Friday, January 10, 2014

Update #1

Attempting to do my first update on the blog.....head is a little fuzzy but we'll give it a good ol' try. 

Yesterday I underwent an osteomyoplastic trans-tibial amputation.   With the exception of a potential pregnancy scare (false positive in the urine test) the procedure and recovery was uneventful.  Looking back I find that pregnancy scare quite comical....I mean, really?  A 45 year old lady in for an amputation...pregnant?!?   

How did it feel to wake up and see the leg gone?   Surprisingly, very good.    The day before was spent meeting w/ Dr. Ertl and the rehab team to discuss my goals and expectations, and they're all of the mindset that amputation is the beginning of an exciting rehabilitation journey.  A journey which will hopefully lead to getting me back to doing the things I love.  

Through talking with the team, I learned that Dr. Ertl actually developed and fine-tuned his surgical approach in consultation with a fine prosthetist, Jonathan Day.   It is important to realize that not many surgeons do that kind of thing.   They generally make their decisions through the protocols which they know and are comfortable with.  So when a surgeon takes the opportunity to learn from another professional (say....is humble enough to consult), and work collaboratively, good things happen. 

Physiatrist, Dr. Carol Dionne is also on the team, and her job is to consider the "whole person" in her approach to recovery.   Dr. Dionne has a specialization in spinal injuries, so she was quick to bring up my SI joint fusion, and how this next step will be very beneficial for me to  equal out my limb-length discrepancy.   The entire team talked about the importance of a good prosthetic leg as it relates to my other orthopedic injuries.   

What impressed me the most was the sense of camaraderie among the team, and attitude of excitement for my being active again in ways that I haven't been able to be in over two years.
Post-op with Dr. Ertl.  He left a nice, 10 in below knee residual limb.
Physically, the experience has not been a walk-in-the-park.   I have an epidural right now which helps tremendously with post-op pain.   I don't like this epidural, but it is better for pain relief than anything else.    I've had a few occasions of breakthrough pain, and have been given a PCA (patient controlled analgesic) pump with dilaudid for those times.   

Our hope is to remove the epidural sometime tomorrow and switch to oral, longer lasting pain medication.  Fingers are crossed that goes well!

What was particularly cool was the fact that the third doctor I had sent my medical records to (at Georgetown University Hospital), called about a half-an-hour before my pre-op assessment.  He was happy to hear that I had moved ahead w/ the BKA, and in fact, was recommending that I have the Ertl amputation procedure.   (Said he wants to see pics of me "doing my thing" once I'm in a prosthesis.  

Thankfully we were able to Skype with the kiddos and Uncle Matt....so far the house is still standing!

 
Thanks so much for everyone's support and encouragement!    It means SO much!  

10 comments:

  1. You look fabulous! You have such a great attitude and that will help so much with your recovery. Keep us posted and know that we send our thoughts & prayers.
    ~Kris, Paul & Family

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    1. Thanks so much Kristine! I know you understand well what it takes to get through the medical stuff. Relationships and support are so important..... to maintain a sense of hope and to be able to keep doing what we love.

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  2. I'm so in awe of your strength and courage!! I'm sure its your German heritage shining through:) I admire you both for your commitment to each other through all of this!! God bless you with good healing and to get back home soon. We will continue our prayers!!

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    1. Phil....definitely the stubborn German thing. Das ist Wahr! Thanks you so much for your support and your prayers. See you soon.....

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  3. Go get 'em Chris! So glad all is well so far, and looking forward to seeing you come alive in so many ways.

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    1. YES......so far, so good. I am in a comfortable hotel now, sans hospital-related bacterias and such. Surgical site looks great, got my pain meds and my coffee. Tomorrow we see the team again for my post-op visit, and Thursday is the final leg (pun not intended) of the journey....to fly home....and get picked up at O'Hare. (Got a bulkhead seat.) Now if the weather cooperates we should be all good.... I've got sooooo many good stories to share. :)

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  4. Marian O'Brien-FrigoJanuary 14, 2014 at 12:47 PM

    You are amazing - what a wonderful example for your children! Thinking of you; keeping you in my prayers.

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  5. Thank you Marian! Hey, I've been in touch w/ some VA folks (Sara Cucik in the spinal care dept / rehab) about doing an adaptive climbing program. You may know of some folks at the VA that would have an interest! Still in the formative stages...

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  6. Congratulations on this first step of your new journey. I admire your courage and tenacity to do the best thing for you. Many people would not have been able to do what you are doing. You remain in my thoughts and prayers as you go through the recovery and walk the path to your new active life!

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    1. Thank you, Karen! You know, I am now quite the observer of hospital forms and paperwork. The more I see, the more I am astounded by how awesome ours are at CHW. There are countless examples of how CHW just seems to have it goin' on! :) I am so honored to be part of such an amazing place.

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