~Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Post-Op Notes

Scott continues to heal. His hand looks a whole lot less gross with skin covering it, even if it is from his thigh. Yesterday he noticed one of his leg hairs growing out the side of his hand and he was thoroughly disgusted. I broke out into a fit of giggles on the couch while he ran around the apartment screaming, "this is sooooooo gross!" He then grabbed the tweezers and plucked his hand.

He has some body issues right now. His left leg, where they took the "sizable chunk" of skin, has about an 8-inch incision running up the inside of his thigh. Whoever closed him up post-surgery did not do a very good job with the stitches and the doctor warned him the scar is going to be pretty bad. Also because of the surgery, one of his legs is shaved and the other one isn't. I was surprised when I saw how high they shaved. I think it's funny that they only manscaped the one side. The skin graft to the elbow didn't take very well, most of the new skin just fell off, leaving him with a lot of scar tissue. But, really, it's just an elbow. Not the most beautiful of body parts. The graft to his hairy hand took really nicely, but the doctor said because he burned off so much skin there, he'll never have the amount of padding he has on his right hand. His left hand will always be thinner. So he feels a bit like Frankenstein's monster right now, all put together with scrap parts.

The pin that was surgically placed alongside the bone in his pinky finger got caught on the sheets one night and ripped out. I'm worried that the surgery was for nothing without the pin, and the outer fingers will heal curled to his palm. I keep reminding him to keep his fingers straight, but I don't think it's doing any good. He has yet another doctor's appointment today, so we'll find out if he needs to do anything to protect his hand.

Scott also had his court hearing regarding the accident. He went hoping the lady wouldn't show up. If that happened, then the officer said his ticket would be dismissed and he would no longer be held responsible for the accident. Scott had called her a few days after the accident and told her he wasn't required to carry insurance on his bike because the engine size is 49cc. He offered to just split the costs: he'll pay for his damages and she'll pay for hers. He even offered to split the uninsured motorist deductible on her policy. She said that sounded fair and she would run it by her husband and insurance company. The insurance company balked and said he was required to carry insurance no matter what (even the officer who faulted Scott for the accident confirmed about the insurance regulations). Contact between them halted and as luck goes, she showed.

Scott asked for a continuance, saying he needs a lawyer if she plans to fight the accident, which, frankly, I don't blame her for doing. The judge granted him one and now the court date won't be for another month and a half. I don't know what's going on with that, or even if he will hire a lawyer. I certainly don't have the money to pay for one.

In the meantime, he's applying for part-time work. He's shy to work in the kitchens because he's afraid of damaging the new skin on his hand by burning it on the oven or cutting it with the fancy chef knives I got him for Christmas last year. I don't blame him for feeling that way. His arms already look like they've been put through a blender with all the kitchen wounds he's incurred over the last 15 years. He has a third interview scheduled for Friday at a gourmet organic market as a consumer consultant: someone who provides the customer with recipes and cooking tips and the like. Apparently it comes with benefits such as your standard 401(k) and—I'm ecstatic—medical insurance! So pray, meditate, throw a coin, pass the salt, or whatever you do that he gets this job. He needs this. I need this.

~Thursday, September 11, 2008


Today, I am tired.

I spent 11 hours at the hospital yesterday, sitting in uncomfortable waiting room chairs (whoever thought an aluminum pipe was adequately served as an armrest is an idiot) and watching re-runs of at least 8 reality court room dramas. Judge Joe Brown, Judge Christina, Divorce Court, and Judge Judy—apparently they air them once in the morning and again after lunch. I'm glad to be employed.

If it's even possible, Scott's injuries were worse than everybody thought. The white stuff that I thought I had been looking at in Scott's hand over the last couple of weeks were not his tendons; it was his bone. Instead of shaving off the top layer of skin on his thigh and leaving a sunburn mark, the doctor instead had to remove, to quote him, "a sizable chunk" from his leg to adequately cover his hand and elbow. He now has a stitched scar running from his knee cap up the length of his inner thigh—like an inseam to his pants. He may never be able to use the last few fingers on his left hand again; the pin inserted was merely to keep them straight and not grow permanently curled into his fist.

The surgery lasted over three hours. I got a lot of knitting done, a little reading done, but absolutely no work. It's hard to write a magazine article in the state of mind I was in, followed by the background noise of Gary Coleman's appearance on Divorce Court.

He had been awake for over two hours before I could see Scott. The ambulatory surgery wing has closed by then, leaving me alone in the waiting room with the lights off. The anesthesiologist did an additional procedure to block the nerves in his left arm—if Scott had absolutely no feeling in his arm, then he also wouldn't feel any pain.

My endocrinologist called me first thing in the morning and gave me the results of my biopsy. It wasn't good news and that's all I'm going to get into for now.

Today, I am tired.

~Wednesday, September 10, 2008

D Day

It's early. I'm in my pajamas with a glass of iced tea. Scott's in the shower. We're heading to the hospital in about an hour for his operation. Please keep us in your thoughts today, guys. Thanks.

~Monday, September 08, 2008

Sometimes, we still laugh

Will you get up off the couch and sleep with me tonight?


All night? You won't get up at 4 a.m. and decide you're hungry for Chex and Charlie Rose?

All night.

When you wake up and roll over during the night, will you whisper you love me?


Will you watch me sleep while you smile and think up names for our children?


Since you don't have to work tomorrow and I do, will you get up early and make me breakfast?

Now you're pushing it!

~Saturday, September 06, 2008

A Really Long Thank You

A big, heartfelt thank you goes out to everyone that's donated or even simply left a comment of support. It's been a really trying time for me that I haven't really focused any time on anything else—this is my life for the near future—and it's so good to know that there are people who are there to listen. Otherwise, I've dropped off the face of the earth. My friends aren't relationships where we call each other up and simply talk. Any non-face time is spent planning face time, and because of where I'm at mentally and emotionally, I haven't been showing up. No one knows outside my immediate family that this is happening. So thank you, for being virtually my entire support system.

Everyone who has donated should have received something in the mail from me. If you donated recently, it'll be coming. Every dollar is much appreciated: albeit a free clinic, each visit costs $35 plus after care and prescriptions. It's the same for the hospital too. With a visit every three days, it's really adding up. Your donations are the only thing that kept my head above water financially. It has really helped me in more ways you will ever know. Someone recently suggested that if I ever get the chance to pay it forward, then to donate to suicide prevention or an animal rescue group. I think that's a fabulous idea and I can't wait until I am in the position to do so.

Also, everyone who has taken the time to e-mail me with lists of free clinics, federal law about firings due to medical needs, government aid with hospital bills, etc., keep them coming! I am exploring every possible avenue we may have.

And here's a preemptive thank you for continuing to listen (see: read) in the upcoming weeks with Scott's surgery and yet more scary doctor's appointments for me. Turns out my body is really effing stupid. It's reached short-bus status in my opinion. Or maybe it's like how close women sync their periods, and since Scott doesn't get a period, my body decided to sync in functioning like his body. Okay now it's clear I'm just typing to type.

So thank you. I effing love you guys.

~Friday, September 05, 2008

Mr. Freeze Versus the Thyroglobulins

Having become something of a biopsy regular, I don't have the same story this time that I had last time. The only noticeable difference is that my newly acquired, super expensive, super exclusive endocrinologist doesn't believe in local anaesthetics.

"The injection of the anaesthetic will be just as painful as the biopsy needle," he tried to explain to me.

"Yes, but there isn't one biopsy needle, there's three. And you don't just insert the biopsy needle, you stick it in and wave it around like a damn jackhammer." Seriously, by the time you get to the third needle, who cares about the first teeny weeny anaesthetic injection? And this isn't even touching on how a needle actively moving around inside your throat doesn't feel like a shot of B12 to the arm, which I also had to look forward to, followed by another round of blood samples after that--what's one more needle prod?

But I lost out because the super duper endocrinologist prefers the freeze method. I didn't get a good look, but I assume it's a can of frozen air something or other which he sprayed liberally on my neck, causing me to break out in a fit of shrieks and giggles on the operating room table. The opera playing on a tape deck in the corner of the room was accompanied by the whoosh of aerosol and my full belly-laugh hysterics.

"Looks like someone is ticklish," chirped the nurse.

"I get a lot of reactions with the freeze, but I've never had anyone laugh before," said the doctor, which really made me uncomfortable, because how many patients has this super endocrinologist seen during the life of his practice and I'm the only one? I never like hearing something I do is abnormal.

And so I wait. Again. If this biopsy comes back inconclusive again, he's operating and taking my thyroid out as a cancer precaution. Apparently the cancer risk is very high with two inconclusives. If my thyroglobulin levels come back high, he's operating and taking out my thyroid. I didn't bother to ask why. If my levels are come back normal, then I get to keep my thyroid, but get put on medications to try to shrink the tumors. Even though it looks like I'm going to be one of those people who has to take medication every day for the rest of my life no matter the outcome of this, obviously I'm still hoping for the third option because frankly I kinda like my thyroid even though my body doesn't.

I asked him why all of this happened in the first place, and he said my body got confused and thought my thyroid was now magically a foreign object, so it started attacking it. Apparently my body isn't very smart.

~Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Burn Baby

Scott's doctor visits have transferred from the free clinic to the hospital burn unit. There are two hospitals in the city that accept patients without health insurance: the one he went to when he was initially in the accident, and the one that has been treating his hand and arm. Thankfully, the second one seems to be on the same page as the free clinic as far as quality of care.

Scott got up early one morning and took the subway to the burn unit. The waiting room was a sea of gauze and medical tape. Dirty office chairs filled with down-and-out folks: there are no appointments without health insurance, you just sit and wait. Scott absentmindedly picked at whatever was crusted to the stained burgundy fabric of his chair with his fingernail, but then thought better of it. One by one, patients were called behind the single curtain. None seemed to stay very long, just long enough for a dressing change and to come back next week for a progress check.

When Scott was called, he brushed back the curtain and sat on the freshly papered bed. Automatically, he held out his left wrist and began to unwrap the long tail of gauze and padding. He had been doing this since that first office visit and wasn't going to give anybody the opportunity not to get a good look at his wounds anymore. The doctor in his white coat shuffled in with his head buried in the clipboard. "So Scott, you say you have a burn on your hand. Let's take a look at it," he read. He looked up at Scott for the first time and was greeted with the uncensored hand.

"Oh my," the doctor said, startled. "You must have been unconscious to get a burn that bad."

"I was. I was out for 10-15 minutes and my hand was against the car's muffler we think."

"All the skin is missing from your hand," he marveled. "This right here," he pointed to the open flesh running from the tip of his pinky down to his wrist "is body fat. You burned everything off down to the fat," he repeated. "Excuse me while I get my partner," and the doctor left.

All in all, six doctors came to look and discuss Scott's hand. Multiple skin grafts are definitely in order. So is surgery. Scott's hand has taken a claw-like appearance. With his injuries, he can't fully open his palm or wiggle his pinky, and unless he has surgery to insert a pin in his hand, he'll never have use of it again. Skin from his thigh will go on his left hand, his left elbow, and his right foot to help them heal. His thigh will look like it's sunburned for awhile.

I keep thinking back to that first doctor, our family friend who has been taking care of us for years, and how he wouldn't even so much a look at the burn. By not looking at it or listening to what happened, he missed an infection, skin grafts, and surgery. He was wrong—he was so wrong—and it just makes me so angry. When he asks about Scott's wounds, and he will, I want to tell him that we didn't trust him not looking at it and paid for a second opinion that resulted in surgery. I want him to feel bad by not taking us seriously. More importantly, I want him to be a better doctor because of it.

~Monday, September 01, 2008


When he called me a bitch for not buying him another pack of cigarettes, I stepped inside the gas station and bought the most expensive pack they had just so I could have the pleasure of whipping it at his head while calling him an asshole.


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