“I can’t” Isn’t An Option

For those of us who have survived something like the flesh-eating bacteria or who are living with a debilitating disease or physical condition, it’s good to get a fresh perspective from someone like Cindy Martinez. She is:

a Gwinnett County woman [who] simply doesn’t have the words “I can’t” in her vocabulary. Source: Flesh-eating bacteria survivor inspires others – Story | WAGA

These kinds of stories can, at first, seem a bit discouraging for someone like me, who will never be able to accomplish the feats that Cindy has. Others with multiple amputations may just want to give up after reading an article like this. Some are so emotionally scarred and depressed that a story like this may seem to just “pile on.”

But, my motive for publishing these happy endings is to provide a perspective, an opportunity to look beyond our circumstances in order to overcome any self-imposed barriers to health and happiness. We have plenty of actual problems — it’s not helpful to manufacture or search for more in our own minds. Rather, we ought to think about what we can or really want to do, whenever the words “I can’t” come to mind.

 

The Paradox of Chronic Pain

Yesterday, I spent the afternoon with a friend, who lives in constant pain from a degenerative back ailment. We were discussing how often God blesses us through our fallen, broken, mortal bodies. If Jeremy Linneman is correct, 40 percent of Americans suffer from chronic pain. I’m one of them. Here’s why suffering can be a gift from The Paradox of Chronic Pain:

It is a constant and demanding journey; it is supremely complex and often seemingly meaningless; and there is no cure for the hardship or hope for restoration in this world itself. Chronic pain, like every type of suffering, is a form of brokenness that drives us to Christ. When the pain persists, there’s simply nowhere else to go.

I’m reminded of this exchange from John’s Gospel:

After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God” (John 6:66–69 ESV)

Detroit Boy Loses Leg to Flesh-eating Bacteria | Fox News

A 12-year-old Michigan boy is battling illness after being infected by flesh-eating bacteria that caused him to lose most of his left leg.

Dakarai Moore, Jr. was an active child until August 11, when he developed a fever and a greenish-colored rash on the bottom of his feet…

Please keep Dakarai Moore in your thoughts and prayers. You can read about him here: Detroit boy loses leg after contracting flesh-eating bacteria | Fox News

Rower Tries for Para Olympics after Flesh-Eating Bacteria| WRIC

It’s great to see someone battle back after their ordeal with necrotizing fasciitis and a brush with death.

Haxton had been an elite rower in high school at Upper Arlington and for months after his illness, Blake had no plans to try adaptive rowing. But with some urging, he discovered the sport and quickly realized he was a natural. He was soon among the best in America.

We share a similar perspective, which may come from extended time unconscious or in a coma: the ordeal is worse for family and friends, watching this disease devour us in real time, while we are “off somewhere.”

We wish Blake Haxton the best in his competition!

Watch the video over here: Rower tries for Para Olympics after flesh eating bacteria derailed his training | WRIC

The Impossible Just Became Possible

I used to tell people, jokingly, that I spared them from necrotizing fasciitis because, statistically, it’s so rare that they will only meet one person with this disease in their lifetime. Well, I can’t say that again as a personal family/friend has just passed through the worst of a bout with that nasty, cruel bacteria. His elbow and arm were affected and he has made it through the worst. It looks like the infection is under control and his surgeon has just grafted his affected area and the grafts took. So, he’ll be going home this Friday.

He’s pretty beat up, but rallying back. I can’t overstate the value of having friends and family close by, going through this along with you and for you in prayer, care, and advocacy with the healthcare providers, even if the victim is “out” or in a coma.

This was a classic case, in which three events took place, which often don’t and end in disaster or even death. Our friend:

  1. Visited a pharmacist, who told him to go immediately and seek medical attention.
  2. Took the pharmacist’s direction and went to his local Emergency Room
  3. Was attended by a surgeon, who made the immediate diagnosis of necrotizing fasciitis, stabilized him, debrided him, and sent him immediately to a large hospital with the facilities and personnel to handle this sort of thing.

Thank God, he not only survived, but received excellent care and a good result!

When it comes to the flesh-eating bacteria, I really do love happy endings!

Wound Care Specialist

These are the tools of the wound care trade.
These are the tools of the wound care trade.

Back in October, I wrote about an injury to my reconstructed left leg that left a hole over my superior and inferior retinaculam (top of my foot, at the ankle), which revealed my tendon, sliding back and forth, as I moved my foot (shivers). As a necrotizing fasciitis survivor, one becomes something of a wound care specialist and, though I’ve gotten along treating myself for nearly 20 years, this one required more expertise than I have.

So, I visited my general practitioner to get a referral to a plastic surgeon, because I felt a graft may be required. But, the wound began coming together by that time and my GP was able to really help it out with some minor surgery in his office. After the removal of some hypertrophic tissue at the top of the wound, the skin was able to grow down to cover the ulcer.

Well, here we are a little more than four months after the initial injury and the wound has closed. Along the way, I learned a few important lessons from the fabulous staff at the Sierra Nevada Wound Care Center. This was the first time I’ve used silver gel extensively and another one of those amazing new medical marvels, the ionic silver gauze sponge. At the center, they treated me with a silver sponge, but those were a little pricey for me and I just used the sterile generic sponge dressing with silver gel at home.

My wound, when I entered the wound care center over the holidays last year.
My wound, when I entered the wound care center over the holidays last year.

Later, when the moisture was no longer degrading the ulcer, I switched back to my old friend, XeroformThat petrolatum/bismuth impregnated gauze was so amazing on donor sites, when I was “essentially skinned alive from the tops of [my] toes to [my] chest” back in 1998 (the chilling post-op transcription by one of my surgeons, following my skin graft operations). On this wound, it provided a nice clean environment to grow skin. Back in the day, Xeroform cost about 10 times what it does now, so I’ve stocked up on my old friend and will use that, whenever my skin breaks down in the future.

Even though wound care gets tedious and is sometimes very depressing, I’m grateful to live in times when there are so many wonderful people to help and ingenious medical developments coming online.

What Can We Possibly Gain From Pain?

Yesterday, I spent the afternoon with a friend, who lives in constant pain from a degenerative back ailment. We were discussing how often God blesses us through the curse: our fallen, broken, mortal bodies. If Jeremy Linneman is correct, 40 percent of Americans suffer from chronic pain. I’m one of them. Here’s why chronic pain and the suffering that goes along with it can be a gift from The Paradox of Chronic Pain:

In this, chronic pain is a perfect illustration of the Christian life. It is a constant and demanding journey; it is supremely complex and often seemingly meaningless; and there is no cure for the hardship or hope for restoration in this world itself. Chronic pain, like every type of suffering, is a form of brokenness that drives us to Christ. When the pain persists, there’s simply nowhere else to go.

I’m reminded of this exchange from John’s Gospel:

After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God” (John 6:66–69 ESV)

Man’s FLESH devoured by necrotising fasciitis after scraped knee causes trauma

A MAN contracted a deadly bug that ate his flesh while on holiday in China.

This fellow is so fortunate, because his girlfriend acted quickly and decisively, getting him to a competent trauma unit just in time. When traveling abroad, be sure to carry first-aid and keep any wounds, even the most simple, clean and disinfected.

Source: Man’s FLESH devoured by necrotising fasciitis after scraped knee causes trauma

A Lifelong Process

This week I’ll be heading back to the Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital Wound Healing and Hyperbaric Medicine Center to consult with a plastic surgeon on the skin ulcer over the tendon on my foot. A couple weeks ago, I was leaning toward a full-thickness skin graft to cover the area and get some more tissue over the tendon. Now, the wound is healing well and I’ll be surprised if the plastics man will suggest a graft. It’s looking good.

For those of us with extensive injuries from necrotizing fasciitis, this is part of a life-long process that can often be discouraging or downright depressing. It’s always good to look on the bright side and remember that we’ve not only survived, but traveled a long way in recovery. We may have a long way to go, but we’ve come too far to give up or turn back now.

“I press on toward the goal” (Philippians 3:14 ESV)