Monday, October 6, 2008

We're Back!

Good Monday morning everyone. Today's entry is brought to you from the discomfort of my hospital bed at Christus Santa Rosa in New Braunfels. This 4-foot wide mattress has been my bedroom, living room, dining room, game room, reading room, den, and believe it or not, bathroom (don't make me explain that one, but I've done more than just sponge bathe myself and brush my teeth while lying here.) I'm going on the 53 hour of being at this hospital since the time my wife and I went to the Emergency room shortly after writing the last blog entry on Friday.

Last Friday evening, while my family went to dinner without me, I took some pain medicine and found a comfortable spot on the couch where I could elevate my increasingly swollen knee while grading a tall mound of students' quizzes and tests. With the end of the six-weeks happening, I knew that it was imperative that I take care of all my grades that evening, should any further course of action need be taken with my knee. After 2 hours, the grading was all done, and all grades were entered into the online gradebook. I felt a trememdous burden lifted off my shoulders . . . . . . . only to be set down . . . . . . . on my knee.

The whole time I was grading, my knee felt OK in the sense that I didn't think the pain or the swelling were getting worse. As I repositioned myself to eat the leftovers my family brought back from the Olive Garden (mmmmmmmmm Lasagna!), the movement sent shooting pains to the center of my knee. As I poked my fork into the red, pasty lasagna, it simultaneously felt like there was one sticking in my knee. As I finished up the meal, I knew that surgeons don't like to adminsiter general anesthesia unless the patient has been fasting for at least 8 hours. Perhaps I felt like this was my last, desparate attempt to stave off the infection that I already suspected was multiplying exponentially in my knee.

With my exhausted wife getting ready for bed, only after asking me 100 times if I was SURE I didn't want her to call Medical Exchange and getting the same short, negative reply from me, I decided I would get cleaned up and hit the sack as well, where I'd pray for a miracle in my sleep. As I slowly and painfully got out of the shower, no longer able to even bend my knee enough to step over the side of the tub, I felt something oozing down my leg. I looked down to see a steady flow of slick, yellow fluid escaping from my lateral incision. Before I even reached for anything to wipe it up, knowing that it meant I DID in fact have ANOTHER infection, I broke out in big, old, wet, man tears. Not only was it unfair, especially with my history, but it was soooo unlikely with a surgery like this one.

An infection meant so so many things that were going to disrupt my life for the next 6 to 8 weeks, including surgeries, pain, strong antibiotics, pain, medical bills, more pain, missing work, major inconveniences, more bills, more pain, more scars, more bills, and a continual, steady dose of melancholy. These things and more flashed into my head as I stood there in the bathroom. Most of all, I didn't want my wife to have to go through this again, as the last two four years ago took such an emotional toll on her as she worked full-time, job two small kids, and one helpless husband who needed every bit of her Nursing training in keeping my surgical site and PIICC line site clean, sterile, healthy, and infection free. It also meant the the new tile floors would have to take a back set yet again to my unfortunate medical bills.

After several paper towels, Shealynn and I finally got all the puss wiped up. It looked even more yellow in the white towels. I was able to pull myself together and even began to feel a little better as some of the pressure in my knee was alleviated from the escaping fluid. We soon go a hold of the ortheopeadic surgeon who was on call for my own doctor. He told us to go to the emergency room so they could verify it was in fact infected. There was no trying to convice him either through my past experiences or the most air-tight of mathematically logical arguments that I KNEW it was infected. I was hoping he'd meet me at the hospital at take care of it right away. I also knew that "taking care of it" meant an emergency "Irrigation and Debrisment" surgery in which the doctor washes out the area repeatedly, trying to rid it of the stuff that shouldn't be there. He then posts tiny"KEEP OUT" and "NO TRESPASSING" signs inside my knee for the bacteria who might think about retruning.

We left immediately for the hospital, knowing that the quicker we got there, the quicker we'd get to wait, and wait, and wait . . . . Once we arrived, I could feel my knee already returning to the pre-puss-profusion size and pain level. We found a spot in a relative clean chair away from the coughing kid next to the dirty spot on the floor. After what only seemed like an hour my name was called!!!!!! Wow . . . . . it was just to meet with the Triage nurse, who was finally going to assess my pain and put me somewhere on the list in order of how urgent it was for me to be seen. Meanwhile, the on-call surgeon sat a home waiting for a phone call. The triage nurse was very nice, and opted to put my name on the "non urgent" list! Really! She said I would get back faster and still see a real doctor, but because the "urgent" list was soooooo long, I would have to wait hours more. That seemed very oxymoronic to me, but perhaps it's a strategy they use when they have really nice guys like me in there with undeserving, painful infections in their knees.

Finding differernt seats in the corner under the television (our previous ones were quickly snatched up while we were back) we waited patiently while everyone in the waiting room was seemingly staring at us as they watched "Amazing Animals" on Animal Planet Network. Soon my parents came, and Mr. Wenzel. We talked and waited together. The pain was getting intolerable. I couldn't get comfortable. I decided to crutch it to the bathroom with my wife to try to "milk" out some of the puss again to alleviate the pressure and assuage the intense pain. The "milking" itself was excrutiating, but it as worth it. After 20 minutes or so, we returned, with my pain now at a 9.5 instead of 10 on a 10 point scale.

"Kevin Ku--ore---pee?" came a voice from a head that poked through the double doors. I said my goodbyes to my parents in the waiting room and my wife and I proceeded through the double doors ready to face this new infection once again, head on, together.


Anonymous said...

You know how they say "everything happens for a reason"? When I was going to school at Baylor my first year of college, I had an undecided major until one fateful day when I caught a ride back to Waco with the only other person from New Braunfels who attended Baylor. Somehow we started talking about all of the opportunities in the nursing field, and I was sold. I have never had an interest in working in a hospital. Everyone who knows me well knows that I am not a really compassionate person. Nursing does not necessarily seem like a natural fit for me. But, everything happens for a reason, and I choose nursing, studies physiology, found a job in nursing that works for me, and am so thankful that I am somewhat fit to take care of my family. Yes, this sucks, big time. It sucked the first two times. Tate falling in the grease sucked. It is hard to see your family suffer. But, everything happens for a reason, and, someday, we'll know the reason for this current infection. Until then, we'll keep trudging along...
The floors can wait.

Anonymous said...

Hang in and get yourself well. I can imagine what a pain in your backside this is yet again.

Anonymous said...

Shealynn you are an angel. Thank goodness Kevin, Tate, and Jenna have you. I, too, believe everything happens for a reason.

I'm so sorry you guys have to go through this again.

Bernie and I are thinking of you and are willing to help in any way we can. LC

Dmac said...


I am so sorry to hear of your set back. You have been an inspiration to us 30 something wanna be runners. You are always thinking of your students and others first. Now it is time to take care of you. Let me know when your appetite is back. I would be happy to bring dinner over for the family on one of those," I am worn out from running around" nights.