4/4 - Remarkable Dressing Change; Inspirational Meeting

Happy Half-Birthday to Jamie! What a great couple of days we’ve had here in Houston. There’s so much that I want to tell all of you about what’s been going on with Jamie, but I’m going to stick to the highlights. In this post, I hope to tell you, in detail, about (1) yesterday’s bedside leg and hand dressing change and (2) a very encouraging and inspirational visit from Mike Segal, a man who was shot in the head as a UT Sophomore (albeit, nearly 30 years ago) and overcame incredibly difficult odds to survive and recover from his injuries. Other stuff happened too – we watched Bolt; Caitlin visited for a large portion of the week; Roni came and took a ton of great pictures of Jamie and her wound care team; Jamie’s grandfather Gene came to visit like he does every weekend; her cousin Robert and his friend George came to town; and, like usual, Kathy and Judy came to steal mom away for a little while – but that stuff got overshadowed, so I’ll have to talk about that stuff later.

Jamie’s first bedside dressing change was scheduled for Friday, and this was a big deal because, for the last few weeks, the dressings on Jamie’s legs and tush had been performed in the operating room under anesthesia. After the last dressing change in the OR (I think it was a few days earlier, on Tuesday, but I’m not sure), Dr. Smith had told us that approximately 95% of the skin grafts were taking. If you remember, we were hoping that 80% would successfully take. For that reason, Dr. Smith was confident that a bedside dressing change was proper; alternatively, he argued that a dressing change in the OR was a bit of overkill. Nonetheless, this didn’t make Jamie feel much better. She had experienced months of bedside dressing changes, even before her amputations, and they didn’t feel too good, even with the quick acting intravenous drugs she was taking. (Another note – remember that Jamie no longer has an IV or a Central Line, so she can’t get a syringe of dilautid or morphine. She is limited to taking pills orally, which take 30 minutes to be effective). So, here’s Jamie, without the use of her IV-dilautid, and about to undergo her first post-amputation, bedside dressing change on her legs. The anticipation was terrible… of the tears shed, almost all of them happened before the dressing change began.

So, the dressing change began. Dr. Smith was in attendance, watching Vijay and Michael (two of the Physical Therapy/Wound Care guys with whom Jamie has enjoyed the longest relationship) change the dressings. Dr. Smith and the St. Joseph’s Plastic Surgeon resident were very hands-on, but they were mainly there to make sure that grafts were successfully adhering to her skin. They were. Dr. Smith was very pleased with the work he’d done on Jamie’s legs and on the graft he retouched on one of Jamie’s hands. Importantly, Jamie’s tolerance of this event was far better than I hoped. She winced and asked Vijay and Michael to slow down a few times, but she endured very well. This was also the first time that mom and I (and Roni) got to see Jamie’s legs for many weeks. I’m not sure I’d seen them since the week after her amputation (… remember – that didn’t go very well… not very well at all). They look great. They really do. I mean, they look great considering… You can clearly see that the skin grafts are taking hold really well. Jamie’s hands also look good. There’s still work to be done on both hands (some reformation surgeries on her left hand a flap procedure on her right, but more on those later). The most important thing to take away from this is that Jamie was able to complete the dressing change without major incident. This is very encouraging because she’ll have her next bedside dressing change on Monday. I think we were told that we won’t even need to have the ACE bandages on her legs anymore either. We’re almost done with the hospital stay… I mean, we’re close to the end of this part of the journey… sort of like Sam and Frodo, at the end of The Fellowship of the Ring (the first Lord of the Rings movie).

--- I’ll update you on our visit with Michael Segal tomorrow, we have more visitors ---