With the US Independence Day just around the corner, I am celebrating the ability to return to a somewhat normal eating style. Anyone who has been around me for long knows that I normally love to eat almost anything edible and a goodly quantity of it. So, since my last meal was April 9, 2016, it has been a long fast, but the end is in sight. As you know, this surgery was tougher than the first two, partially because they took the midsection of my belly wall out and replaced it with mesh, which, incidentally is working fairly well at holding my insides inside. However, a couple weeks after surgery, I sprung a leak in my incision that clearly demonstrated, on incision and drainage by Dr. Dan De Cook, to contain the same yellow intestinal contents that I would deposit in the toilet, a discouraging sign that I had a hole in my intestines. So, I stopped all oral intake except for 2 sips of water twice daily with my antibiotic, heart rate pill (only needed after the surgeries, hopefully can wean off again soon) and acid reducer pills, as nothing in my stomach led to non buffered acid running freely in my GI system and causing considerable heartburn, etc.
Dan left a drain in my abdominal wall which has worked well until recently, when I think my daily irrigations may be doing more harm than good as I developed another wound infection early this week ON the high power antibiotic we started me on due to the cultures of the drainage. It looks like Strep or Staph, but I think I am allergic to Sulfa, which would be the treatment of choice for MRSA. By the grace of God, the wound infection seems to be slowly responding to Keflex, which I appear not to be allergic to. I was taking both drugs about 6 years ago when I came back from Haiti with a very nasty leg infection from a presumed insect bite there that took months to heal. Karen threatened to not allow me to go back there as she feared I might lose my leg, so I hit it hard with both meds, but after a week had a nasty rash, so dropped both drugs and went to Levaquin and it healed over about 9 months, though I still have a reminder on the back of my leg of the event. I had not needed to take either drug since until now, so thankful that it seems to be responding on the Keflex alone.
About 3 1/2 weeks ago, I obtained a CT scan of my abdomen right before visiting Dr. Bartlett on the 6th of June and getting my leukapheresis done. He felt the outside fluid collection/abscess was shrinking with the drain Dan put in it, the inside one maybe some. So we started on sips of clear liquids, a very great blessing, for 3 weeks and then repeated the scan last Friday to see if the collection was enlarging. The intrabdominal one (the most troublesome one) does not seem that it is enlarging with the fluids, in fact, Dan feels it is pretty much gone, a real answer to prayer and he now encourages me to increase my oral intake but “watch that old drain for green peas or beans to come out, not a good sign.” I am happy to oblige (did break the rules with tiny bites of Norwegian at a Bierema wedding 2 weeks ago, one only gets those treats at Christmas and special occasions) and will rejoice in the fact that I am able to eat some again. Once that smooths out, will work on reducing the number of bathroom trips to less than the dozen plus daily, some with little warning using Metamucil and other agents. I do thank the Lord for the provision of the TPN, which has kept me alive through this prolonged inability to take in food or fluids orally. The wonders of modern medicine are especially apparent to me, having spent so much of my professional life overseas, where we have no such provisions/capacities.
Speaking of Haiti, please continue to pray for both the team at the hospital, the government and governmental hospital system. For the first, Dr. Jim Webb, who has considerable hip pain awaiting his hip replacement in August or so this year, has most graciously agreed to cover June and July for me, and went down the week of the 18th to cover the surgical needs, along with Tom Failing and Dave Weener from BCBC, who worked on the endless job of hospital maintenance. The trip was productive on all fronts, for which we are thankful. However, they, like Dr Luke and company the month before, had to leave early to avoid travel during the night time as per the curfew imposed by the American Embassy. The interim president’s 3 month term has expired without much change (not sure he intends to do all that much and seems quite reluctant to relinquish his position), so there is a fair amount of unrest. All the government hospitals (socialized medicine is alive, not quite sure about the well part of that phrase, in Haiti) have the doctors on strike due to the conditions at the hospital, no running water, etc, and the president is threatening to punish the doctors by pulling their licenses rather than fixing the situation. So, it appears that there is no end in sight for the near future and Dr. William’s training is on indefinite hold. Pray that this will be resolved soon for him as he is one hard worker and is very frustrated at spinning his wheels. There was a lengthy article on line from the Miami Herald today, maybe some pressure will be put on the proper authorities to return to an improved function soon? One doesn’t dare hold his breath too long, though.
Sorry, again I tend to ramble on a bit at length, but praising the Lord for my health progress and praying for the future for both my therapy and the situation in Haiti. Thanks for your love, concern, prayers and other encouragements.
In His Service,
Bill, Karen, Rachel, James and Jenn Ten Haaf