Sunday, November 29, 2009

Two Thanksgivings

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It has all the good feelings and visiting with family and friends that Christmas has, but doesn't have the craziness of shopping, wrapping and money spend that goes with Christmas.

Skip and I have hosted our fair share of Thanksgiving dinners, including a number with both her parents and mine in attendance. The days where we hosted are long gone, though, and we have benefited from the generosity of family and friends for many years.

This year, we went to Thanksgiving at the home of our friends D&D. They are famous for their dinners and parties for friends and family, and deservedly so. One of them used to be a chef and we first met them by having dinner at the restaurant they owned. There were 15 of us at dinner. Family for both D's and friends gathered at a table set with wonderful, traditional stuff ... turkey, gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, mashed butternut squash, warm rolls, cranberry sauce, roasted brussels sprouts (these were a revelation as I'd never had them roasted before).

We ate well, watched football, had a chance to visit with folks and really enjoyed ourselves. Skip was up and in her wheelchair for longer than she has been of late, and she tolerated it well.

The plan had been for me to cook a turkey and fixings on Friday so we'd have leftovers, since what is Thanksgiving without them? D&D had a ton of food left, including a second turkey that hadn't even been cut into for dinner, and loaded us down with a bit of everything. I reheated it all on Friday evening and we enjoyed it immensely. Our turkey went into the freezer for some weekend during the winter when roast turkey followed by turkey soup and turkey tetrazini will be quite welcome.

My parents saw my sister and her husband and four boys on Thanksgiving day, so they invited my brother, his wife and three kids and Skip and me for yesterday, Saturday, at their house on Cape Cod. My dad's aide would do all the cooking and cleanup so we could even be lazy to boot. With her wound, Skip wasn't up to the trip (four hours of jostling in the car over the round trip was especially a concern). I waited around at home until 3pm for the nurse to come and change Skip's packing and bandage, then got her up and in the chair and headed down to the Cape. Fortunately for me, dinner was scheduled for 6pm because my nephew had to work and wouldn't arrive until 5:30. I got to my parents' house about 10 minutes before he did.

We sat down to a lovely dinner of boneless rib roast, scalloped potatoes, broccoli with aioli sauce, creamed onions (one of my mother's specialties) and fruited breads my sister-in-law made. My brother's kids are all in their 20s and have turned into great young adults. I am not so comfortable with kids and never really knew what to say to them or my sister's kids when they were young. Now, they're of an age where I find it much easier to chat with them and, I'm sure, they're more comfortable talking with me.  I didn't get much chance to chat with my parents on this visit, but I know they were very happy to see us all together, breaking bread and having lively conversations.

And, the entire group, with my sister's family added in, is getting back together the Saturday after Christmas at my parents' house. I'm very much hoping Skip will be up to that trip. And, if she comes, we'll bring the pups along, too. They'll get serious loving from all my nieces and nephews.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

On Then Off

The box containing the wound vacuum and supplies arrived on Tuesday morning. Tuesday afternoon, the wound nurse installed it. It worked fine, suctioning and burbling through the night. On a lift Wednesday morning, the vacuum seal was broken. Unfortunately, before I could reseal it with fresh adhesive, the black sponge inside the wound unraveled and fell out.

The wound nurse said she'd come over on Wednesday afternoon to insert a new sponge and get the vac going again. Unfortunately, when she came to look at it, her assessment was there was too much slough in the wound to use the vac. Apparently, you shouldn't use it if the wound's surface has too much slough and Skip's wound didn't pass the test.

So, she put in some Aquacell AG for overnight. Today, Thanksgiving, she came in the late morning (even though she isn't working today!) and changed the dressing. She was very pleased with the results of the Aquacell AG overnight and expects we'll keep using that until the next steps are worked out with Skip's MD.

At this point the nurse will communicate with the plastic surgeon we're working with at the Wound Care Center to see if Skip should go in for surgery to be debrided so the vac can start back up as soon as possible.

Skip's physical therapist is recommending a specialized hospital bed that promotes circulation and requires Skip to stay in it virtually all day. Not sure when that will happen, but we're talking about taking the queen-sized platform bed out of the bedroom and replacing it with the hospital bed and a twin for me. This way, we can continue to sleep together but Skip can benefit from the therapeutic features of the hospital bed.

We're hoping the bed option gels together much faster than the wheelchair did. The wheelchair took over one year from point of selection to delivery.

Oh, and, Happy Thanksgiving, my American friends!

Monday, November 23, 2009

On the Brink of Vacuuming

I thought about the title of this post and thought things like "update on the wound" and "wound status" probably wouldn't be too enticing in the blogrolls of my fellow bloggers where I'm listed. Better to tease the potential reader with the title above.

Anyway, now that you're here... I'm back in the blog world with an update on Skip's wound.

We went on 4 successive Thursdays to the local wound clinic for debriding by a plastic surgeon. This is the process of removing slough and necrotic (aka dead) tissue from the wound to leave a nice, healthy wound bed, providing a good site for healing (FYI - do NOT go to Wikipedia to look up the definition of debriding unless you have a strong stomach. The photo accompanying the article is gruesome.). The second visit wasn't the most fruitful debridement because Skip's blood sugar was out of control (she has Type II diabetes) and they were very restrained as a result. They also sent us off to the Emergency Room after the appointment. Fortunately, Skip's blood sugar was returning back to normal in the ER so nothing further was required; we still have no idea why it was so high that day as the problem has not recurred, fortunately. The 3rd and 4th visits were very effective and the surgeon announced last Thursday that we could begin the vacuum wound treatments.

The device arrives tomorrow morning and the wound nurse and the nurse in charge of Skip's case are coming for the initial setup. From there on, nurses will come and change the sponge in the vacuum 3 times a week. We'll still need to visit the wound center every other week for a while for a check-in on progress and such. The projected time for healing is 4-6 months. Yikes!

Now that we're transitioning into the healing stage for the wound, the next thing to work on is Skip's environment to ensure such a horrible thing as this monster wound never occurs again. A Roho cushion for her wheelchair has been held up because the company that sourced her power chair are having issues getting Medicare to pony up the $24,000 for the chair and won't get the cushion until that's resolved. I'm not quite sure what the status is on the bed air mattress. We'll check in on that when the nurses come tomorrow. In the meantime, Skip is sleeping on her side (she's been sleeping on her back for years) and is spending afternoons when her aide isn't here lying down. She's changing her position through tilt and recline on her chair throughout the day.

I just checked in with Skip. The pain today is "so-so." Some days it spikes way up, some days it's moderate, but it never seems to go away. I'm looking forward to a pain-free day for Skip.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Blogging to Recommence Soon

I've been in an ugly place and haven't felt much point in blogging of late. I progressed past hyper-cranky into dread. I woke up feeling dread, felt it all day long and thought dreadful things as I tried to grab some sleep at the end of the day.

Dread is lifting, some hope is returning. Talk to you soon.