Archive for April, 2012

Kidney Dialysis And Pnumonia

January 2004, the diabetic doctor told me that Charcot was rare and not mentioned much in medical school. That’s why it was missed. The type of surgery performed was just taking the foot to the ankle as it was not infected. This was, sort of, a rare surgery for Charcot, but new procedure. The physician said I was a good candidate.

Though the surgery was a success and was healing well, I developed what was determined as gout. I was allergic to the prescribed med. Vioxx. This was like 4-5 days after surgery. Within 24 hours I started swelling up.

I wound up in ICU. After many tests it was determined my kidneys had failed. I was placed on continual dialysis for 5 days. After the five days, they had removed 100 Lbs. of fluid. I was still taking an antibiotic drip for eight hours, every 3 days to fight the MRSA. I was then transported by ambulance to their health care unit. My kidneys did not operate for eight weeks. So, I was placed on dialysis 3 times a week, 4 hours each session. Normally, it is a three hour session. They transported me to the Dialysis Facility (which had many, many machines) every Monday, Wednesday and Friday evening. The session began about 7 PM and it was normally midnight before getting back to the care center. This lasted, just, over four weeks.

During this process, I developed pneumonia. So in March, I was taken back to the hospital as this was my second bout with pneumonia. I was on oxygen for a few days each time and had to use the little breathing apparatus to clear my lungs and expand them. The surgeon had to place a port in my left side about three inches down from my shoulder so all meds were given to me went through it. They were constantly giving me something. After kidney failure another port was placed on the left side just to the right of the left breast so I could be hooked up to dialysis machine. I just about forgot, during the first bout with pneumonia, I was not eating, or would not eat and a tube was inserted through my nose to my stomach for the propose of feeding. I had that in from first part of February 2004 until end of February when I was moved to Providence Health care (Rehab and Senior Living housing)

Before Vioxx shut down my kidneys, I had been given an antidepressant. The doctor and nurses kept asking me questions after surgery. I thought I was doing OK, but they determined from my answers to their questions, and the fact that I was not eating, I was depressed. Again I really don’t remember much about the hospital and the pneumonia bouts. I really feel my poor body had been given so many drugs it revolted and said enough already.

Bonnie’s continuing story

Brought to you by Charcot Awareness Education Foundation

Surgery And Complications

January 10, 2004, the day I arrived at Providence Hospital in Anchorage by ambulance, started a wild roller coaster of four months. I had already spent the past three months at home on the sofa with my foot elevated dealing with wound care and an infection.

Now, the Doctors had to get my immune system and sodium levels up to be able to do exploratory surgery on my left foot. There was the strong possibility of amputation. Amazing that it took 8 days of medications, antibiotic drips and blood transfusions to get me prepared. I can not remember much of that 8 days for some reason, but I just don’t.

Before I started writing this, I called friend Sharon and asked if she remembered how I was responding to all this. She says I was pretty calm and just ready to get it over with. The day of surgery, Tony came in to see me. Since he was owner and operator of his truck delivery business, he had to work. Sharon sat with me at the hospital reporting by cell phone to Tony so he knew how the day was going. The Orthopedic doctor, Dr. Chang, performed the surgery. When he came in to see me, after surgery, he told me he was sorry he had to amputate, but the good news was the amputation was just up to the ankle. So, of course, that made me very happy. (Seriously, I don’t remember how I felt, but don’t remember being happy.)

After surgery, about two days, they had me trying to set up. The room was spinning big time. I was very nauseous. It took a few days of practice to pull myself up with a pull bar. (can’t remember what it’s called) After a few days I made it to the edge of the bed. My muscles were so weak (from laying on the sofa for 3 months with foot elevated). Then the process to learn to use a slide board to get from the bed to chair and back again. This was quite challenging. Again a day or two process, but conquered it.Then about 10 days after surgery, the attempt to stand using my right leg and a machine to hold me up. My right leg was like a noodle. I could not hold myself up with the aid of the machine and fell to the floor hitting my stump. Boy, did everyone jump through hoops to get the screaming, hurting lady in bed. Of course, the wound started bleeding, but no sutures were pulled out (a blessing). Sharon asked me if her pastor could come to visit me and I had given her my OK. During this time Sharon was bringing her pastor, Pastor Suzanne Wood to visit and pray with me (note my December posting).

The wound was healing well, but since I had MRSA, the strong antibiotic drip continued. Any visitor had to wear a gown, or mask, even hospital personnel. I was receiving so many calls from relatives and friends wishing me well. My room was full of flowers, stuffed animals and cards pinned on a big board. It was overwhelming to think I deserved any of this. My wonderful friends in the airline industry were working behind the scene on a surprise.

The bandage was changed every day and healing going well. My pain levels were not too bad. Plans were being made for me to start thinking about rehabilitation, and going home to a three story condo. I was getting stronger and stronger. About the 10th of February, I awoke to incredible pain in my left thumb and forefinger. My right thumb was swollen, red and also, in tremendous pain. Now, a big rush to find out what was causing this. After tests, it was diagnosed as gout by Dr. Lee. She prescribed Vioxx, an inflammation reducing medication. Vioxx was fast acting. That’s for sure – pain subsided, as did the swelling. But in a matter of 24 hours, I was having major problems. I started swelling up, could not urinate, had a very high temperature, and listless. The heart doctor and kidney specialists called for all kinds of tests. They moved me to ICU without calling Tony, or Sharon. It took several days for them to realize it was my kidneys. The tests started rolling one after the other and the doctors not agreeing on what was happening. I don’t remember what was going on, but with kidney function gone, my body was filling with fluid fast. I remember being taken to a room with a huge machine and being hooked up to it, and all of a sudden feeling like I was freezing cold. I didn’t realize it was a Dialysis machine. I did not realize that those who loved or cared about me had not been told where I had been taken. It took the hospital staff awhile to figure it out as there had been a shift change. Needless to say Tony and Sharon were quite upset.

Continuing Bonnie’s story

Brought to you by Charcot Awareness Education Foundation

The Hole in My Foot

After reflecting on my writing of my awaking with the puncture in bottom of my left foot, I remembered more of what happened in 2003. Both feet were swollen and hurting all the time. The only shoes I could wear were wide sandals with Velcro straps.

Tony and I made two airplane trips that year. One was to Portland Oregon (approximately Feb./Mar.) to visit my younger brother who was dying from throat cancer. The plane trip was terrible. The airlines had just started the practice of having you take off your shoes for security. In Seattle, I was having a very difficult time removing my shoes. My swollen feet were hurting very badly as flying made them swell even more. Tony tried to help me, but security personnel would not let him. It was very embarrassing and frustrating, but I made it through the trip. Then the end of May, we traveled to Dallas, Texas for a Ribitzki family reunion. Travel was very difficult, and again, the swelling in both feet very painful. We had the same problems with security taking shoes off/on. I could receive no help from them, nor Tony, the process was very demeaning.

When I woke and discovered the blood, I was panicked. Tony was at work. I really don’t remember what all took place. I called my diabetic doctor. He was out of town on vacation I was frantic not knowing what to do. I remembered a podiatrist I had gone to at one time. I called him and went right in to his office. He took one look at me and said, “I know exactly what’s wrong, but let me take x-rays to verify”. He was right. It was Charcot. He sent me home to start the healing process. I could use a walker, but no pressure on the foot. I would have a nurse visit daily.

I went home. The garage was under the condo. The living room and kitchen were 20 steps up from the garage and the bedroom was 16 steps on up. Procedures were started to heal the hole in the foot. A nurse came daily to my home to flush the wound and apply antibiotics. I was to stay off my foot and keep it elevated above my heart. I also took oral antibiotics. This went on October, November and December. Thanksgiving and Christmas were not fun. We stayed home, me on the sofa, foot elevated. In January 2004, I became very ill with flu type pain. Having not moved for three months, I went down hill quickly. In fact, I was so weak I could not get up to go to the hospital. Tony called and I .had to be taken to emergency by ambulance. It was a very cold day and the streets were packed with lots of snow. Not a fun experience.

The emergency room staff told Tony that I was anemic. All the time I spent on the sofa with my foot elevated took its toll on my body’s muscles. They had begun to atrophy. I became pretty depressed in those 3 months. The antibiotics were very strong and not being used to them would cause me to have horrible dreams. One night, I woke seeing these huge spiders on our ceiling and walls. Tony was upstairs sleeping. I was so frightened. I could not call out to him. When I came to my senses, somewhat, I called him via his cell phone. It was not funny at the time, but later we could laugh about it.

MersaThe emergency room staff could not find exactly what was wrong, except that I was anemic with a low iron count. They really wanted to send me home and take iron pills. Tony said no way and stuck to his guns. Sharon, a friend, was in the emergency room with us and was not going to let me go home either I needed a blood transfusion. I was admitted to the hospital and immediately given the blood transfusion. After further evaluation, they decided I had gotten an infection in the break and the hole was not closing, or healing on my foot and was worse than originally thought.. I was placed on an antibiotic drip to control and get rid of infection (MRSA) which was a big part of the problem.

Sharon, became my taxi driver to doctors appointments to find what was causing all the swelling and pain. Plus, she started taking down notes from each doctor, so we could review Sharon in Ketchican, AKdiscussions at doctors offices. You hear so much information, you can’t remember everything, or know the meaning of medical diagnosis.

The doctors were wanting to do exploratory surgery to see if the foot could be saved. First, they had to get the blood count up in order to do surgery, more transfusions, more antibiotic drips. This process took a week. The Orthopedic Surgeon performed the surgery and had advised me that if he felt my foot could not be saved, he would amputate at that time.

In reliving this now, by writing it down, . . . scares me all over again. It’s hard to put into words how I feel, but I know the Lord is helping me to remember and it’s okay, cause this may help someone else.

Continuing Bonnie’s story

Brought to you by Charcot Awareness Education Foundation