Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Damn these legs of mine!

Okay, back from the jungle. The legs started acting up down there: Lots of swelling, bacteria. Then the skin started coming off in pieces. Got onto antibiotics, came home, showed pics to my great doc, Gritter, in Alabama. He got me on different, stronger antibiotics. Was getting ugly again. Not as bad as last year, but after the wound and the skin graft, to see half of the grafted area suddenly open and weeping again was frightening. And when I say weeping: Lets say I took a shower--cold water buckets over my head in my room--then dressed and went for morning coffee at the Cafe Express, the old man's coffee place (with fantastic, cheap street food items). By the time I was done a single coffee, there was a puddle the size of a good-sized pee under and around my sneakers. The poison was in there and my body was making holes to get it out. But how the heck did I get it this time? I know last time how it happened. I know there was an element of jealousy/magic involved. And that was harrowing. But how the heck did it happen this time? The entire time I was in the jungle I had my leg slathered in triple antibiotic ointment and wrapped. And I wore military pants that tied at the ankle. (I could not wear them in Iquitos out of respect for the soldiers who earned the right to wear them. As I was never in the military--something I'm proud of as the Vietnam war was a brutal waste of life meant only to open up southeast Asia to Nike factories--I have not earned the right to wear them.)
     So where did this stuff come from?
     The first few days home I ignored the pain: I answered dozens of emails, did radio interviews, cleaned the house, did taxes, paid bills. But about three/four days ago I could no longer do anything because the constant pain was not allowing me to think straight.
     So I made an appointment with my fantastic, brilliant surgeon, Dr. Ronny Ford, chief of surgery at Huguley Memorial Hospital in Burleson, TX, and saw him yesterday. Turns out he decided to debride me in the office. That meant basically taking a tiny cup with a razor edge and skimming off all infected skin--of course to do that you have to hit the good skin, which is without epidermis. People probably heard me scream from Austin, Texas, 200 miles away. Man, it was like being back in the hospital 18 months ago when atrocities were performed on my body in the name of healing. Yes, they healed me. Yes, I let him do it again. Yes, the pain was just as bad.
     And now, having taken pain pills he gave me, and drinking a glass of wine, I can finally relate to you all. I'm sorry it's such a wimpy tale. I'd rather be talking about the beauty of the jungle, the magic of the trip and all that jazz. I just can't really get past the pain though, so I apologize.
    My office looks like a semi-hospital room again. Bags of leg wraps, silver leg linings, Ace bandages on the table next to the desk. The desk cluttered with the wraps I just changed. Medicines everywhere.
    I am not falling in love with my disease. I don't like this one freaking bit. And I will be a very, very happy person once the pain is gone and I can get back to work with a clear head.
    I hope that all of you are doing way better than I am. I ain't dying, but it sure isn't a place I'd want anyone else to visit.


Unknown said...

Get well soon Peter! Very sorry to hear you are suffering again.

Bill Freimuth said...

Very sorry to hear your leg's giving you these horrible troubles again, Peter.

I hope it doesn't spoil your birthday too much and that you can have some happy today.

CHINMAYA said...

ive never written to a blog before but ive read every word of your blog so here goes DAMN IT!!! youve GOT to get better cause i AM going to the jungle with you. i am almost thru your book, i only got it a few days ago and i STILL love it. CHINMAYA (clarence)