Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Back at home

Sorry I never updated this page during my hospital stay. The computer was never brought up from the car, as I never really had the desire to get on it.

Surgery went well. I will make a few entries in the near future to get everyone caught up in regards to the procedure and follow-up.
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Saturday, November 29, 2003

I've promised to make this entry for a while, so here it is....

I have earlier made comments about an accident a couple of years back, which was the catalyst for the upcoming amputation surgery. I have shared this story several times verbally, but this is the first time to do it in print, so here goes:

One of my best friends was building a 60'x40' shop for one of his favorite hobbies: Car Restoration. Anthony is a GM muscle car man, and has a nice variety of examples. The shop was designed to have a paint-bay, a vehicle lift, small office and work bench. The exterior of the building was done, and it was time to pour the concrete floor. The previous weekend was spent laying plumbing lines for the paint bay and small restroom, and final preparations for the concrete. On Monday June 25, 2001, the guys Anthony contracted with to help with the concrete arrived and we started work. The rebar work was first, and these guys showed us the ropes. We had originally planned to spend the Monday getting all the rebar in and then have the concrete trucks come on Tuesday. By 11am, we had decided we were moving ahead with enough speed, that we could have a couple of concrete loads poured that afternoon, so the call was made.

Around noon, the first truck arrived. While no one was assigned a particular duty, since I was near the main entrance door (approx 10' wide by 14' tall), I decided to climb up the wall to check the height of the truck. Just as we were afraid, the truck would barely fit under the door, and once the concrete was removed, it would be too tall to exit. Anthony got his tractor out and we started to 'trench out' the entrance of his shop. We finally got enough dirt removed that we felt confident the truck would be able to leave when empty. The first truck was brought in, and we proceeded to pour the concrete in the back third of the shop. When that driver pulled out, the concrete company was contacted for another truck to be dispatched.

Second truck arrives near the 2 o'clock hour. It appeared the second truck was taller than the first one. As it started backing toward the entrance, I again climbed up the wall to check its height. Since I had been up and down the wall several times during the building of the shop, I got careless in my actions. When I got to the top of the door, while reaching around the door frame to grab onto the ledge, I started leaning to the side to get an "eyeball on the truck". The next few moments happened in slow-motion, at least to me (skip this next paragraph if you are squeamish):

While leaning, I never got the hand-hold I was needed and started to fall. I started waving my arms around in a circle to keep my balance, and started looking at the ground, trying to figure out what was below. The only thing below me was the area we had earlier dug out for the first truck to get in, and that was surface was now at a sideways angle. When my right foot touched the ground, I saw my foot and ankle roll to the right, then disappear from sight. I then distinctly remember seeing two whitish 'sticks' just above where my ankle had just been but then those two sticks jabbed into the ground. While falling, I was trying to remember not to fall backwards, as the door frame had a sharp metal corner that would tend hurt if hit and as such I tumbled forward. When I looked down at my leg, my right foot was not at the end of my leg, but my leg was curved at a 90 degree angle a few inches above my ankle. The two sticks I saw were the tibia and fibula, and I was still looking at them (now covered in dirt).

At this point, while not feeling any pain yet, I proceed to start yelling, "It's broke! It's broke!". When the guys came to where I was, the looks in their eyes was not what I wanted to see. (Quick Note: I had been a police office for 8+ years prior to this, leaving that profession a few years prior to this accident. As such, I had learned to keep a cool head on my shoulders in times of emergencies. This training started paying off very quickly). Not being the shy type, I started instructing each of the guys their "duty assignments". "Anthony, your cell phone is on the dash of your truck, call 911", "You, go to the intersection, wait for the ambulance and direct them here", "You, go tell that truck driver to move that truck so the ambulance can get in here", "You, take a few steps to the right, so you will block the sun from my eyes". I was a regular bossy guy, but I wasn't to concerned at the moment.

I have no idea what it is like to be looking down at a close friend and see, what appears to be, a leg severed from a body. Please realize that I love Anthony to death, always have and always will. But the next part is somewhat humorous, now that time has past. Anthony was stumbling across his words when talking to the 911 dispatcher. I told Anthony what to tell them, even down to the point of "compound fracture, right tib/fib". Once the dispatcher was through talking and told Anthony to hang-up, I asked him to call my wife. Again, I have no idea how it feels to call the wife of a close friend, so I just asked for the phone and told her what was going on. Then, for some unknown reason, I called my office to let them know I wouldn't be in the next day. All this time I wasn't feeling any pain, but it never registered in my brain that I should be hurting.

After what seemed like hours (was more likely just a few minutes), we finally heard the ambulance siren. When it finally pulled in, and the EMTs rushed to me, I saw that same look in their eyes, as I had just experienced with the other guys. The EMTs immediately went into the 'calm talking mode' to reassure the patient, something I had observed and done several times during my law enforcement days. Once they realized I wasn't freaking out on them, nor was I writhing in pain, they started the exercise of securing my leg as best possible with the equipment from their ambulance and got me loaded. As long as I live, I will never forget Anthony coming around the back of the ambulance to check on me prior to us driving away (Anthony, I won't share our conversation here, we have already had our own private laughs about it).

I don't remember being scared, until the ambulance driver turned on the siren when we headed to the hospital. I always believed that a code three run to the hospital meant bad news for the patient. When I questioned the EMT working on me about it, he advised it was policy for a "hot run" whenever a compound fracture is involved. To this day, I don't know if it really is policy, or just his 'calm talking' routine again. When we finally got to the hospital, and rolled back into the emergency room, it wasn't long until I felt true comfort. This happened when I heard the familiar squeaking of the wheels from my daughter's stroller. That signaled to me that my wife was there.

While this day still has a lot of writing to do, I think I will save it for a future entry.

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Sunday, November 16, 2003

Been sitting around, tying up the phone line.

Yep, I am still on a dial-up connection at the house. You might ask, "Why would a technically savvy guy like me still obtain his internet connection via an outdated method such as a phone cord and 56.6 modem?".

Two reasons:
     1. It's a lot cheaper!
     2. If I need speed, I am only a few minutes from the office, which has a T-1 line

Today has been a fun day of tickle-wars with the girls, reading a few books to Hope and getting caught up on numerous emails from my boss. I don't think my boss ever sleeps. I thought I spent a long time on the computer when at home, but I don't even hold a candle to the amount of time he spends behind a keyboard.

On to more important things .... I sent out an update email message to many of my friends this last week about my upcoming surgery. Since then, I have had a trickle of replies on a daily basis, all of which are very supportive in nature, and reminding me I am being remembered in many of their prayers. Some have even mentioned the fact they have marked that date on their calendar for additional prayers that day. It goes without saying, but the Lord has blessed me with tremendous friends!

I have spent several hours (either prior to going to sleep or just after waking up) wondering what it will be like the first few days after the surgery. I'm not talking about the pain. I have dealt with enough pain (so far) that the additional pain isn't worrying me. It will initially be dealt with by a nerve block procedure, then I will move to a narcotic additive to my IV (most likely morphine), then I will move to an oral medication, prior to being released. After what I have been through, this isn't surprising or new. What I have been thinking about is the idea of not having anything other than a residual limb (the new politically correct term for a stump) below my right knee. Renee has asked me about my thoughts, and I really couldn't answer her very well.

At times, the thought is very over-whelming, but I realize that change is needed for me to proceed through this period in my life. Change is what brought me to this point and change is what is going to see me through it.

The last two weeks at Life Church (Stillwater campus) have been on the idea of Joy. Week One was Joy: Joyful No Matter "What". The main thought of the day was that when bad things come our way, instead of asking "Why?", we need to be asking "What?". The first question would be "Now What?". Examples:
     Now what is God doing?
     Now what is God's purpose?
     Now what does God want to show me?
     Now what does God what to do through this?
     Point: God can change obstacles into opportunities
     Point: God can change our setbacks into setups

The other questions is "So What?". Is this a situation that is really going to be important in 100 years? What does it matter? In the original language, the phrase Tis gar plen is used, and it roughly translates to "so what?". Generally, the things that tend to freak us out the most are the things that don't matter in the long run. We need to address the things that are very important, and they need to be addressed with intensity,integrity and passion.

Week two contained additional useful information, but the above stuff has really helped me (mentally).
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Saturday, November 15, 2003

A few changes have occurred.

For those who have been following my blog for a while may have noticed a few formatting changes when first observing this post.

The sidebar on the right has been modified to include the sections "My Info" and "Blogs I follow:". As you can see, there really isn't that much info in the "My Info" area. I might put additional stuff there later, who knows.

So far, the blogs I link to are maintained by two of my co-workers. I have earlier mentioned the site titled "The Internet Ate My Homework" as the one that opened my eyes to the idea of blogging. (I again advise all my readers that my site will never be as interesting to read as Joe's, 'cause he is just that interesting of a guy). The other site, "Behind the Times...", is maintained by Kevin, but you would already know that if you had followed the link. It was after seeing Kevin's for the first time that I decided to add the two additional sections to the sidebar. One of my favorite sayings is: "Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery", and as such, I am striving to imitate some of the features Joe and Kevin utilize.

Well, the third quarter of the OSU v. Kansas game is getting ready to start, so I guess I will sign off for now. Go Pokes!
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Friday, November 14, 2003

A new web page was just published, highlighting the "Ertl Procedure"

I am a member of an amputee mailing list, and one of the other members just posted the following:

There is a new website I wanted you all to know about. www.ertlreconstruction.com
In time it will become a resource and clearinghouse for information about the Ertl Procedure. If you are an Ertl amputee and would like your story added to the website please contact webmaster@ertlreconstruction.com

For all those who are wondering about the differences between the Ertl Procedure and the 'regular method', I hope this web site will have a simple explanation, in plain English, soon.
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Wednesday, November 12, 2003

The date has been set...

After getting caught up with all the paper-work that piled up during my morning absence, I now have a chance to highlight my morning.

Without getting into all the "horror stories" about the possibility of child care for my girls, it was decided upon taking them with us to the doctor's office. While it wasn't much fun for them, the reports from the office staff indicate they were perfect little princesses!

I signed in for my 8:45 appointment at 8:44 and only had about a 5 minute wait to get called back to the 'little room'. Dr. Ertl arrived very shortly later (this is really a class operation, I have never had to wait long for anything at this office) and proceeded to get caught up on how I have been for the past couple of months. After going through the expected "are you sure you want to do this?" type of conversations, we got down to business. Again, Dr. Ertl is, in my opinion, the easiest doctor to talk with I have every come across, either as a result of my accident or any other doctor/patient visit I have had. Dr. Ertl took a few minutes to examine my leg a little closer, then asked Jonathan Day (Chief of Prosthetics - the guy who is going to build my leg) to come in for a quick consultation about the upcoming surgery. Dr. Ertl then located a calendar and we decided Dec 4, 2003 was the day to have the surgery (22 days from now).

Remember when I said Dr. Ertl was easy to talk with? Put Jonathan up in that same league as well! Long after Dr. Ertl left, Jonathan stayed behind to discuss all of what to expect, in the area of prosthetic needs. I won't go into everything now (I need to save something to write about later).

Gotta get back to work, so I will wrap this up for now. Thanks for following so far!

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Well, I don't know what to say....

Well, I just got through reading an email message from a close friend of mine, one of the few who actually read this blog. He pointed out to me that I start a lot of my entries with "Well, ..."

Well, after reading through the last few, you know what? He was right. I was thinking about going back and editing some, but decided against it. I have had a very hectic morning, and will report in on the doctor's appointment when I have a few minutes.

Well, that's about it for now. (Thanks for pointing that out to me Joe)
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Monday, November 10, 2003

Well, it's been a while since the last posting....

Well, I am back to the blog again. I have been gone a while during a 'side-trip' in an attempt to bypass the amputation. that appears to have not been as productive as hoped, so I have an appointment with Dr. Ertl in two days (Wednesday, 12 Nov). Looks like we are going to schedule the surgery for sometime right after Thanksgiving.

Will keep you updated ...
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Tuesday, September 30, 2003

... and it's only Tuesday

Well, I was short on time in the first post of the day, and you are about to understand why.......

Yesterday, prior to my going to Oklahoma City for a doctor's appointment and the tests, when I was getting ready, my pager was constantly doing the 'vibrate alarm dance' on my desk. Every time I would check it, it was to notify me that one of our campus servers had decided to takes it's own "fall break" or that one of the technicians had brought it returned it to service. When checking the message on the last pager message of the morning, I was floored with the message of "(co-worker's name) passed away on Sunday. Contact the office for further information" WHAT?!? I just saw him last week! It was a known fact that he had a heart condition, but he had just completed an angioplasty (the balloons and stints in the arteries) on Thursday of last week. But he was supposed to have been fine. MB: you will be missed :-(

Forward to Tuesday morning. I realize the voice mail message I (thought I) left for my boss and co-workers, advising them I was going to be out Monday morning due to a very bad headache, didn't make it through the system. CRUD! Then when going through the email from the previous weekend and Monday, I find that I have been invited to a Re-organization meeting. Oh Great, what now?

Re-Org meeting: Turns out, my team, which I have taken a few years to build, into a very cohesive, productive, highly respected team has been split due to the re-org. Three of my team are going to an co-manager I have been working with, however, my right-hand man gets to stay with me. Without getting into our support structure here at the university, I am now in charge of second level technical support for the university. In that respect, I ended up OK as a result of the re-org.

... and it's only Tuesday
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Not official, but.... (short post)

Completed the tests yesterday afternoon (had a 4:00 PM appointment). While I haven't received the official report from the doctor or the specialist tasked with reading the results, the technician running the tests advised everything looked fine. Blood flow and oxygen saturation were all within normal limits. As a result, we should have no problems proceeding with a below knee.

(I won't officially know this until the Oct 8th appointment though :-)
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Friday, September 26, 2003

Office Managers are so cool!

Well, called the office manager and calmly advised her of the situation. She told me she would call me back within 30 minutes.

29 minutes later, my phone rings. Guess who? Yep, the nice office manager. She got on the phone with the manager of the testing area to find out what all appointments were available, then contacted her staff to determine what had happened in my case. Turns out, the testing area had a 4pm appointment available on the Monday I requested. However, since my tests would have gone into 'over-time' for the technician(s) involved, Person1 decided to take the next available (much like at a restaurant). Well, the nice office manager called the testing area manager back and explained the 'confusion' over the past week. The manager approved over-time for the technician(s) involved with my testing.

Needless to say, the office manager asked me to be there as quickly as possible after my previously scheduled appointment, so the tests can start as early as possible. I may have that amputation this year after all!

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Well, I just got off the phone with Person1 (had to call her!). After waiting on hold for approximately 10 minutes, Person1 comes on the phone and tells me she just got off the phone with the testing group (hum, wonder why she just called them?). First available appointment is the following Monday, Oct 06. As a result, I may have to move my Oct 08 appointment with Dr. Ertl back another week, so he can get the test results. Earlier in the week I was advised it takes 3-5 days to get the tests results to the doctor, now they are telling me that they can be obtained in 24 hours. If Dr. Ertl didn't have the reputation he does, I would have serious doubts about this organization.

Time to call an office manager!

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I hope it isn't always this hard!

I spoke with Dr. Ertl on Friday (19 Sept) at 1:30pm, and he advised me to schedule a tcpO2, venous doppler and arterial doppler tests, in preparation for my upcoming amputation. He then transferred me to Person1 (name withheld to protect the guilty). She advised that she would get with the group responsible for the tests and call me back. I told her I would be in OKC on Monday, 29 Sept, and would like to get the testing done on that day. Also stating, it might be Monday before I hear back from them.

Monday comes and goes, with no word from Person1.
Tuesday rolls around, and I finally decide to call and check on the appointments. Well, Person1 isn't available, as she has been in training sessions Monday-Wednesday of that week. However, they will pass the information on to Person2 and she should get back with me.
Wednesday: At 11am I call and am told that Person2 has received the message, but needs to confirm the request for test from Dr. Ertl. I call back later that afternoon, and Person2 tells me that Person1 will be back in the office on Thursday, and that Person1 can resolve the issue then. (are you seeing any ongoing theme here?)
Thursday: called and spoke with Person1. She hasn't heard back from the area responsible for the testing. however, she advises she will get back with me this afternoon, if she hears from them. At 4:45, I call to talk with Person1 again, but get the lovely recording advising the office closed at 4:30. ARGH!
Friday:8:55am - called and spoke with Person1 again. Still no word from testing area, but she promises to get on the phone with them as soon as she get through with the item she is dealing with at the current time.

At this rate, I expect to have my amputation in early 2005!

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Monday, September 22, 2003

Research, research, research....

Well, I have been spending most of my lunch and coffee breaks researching prosthetics and the like. I have found nothing but good to great (a little OSU humor there) about Dr Ertl and the Ertl procedure. That part of the equation appears to be quite easy to deal with, other parts are starting to make me think a lot. It's not that I am confused as to whether the procedure should be done, I know that it is needed. I haven't been able to determine where I am at, mentally speaking.

I should be hearing back from Dr. Etrl's office sometime today (or tomorrow) about the scheduling for my pre-surgical tests. There are three to be done: TCPO2, Venus Doppler & Arterial Doppler. These tests are to determine how much oxygen is being delivered to my leg in the blood system, and how much damage I may have in the veins and arteries (after I find out more specifics, I'll let you know). Dr. Ertl advises he normally only has these test run on older patients and those with bad cases of diabetes (and, I guess, those who have had massive amounts of reconstruction between the knee and toes).

Back to the research.... I think I am just confusing myself a little more each day, since I really don't know how the whole "leg building" process is going to work. When I see the odd shapes of the feet that are out there, I have no idea as to how I am supposed to put them inside shoes. I guess that is why I have Jonathan, to show me how to use what he builds for me. It sends a chill up my spine when I think about the possibility of getting to go for a walk again with Renee. A trip around Boomer Lake sounds really nice, right about now. That normally takes about an hour, at a slow pace, and while I don;t talk much during the walk, I miss that time with her. Having Sarah and Hope with us also sounds good.

Hey, I don't plan on using blogspot to much for commercials, however: If you haven't checked out LAUNCHcast by Yahoo yet, you need to do so. LAUNCHcast allows you to 'build' your own internet radio station, around the artist/genres you like. Also involved is the ability to rate songs/albums/artists so that they get the weight value you desire. You can also indicate which artists you never want to hear again. Drawback: LAUNCHcast throws some weird songs/artists out once in a while, but I just blacklist them when I see them.
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Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Well, I guess it's official now....

I had an eventful Monday, in the way of doctor visits.

(Note: remind me to tell you about my accident on June 25, 2001 and all the happenings since then. My wife Renee keeps telling me I need to write a book, I guess I could start the manuscript here)

Back to Monday.
The day started off by dropping off my girls (13 & 3) at Renee's friend's house.

Then off to see Dr. K. I have been seeing Dr. K for about a year, as a result of excruciating pain in the ankle (as a result of the accident briefly mentioned above). In December, 2002, after a few office visits, Dr. K performed a surgery consisting of hardware removal, ankle fusion and local bone graft. To make a long story short, that surgery didn’t help, and I had to have an additional surgery to get the hardware from December removed. Dr. K wanted an MRI to attempt to locate the cause of the pain. An MRI was done last week, and Monday was my ‘review the MRI findings’ day.
Bad news: Dr. K, and others, are unable to determine the medical reason for the pain, and advises he has nothing further available to him to assist me. A couple of months back, I had mentioned to him that I had even thought about amputation, as a possible resolution. Dr K advised that my options now were either pain management via narcotics and/or continue discussions with Dr. Ertl (my amputation specialist – more to follow).

Following a relaxing lunch at Panera Bread, it was off to see the pain management specialist, Dr. S.

Dr. S spend a good deal of time inquiring as to how my current medication was working for me. After Renee and I explained our observations (and observations from friends), he decided it was time to change medications. He explained that the stuff I was currently taking was actually, gram for gram, stronger than morphine. However, the stuff he wanted to put me on was actually stronger than that. So strong in fact, that instead of being measured in milligrams, it is actually measured in micrograms. Also, it is dispensed via a 72 hour patch. The only kicker: I would have to stop taking my current medication when I put the patch on, even though it takes approx. 48-72 hours for the patch medication to kick in. (that was a miserable 2.5 days, in regards to the ankle pain). I have a two week supply of the patches, and have to return in two weeks for a follow-up review, before I get any more patches.

I have placed a call into Dr. Ertl’s office to determine what steps we need to take (no pun intended) in order to get the ultimate surgery scheduled. In a previous appointment, Dr. Ertl had mentioned the need for several tests to determine the actual health of my leg, prior to an amputation.

I will provide more information in the future, as well as explain the difference between using Dr. K & Dr. S naming convention, but then naming Dr. Ertl's actual name. I will aslo explain the June 25, 2001 day as some point.

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Sunday, September 07, 2003

How I got started...

Well, I thought I would share the site of the guy that got me into 'blogging'. While mine will never be as interesting as his, I hope you will continue to read mine after visiting his:
The Internet Ate My Homework
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Enought playing with this thing

Well, I had to see exactly how the BlogThis! button on the Google bar worked. Seems pretty straight forward.

This is a page I like to read on a daily basis, even to the fact of having it as one of my Avantgo custom links:
Comedian Argus Hamilton

Well, I have played with this template enough for now. Guess it is time to head off to bed. night-night!
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Initial Post (just set this thing up)

Well, I just set this thing up. This has been a long week, remind me to tell you about it some time.
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