Friday the 13th - Part 1 - FAMPS, Whirlpool and Filler

[Part 2 will be completed tomorrow morning. I'm just pretty wiped]

One day in the near future, for some reason or another, Jamie will have some setbacks. Maybe the groin flap procedure will be painful, or maybe re-learning to walk proves immensely frustrating. Who knows? But on those days, when she’s on the verge of tears, I know that we’ll be able to turn to Jamie and say:

“It’s OK Jamie. There’s no way it can be as bad as Friday the 13th.”

OK, maybe that’s a bit dramatic… and also a bit inaccurate, since there is going to be a Friday the 13th in March and another one in November... but damn, today kind of sucked. Hopefully I can tell you about our exhausting day before I pass out. This is a graphic medical diary of the day.

Mom picked me up from the airport today at around 10:00, and before we knew it, it’s drama time. Apparently, we were under the impression that Jamie’s finger and leg wounds would be cleaned by a bedside misting apparatus. This sounds nice and gentle, so why not give it a go. Well, the orders were changed at some point and we weren’t told so we get a call from Aunt Betty who says that Jamie’s on her way to the whirlpool for treatment. That was a surprise to mom, and in the medical environment, surprises aren’t as fun as normal. So, we get to the hospital and all I want to do is eat (hadn’t eaten yet today), but since Jamie is getting into the whirlpool, we rush down to Advanced Wound Care to see what is going on with Jamie. I’m getting excited to see how the FAMPS and her (lovely lady) stumps look. (I hope you get the reference because I normally try not to support Fergie).

[Note on the Whirlpool – the point of the whirlpool, as Dr. Lin told mom and I seven hours later, is to cleanse the wounds so that bacteria has less of a chance to colonize on them. Also, it helps with the existing bacteria and also helps heal the skin, or something. Either way its good, and it will become one of our important daily routines…. Once we get that freaking lift fixed, more on this later]

So, mom isn’t allowed to come into the whirlpool area because, despite all of the other gross stuff mom does for and to Jamie, I’m the only one that’s allowed to see the really gross stuff (i.e. when the Austin plastics guy squeezed liquefied muscle out of her palm and calf… that was gross). I don’t know/care why that is; it just is. Maybe my brain is simply broken by now. So, low and behold, I go to the whirlpool room and (good) surprise! It’s a Physical Therapy and Wound Care all star team. Everyone from Vijay to Monena to Michael to… well, I’m too tired to go on, but seriously, everyone except the hyperbaric folks were in the room. (The hyperbaric folks were in the next room over and came to say hello, of course!). Then, I finally got a good look at the FAMPS. For the most part, I’m pretty impressed; where I’m not impressed, I’m satisfied. Here are my observations, in list form:
1) Dr. Foot Doctor (DFD) was right when she said that she’d be leaving an extra centimeter or two of bone on the end of each FAMP. If you don’t think that’s a lot of length, go get a ruler… and smack yourself in the face with it.
2) Bones are weird looking when they’re sticking out of your sister’s fingers.
3) Both hands were still pretty swollen. With some physical therapy exercises, she’ll snap out of this, but for now it’s hard to ultimately get a read on how her fingers will eventually look.
4) Left Hand – Thumb: A lot longer than I thought it’d be. There may be some gripping action there, but not as much as the right thumb. Pinky: Didn’t notice anything special. Ring Finger: does appear to be unreasonably long compared to the others, but as DFD said, the point was to save as much length as possible for her eventual wedding ring. Middle: Not much to say here either. Index: shortest of all ten fingers. In fact, when people ask if Jamie was able to keep any fingers, I’ll say, “she was able to keep nine.”
5) Right Hand – Thumb: Lots of gripping, more than the left. Not any bending. Index, Middle, Ring: All three have good length. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but assuming the groin flap goes well, there should be some good length there. Pinky: /shrug’s shoulders.

…and this is where things get messy.

See, today’s whirlpool session was different than all others and not just because it was her first one. This is also part of the reason that it took a long time. It’s a new process, so I understand. Also, it was an unusual one because we didn’t have all the equipment available to us that we would ordinarily have. In the future, we’ll use a lifting machine that Jamie will rely upon to be raised from and lowered into the whirlpool. Unfortunately, that machine was broken today. More unfortunately, it was also the same one that was broken/getting fixed last Friday. So, once the hands were done, we asked Jamie if she’d rather dangle her legs in the tub or if she’d rather use some alternative form of bed-side wound cleaning (not the misting machine I mentioned earlier). Michael and I agreed that this second option, the misting machine, is not a good idea. It involved contact to Jamie’s exposed stumps, but, we made a deal that we’d try out this other machine and if we didn’t like it, we’d dangle her legs in the whirlpool tomorrow and until the lift is fixed. Once the hands are wrapped, we head upstairs. My head is spinning, I’m starving. Ninety minutes ago (I want to say 2 hours, but that can’t be right), I was sitting on a plane and Jamie was being wheeled (did I mention she was in a wheel chair? Pretty good stuff, there) down for a surprise whirlpool treatment.

Because it’s difficult to tell the full story without getting into the details of it, I’m going to continue this post tomorrow morning. Also, I noticed that this isn't too bad yet, so for those of you reading this tonight, here are some previews for tomorrow:

1) Words like bloodcurdling and excruciating are used… repeatedly… and I apologize to Michael (wound care) and Vijay (physical therapy) profusely. They promised to let Jamie hurt them in the future. (They may not remember that they promised that, but I’m a lawyer, so…. Yep)
2) I come face to stump with Jamie’s…. you get the point.
3) We see why Michael didn’t want to use the bedside machine (that isn’t the misting thing).
4) Mom and I have rage blackouts. I apparently pull a Shirley McClain (from Terms of Endearment)… I had no idea I was being cliché.
5) I discuss my concerns with one of the hospital’s administrators, I think, while giving double bags of red cells (apparently I’m O negative)… after not having eaten anything but chocolate… but I get a free T-Shirt or two.
6) Dr. Lin, mom and I discuss the transition from Chapter 1 (Jamie Schanbaum and the Hyperbaric Chamber of Secrets) to Chapter 2 (Jamie Schanbaum and the Totally Clever Title).
7) Geoffrey and Katrina come to the hospital to visit. Just wanted to throw that in there.

But for now, sleepy time. Got to look (as) pretty (as possible) for our Amazing Race audition DVD we’re making tomorrow.