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Sunday, September 14, 2014

Unexpected Adversity...So What the HELL Else is NEW!??



On Monday September the 8th I woke up knowing that this was the day I had been looking toward as the final decision day concerning my lower right leg. I had spent the previous 7 weeks trying to enjoy the remainder of the summer and decide if I should proceed with an amputation or have another lengthy and painful fusion surgery. It was an agreement I made with my physician, Dr G------ during the last appointment I had w/him. It should have been a simple matter of deciding and setting a date/time for whatever surgery I chose.

As is typical with this 2 year long nightmare, it ended up becoming a huge, confusing mess  of misleading promises and poor communication on the doctor's side. So as I sit and type this out today I am no longer going to that surgeon...after agreeing to do the amputation...he decided that he did not feel comfortable doing it. It felt like a betrayal. I have an appointment with another surgeon in the Kalamazoo area, this time at Western Michigan University Hospital on Friday September 26 at 9:45am. Unfortunately my worst nightmare concerning the preparation for this procedure has taken place: I am starting over from scratch.

I have no idea except the old Doctor's word, which has proven worthless to me to go by that this is an appointment to move forward on amputation yet the different nurses and staff involved continuously refer to this as a "second opinion" and an appointment to discuss alternatives to lessening my great pain and discomfort. I am not even sure that this new surgeon will even do an amputation, though that is his specialty. I am quite heartbroken and the discouragement is so great that I do not want to continue on having to forge another relationship or start again with a multitude of tests, etc.

I realize that this must be God's will but I am weary and honestly do not know how much more I can endure without losing my mind.

That is where I am at the moment with this. I will continue to post updates but nearly a week has gone by with out my commenting on the decision I made and since many friends and family members were thinking about and praying for me...I felt compelled to communicate what the situation was at the moment. Thank you my friends for your love and continuous thoughts and prayers.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Descending Toward Despair....When The Rain Came.


The day was pleasant and it had been awhile since we had a really nice one around here. I was fully enjoying the opportunity to get outside and feel alive again...Suddenly, a strong line of Thunder-Storms followed by heavy rain showers moved in and washed away the once, nice and enjoyable day. Much like a rain front moving through...Depression can descend suddenly...often appearing from nowhere turning a bright, sun-shiny "emotional" day into a cool, wet and grey one reminiscent of today's weather.

I have been experiencing these type of sudden downturns in my mood more frequently in recent days. Certainly this is understandable since I am planning on having my right leg amputated as soon as practical after my doctor's appointment Monday morning. Still this is not a typical pattern for me and these "lows" are dangerously low at times. Despondent isn't too strong of a word in describing them.

In a way I was prepared for this and my faith has been more then adequate in combating these sudden swings for the the most part. But still they suck, he he he. All one can do is hold on and hang tough cause they too shall pass....and they always have.

Quite frankly I would be more concerned if I felt nothing at all out of the ordinary with all of this happening soon, basically just over the horizon.

The key here for me is simple:

Do not isolate, stay connected with the people who care about me and keep communicating well how I am feeling and what I am thinking, especially with Kimmi. I can visit some pretty darn dark places in my head so I just have to be sure I don't settle down and reside there for any length of time. 

Again...it is my connection to the Lord that keeps me moving forward and focusing on the things that are important. If I stay connected with HIM everything else seems to fall into place and I can proceed through this adversity and focus on those I love and what is important.  One Day At A Time!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

COUNTDOWN To...The DECISION


Jeez, I wish I knew the answer to the question that I am now asked more then any other..."Have you decided if you are going to amputate your leg or have another surgery?" Er....the answer changes...frequently in my mind, it sort of depends on how I'm feeling...I suppose. 


The answer most logical to me is that I should move forward with the amputation and get on with my life. It really is what I want to do....most of the time. And that last thought there at the end is the true stumbling block to making this an easy decision...."most of the time"


Because once in a great while I still have doubts about going through with it. Shoot, wouldn't you?! Hell yea anybody would and I think that is a most natural and NORMAL way to feel.


Who, I wonder...ever thinks they will have to face such a question as this one. There is no way to possibly prepare for it. It was completely unexpected....even when I knew that it must be coming because of the circumstance.


The impact of this illness and the aftermath, the sheer trauma involved in having to CHOOSE to cut of your right leg is tragic and mind numbing in it's difficulty and the legacy it will most definitely leave.


Am I fearful, it is asked? Yes...I am often afraid and frankly I feel no shame in feeling that way. My life has turned toward the surreal...full time. 


This experience has shaken me to the very core of my existence....straight through to my SOUL. It has shaken my faith, it has me questioning the love and friendship of those closest to me and brought out of me the old Ogre....MISTRUST. I often find that I do not trust anyone once again...no one can really understand this unless they've been there. But I know the mistrust is dangerous and it isolates a person when they need their friends & family the most.


But what can one man do but persevere...just keep pushing through the gale to find the port in the storm with it's calmer seas. So that is what one must do during these days of trial, uncertainty and such unbearable pain.


Until the next time...

Monday, August 25, 2014

Stones of Remembrance


'Tis a cliche I know but life, and this most certainly applies to my life...can be an adventure...as any life that is well lived should be, me thinks. Lately I have been reflecting back on said life....the ups...the downs and all that is in-between. In doing so it occurs to me that there are certain transition points or phases to it. These most often happen on their own accord and in my case it was usually is serious change and often trauma and/or a crisis that instigates and defines these phases.

The best example is when I found sobriety in June of 2006 and then followed that up several years later by becoming a Christian in the winter of 2011. What I have noticed now, much to my joy is that when I experience one of these "Remembrance or Sign-Points" in my life today it seems to be marked by a particular passage of scripture instead of just a major crisis. 

The first and most obvious example to me is how Luke 9:23-25 played such a significant role in my journey toward accepting Christ into my life.

(And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?) Luke 9:23-25
More recently...Joshua 1:9 has played an equally significant part in my transition toward accepting my eventual leg amputation and subsequent life as an amputee. It has made a huge difference in connecting the events happening to me today to the overall Will of God and how I can not only have the courage and perseverance to live through this current adversity but to grow and actually thrive as a Follower of Christ as well.

       "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”      Joshua 1:9      

Scripture.....These "Holy Stepping Stones" have guided me through the torrents of pain/uncertainty and the insidious searing red hot coals of emotional and spiritual chaos. They are now beacons on a dark night, ports of safety in the storm which has become my life of late. Spiritual food I not only now crave but demand for continuous life as a Follower of Christ. Their memory often will mark forever a moment of clarity leading to profound change in me or my life. At times they "only" represent but a brief moment of enlightenment, a twinkle in the Eye of LIFE ITSELF. 
                                                                                                                                   
 

Living all out....today is the goal....as good and as hard as I possibly can. And the reason for such a desire to live "hard", to fulfill the cup to it's most FULL? To Honor and GLORIFY the one who brought me here of course. This direction is as clear in my life today as any has ever been. There is NO grey area...no ambiguity or false pretense. 

I no longer accept mediocrity or half measures....and why should I. It is a fact of my life that I got sick and it turns out that this is no ordinary little illness....in fact I will lose a portion of my right leg below the knee, at the very least. So what have I got to lose by living to the utmost of my ability, full out with no hesitation to show with certainty why I am here, today, tomorrow and always....and that is to live for HIM.
                                                                                                                                                                                                 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Intensity of a Hopeful HEART


I have lived life pretty much to the fullest these last 52 years. I've had a vast and broad variety of experiences. From the routine & mundane to the outrageous, exciting and bizarre. I've gone from being shot at in a bar on the Short North End of my home-town, Columbus, Ohio to having the distinct privilege of being named the Godfather of my niece Katie, truly a special honor plus every other type of experience in between. 

But I'd have to say these past 19 months or so take the cake for their sheer madness and emotional upheaval. And honestly that isn't a totally negative thing...trust me.


Speaking of TRUST, that is an area of my life where the trials and tribulations of recent months have created an amazing change in me in a rather short period of time. Until 5 weeks or so ago I would have to say that I was trapped deeply beneath an avalanche of DEPRESSION related emotion and my attitude and outlook were bordering on suicidal. I was losing HOPE that anything good would result from the catastrophic experience of breaking my leg, having it infected with the infection spreading to bone then blood, getting the ankle fused then having the bone refuse to grow together resulting in the failure of a total non-union surgical result. In addition to the physical pain and difficulty, the endless & crushing medical expenses basically destroyed Kim and I financially. It was and is the single worst series of experiences in my entire life...I never dared to think that we could ever even begin to recover physically, emotionally,  psychologically or spiritually.


Then something deep inside me changed. I don't recall the exact moment and there was no flash of lightening or explosion but the change was sudden and PROFOUND: I suddenly and without hesitation trusted that GOD had a plan for me and that my sole responsibility in this was to soldier on as positively as I possibly could. Hope became a reality again and I started to believe with all my heart that anything was truly possible and that I needed to FIGHT On with all my might...for God was leading the way. Yes, it sounds cliche but frankly my friends...that is exactly how it felt inside.


I have not had a suicidal thought or inclination since that moment. And though nothing about this life, this experience and the very serious life-altering decisions that I must still make within the next 4 weeks is simple or easy...it is now obviously POSSIBLE. And I will then move on with my life to live to it's very fullest, first and foremost to honor and glorify GOD, The CREATOR of it all.


Many people continue to ask if I have made the decision to have the right leg removed 6" below the knee or to try another, more intensive and robust Infection Treatment/Fusion Surgery. The honest truth is that if I had to decide today...I would opt for the amputation and get on with my life. Recovery time is a fraction of what the Hardware Removal Surgery, Infection Treatment and finally the second Fusion Surgery would be...about 6 to 12 months (with a working Prosthetic Rt Leg after 2 months) as compared to 18 to 36 MONTHS!


I am not getting any younger and time is beginning to pass me by...I want to LIVE...not just TREAD WATER anymore while I wait for some thing good to happen (which NEVER did!).

Before I sign off here I want to thank EVERYONE involved in my life in any way, shape or form. I would not be here today, moving toward the future without all of the various kinds of support that I have received. I am profoundly GRATEFUL...God Bless all of YOU!

Photo by Kathy Tomson 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

This UPDATE is for YOU!!


I  just realized that I should have been recording the days since my original injury because it would have been so much more interesting and dramatic to open these blog entries by writing: "Ankle Fusion/Potential Amputation Update, Day 423..."

Leave it to me of course to assume that simply having the potential to lose my right leg due to injury somehow is not INTERESTING ENOUGH, HaHa.


For those of you who have asked how it's going and want to know if I have made a decision...This Update is for YOU!


All things considered....I am doing pretty darn well. I accept what is happening to me and for the most part I do not sit around feeling sorry for myself. I have found the Amputation Coalition Organization and they have been extremely helpful in providing information and resources to help me make my decision. They even are setting up some meetings with amputees who will share their experience, strength and hope about their amputation. I am in a very good place this early in the game.


I have not made a final decision but honestly, all things considered I am definitely leaning toward removing the leg....6" below the knee.


So that is really all there is to the story at the moment. I have put on a great deal of weight in the last 20 months but I am fearful of changing my diet because I am having so much trouble eating and I am so sick most of the time.


I just really want to get this new stage in my life and start to live again. At the moment, with the knowledge and information available to me right now, amputation seems like by far the best way to make that dream come true...                             



Thursday, July 31, 2014

Strangely, The Illusion LIES


The human mind....and in this  specific case this would mean MY human mind in particular...can often play strange tricks on their owner and in this case that would be an understatement to say the least. The challenges and trials inherent in one who is living with a long term, life altering illness are far to numerous to even begin to count. Let us just say that in my nearly 52 years of life & living...I have never come close to the emotional, mental, physical and spiritual hardship and heart-break that I have experienced during this injury and subsequent illness of the last 18 hellish months.

You can even start to believe the foolish notions spinning round in your head.  I know that I can find it difficult at moments to know where reality ends and fantasy begins. 

One area that is not fantasy is the over year long infection that I have been fighting along side the injury, surgery and now subsequent Non-Union of my right ankle. Because of a communication mix-p between the doctor's office and myself, I did not get my refill request in on time for my anti-biotic today. I just took the last dose that I have. Over the past 18 months I have lived in a state of near-terror of  running out of the medicine and now for thew second or third time that night-mare has indeed come to pass.

This is where I am going to challenge my mind to take control over the matter...at least until I can get a refill. Typically in this scenario I would feel quite panicky to be faced with the prospect of an entire night and morning without that med. Yet tonight...strangely i have felt completely calm as if I know to the very depths of my soul that my need for this anti-biotic is nothing but an ILLUSION. And I feel almost certain that I can make it through this night without falling so terribly ill.

I most definitely will answer that question for the READER, come morning time.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Fighting The GOOD FIGHT Begins Right NOW!





I would not consider myself naive when it comes to the reality of this life or living. I have experienced a vast variety of things in my nearly  52 years on the planet...good things, bad things...the surreal and unbelievable, special and not so much. Nothing truly surprises me now or catches me off balance.

And I would honestly say the experiences of the past couple of years fall under that assessment as well. Though I never would have predicted the specifics...broken leg/ankle in a household accident, subsequent infection, multiple (read:9!) follow up surgeries, long term IV and oral Anti-Biotic Treatment and now the  decision making dilemma of a lifetime...I am still not really shocked or unhinged by all that is happening.

But not being thrown for a major loop and freaking out about it doesn't necessarily make it natural or routine to decide to have one's right leg removed...even if it's "JUST" below the knee.

I will say that I have naturally traveled far and wide through the various emotional responses and reactions to difficult and challenging turn of events. Lord knows I have been angry, felt really isolated & lost, knowing only the confusion of the unknown and a boat-load of life and mind altering pain. Yes I have been very open on these pages about my emotional & physical reactions, including the temporary and fleeting desire to end my own life for lack of a realistic solution and the unlikely-hood of a permanent healing.

As the song says: Now "what's a POOR BOY to do?" To use a "surfer-esk" description I would say that it has come the time to just get out there and ride that Big-Ass, F**king wave. It's there....it isn't going away so go and ride the mother....who knows...despite the possibility of major pain/torment, death and/or destruction...I might actually discover that I like it and am good at it.

That's right folks...though I have tried to stay positive and true...there are times that I have failed in that endeavor mightily and slipped into self-pity and feeling sorry for myself. I shall be honest here...considering what's happening, I am NOT going to be too hard on myself for that. Truth is that this situation whether it be "God's Will" or not totally SUCKS and it is not really natural, common or to be "expected". So I am going to continue to cut myself some slack about it.

But the reality is for me that I need to sh*t or get off the freaking pot. Time to acknowledge, confront and then embrace the damn MONKEY On Me Back. I need to begin the acceptance phase...even though I am honestly not yet sure about what I am going to do: Amputate the right leg below the knee or try another Fusion, albeit a much more time consuming, painful and risky procedure then the last attempt.

Either way I am not quitting, shirking my responsibility to live my life fully or dodging reality through the old habits of drug/alcohol abuse. Trust me...the realities of more long term painful recovery or amputation pale in comparison to once again attempting to survive the absolute HORROR of active addiction. God willing...it is not ever going to be an option.

I have my Faith and I will let all of you in on a wee little secret...though I have truly been tested to the outer limits of my tolerance and endurance....that once little microscopic sliver of Faith I began with has blown-up into an absolute mountain of it today. 

So the fight begins and I will Freakin' FIGHT...for my life, my sanity, for Kim and lastly....for MYSELF. I have no way of truly knowing if this is just the beginning of more pain and torture or I am embarking on a journey that will ultimately Define and MARK ME for LIFE.

No Matter what....I am more then ready to begin, AGAIN.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Early Morning Meandering

As I sit here this morning, it tis but impossible NOT TO PONDER ALL THAT IS HAPPENING to me right now.  And that is to be expected. I really figured this would be a slam dunk for amputation....ah, it turns out to not be as freaking simple as that :/.  I find myself going back and forth not wanting to make such monumental decision. I keep thinking there should'd more options and much more time. YET the sand runneth ever so quickly from the hour glass of life. In reality I know more then ever that God is present in my life today and though I have questioned why this is happening to me I know there is always a higher purpose. I have a much higher sensitivity to the needs and wants and hurts of others. And I am grateful for that gift of caring and selflessness. Im the better for it for sure.....

Monday, July 21, 2014

Resignation: Not Sure How Quiet....


I suspect that I have mentioned this before in a previous post but it is certainly relevant in light of the recent post: "Cutting To The Chase". Suffering from a serious, long time illness is isolating. Well being faced with the decision on whether one should amputate their right leg below the knee is rather isolating as well.

No one else can really help one make such a decision. Fact is I would probably resent anyone who even presumed to try...no matter how good their intentions were. Only the leg owner can truly decide and even then it is not an easy or simple process. Oh God I never wanted it to get this f-ing far. No shame here folks...I am afraid.

More then anything I just want to close my eyes and have it all just go away....it's a bad....bad dream. I have worked through so many different stages of feelings just trying to accept my situation the way it was. Though deep down I always knew this was a possibility...I never really thought it would happen. I figured we would heal enough hat I would find it acceptable...but it just didn't happen that way, unfortunately.

I will follow this up with more detail but basically I met with the Docs and they determined that without a doubt the ankle is a definite "Non Union"...meaning that it did not fuse together...plus I still have an infection. My choices are basically this: I can go through this fusion process all over again and use an even more robust hardware or have it amputated. Some choice...eh?!

This is a terrible blow.....but there it is.....that is what I have to work with so what can one do?