Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Fast, Travel

I just learned that I will be discharged from the Burn Unit tomorrow, my 140th day in Salt Lake City, and will be flying to Boston, to take residence at the Center for Rehabilitation at Boston Medical Center. This news comes to me quickly, not as a surprise exactly, but the pieces that were in suspense fell into place with great rapidity this afternoon. I don't have time to write more now: too much to prepare and too many goodbyes to say.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Snowy Landscape

View 2 by gratefulwill
View 2, a photo by gratefulwill on Flickr.

Angel also took this picture of the view outside the window of room 23, which has been my home for about 135 days now. The changing look of the mountains has been to me what perhaps the haystacks were to Monet.

Golden Landscape

View 1 by gratefulwill
View 1, a photo by gratefulwill on Flickr.

Angel took this picture of the view outside my hospital room window. It's of the Wasatch Mountain foothills. I suppose that as long as one has to lie in a bed, sometimes in suffering and always working on healing, one should be glad to have such a view.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Ball Takes Another Bounce

While I certainly had trepidation, even dread, about the surgery on Tuesday to amputate my left knee, the dozens and dozens of messages of support that I received from all of you, my friends, carried me into it with relative good cheer and energy: thanks. (I was also much helped by Jen and Eduardo, dear friends from the Burn Unit, who visited with me up to the time I went into the OR.) The operation went well; however, post-surgical pain, something that also accompanied the patellectomies, has rather thrown me for the past forty-eight hours. I am glad to say that, while initially I understood what a spiral-sliced ham must feel like, my leg pain has lately subsided somewhat. This easing off has allowed me to appreciate the presence of another dear friend, Prof. Fitzgerald, who arrived yesterday. Lucky him (ha ha), as he will get to see me through yet another surgery tomorrow: certain areas of my legs require auto-grafting, the placement of my own skin over open wounds. If tomorrow's surgery is a success, I will only need to heal before heading on to Boston for rehabilitation. Let us hope, therefore, that it will be my last operation.

One other thing: let us also hope that if the timing of my healing allows it, I might be able to attend a Sundance screening in Salt Lake City! (This time, I'll either avoid the trolley system or go to an afternoon screening!)

Sunday, January 8, 2012

New Year, New Surgery

Two years ago, it was a great pleasure to welcome 2010 from the vantage point of Moca, Puerto Rico with Angel; and no less pleasant were the following days, which were filled with beach excursions, pig roasts, and Twelfth Night fireworks. This year, alone, watching the change to 2012 wasn't nearly as special, as it seemed like just another night at the Burn Unit. A few evenings later, however, provided a bit of an adventure. Accompanied by my wonderful nurse Jill and the social worker Ann, I had a leave of absence from the hospital to see a movie at a local theater. Joining up with a couple of other friendly workers from the unit, we took in a 7 PM showing of "Mission: Impossible -- Ghost Protocol." (I enjoyed the movie -- director Brad Bird carried some zing over from "The Incredibles" and "Ratatouille.") Jill, Ann, and I shared some post-movie nibbles at a nearby restaurant... and then found, as we waited for the transfer train to take us back to the University Hospital, that we had missed the last one by several minutes. Our "mission: improbable" became getting me back to my room in one piece, without leaving my borrowed, couple-hundred-pound power wheelchair in the middle of downtown Salt Lake City. Fortunately, there is a local cab company that has ambulance-type vans, and I got back to the ward by 12:30... somewhat colder and later than expected, but intact. (Everyone should petition the Trax system to run the University Hospital line later than it goes at present.)

It turns out that I ought to have used the leave of absence as a chance to escape (just kidding), as the next morning I received some unwelcome news: my left knee, which has been in an immobilizer for the past month, recovering from a patellectomy, hasn't healed sufficiently to be saved. The disease is enough for my left knee to be amputated, a procedure that will take place on Tuesday (the 10th). I had thought I was through with such loss. The blow is mitigated only by the knowledge that having no knee is better, prosthesis- and other-wise, than having a useless sick one; and by the fact that my right knee, though without its patella, has held on. As I'm still processing the news and imagining my poor leg to be a few inches shorter than it is, this knowledge seems a little like cold comfort. Yet I'll be glad to be without left-knee pain, which has been bothering me lately.

"The art of losing isn't hard to master." -- Elizabeth Bishop