Tuesday, November 15, 2016

A Little Update

I feel like I'm so far behind in my writing.  With my left arm and hand in a splint, and unable yet to wear my glasses, it makes typing a slow and arduous process. I have so much to say, but will have to wait.  It is hard to believe it was two weeks ago that my 2nd surgery occurred.  I came home a week ago yesterday.  I think I’m making great strides.  It is the little things that bug me now – like buttoning my shirts with one hand, bothering someone to tie my shoes.  But, my, how far I have come.  Thanksgiving this year will certainly hold new meaning for me.

For those who wish to see pictures and explanations of what body parts went where from this 2nd surgery, you may continue.  If not, I’m just letting you know, so you don’t get surprised.

I guess I’ll just start with my head.

 This section you see was taken from the inner aspect of my forearm. They referred to it as a flap.   The incision runs over the top of my ear and down the front of it. From what I understand, this is where the harvested blood vessels (also from my arm) were tied in.  Keep in mind that this was done through a microscope.  The whole surgery – Dr.M removing more tissue that he did take during the first surgery, and Dr.P doing the reconstruction,  took 8 hours.  All of my ear is numb except inside of it, and the top 2/3 of the flap incision is numb.  The area shaved will regrow hair, but thus tan appearing skin (because my arm was suntanned) will remain bare.

 Here is my arm.  My wrist is at the top. You can see the incision where they harvested the blood vessels to tie in the flap on my head.  The skin covering this area came from the lateral (outer) aspect of my left thigh.  The first time I got a look at this during a dressing change in the hospital, I was pretty shocked.  A home health RN changes the dressing every other day, and at this last change I think I saw an ever so tiny bit of improvement – maybe a little less swelling and not quite so angry looking. The RN says it looks good.  I’m no expert on grafts.  It is covered with Bacitracin, then a Xerofoam gauze (to prevent infection and keep from sticking), then a Telfa pad, then wrapped in Kerlix, following with an Ace wrap to hold all in place, Then it is strapped into a splint to keep my fingers fairly immobilized, since that graft is sitting right on the muscles, and they don’t want movement to disrupt the taking of the graft.  This, so far has given me the most discomfort, although even that is minimal – just a Tylenol at bedtime.  My head has not hurt.  Of course it has no moving parts.

 Now here is probably the most gross, because it is completely raw yet.  The large red area is where the skin was taken to cover my arm.  It is currently covered with Tegaderm, to keep it moist.  Pools of bloody drainage pocket in the lower end, and twice it has broken through the edge and drained – 1st time was in the night last Saturday.  I woke up and it had drained through my PJs and through all the bedding, Luckily, t didn’t get my mattress since I had a really thick mattress pad. Now I sleep on a Chux.  After that, the RN reinforced it with more Tegaderm, and it broke through again tonight as I got up from the dinner table.  I grabbed my leg, saving the carpet and my shoes.  I cleaned it up and reinforced it with 4x4s and covered it with a big piece of Chux I cut and put over it all and taped it down.  That should get me through the night without having to change all the bedding again.  The nurse said the dr. will most likely take all that Tegaderm off and dress it like my arm.  She said they usually treat these donor sites like burns.  The dr. had told me this donor site would be the messiest and most painful. So far it has not been terribly painful, because much of the leg is numb.  I suspect that is due to that 12+” incision you see beside the donor site.  The reason for that incision is that the original plan was to take the skin flap for my head from here, but they did not find enough viable blood vessels there.  So they closed up this area and went to my arm.

Tomorrow (Wednesday) is my 1st postop checkup.  They will remove these 2 wires that enter my neck below my jaw.  They are currently rolled up and taped to my neck, giving time for those blood vessels to seed well before they removed them.  They were hooked up in the hospital to a monitor giving them continuous monitoring of the blood flow. That sound filled the room 24/7. It sounded to me like the blood flowing through the umbilical cord between a mom and baby, so I kind of felt like a baby in my mother’s womb.   I’ll be so glad when all that sticky, itchy mess is removed from my neck.  I really think my arm will remain in the splint (boo!), but I’m hoping they will let me wear my glasses again. AND praying that all these grafts are TAKING. I’m really praying, too, that the final path report shows they got it all with this surgery.  

I still feel the prayers going up for me, and I'm EVER so grateful!!

As always, I remain in His hands....

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