Sunday, January 29, 2012

A Three-fer

For Friday's surgery, we got a "three-fer". The doctors removed

  • the external fixator on Seth's right leg
  • one of the screws in his sacrum
  • the scar on the top of his head
Here are the before photos:

He went into surgery Friday afternoon, and it took about two hours. It was supposed to be outpatient surgery, but because his pain was pretty severe and because he needed to sleep upright to stay off his head, we opted for one night back in the inpatient ward.

We were disappointed when his right leg came out in a cast. We were hoping for a fiberglass walking boot. But the cast only has to be on a week, so we'll get over our disappointment.

We came back to the apartment Saturday afternoon--after Seth had pancakes, cereal, yogurt, fruit, Sprite and a chocolate milkshake for breakfast. (After our last inpatient stay where he didn't get to eat anything, he figured he'd better make the most of his one "free" meal!)

His scar removal was, interestingly, the most painful part of the three procedures. He now has a four-inch incision with 14 staples. But it will heal to a narrow line which his hair will cover easily. For the record, it was  my vanity and that of our nurse case manager that prompted this surgery, not Seth's. We will never know if his scar was from an injury or a pressure sore.

Grins and Giggles
So when we met with the plastic surgeon on Wednesday, when the doctor came in (she turned out to be a resident), she asked Seth was he was there for. He responded, "I'm here for a boob job." She didn't even crack a smile, but I was laughing hard. To our delight, he got to use his joke again when the "real" doctor came in. He at least gave Seth a smile.

There were three types of breast implants sitting on the table in the room. We asked the doctor if any of them would work in Seth's tush. The doctor asked if Seth wanted them for cosmetic purposes. We said, No, Seth's lost much of his butt fat, so sitting can become painful. The doctor said butt implants are just like sitting on something hard, so it wouldn't help Seth' problem. Oh, well. It was worth asking.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

This is the Moment . . .

we've waited for.
(Well, at least one of them).

We spent four hours in the orthopedic clinic today, but it was worth the wait to learn that Seth's leg is healed sufficiently to have the Taylor-spatial frame removed, and the surgery is scheduled for this coming Friday, January 28. Hallelujah! In addition, the surgeons will remove one of the screws from his sacrum in the hope that this will help Seth's nerve function. Apparently removing the screw has less risk than I feared because it will be done outpatient. Amazing! The surgeon did warn that the washer to the screw might not follow the screw out, but the surgeons will leave it in as the surgery to retrieve the washer would be risky. I had no idea surgical screws had surgical washers.

I asked the doctor if we could have a copy of the X-ray. He said, "I can't give you one, but if you go to Radiology, you can get all your X-rays on a CD or a DVD. In your case, maybe a DVD set."

Since the Taylor-spatial frame will soon be history and along with it, cleaning the pins two or three times a day, I feel compelled to tell of a small NMA victory. When Seth went inpatient in December, on his first night, one of his nurses, in an engaging Caribbean accent, exclaimed, "Look at this ex-fix! It is beautiful! It is so clean!" She called in another nurse, and they proceeded to ooh and aah over it. It's the little things . . .

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Milestone Mile

Seth didn't want me to post this video. I asked him several times if I could post it. Finally he said, "The video not's bad; it's the stupid narration." So with that disclaimer, I have his permission to post the video.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Back at It

We've been back at WRNMMC for over a week now. Some days are busy with appointments; other days are not and we have a lot of down time. It is cold here, gets dark by 5:00 p.m., and, until today, we did not have a car, so we haven't gotten out much.

This Week's Highlights:

  • dinner with former Ogdenite friends of friends on Sunday evening. It was so nice to get out, eat good food and visit with delightful people.
  • Bob arrived yesterday, so there's backup!
  • We got a rental car today, courtesy of the Yellow Ribbon Fund, so there's freedom!
  • On Tuesday, our ortho doctor caught us in the hall to tell us he had reviewed Seth's leg X-ray taken last week. He said, "It looks healed. It looks like you've laid down a lot of bone," which means removal of the Taylor-spatial frame may be imminent. I said, "Hallelujah." Seth has a CT scan this coming Monday and then an official appointment with the ortho doctor on Tuesday morning when we will get the official word on whether the leg is ready to have the frame removed. We can't wait!

Another interesting development: it's possible that when Seth gets the frame removed from his right leg, he will also get one of the screws that is holding his pelvis to his spine removed. The doctors hope this will improve crucial nerve function.

We are losing Seth's nurse case manager Lt Colonel Crum. He is in the reserves, so this is the end of his "mobilization." While Colonel Crum prefers working the hospital wards over the desk job he's had here, he will miss working with the guys here. We will miss him as well.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

WSU Article

Our friend Rebecca Hernandez wrote about her experiences visiting Seth at the old Walter Reed hospital in the most recent Weber State University alumni magazine. Link to her article. (I need to correct four things: Seth was injured and I received the phone call on July 1, 2011; it was his left hand that was injured--not his right; and he got down to 110 pounds; and Seth has nine pins, not six, in his right leg.)

There's No Place Like Home for the Holidays

Our three weeks at home went by far too quickly. We each spent time with family, friends and our dogs. We were a bit dismayed to see that Rio, who was Seth and my dog, had become Bob's dog. Fickle creature.

Welcome Home
Seth was quite surprised to see the TV cameras and reporters waiting for him at the airport, and he handled them with grace. We were so moved to see the way our house was decorated for the occasion. The spotlights were genius. Many people told us they were brought to tears upon driving by our house. Thanks to those who made our home such a lovely tribute to Seth and great welcome for us.

Christmas and Country Songs
Miles with the grandnieces and nephews just this fall
Our Christmas was at once wonderful and woeful. We were, of course, so happy to all be together at home and, especially, to have Seth with us. Sadly, our dog Miles had been ill for several weeks. I told Bob to keep him alive until we got home, which he did. When Seth and I got home, Miles rallied for a few days and then declined rapidly. Our kind vet David Hyde came by on Christmas day. Miles was asleep in his bed and didn’t even wake up when Dave gave him the injection. It was a sad, sad moment, but I’m grateful for the gentleness of it and that we could all be there for Miles and for each other. When I told a friend our sad Christmas story, she said, “Your life is beginning to sound like a country song.”

Jerrica, Ethan, Seth and Jarom
Thanks, Raquel and Story
After saying goodbye to Miles, our Christmas day was pretty much like any other--unwrapping presents, enjoying each others' company and hamming it up for the camera.

Other Highlights
Decorating cookies for Seth's platoon
We enjoyed going out to dinner with family and friends, visits from friends, family parties and get-togethers, and doing normal Christmas things, like making and eating Christmas treats.

It was in the 50s for much of our time in Utah. It finally snowed two days before we left, but the snow was mostly gone by the time we left. We arrived in D.C. on January 9 to a heavy snowstorm, but the snow was gone by the next day. We are deeply grateful to Kirsten, another BYU roommate, and her son for driving three hours from PA to pick us up at the airport and spend the evening with us.

Back to the Grind
Seth has been busy with appointments, and it feels like we never left.