Still on crutches

I went back to the surgeon on Thursday (11/17) and found out that I have another four weeks of keeping weight off my right foot. That means I still can’t do anything without crutches. I’ve easily spent an entire year on these things in the last 18 months. I’m not a huge fan.

The good news is that everything seems to be healing fine. The infection is down, I’m no longer sick with whatever ran through me after the antibiotics were changed each time and the bone is growing back around the screws in my leg faster than expected, the surgeon said. After four weeks I’ll move to one crutch and I have another appointment with the surgeon two weeks after that.

Things are happening

I got my stitches out yesterday; all 42 of them. There is a large scar running up the top half of my right leg. The swelling has gone down and, now nearly through some debilitating sickness that set in after my IV antibiotics were stopped, I’m on some oral antibiotics. That means I only have to take a pill twice a day instead of hooking my PICC line up to an IV for two hours at a time, 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.

The bills have been coming in the mail steadily. At this point I think $50,000 is a safe estimate of what I owe different medical services. In regards to that debt, there is a benefit show planned Sunday, Nov. 20 at the Pyramid Scheme. There will be bands, a DJ, food from Bartertown Diner, a silent auction for tons of cool art, photo packages and more. I hope you can make it. We’re going to have a lot of fun.

If you can’t RSVP on the Facebook event page, just show up. The suggested donation is $7 and it will run from 4 p.m. to about 10 p.m. I’m working on a poster for the event at the same time as typing this, so look for that, too.

Vancomycin is a hell of a drug. It’s one of the strongest antibiotics available and will basically kill any flora in your system, the good stuff included. After decimating my immune system, the 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. vancomycin treatments I had been on for the last week left me covered in hives, itching until I literally bruised myself, and living with mild flu symptoms when I was feeling my best. Eventually, I called the 24-hour nurse at Walgreens Infusion Services, where my infectious disease doctor had placed the antibiotics orders through, and told them I couldn’t take it anymore. Without insurance, cost is always going to be an issue, though. The vancomycin treatment I was on added up to about $100 a day. The next IV drip antibiotic available was $400 a day and Spectrum Health was unwilling to take that on considering short-term Medicaid was still pending. Maybe its luck that I can’t afford a drug that seems to have symptoms worse than the disease it treats but being kicked down to an oral antibiotic at this point doesn’t seem like a sacrifice. This video shows the technician removing the PICC line that ran from my right arm to the entrance of my heart and was used to deposit the antibiotics.

Remedies

I’m not going to knock modern medicine. It’s quite a feat of genius that my leg was put back together and is now healing with the help of some metal. It seems that the antibiotics I have been on, in hopes of eliminating the infection that started when the metal broke, are not right for my body. Apart from maintaining the symptoms of a mild flu, the vancomycin has also caused my entire torso to break out in hives. It’s making me miserable and I’m not sure what opportunity cost is being favored here. I called the infusion services help desk last night and let them know, so today someone should be by to transition me to a different antibiotic. I don’t know yet how I feel about that.

Natural remedies have always interested me in the sense that it’s not so much an element you’re introducing to your body that’s fighting the disease or helping you heal, but rather a supplement that’s encouraging your body to do the healing itself. I got a very kind message from a friend today who suggested I try turmeric for its natural inflammatory properties. I’m taking gotu kola to help repair nerve damage and evening primrose oil to repair skin damage, as my nerves and skin were both shocked during the surgery process. I’m always open to suggestions, although I have to mention anything I’m taking to the doctor just in case there are conflicts I’m unaware of.

Swollen

This morning I woke up with an incredibly swollen leg (it had been swelling over the weekend) and although the allergic patches along the tape line seem to be leveling off in severity, the swelling is as bad as ever. I’ve gained 10 pounds in a matter of two days. It’s all fluids. I have a tree trunk for a right leg and it’s starting to hurt. After calling Dr. Jones office, they thankfully set me up with an appointment at 2:30 p.m. today. Worst case scenario, it’s full of spider eggs. What I’m hoping is it will go away by taking a pill. No spiders.

Post surgery

Now that my surgery is over and I can concentrate on healing, I’ve been looking into ways to promote resilience without the use of drugs. I’ll still follow what’s been prescribed to me but I don’t want to fall into addiction when it comes to painkillers and such. I ate a lot of fresh fruit while I was at the hospital because my appetite was very low and the narcotic painkillers I was on pretty much stopped any movement in my intestinal tract altogether. I’m still eating a lot of fruit because foods with a large amount of water are good for you any time, because the antibiotic regimen I’m on really wipes out my body’s immune system, and because I’m still taking the prescribed hydrocodone which is still keeping me from going to the bathroom. Here are a few items I’m trying to include in my post-surgery diet:

  • Homemade green drinks with fruit juice, spirulina, protein and cacao for antioxidants.
  • Sea vegetables for vitamin B12 and new cell growth.
  • Brown rice and other whole grains with tofu for protein complementarity and more B vitamins.
  • Lots of water, occasionally with Emergen-C lemon lime mixed in.

As far as vitamins and other pills go, I’m taking about twice the daily required amounts of

  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Vitamin D (for depression)
  • Vitamin D3 (for immune system and energy levels)
  • B vitamins (especially niacin, which helps with depression)
  • Maca (for energy)
  • Hair, skin and nails complex
  • Evening Primrose oil (to rebuild and nourish skin at the site of surgery)
  • Gotu kola (to repair nerve damage, reduce numbness and promote collagen synthesis)
  • Zinc (for immune system)
  • Vitamin C (for immune system and proper iron absorption)
  • and a men’s multivitamin to take care of anything else I’m low on.

Tack on to this list the occasional kombucha and that’s where I’m at. It all seems pretty healthy on paper, but I still feel like I have a low-level flu from the antibiotics, my right leg is swollen and sore, and I need to take naps. These things will work themselves out in time, though.

Healing process

Despite being up on the antibiotics every six hours and taking my pain meds no more than prescribed, my right leg is covered in blisters and rashes. Recovering from surgery is not fun at all.

Antibiotics

The hospital has me on a 12-hour/1,000mL repeating regimen of vancomycin (500mL every 6 hours), which is described in most pharmaceutical guides as a “last ditch medicine.” it’s used in treatment of gram-positive infections outside the intestinal wall. Taking it leaves me with cold sweats, weakness, lucid dreams and tremors. it’s not pleasant, I assure you. And it’s what I have to look forward to for the next 6 weeks.

4 notes

Every morning Sarah and I set this up to deposit antibiotics into the PICC line into my heart. It takes about 30 minutes to set up and we have to do it at 6 a.m. so Sarah can help me and still get to work. The antibiotics take 2 hours to drain. This is the first day of six weeks.

Walgreens infusion services just dropped off a big box of stuff for my antibiotic injections. It’s intense how complicated this is getting.

Walgreens infusion services just dropped off a big box of stuff for my antibiotic injections. It’s intense how complicated this is getting.