2/27 - Welcome to the Surgery Rollercoaster

It’s 5:45 on Friday as I’m writing this and mom is on her way out the door to go have dinner with Judy and Kathy, two of her old friends that have been incredibly helpful here in Houston. It looks like mom’s post yesterday covered many of the details with tomorrow's surgery, but I will go into a bit more detail, since some things have changed slightly since yesterday.

Jamie’s surgery tomorrow will involve several steps, so here’s what we know will happen –

1) Doctor Plastic Surgeon (DPS) will begin the surgery by using a very fine saw/sanding mechanism to shave the bones of her fingers down to where the doctors can see bleeding in the bones themselves. This procedure will be performed on BOTH hands, but the flap procedure will only take place with one of her hands. DPS will be delicate, he says, to ensure that we’re not cutting anything more than we need to. Of course, every centimeter counts. It’s a shame though, because we’ve been very pleased with the length of her finger bones. I mean, it makes perfect sense to shave the bones down to the point where they’re alive. Of course, we don’t know how much length we’re going to lose. But, we were told today that if they weren’t shaven down to that point, then they would turn into puss when inside the flap under her arm. Still, even though I’m not too butt-hurt about losing some length on her finger bones, it has a bit of the bait-and-switch feel to it. The situation sort of reminds me of when our Seton doctors told us that “what’s dead is dead” on Jamie’s hands and feet and I took that to mean “what is black is dead, and what’s not black, will live.” They actually meant “the damage is done, and there’s nothing we can do except wait to see what turns black.” That’s when only her fingertips and toes were black and we all know how that turned out. So, as you can imagine, I’m not a big fan of “what’s dead is dead” type phrases, and I’m not excited about losing any of the length in her fingers, but that’s how doctors talk, and this is what is required in this procedure. It is what it is.

2) Once the finger bones are sanded down to an appropriate length, DPS will decide which hand will be a part of the flap procedure. Assuming he’ll take the right hand, which I have no information on one way or the other, he’ll begin by making a “template” in the shape of her right hand. He’ll put this template on the place he’ll make the incision under her left armpit and trace the shape of her hand onto that area. For the next step, he’ll make a vertical incision under her left armpit (the “flap”). Then he’ll take Jamie’s right hand and insert it into this flap. He’ll suture the hand/flap together with, as DPS called them “Anti-Avulsion” sutures. I didn’t look up the word, but these sutures are used to keep the hand and flap together, sure, but also used to let Jamie know when she’s pulling too hard on her hand… Avulsion apparently means “to pull super hard and tear the sutures.” These are anti-avulsion in the sense that they cause a bunch of pain when you put too much strain on them. This is good, because the one thing Jamie needed was some more pain… … anyway, once the right hand (in this example) is all sewed up in her flap, it will stay there for either 2 or 3 weeks and then it will be pulled out. It will look like a mitt until DPS or whoever cuts out some individual fingers out of the mitt. At this time, he’ll do the same procedure with the other hand. Here’s the kicker, once Jamie’s hands have been removed from the flap, the hands will be mitts for a matter of “weeks or months”… this likely means “6 to 9 weeks”, but you know how I feel about doctor-speak. The reason for the long wait is because we need bloodflow to return to the new tissue, which apparently takes time.

So, that’s what’s going on with tomorrow’s surgery. But wait, there’s more: Since we so love surgeries, we’re going to have another surgery on Tuesday. This one will involve skin grafts on her stumps. As we discussed in yesterday’s post, Jamie’s stumps have been mostly closed off and covered with a skin-substitute called something stupid like “Intensiva” or “Imperviosa” or some other made-up word that sounds like a Harry Potter spell. However, some areas of her stumps will require skin grafts once this new pseudo-skin takes hold. I learned a lot about Skin Grafts today. We talked about where they’ll come from and how the skin will look afterwards and how much they’ll hurt and… well, lots of things. So, on Tuesday, we may be having our third surgery in six days (First, we closed the stumps; second, the feeding tube, hand-flap; third, skin grafts).

I feel like there’s some information that I’m omitting, (NOTE: Forgot about the kneecap stuff, but need to save something for tomorrow, right?) but I can’t think of what it is (NOTE 2: Obviously, I've remembered what it is). I’ll be blogging tomorrow again after the surgery and probably once more on Sunday and then it’s back to mom posting. By the way, I should mention how great mom is doing with the blog posts. Jamie’s attitude is always a little bit iffy after her surgeries and today was no exception… and I’m sure Sunday will be no exception… and why not toss Wednesday onto the list of days that won’t be an exception. It’s going to be a roller coaster here for the next week; that’s unavoidable. We’ve gotten through some unneeded stresses from last week, and we’re ready to tackle a whole new wave of them. I’m very happy that Roni and Michelle are coming to visit for the weekend, and then KC is coming on Monday, which will be perfect with the surgery schedule. (NOTE: I told Racheli that Roni and Michelle were on their way and she says - "Haha, like Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion"? Pretty clever) All in all, things are going to be rocky for a few days. Keep the prayers coming... pray for stability, emotional, medical and otherwise... we've got to pray... (pray)... that's why we pray... (pray)... we've got to pray just to make it today...

(OK, the last part was from MC Hammer, but still, its a good message)