Another Month of Healing

I still have a ways to go on my leg wound so it looks like I will be staying in Temple thru most of April. It is healing but the size of the wound has gotten bigger while the depth has become shallower. I have less pain now so that’s a blessing but I would sure love to get off the wound vac. It’s bad enough being in a wheel chair.

Anyway, it’s about two years since my best friend Toren Smith passed and I miss him every day. So many things I would have loved to have talked to him about and can’t anymore. He used to be amazed how I bounced back from adversity. If only he could see me now.

Toren-hud-87

The Gall of It!

So today I went over to the VA hospital across the street, this time for something other than my leg. I mentioned to my doctor on my last visit that in 2008 when looking for kidney stones they did an ultrasound and found I had large gall stones. But it has never bothered me. The doc wanted a followup ultrasound, so I wheeled myself over there this morning.

Since the Temple VA is on the slope of a hill crossing the street means I have to go downhill to the intersection to cross then uphill to the hospital which sits back a ways from the entrance. When you’re in a wheel chair you’re pushing your own mass, your own body weight plus the weight of the chair. For me that means pushing 300 pounds up a hill. I can do it but it’s work. Fortunately some nice guy jumped out of his car and wheeled me up most of the way today. Usually I have to do it myself.

So, they did the ultrasound and confirmed I have two very large stones and one smaller one in there. Based on the conversation I had with the doc last time, he will recommend I get an operation that removes the gall bladder. They don’t take it out, they just do a small probe and cut the part where the bladder is connected to the liver. What that will do is make it so I can’t eat fatty foods anymore without incurring diarrhea. It will force me to forgo them. Not that I eat them that much but I do love the occasional bacon and eggs breakfast.

I see the doctor again on Tuesday so we’ll see what he says but me made it sound as if I should do it because someday I will have a problem and it’s a very unpleasant experience when you have gall stone issues.

Oh, and they said I have a kidney stone, too. Joy.

Fun fun fun! How was your day?

Biding My Time

Healing from my leg wound is a long slow process, and its coming along but the days are ticking by. I haven’t worked since October, mainly because I am house bound for all intents and purposes and can’t interview for jobs other than by teleconference. Temple is a small town so there are no web developer jobs here. I am looking at April at the earliest before I can get back to looking for work. So the donations I have received from my fund and the help of theHero Initiative has kept me going. I can’t appreciate it enough.

When March comes to a close I will have to start worrying about finding a place to live again and figuring out how to get by until I get back into the work force. Until then I am working on my two novels and doing my best to keep my spirits up, I have a nurse come and see me three times a week and I made a couple of friends around here tough I don’t see them much. It’s been a long lonely time, but that god for the internet and Facebook. I can keep in touch with people that way and of course, by phone.

There is also the possibility of remote work. That’s where I can work from wherever I have an internet connection. More of those types of jobs re becoming a reality which is great. I hope to land one if I can.

Meanwhile, I hope to have some good news soon on a project. More on that later.

Vonnegut on the Shape of Stories

People are laughing in this video but legendary author Kurt Vonnegut is right on the money. This is how most stories are “shaped”. What separates the good from the bad is the way it’s finessed. Pacing is critical to the success of a narrative but also, believably. Does the reader buy what you are selling them?

Today’s Progress Photo

As promised, for those of you wh are curious. Here is the photo of my wound today after the nurse removed my dressing, It’s shrunk down and the tunnels have all closed up. They were really deep. You can also see little dead tissue. It’s a healthy pink color.

I showed a side by side comparison for reference. Still a ways to go but I am making progress. I see the doc again on Tuesday.

Healing Progress

So, many of you who have read about my foot amputation and healing have only, up to now, imagined what that entailed. I figured some of you would be interested in pictures so you could see the progress from start till now, as its taken months. I lost my foot on Halloween and it’s still healing. Part of this is due to complications which I will detail below. So here are the pictures. WARNING: They are pretty intense so I am only making them visible from links. If you don’t like gory stuff don’t click because it’s ugly. This is what I have been dealing with all this time.

So this first picture is of my foot before the first operation. They tried to save it at first. You can see how red my leg is from infection and under those bandages were huge pus blisters. I’ll spare you that shot but this is our starting point. My foot became infected because I had an ulcer on it that started as a blister and didn’t heal due to diabetes. It was healing but it took months and while I took care to clean it everyday and bandage it, it still got infected some how. The infection had turned septic which means it got in my blood and I was close to death before I check myself into the hospital. I just thought I was sick from something. Because I had waited too long the infection had progressed enough that it was shutting down my organs. If I waited another day I might have died. This is why you should not put off the doctor if you have a serious sickness. I was so weak when I checked myself in I could barely get out of a chair.

The docs operated on my foot, cutting away dead tissue and you can see all that black meat inside is also dead. My foot was too far gone at this point. Those blisters are of puss and there were more than you can see here.

So I told the doc it was ok to take my foot. It was the source of my infection, and it had got into my bones. if it wasn’t removed it would have infected the rest of me and I could not risk that. This is what the amputation looked like afterward. They sew a skin flap from your leg over to cover the cut and it heals eventually with little scarring. Provided there are no complications, it should heal in a month.

Of course, the day I got out of the hospital I fell on my stump in my landlady’s garage as I was trying to get inside the house. I transferred to a walker they gave me which was a piece of junk and lost my balance. I fell on concrete. It surprisingly didn’t hurt but I bruised some ribs. However, it caused the dreaded complications afterward when I had my dressing changed I saw this necrotic tissue. And deep inside the leg tunneling started which are big gaps that fill with dead blood that becomes clots. I needed another operation.

So this is after the first operation. They cut away all the dead flesh. Inside you see white gunk which is also dying flesh and that had to be cut away in a second procedure. Notice how big the hole in my leg is. What isn’t easy to see here is the tunnels. But they were three inches deep and went in different directions. They had to heal from the inside before I could get this closed up again.

So they cut that stuff out and put me on a wound vac. It’s a small device attached to a tube that goes to the would which is sealed in a clear plastic. It sucks out all the fluids and dead blood to keep the would fresh. This little machine runs 24/7 and goes with me everywhere but it cuts healing time in half. The doctor said I was looking at 3-4 more months without it. And there was always the risk of more infection. The wound vac sucks away all the fluids that were at risk of getting infected. A nurse comes by three times a week to change the dressing so the seal is kept clean and tight.

She came today but I forgot to take a picture of where it is now. I will post that on Friday so you can see how far I have come. I am happy to say the tunneling has closed up and the would has shrunk. It’s still about 7×4 centimeters but it’s pink and looking good. Come back for the update on Friday if you are interested.

I suspect I will have to be here another month or so before its all healed. We’ll see. Then my next step is to try to get a prosthetic foot so I can get out of this wheel chair and walk again.

What I really hate is I have been out of work all this time and can’t apply for any jobs until I am healed because I am stuck in this small town where there are no jobs for what I do (Internet Developer). Fortunately people have donated generously to my fund and that has allowed me to pay my bills and stay off the streets and fed. The Hero Initiative has paid for my motel costs for these two months I will be staying here and that has been a huge help.

I will probably be unable to work till April and then I will also have to somehow find a place to live, so I can still use some help. Anything you can do is a blessing and is much appreciated. Thank you.

Catching Up

Since I have moved to my temporary digs in Temple, TX I’ve been catching up on my sleep mostly. This is the first day I didn’t take a nap. Yesterday I had two of them. It’s great to be able to sleep without interruption and be able to take my pain meds when I need them and not on a dose scheduled. Yes, I follow directions but I do need them at night. My leg aches like hell sometimes.

Meanwhile, I’ve also been working on my late novels. Working out plot elements and scenes. They are more complicated than my first book and I was cavalier about setting release dates before I even got into them. Hopefully people will feel the wait was worth it,

I am also talking to a publisher or two interested in collecting my library of work which I am happy to see happen. More on that later.

Dan Brereton and I are looking to do a 25th anniversary of the Psycho tribute book. We’re talking to artists and will be making more announcements soon, I hope.

And finally I am excited to report I secured a booth at San Diego Comicon International this year. I hope to make it an annual thing.

Back from Waco

I’ve been offline for over six weeks mainly because the place I was living, the VA CLC in Waco, TX (CLC = Community Living Center) did not have Wifi or Internet except for the staff. Such a strange six weeks it was too.

As I outlined before, I lost my foot on Halloween due to an infection and have been getting medical care since while it heals. I had complications with the wound and had to get regular, even daily wound care. Since I was out of work and homeless to boot, the CLC was a place I could stay and get the help I needed for awhile. I needed to stop bleeding money paying for motel rooms while I was looking for a place to live. I spent so much time at the VA I never found a place, and I couldn’t work because I was seeing doctors all the time. The CLC was a way to keep me off the streets and get care.

But it’s not a resort. The Waco CLC is a nursing care home in an old 1950s building where they have vets who need nursing care and they threw in mental health patents as well, so it was like being in an institution with bad food (make that horrible) and hard beds which you rarely got to sleep in anyway because they were always coming around to check on you, give you meds, take your vitals, etc. It was considered a hospital to the staff, but they also had different programs there and a kind of rec room of sorts. The staff was nice but that was only one of the few rays of sunshine there. The VA was not spending much money on these vets care. Many of them had lost their mind in Vietnam. Or were disabled. I was hardly the only amputee there.

I wanted out almost as soon as I got there but I knew I had to take my lumps because I needed the care. But I found I couldn’t eat the food and the lack of sleep was making me really long for a real bed and peace and quiet. The staff and patients were always yelling in the halls and one guys only means of communication was screaming incoherently. He would do that a lot at meal time in the room where they fed us and had to be fed like a baby by a nurse. Other people left TVs on loudly all night in their rooms. Or they had huge hacking coughs or they would babble stuff to themselves. The first three days I was there I was in a room with a blind and deaf paranoid 80+ year old man who constantly talked when he wasn’t sleeping and you had to yell to communicate with him. He would get mad if you asked him not to talk because you needed sleep. He would just talk more and the stuff he said was absolutely nuts.

Fortunately, people have been helping me by donating to my fund and a charity called the Hero Initiative is also helping me with the costs of getting a motel room in a long term stay place across from the Temple, Texas VA hospital. So yesterday I got out of the CLC and into my new one bedroom where I have a little kitchen and a living room and it’s quiet and peaceful. I still have at least a month or more of healing to do. So I need to stay here until then. I can’t get a prosthetic foot and walk again until I heal. At least now I can relax and get back online. I have plenty of time to work on my novels.

If you want to help me by donating to my fund so I can pay some bills or buy food here’s the link. Or please support the Hero Initiative who have been great.

Thanks to everyone who has helped me to date, I am so grateful you have no idea. I feel blessed despite my many hardships.

Things are Improving

It’s been a while since my last blog post. Since then I discovered my job ended due to something unrelated to me or my stay in the hospital. And to be honest, I couldn’t have kept it up anyway because I’ve spent so much time with doctors in the time I’ve been out of the hospital. In fact, my leg needs almost daily wound care for the time being so I am checking into a long term facility in Waco by the VA where I will get care and can heal up. It will also keep me off the streets for over a month and save me all those motel bills.

My fund has been depleted by cab fares and motel stays as I didn’t even have time to look for a place and couldn’t check tem out if I wanted to. I didn’t have the means as I can’t drive currently. But fortunately I have also been accepted by Metro Access so I can get inexpensive transport to appointments by the city’s disabled transport service. It’s hard to get into so I am relieved I was accepted.

I feel good and I think I am getting better. Despite the one area on my leg that they’re watching most of it is healing nicely. So I hope it will be healed up in a few weeks or so. And hopefully I will get the rehab I need so I can get a prosthetic limb in a couple months and start walking again.

Naturally, being out of work for another month will cut into my funds even more, and I will need money to get a place when I get out but at least I won’t have to pay for my stay in Waco.

As I have from the start I remain committed to getting back on my feet and back to work as soon as possible. My attitude has remained positive and this whole experience has been valuable for my character development. It has really opened my eyes about what its like to be handicapped and dependent on people. I have always been a fiercely independent person but some people don’t have that luxury. I have learned that through this experience. It is teaching me a lot and helped me appreciate many things a lot more. My friends have really been a great help as has the comics community. Thanks to all who have supported my cause.

Homeless and Jobless

Here’s the latest on my situation. I got out of the hospital on Thursday. That day I had got the word that my job was gone, They decided to close the project I was on and said they will hire me when they start another but they don’t know when that will be. And because I am in a wheel chair I can’t live in my old place so I am currently living in motels trying to find somewhere to live, that’s affordable and accessible in Austin. I don’t doubt I will be working again. My skills are in demand. But I have to find a place to stay soon before my money runs out.

It’s ironic, I came to Austin from San Diego in September for a job I thought was going to last a while. I came here to start fresh. Well, I guess the second part is true. Starting in a strange town where I know so few people and being disabled is a new one and a daunting challenge. But those are the cards I’ve been dealt.

All I can do is keep looking and hope for the best. I can’t say how much I appreciate the support I’ve been given by so many people. You have my undying thanks.