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!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

It was five weeks ago today that I fell from the ladder.  I don’t mean for it to feel like an anniversary or anything but I can see how the five-week mark is messing with my head today.  It seems like five weeks has been enough. 

Doesn’t it seem long enough?  Doesn’t it seem like I should have a little more energy, or need to sleep a little less, or be a little more “Anne”-like?  How is it that I am NOT going stir-crazy?  Everyone keeps saying, “Are you bored out of your mind?  Are you dying to get up and get going??” 

The simple (and surprising) answer is, “No.”  The basic act of getting up ten times in one day to go to the bathroom is about all the physical activity I can handle right now.  I get exhausted just having a two-minute conversation on the phone.  And yet there is a part of me that is feeling guilty that I am not ready to do more.  Don’t you always hear that the best thing someone can do is to get up and get going again? 

On Friday, I went to my Mom’s to take a shower, got my haircut, and had a very low-key visit (on our couch) with a dear friend of ours from Alaska. It didn’t seem like I had done anything major—I took two-hour naps in between each of those activities.  But I could tell that just taking the shower was about as much as I (or my ankle) could handle for that day. 

By the end of the day, my ankle felt weird and was very swollen.  Part of me felt very guilty that I had pushed my body too hard.  But the other part of me thought, “You have got to be kidding me!  I can’t even do that without my body freaking out??”  Yes—I guess that is the case.  My body is telling me that I still need to rest.  And I have a feeling that in another five weeks, I will still need a lot of rest.

So yea—It has been a long time. Elise told us that she sometimes wishes that she could get in a time machine and go back to the morning that I fell.  She says that she would go back to tell me NOT to get up on the ladder.  Annika says that she just wants all of it to just “go away.”

But it happened.  And for now we have to be thankful that we have each other, that my body is healing, that we are keeping infection at bay, that we are loved, that we are alive, and that we have a God that is looking out for us all the time (even when it seems a little slow).  Once again, I feel incredibly blessed that—although today is bugging me a bit—I am ready to allow myself the time to heal.  I do not feel like I am climbing the walls, I am not bored—God has allowed me to accept this as my reality and trust in His wisdom. 

God is in control, so I am just going to CHILL.


Friday, February 20, 2009

I . . . HAVE . . . SHOWERED!!!!!!!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Well, folks—It may not be pretty, but I am going to get through it.  That’s all I have to say.

Dr. Jacobsen told me that we have run out of options for antibiotics so I have to stay on the one I am on now.  He wants me to take the Benadryl to try to control the itchy/swelling side effects, and take Advil to ease the fever and achiness.  We are all hoping that I can manage to just get through the next three weeks on it and then I will be “out of the woods.”  He is going to have my blood tested twice a week to make sure that my white blood cell count doesn’t go seriously low again.  If it does, he will have no choice than to take me off of it early.  That is a little scary--especially because the wound is wide open with exposed hardware right now. 

Because of this, Dr. Carbonell is really trying to get the insurance company to approve covering my wound with dermagraft.  He thinks this will work much better than if he were to cover the wound with my own skin.  From what I can tell, dermagraft is a “skin substitute” that stimulates your own skin cells to multiply and heal around the wound.  If I am taken off the antibiotic a little early—at least the wound is covered. 

On a more personal note—Elise was my night nurse last night.  She has been afraid to stay by me at night because she is afraid that she will kick me.  She never kicked me—just kept me nice and warm. 

Love to you all!!!


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Mom and I took my foot out for another field trip today to the Vascular and Spine Institute (we even used the handicapped sticker for the first time!). 

After waiting for a looonnnggg time in the waiting room (hence, the name), I was brought into an operating room to have a PICC line put in my arm. A PICC is a long, flexible tube that is put into a vein in your arm and threaded up into a large vein just above your heart (see the diagram). It can stay in your arm for up to a year and does not have to be changed.  

Right now I give myself antibiotics through the PICC line every 8 hours.  The antibiotic is placed in a pressurized ball that slowly releases the antibiotic over a half hour (the pictures show one that is full and one that is empty).  I don’t need a nurse to come and do it and I don’t need one of those IV stands that you typically think of when you hear about IVs.

Dr. Jacobson took me off my old antibiotic because it caused my white blood cell count to go really low.  Now, on the new antibiotic, I have been noticing that my hands will itch really badly and swell.  Today my lips even started swelling (very Angelina Jolie-ish).  I won’t be surprised if they pull me off of this antibiotic and put me on yet another one!  Have to keep going with the flow . . .

I am getting a little excited because I see that my countdown to my weekly shower is getting very close!!!

Love to you!


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tuesday means that I wake up, eat, take antibiotics, sleep, eat, and then go to the Jackson Wound Center to see Dr. Carbonell.  I am telling you, when that man walks in the room, the clouds part, the sun starts shining, and everything starts making perfect sense. 

He loves the look of my wound and wants to do a skin graft on it soon.  He expects that my insurance company is going to fight it so he wants me to start working the phones tomorrow to get an approval moving along. 

He also thinks that he will be able to remove the external fixator in a month or two.  This will require an outpatient surgery for them to get the pins out.  I am telling you, at first I was not wild about my amazingly humongous piece of footwear but I have really worked it into my personal style.  I think I will miss stretching my underwear and pants beyond the limits of man-made fibers when it is gone.  Ha ha.

When he removes the fixator, he is also going to remove one of the plates that they screwed into my bones during the second surgery.  I didn’t really get it all at the time but now I understand.  You see, in order to reach the talus (the bone that I reeeeeaaaaalllllllyyy destroyed), he had to get around the fibula (look on the left side of the bone diagram).  So, he simply cut the fibula bone away, did his magical work on the talus, and then put the fibula back in place using a metal plate (see it on the x-ray?).  If my wound had just healed without getting infected, the plate would have stayed in there forever.  However, because it got so infected and they had to cut away all of the external skin, that plate has been exposed for the last month.  In the mean time, the fibula has actually healed and doesn’t need to be held together by the plate anymore so he is just going to remove it!  One less thing to set off the metal detectors.

Every day brings another baby step towards “normal.”  Today I felt strong enough to go and sit out on the driveway while the girls played with our dear neighbor boys, Kory and Nick.  My little nurses set up chairs for me, brought out plenty of food and Gatorade, and then carefully “walked” me to the driveway.  It was great. 

Annika so needs to be comforted sometimes with absolute knowns: No—I am not going back to the hospital.  Yes—I will walk again.  No—the wound is not going to get infected.  Yes—I will be able to go to your chili cook-off next Thursday.  However, she and I both know that I cannot promise any of these things.  So it was just nice to escape these sad unknowns and just feel “normal” for a bit. 

Love to all--Anne 

Friday-Monday, February 13-16, 2009

Long story short . . . time and detective work have revealed some new truths.  The PIC line was, in fact, NOT infected.  So, I no longer need to take the Cubicin antibiotic.  They are glad about all this because it means that there was no new bacteria introduced into my bloodstream.  I will go in on Wednesday to have a new PIC placed in my arm so I don't have to use these temporary IV lines.

I had a blood drawn today to see if my white blood cell count is higher.  Judging by the fact that my fever/body aches have decreased, I really think it will be much better this time around.  In the end, I think the change in antibiotics (from Zosyn to Primaxin) has made the difference.  Unless there are any major developments, I will continue to take the Primaxin for another couple months to keep the ankle site clear of infection.

Although I still have very frequent "crashes," where I suddenly get very weak, clammy, and faint--most agree that I just need to eat plenty of good food, get lots of rest, and have Gatorade or apple juice nearby for a quick boost.

I decided to include some pictures from our weekend together.

These show . . .

- Me all wrapped up to take my first shower in 11 days!!!

- Doug and Mom (my caretakers) reading my blog about how much I appreciate
 my caretakers!!! :)

- Me waiting for Doug to get the car outside Dr. Jacobsen's office.

- Elise and me opening up all of the wonderful "Get Well" cards that we have received from all 
of our wonderful friends and family!!!

- We tried to have a family movie night where Dad did not fall asleep during the first 3 minutes of the movie . . .  Not only did he fall asleep but so did the dog.

- Elise gave me a fantastic leg and foot massage while watching Arthur.

- Annika has been sleeping with me every night because she is a great nurse AND she doesn't wake up when I hobble (loudly) to the bathroom a million times throughout the night.  Elise wanted to try out being a night nurse, too, so she decided to sleep on the floor (she was worried that she might kick me in her sleep).