So... about 2½ weeks ago, back on 23 or 24 May, while at WisCon, a bandage change of my nearly healed heel wound showed some blood. It had broken open. We came back on Memorial Day and on Tuesday 27 May I managed to get an appointment with the Wound Clinic. The doctor found a large and deep wound, and told me I needed to go across the street to the hospital. Actually what I did was go home and park the Blazer, then had Mrs. Dr. Phil take me back to Butterworth.
I was there from Tuesday 27 May to Tuesday 3 June. Altogether a much better experience than my stays at Butterworth a year ago. No ICUs. Good vitals and stamina, save for a low fever the first night. I walked in with my walker while Mrs. Dr. Phil parked the Bravada, and walked myself to Elevator G and showed up to the nurse's station on 4 West to check myself in. I never felt bad -- still don't -- but there was clearly something afoot, as they say.
An X-Ray and an MRI showed that there was an infection in the rear part of the heel bone. Last year they didn't think the bone was affected, but I guess the bacteria managed to weasel its way in and gain a toehold... er, a heel hold. 4-6 weeks of IV antibiotics for a start. But with a PICC line similar to last year, there was no reason to keep me in the hospital, so I was discharged to do my twice daily IVs at home. Through the generosity of my friends in the UCF, most of a nice little minifridge was bought for the antibiotics. Who knew Amazon Prime sold refrigerators with free shipping?
The Wound Clinic team also felt that I would benefit from hyperbaric oxygen chamber therapy -- 2 atmospheres absolute pressure of oxygen for two hours a day, Monday-Friday, for 30-40 treatments.
Ultimately we are still in unknown territory here. They can't operate and excise the diseased bone. Heel bone is different in that it has a hard shell and a spongy interior. Even if you could cut, you have to take out some healthy bone, too, and what would be left might not support the foot, plus it would be wide open to infection. So there is still a risk that the left foot might have to go. Trying to avoid that. While my nerve damage from four years ago and last year makes walking difficult, there is no pain. I do have working nerves below the knee, however, plus twenty years of edema and a couple of celulitis infections have left my lower leg skin in poor shape. Really, let's avoid amputation.
Because of the lack of pain and the fact that I feel fine, there is something of a surreal quality to all this. After last year's The Year Without A Summer, I had great plans for doing things, writing, going out with the big lenses and doing some cool photography. Plus Mrs. Dr. Phil and I had some travel and conferences scheduled. Now? Most of the "work day" is taken up with IVs and the four hour door-to-door runs for the HBO treatments. I can't take paper or electronic devices into the hyperbaric oxygen chamber -- see Apollo 1 -- so as you may have noted I am running through their collection of SF films. Not a total loss, but not the summer I had planned.
Indeed, the days are tight enough that rescheduling my Physical Therapy appointments was tough. While we won't be able to continue what we were working on in May -- 50% weight restriction on my left foot -- it's important that we work the muscles and keep me in reasonable shape.
Barring disaster I intend to teach this fall.
Detcon 1: I am an optimist. This year's NASFiC in Detroit should come along in between the 30th and 40th HBO sessions. Even if we are continuing, I imagine that I could miss Friday's session once. Also, I will either be off the IV or in the waning days, so we could bring supplies and do the IV antibiotics in the morning and evening. I am going to investigate renting a wheelchair for the hotel. I spent too much time and effort on Detcon 1, I really want to be there and be on panels if possible.
We shall see.
But my status is overall feeling good right now. And Death to those little bugs in my heel bone! Die! Die! DIE!