The Rollercoaster of Infection
As I sit here I am stumbling over my thoughts attempting to remember the past couple of weeks. I am now almost 4 weeks into recovery and it feels like every day has been a month. Time moves slow and recovery moves slow with it. Recovery was going well throughout week two, and we decided to go down to the lake with my parents for a change of scenery on labor day weekend. I saw my surgeon that Friday morning for my post-op appointment. He looked over all of the incisions and said everything looked to be healing nicely. That afternoon my mom drove me down to the lake, I was exhausted from the drive even though it was only an hour and I slept most of the afternoon until Caleb arrived around 5pm. From the time I got out of bed I was freezing, I’m generally a cold natured person so it didn’t faze me much and I assumed it was just because of the AC. With it being a warm evening I went down to the dock to sit with Caleb but to my surprise I felt like I still wanted a blanket.
I went back in the house and decided to take a shower to try to warm up; as I looked in the mirror at my chest I noticed that my left side was red and the skin was hot. At the moment I didn’t think much about it and stepped into the shower, hoping for a momentary release from the cold that surrounded me. When I was done, I climbed in the bed and asked Caleb if he could come lay with me for a while. I told him about the redness and he said “that sounds like inflammation, was it warm to the touch?”
From the moment I answered yes my mind started zooming with thoughts and fears of infection. Minutes later we called my plastic surgeon, my mom explained all of my symptoms over the phone. Her response was “I’ll see her at 8:30 in the morning, don’t let her eat or drink anything else tonight we may need to take out the expanders” As my mom hung up the phone she was filled with grief and fear of an emergency surgery. She chose not to tell me the second half of my plastic surgeon’s response but did tell me not to eat or drink anything else that night. There was only one thing that could mean.
As the night went on, the pain and inflammation increased. I asked if we could call her back and somehow get on antibiotics that night, knowing the faster I get on antibiotics the less likely surgery would be a reality. My mom called the plastic surgeon again and she called in antibiotics to a 24/hr pharmacy that we found. Since the lake is in the middle of nowhere, the closest one we could find was 30 minutes away from us. While waiting for the pharmacy to fill the prescription, we all prayed together. Caleb and my Dad drove out to get the antibiotics at 11pm and returned a little after midnight. I took the antibiotics and attempted to sleep through the night waking every 30 minutes because of the pain. Needless to say it was a long night for all of us.
We were all up by 6am the next morning, I sat in a chair with an ice pack on my head to help with the splitting headache my body had adopted on top of the growing pressure in my throbbing chest. Since my plastic surgeon had instructed no eating or drinking I was unable to take the pain medications because they make me sick on an empty stomach. I took the morning dose of the antibiotic while my mom, my dad and Caleb packed up everything around me to return home.
With my mom’s ride being the smoothest I rode back with her. Roughly 20 minutes away from Greensboro I couldn’t hold back the nausea and I got sick from the pain. We arrived at my plastic surgeons office and she met us at the door to let us in. As we followed her through the dark hallways of the abandoned office all of our spirits were pretty low. Unsure if she was going to take me straight into surgery or admit me to the hospital to be put on antibiotics, we were walking into a world of uncertainty.
With the help of my mom and Caleb I put on the gown and my plastic surgeon looked over the infected area. She said it looks like some Cellulitis which is a bacterial skin infection. She pierced the red inflamed skin with a needle and aspirated two syringes of fluid. While explaining that we have a 50% chance of beating the infection and saving the expander. We will wait two days, and see if there are any improvements from the antibiotics, if not you will need to go into surgery to remove it. In that moment, I didn’t have much of a reaction. My head hurt, my stomach was uneasy and I was just happy that she was able to relieve some of the pressure from my throbbing chest. My mom, my dad, and Caleb on the other hand were thrilled to hear that there was even a possibility of not having to go into surgery. After a night of worse case scenarios running through our minds it was a relief to hear that we actually have a chance of beating this.
They took me home and I slept the rest of the day and night; by midday Sunday we had seen no improvement. At this point, we reached out to all of you to pray with us that the Lord would clear the infection and that there would be no need for surgery. By Monday morning the infection had started to clear, Praise the Lord! We talked to my plastic surgeon around noon and updated her on all of my symptoms, she sounded pleased. While on the phone she said she had sent the fluids that she aspirated to be tested and at that time they were not growing anything which was good news as well. We scheduled to meet with her on Wednesday and hung up the phone. Relief flooded the room. At least for today, there was no emergent surgery.
But the infection had taken its toll, I felt like it was the first week of recovery all over again. My energy was depleted and my chest while it was on the mend was giving me more pain than before. For most of the week all I did was sleep, Caleb helped me out of bed in the mornings and my mom helped me out of the chair throughout the days. I held my immobile left arm close, attempting to not disturb my swollen left side. Wednesday we met with my Plastic surgeon, and as she looked over the infected area she seemed very pleased and decided to go ahead and fill the expander with saline.(I’ll do my next blog on this process, it was crazy!) It wasn’t until nine days later the infection completely cleared.
This ride of emotions was nothing short of a rollercoaster for all of us. When talking with my plastic surgeon on Monday she had explained that the fluid she had sent to a lab was not yet growing any infection, but by the time we saw her Wednesday, she said it had started to grow staph infection. Attempting to understand the cause we asked her questions, but she couldn’t give us much clarity. Maybe some of my nurse friends can help me understand a little better, but the moral of the story is the Lord healed and he hears our prayers!
There were so many little things that could not have lined up without the Lord’s divine intervention. These past couple of weeks have been hard but I am learning how to be thankful for the little things. It’s a choice for all of us, we can focus on all the negative(which I easily fall into) or we can sit in thankfulness. This choice is not an easy one and it is by far not my natural choice. When I am looking at anything through my limited perspective, I am easily consumed with all the things that aggravate me, frustrate me, or even all the things that are just painful or not right in my little world. But God, offers us a different choice if he has opened our eyes to see.
One of our family members has sent me a book in a care package called One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp and as I see the world through her eyes I see a different way of living. The book is a glimpse inside her mind as she fights for thankfulness in a world that seems to be falling apart around her. Sounds relatable right? As she grows in thanking the Lord for hundreds of little things throughout the days, He is changing her to experience the true Joy of life. So I have adopted this same practice throughout this honestly crap-tastic season of life. I have started a journal of things I am thankful for, some so small and some large. Taking the time to slow down life and look around throughout the moments of each day to see all the things I am thankful for brings my heart and soul so much delight. I am only 50 things in, but I am hoping that as I grow the practice it will become something I find myself doing habitually throughout the rest of my life.
To live a life fully lived is not based on your circumstances, your job, your money, or even on your friends and family. To live a life fully, is to live in relationship with God through his word, through his people, and through his spirit. Living thankful that we have a life to live in relationship with him only through the gift of his son. His life in exchange for mine. Daily I strive to lay down myself that I my know him more.
If you have questions about how to live in relationship with God, please feel free to reach out! I would love to talk with you about this life changing relationship he offers you!
Thank you all so much for praying, for bringing food and for sending gifts finacially and physically to help throughout this time! You all have helped us in so many ways to carry the burden of this, I cannot imagine going through any of it without you! Thank you, thank you, thank you x 1000!!
So much love!