Welcome to Anne's blog!

If you are new to the blog, you probably want to start at the beginning of the whole sad story. To get there, use the "Blog Archive" tool in the right column of the blog and click on "2009," and then "January 25." From there you can continue to click on each week to see the weekly entries.

I would love to hear from you! If you would like to leave a message, you can reach me at aheetderks@wcsmiami.org!

Friday morning, February 6, 2009

I got the sweetest package of notes from Ms. McCoy’s class last night.  After reading some of the comments, you will easily see why I adore working with young children.  So precious . . . 

Dear Mrs. Heetderks,

  • “I know that God is taking care of you and I don’t want you to forget that.”
  •  “I have been praying and praying.  We all need Jesus’ healing every once and a while. I just wish that the 10 foot ladder was only one foot tall.”
  • “Mr. Heetderks told us about you on January 27 and he almost cried.”
  •  “You are the best art teacher in the whole world.  You taught me stuff that my brother doesn’t know and he is in 8th grade.”
  • “I prayed for you last night.  My family prayed for you and even my hamster prayed for you.”
  • “You are really blessed.  My mom said that it is a miracle that you are alive.”

In addition to these sweet kids, I know that so many of you have been praying for my family and me.  Thank you for

 all of your words of encouragement. I hope to be sending my next update to you from my home.  Time will tell. 

Love to all--Anne

(The pictures show my students making their own Sistine Chapel by painting on the underside of our tables, and creating Michelangelo-inspired gesture drawings of their peers.)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

“OK . . . don’t get excited.  Don’t react.  I have good news, but . . . the news could go bad at any second.  So again, don’t get excited.  But I do have good news.”

This is the general gist of what I heard today.  So I am going to pass my good news along to you—but remember . . . DON’T GET EXCITED! 

Good News: The most recent bacteria culture they took a few days ago came back negative.  We have finally beaten the gram-negative rod bacteria!  I can now go home late Friday (to my house—shocking!) and administer the antibiotics on my own for about the next two months. 

Doctor’s Voice of Reason:  This is a positive step but the bacteria can easily mutate and begin attacking my wound from a different angle.  I need to know that this is going to be a “long haul.”  I need to be on the constant lookout for new signs of infection.  I may also have problems (yeast infection, thrush, diarrhea, etc.) from killing off the “good” bacteria with the antibiotics.

Good News:  The wound is healing beautifully.  The VAC has encouraged a ton of new, healthy tissue that is full of bright, red blood (the first picture shows all the dead tissue from when I first got readmitted to the hospital, the second was from Monday, and the third was from today).  The new tissue is slowly covering the exposed metal hardware that they screwed into my bone.  If the tissue stays healthy and continues to “fill in” the wound, I will get a skin graft in a few weeks.

Doctor’s Voice of Reason:  Although the wound is looking good, there is small pocket below the wound that keeps filling up with gook.  We keep trying to get the VAC to suck it up, but the pocket is just a little too deep.  Hopefully, the home health nurse who will visit me every other day to change my VAC will be able to stay on top of removing the gook and keep it from getting infected.

Good News:  The wound is healing and we have the infection under control.

Doctor’s Voice of Reason:  If we can keep this up, the bone will have a good chance to stay alive and heal.  However, the fact still remains that the talus bone was badly broken, the cartilage was destroyed, and many essential parts of the talus bone are missing (left behind in my front yard and/or floating around in my ankle).  There will be a long road ahead as Dr. Carbonell rebuilds the talus bone and tries to get it to function properly.

OK—so I won’t get excited (well—maybe just a little).  But I will tell you one thing:  I look forward to step into my own house, eat with my family, sleep next to my sweet husband, cuddle with my precious girls, stroke our dog, smell fresh air, and boldly step into the next “leg” of my journey.  Thank you so much for coming along for the ride!  With much love--Anne

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

On a medical note . . . My infectious disease doctor added another type of antibiotic to my daily does of bacteria-killing meds that I am taking.  We will get test results on Thursday or Friday to see if we have managed to kill off the bacteria from the wound.  Time will tell. The VAC continues to suck out gook from my wound and the sponge will be changed tomorrow.  

On a personal note . . . It is funny how getting good news can allow you to come up for air, breathe a little, and get out from under the gravity of your situation for a while.  Today has been like that.  It was Student Nurse Tuesday today (I have been in the hospital so long now that I actually know the weekly work, meal, and activity schedule by heart) so I was asked to tell my story twelve million times to all of the student nurses.  Later, their supervisor came in to assess if they had asked me the correct questions, collected the appropriate data, and checked out every part of my body to make sure it was working (or “moving”) properly.  It was amazing how some students could make an instant connection—putting me at ease, anticipating needs, offering genuine encouragement, etc.--while others were essentially “going through the motions.” 

As one who is now in the constant care of nurses and doctors—I get what it is to be on the receiving end of someone who enjoys what they do and desires to do it well.  Nurse Cam remembers to bring me orange jello and saltine crackers whenever she gives me my Percocet.  Nurse Mae giggles when she walks in on me doing my exercises and tells me that I am the only person who does them without a physical therapist standing by.  On a dark morning, Nurse Michelle shared her favorite nugget of wisdom with me: “It is my resistance to what is that causes my suffering.”  Nurse Jorge taught me how to take a shower without getting my foot wet.  Nurse Miriam called me from her home to give me the name of a web site that we had been talking about the night before.  Nurse Ingrid brought me a “magic eraser” from home so that I could clean my laptop.  Mind you—all of these things are happening while these nurses are just “doing" their jobs—taking vitals, administering medication, assessing changes, etc. 

Since being in the hospital, I had one day that I had a nurse who mixed “doing her job” with subtle put-downs, an attitude of annoyance when I asked questions, and an unwillingness to respond to my basic needs in a timely manner.  Although she technically performed the duties of her job, her attitude nearly crushed my spirit.

My realization for today is that people can have an amazing impact on the world by serving others with joy and love.  May we all be a blessing—even when we are just “doing our job.”

Monday, February 2, 2009

We got a lesson in patience and faith today as we waited for Dr. Carbonell to stop by and respond to my disappointing lab results from yesterday.  Amazingly enough, when he came and removed the VAC and the bandages, his face lit up like a Christmas tree (I even got a picture of him when he smiled).  He was very pleased with the tissue growth and felt like the wound looked very healthy.  Although I continue to test positive for infection, he feels that we will be able to eventually beat the infection with time and antibiotics.  If the wound was not healing, he might think that we should go in for another surgery and do a deep cleaning of the entire wound again (to see if there was some nasty piece of mulch still hiding somewhere).  However, because it is indeed looking healthy, he will simply keep me in the hospital so they can clean out the wound daily and keep me under close supervision. 

Even though I would love to go home, watch my daughter in her school program on Thursday, and be a part of my family again, I must be patient and know that I must stay in the hospital until my body has rid itself of this infection.

I waited patiently for the LORD; He turned to me and heard my cry.

He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; 

He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.   Psalm 40:1-2

As a woman who got lifted out of a muddy, dirty flower bed, these verses remind me to just chill out and wait for God to do His work in His own time.  My day to stand up on my own on a firm place will come soon enough.


Saturday, February 1, 2009 - 5:00 p.m.

Bozena, Dr. Carbonell's resident, just came by to clean the dressings of my wound and change the VAC sponge.  She told me that the final results had just come in from my bacteria culture and that it showed a "positive" result for gram negative bacteria.  That is a bummer.  

Tomorrow I will meet with Dr. Carbonell and find out what our next step will be.  Thanks for your prayers.  Anne

Saturday, February 1, 2009 - morning

We continue to wait for the results of the culture taken on Thursday.  If the results come back negative, that will mean that the antibiotics have managed to kill off the infection in my wound and I will be able to go home.  Over the last few days, Dr. Carbonell's residents have continued to clean and rewrap my wound every day.  The VAC has already sucked out an amazing amount of "gook" that otherwise would have stayed in my foot.  I have decided to refrain from posting a picture of the collection tank on the VAC--NOT pretty.  The suction of the VAC not only removes drainage, but it encourages blood flow and tissue growth in the wound.  Who knew suction could make such a difference--but we have already noticed new growth and healthy-looking tissue from just three days on the VAC. 

I was able to reconnect with Doug and the girls this weekend which was a blessing.  Nothing like sharing a little chicken curry together (and a visit from the therapy dog) to heal the soul.  Thanks to all of you who have written such beautiful words of encouragement, prayed fervent prayers for healing, and lifted my family up by doing everything from making meals to installing a shower head with a hand-held wand in our bathroom!  I will let you know the results of my test when I get them.  Much love to all--Anne