashed by my wonderful blogdad Desert Cat, together with Pretty Lady and Livey. Almost every single contributor was a fellow blogger - there was only one stranger in the whole lot. You all know who you are.

Others sent messages of prayers and good thoughts and whatever particular healing energies they use in their lives. And I feel these things. I feel them strongly and they help me keep fighting.

One person who sent both - sent funds and sent kindness - is one of the best among us. He's always impressed me as one of the most genuine, decent, kind, giving, sweet, smart bloggers we have. He works very hard and has a lot of fun too, and he's a fabulous dad and husband. No, I've never met him in person. But I know that I'm an unusually good judge of character. And about the only *bad* thing I could ever think of to say about Walrilla is that he's so busy with his work and family and fun that he doesn't get to post as much as he'd like to, either.

He spends a lot of time thinking and caring for others. This is a great hulking fearsome-looking teddy bear of a man. I'd advise anyone with a lick of sense to behave themselves around him, and not go doing bad things to innocent people. Besides that? You'll see him having fun at a Renaissance festival, or caring for his daughter - a wonderful girl with special needs of her own.

Walrilla, too, has that scary combination of cellulitis and diabetes. Others among you do as well: Mickysolo, Nancy's husband 'Pup. Some of you have *just* diabetes but no MRSA yet - Cindi, Nancy. Others have chronic MRSA and stop by to say *Hi, we're here,* and check in from time to time.

More yet, too many to list, have a variety of chronic health problems that go from bad to terrible - Livey's up there with some record-setting ones, herself. And Walrilla - being the thoughtful and protective man that he is - has spent some time caring for that woman. I love Livey and it makes me feel much calmer about her safety, knowing she has that man in her corner.

One reason I started this blog was because of the health issues we have, so many of us, and because MRSA is a threat that's rapidly rising in its damage to us. It likes to kill, but it loves to maim. It can take a life or a limb so fast that everyone around is shattered and stunned by this inexplicable event, such a simple thing - just an infection - that appeared out of nowhere and crashed their lives to bits.

It can also linger forever. It leaves dormant germ colonies in you. Or it makes an infection site that all the medical knowhow we have just can't clear up. That's the point: it's resistant to antibiotics. Once you're infected, it's very hard to kill it and get better. Even then it leaves a lot of damage behind. Flesh-eating bacteria is its direct cousin.

Walrilla had one of those cellulitis infections in his leg, one that lingered for months. He posted some pix several months back and said that despite how awful it looked, it was improving. It wasn't until the scooter episode, around Thanksgiving, that he said in a comment here that it had gotten worse again, and moved up his leg. That surprised and scared me.

If you live with this thing in your life, yours or someone you love, you know this fear, this endless quiet calm terror in the back of your mind. It's always there. Will this be the time I lose a limb? Or worse?

Walrilla just had his leg amputated below the knee. His wife has posted on his blog that he's in the hospital and they are taking care of him, but he's in terrible pain.

I can't stop crying and I'm consumed with rage that they aren't giving him adequate pain treatment and I cannot bear the knowledge that this happened to one of the best we have among us. I have a terrible fear that it means they don't take it seriously enough: that special and awful MRSA pain, does it mean they left too much infected tissue intact? If anything worse happens to him I don't think I can bear it. My God, his family! His daughter, his wife. My God.

You, all of you, who stepped in to help me: you all contributed to saving my own leg and my own life. It isn't, you see, just a scooter after all. If you didn't quite understand that fully before, surely you do now.

Please, please, go over there and send Walrilla all the love and prayers and encouragement you can. He did it for me. Please, now do it for him.

26 comments:

Morris said...

K, thanks for sending me an email update.

You sure do have to deal with a lot don't you?

Livey said...

The minute I saw him at the bottom of the escalator, waiting for me, grinning from ear to ear, I fell in love with that man. He is the truest person I have ever met!
I know he has the strength, and will get through this! He just has to dammit!

Nancy said...

I think Walrilla will endure. He's a strong guy and has the intestinal fortitude to adjust to whatever life brings him. All the while, helping others on the way.

k said...

Morris, I can't say you're wrong. You know how at New Year's, we often think back over how the outgoing year went? One thing I noticed this year was how very many of us had so much on our plates at once. A lot of serious illnesses, family members passing away, long-loved pets too, that sort of thing. Nancy, in comments here, is one who had this whole long slew of them, all close together in time.

So we did get a lot to deal with, between myself and Walter. But the thing is, in the end, we had a lot of unusually good luck too. Walter didn't just survive his heart attack, it was so mild that it caused no damage to the heart. How lucky is that? Yet if we hadn't forced him to call 911, he surely would have died that night. He had almost total blockage in 3 major arteries. That tiny heart attack was like a precursor tremblor to a devastating earthquake.

Last summer, his sister in Bratislava - who raised him like a mother - had a massive stroke. At best, she should have been left in a vegetative state. But her aunt, an RN, happened to be staying with her at the time. She not only got an ambulance there in 4 minutes, she got the docs to put the clotbusters in so fast and so well, that his sister has virtually no lingering effects from a stroke that should have killed her. She even talks normally now.

Me, I should have lost my own left leg. But I've learned to watch for the signs and we caught it very early. My ID doc got me into her office on no notice on a Friday, tested, and on antibiotics so fast that she turned the infection around without having to hospitalize me. Hospitals can be very dangerous places for people like me; I'm immunocompromised, and likely to catch whatever germs are floating around, even though they carefully isolate me. So it's important to stay out of them if I can.

Now I'm reading the comments people are leaving for Walrilla, at his place and here and everywhere else too, and they're comforting me. They remind me that one of the things we love him for is his inner strength, his endurance and his fortitude. I'm so upset that this happened to such a truly fine person. Yet at the same time, those very qualities are what will help him get through. He'll probably get through it better than most anyone else would. Livey and Nancy are right.

When I think about him, that helps. There's no way it can be easy in any sense. But he'll make it, and do it well. He shines.

Jean said...

Thanks for the e-mail, k... you are a dear!

zonker said...

fyi - I talked to Donnie this afternoon...he's home and feeling somewhat better.

Walrilla said...

k, you beautiful, sweet, wonderful, giving, kind woman. Walter has such a treasure in you, as I'm sure he knows. I am doing well, now, and I know the main reason is the prayers and good thoughts from you, livey, Nancy, Jean, and many, many others. Oh, and you want to know the stupidest thing about the whole deal? It was the other leg, not the one with the wounds! Now, ain't that a b-tch?

k said...

*blush*

(peeks out from under the workstation)

I was wondering if that was the correct leg! If you were in Tampa - Tampa General, no less - I would have been convinced they Goofed and took the wrong part. That's their specialty.

argh!!! That IS a bitch!

That packing thing? Yikes. I had to have it done twice a day on Poor Mr. Foot, when I got home from the hospital in 2004. At first they needed about 6 feet of Iodoform tape, then as the space got littler the tape finally got shorter and shorter...

And besides the home health care nurses, it seemed like everyone and their uncle had to learn the packing exercise. kdad's an MD (though never really practiced) so that was a piece of cake for him. But kmom learned too.

And...Walter. Even though he tends to get sick at the sight of blood.

That one impressed the hell out of me. I mean, the man never batted an eye.

Today the memory seems to give him the heebie jeebies.

heh!

I am so glad to hear you're home and doing better, and to see your comment here, I keep boinging around bouncing off the walls.

You're an inspiration to us all.

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