Hello, Grovers! The Chatterbox is back! After 22 years of conversing with my CG Sentinel readers, I had to stop writing for awhile and I missed you. Today’s column is a short update of my unbelievably crazy life these past months.
It all began with a dog attack. One year ago, on March 30, a large dog tried to take off my right arm. I was taken by ambulance to RiverBend, met by a trauma surgeon and informed that my wound could not be closed with simple stitching. I couldn’t see that there was no skin covering the raw flesh because I was wearing two sweatshirts. I quietly heard the surgeon say, “It’s serious and requires an immediate debridement surgery, another surgery and eventually a skin graft.”
In other words, It was a gory mess.
My healthy, happy self was changed in an instant. I was in shock. There are pictures of me just looking bewildered as I jumped through all the necessary hoops to restore my arm function. I truly feared that healing and restoration wasn’t possible.
Family, friends and strangers prayed.
I was in shock for weeks. My condition was described as “fragile.” The first two surgeries I barely knew what was happening. The skin graft was a real eye opener. I always wondered how they transferred skin from one place to another. In layman’s terms, they shaved a large area of skin off my thigh and stitched it over the skinless wound. Both the leg and arm were bandaged and the healing began.
I wore a wound vacuum attached to my arm and around my neck 24 hours a day for weeks. Eventually, it and the stitches were removed from the arm. I wore a compression sleeve for months to continue the healing. The thigh skin removal was like a severe sunburn as it slowly healed. The ugly, crater-like hole of the arm wound area looks and feels like shoe leather.
Many thanks to modern medicine and an army of medical personnel who did everything they could to restore my arm. Along the way, I learned how to be brave and calm; to follow directions, endure multiple procedures, operate a wound vac machine and trust my husband to change bandages. One of the frustrating parts? It was two months before I could take a shower. Chuck washed my hair in the sink and I took sponge baths. Oy!
So much tissue was lost that I remained under the surgeon’s care until this year. The wound area is still tender and ugly as sin and there is residual nerve damage. Everyday life is hard on the arm and wrist: lifting, typing, stirring, opening jars, digging in the garden are all painful. But thanks to great care and hundreds of prayers, I survived and I am a grateful woman.
Now, you would think that would be enough medical trauma and drama for a little old lady in one year. But there’s more. In August, a routine exam showed that I had a non-malignant tumor of the parotid gland. The tumor was sitting on the facial nerve making it difficult surgery to remove. More prayers were sent up and thanks to God and a great surgeon, I again survived the unexpected.
Finally, just before Christmas, when life was starting to get normal, more trouble was brewing. My husband has a long history of heart disease dating back to a 5-way bypass in 2003. In Dec. he began having difficulty breathing outside in cold air. No one thought that was a problem. “They” were wrong. He ended up at RiverBend, after a heart attack and stroke that resulted in more surgeries and weeks of Home Health Care. Many tears were shed and prayers were offered. Chuck survived the unexpected.
This year, for one brief month in January, life was looking up. Then came another surprise. A coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) arrived in America.
Unexpected? You bet.
Now, to everyone out there who is wondering what the world is coming to…I don’t know either. Only God knows. And so we pray. Please know that I’m following the rules and worrying right along with you and we will get though this.
Many thanks to all of you for your encouragement and friendship though-out my journalism years. May God bless you with hope, joy and good health as we plow through the year 2020! Keep looking up, praying and believing that we will survive.
Remember: This, too, shall pass!