Friday, August 30, 2013

Something to be Thankful for...

Well, this might seem a little strange to you, and it certainly seems freaking weird to me, but sometimes I just look at my flesh-eaten leg and think about how lucky I am that it happened. I mean, yes, it stinks and has taken up a very large part of the last nine weeks of my life--and will, if I'm lucky--take up another nine (more if I'm not lucky) before it's genuinely gone and I can go back to the jungle.
   Buttttt.....I could have lost my leg or my lower leg at least, and there were several discussions about that among legitimate doctors in Iquitos. So I didn't--and knock on wood I won't--so that's fantastic.
   And the infection could have gotten into the bone, traveled and killed me, and that didn't happen either. So that's another great thing.
   Then there was the chance to live with something like this. An awful lot of people live with bad things that take up a lot of their time, I mean a lot, and it has been important for me to be in those shoes, not for a few days or a week like most times, but for so long like this. And then there has been the pain: A lot of people live with pain daily. By the minute. I've been living with it 24/7 for 9 weeks now and it teaches you something. I'm not sure what yet, but I feel like I'm learning a kind of patience I've not had before. And that includes the patience to not take that pain pill just because you can, or not ask for the morphine in the hospital just because you can. Being out of it when the pain is bearable is not my cup of tea. I'd rather hurt some than be spacey all day. So there is something to learn from that too.
    And then I have had this flesh eating thing to a pretty extreme point--which means that you guys who've seen the picture have probably learned that it's not something you need to do--though I think a lot of you are probably at least a little jealous (HA! A LOT JEALOUS!) of the manly look this thing had at its worst. I mean, you could throw up just looking at that bad leg. (The bad thing is that the surgeon says he's so good he ain't gonna leave a scar when the grafting is done. I told him I'd kill him if he did that, cause I earned a really good, manly, scary scar.)
    And I got a chance to meet an awesome surgeon who took my wound very seriously but didn't take himself seriously. And a lot of great nurses and other doctors at Huguley Hospital, and my great great at-home nurse (she's more of a curandero--healer--if you want my opinion) Georgia, who just knows what to do, when to do it, and how. Fantastic!
    And then because the pics got circulated on facebook and other social media I wouldn't even know how to use, probably 20 people I have not heard from in years wrote notes and that was wonderful. I mean, it's too bad it took this for that to happen, but I'm glad it happened and it would not have had my leg not gone bad.
    And I've lost 20 pounds, so for the dope (and you know who you are) who has referred to me in print as "the obese guy", well, I'm not even fat now. And I was never obese. But I've lost 20 and am gonna lose another 15 by the time this is done if I can keep walking hard (short bursts because the leg starts to hurt after a quarter of a mile or so, making me rest for a few minutes) a couple of miles daily.
    And though I was only drinking 1/2 pint of whiskey a day (none on Sunday) for the last few years, I've cut that out this last month, and hardly had any aguardiente in Iquitos this time around, other than the first three days there, which were sort of party days that ended up with my head probably lolling on the table in front of strangers on the boulevard. Ah, nuts, so I ain't perfect, eh? But still, nice to take a break from hard liquor, though I am having a couple of glasses of wine every day. Not too much, just a couple/few glasses.
     And I got to stay in a great hospital, Huguley, which I wouldn't want anyone to have to do, but if you do, go to Huguley. And the hospital eliminated a large portion of my bill--though with all the docs and labs billing separately I'll still owe $40,000-$50,000 by the time I'm done with the next hospital stay and next surgery (surgeries). Still, they knocked off a lot and that's pretty spectacular and I have no idea why they did it--maybe pity, maybe I just got really really lucky, maybe they just liked me, maybe the leg was so disgustingly cool that they chose me, or maybe (and this is probably closer to the truth) they knew that paying them $100 a week for the rest of my life would never pay the bill, so they cut the bill to keep me from being too much of a deadbeat.
    And I could go on. See what I'm getting at? None of this would have happened if I wasn't lucky enough to have these crazy flesh-eating bacterial infections. How lucky was that?
For the record, those infections included:
Pseudomenas (no further identification on the culture chart I have);
Proteus (no further identification on the culture chart I have);
Morganella morganii;
Aeromonas hydrophila
    Okay, thanks for listening. Don't ever get this, okay. It's really painful and scary. But still, some fantastically wonderful things came out of it. And that's good.

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