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, May 22, 2009

I made it!  The wound is now closed and secured with staples.  I may not move my ankle or put any weight on it for about two weeks so I don't tear the thing back open.

As I told you earlier, I was feeling really lousy on Wednesday night before the surgery.  Annika was very distressed by this.  She said, "I know I am not supposed to worry about you and I am trying to be positive but I am looking at you and you do not seem the same like you were before like when you were laughing and joking and now you look sick again and that is making me think that you are not getting better and maybe you are getting worse . . ."  While Doug was working to reassure her, I was trying to reassure myself.  

I was still feeling very faint and weak by the time I went in for surgery on Thursday.  So, my ever-faithful Nurse Judith hooked me up to the IV and put some liquids back in me.  That helped a lot.  

It was so funny going through all of the prep that I had just done two days before.  From the nurses to the lab techs--people kept saying, "Weren't you here for surgery just the other day?!?!?"  Yep--I just can't stay away from being poked, prodded, and knocked out!

The funniest part was seeing people's reactions to the Dermaclose apparatus on my foot.  Dr. Carbonell told me it was the first time it was used on a patient at Jackson Hospital.  I could tell.  Everyone who came by would look at my ankle, smile, and then do a nasty-faced double take to look at it again. 
The anesthesiologists were particularly grossed out by it. (You can see here in the pictures that one felt the need to hold his nose, while the other kept saying, "Eewww!"  I told them that was not very professional.)

Although it looked terrible, the little thing did its job . . . IT CLOSED THE WOUND.  Praise the Lord.  Dr. Carbonell and his residents were very excited to see how well it worked. 

Dr. Carbonell finally got a look at my x-rays and told me that there are signs of bone death along the top ridge of the talus.  That is not very good news.  If the bone continues to die over the next 6 months (the usual time range for bone death after an injury), we will then have to consider more serious options (ankle replacement or ankle fusion).  However, if the bone is finished dying, I should be OK.  He said that he has had many patients who have been able to function well with the same amount of bone death that I have right now.  So, let's just pray that the blood supply has been restored to the bone and that it is in the mood to stay ALIVE!

Last night, I had this conversation with Elise . . .

"It's good that you don't have to wear your big boot anymore. Right, Mom?"
"Yes, honey."
"And, it's good that you don't have blood all over your bandage. Right, Mom?"
"Yes, honey."
"And, it's good that you didn't die during surgery. Right, Mom?"
"Yes, honey."

Sometimes life is just about the simple things. 

Wednesday night, May 20, 2009

The strings keep pulling tighter and tighter on the Dermaclose device.  I am becoming more and more convinced that this thing really could be used effectively in torture situations. (Google it and look at the case studies if you aren't convinced.  It may work wonders on wounds but it sure looks freaky!!)

I scared myself a little tonight because I was running a slight fever and was feeling really achy.  Between that and the pain, I was feeling like I was back where I was about two months ago--feeling lousy.  So . . . I ate a TON of food and that kind of boosted me back up.  I also took a percocet (I hate taking those things) which took the edge off the pain. Hopefully the fever is because my body is working hard to balance itself out after the surgery.  I don't even want to THINK about the possibility of it being from infection.

My Mom and Dad are back from visiting my brother and his family in California so they will take me to surgery tomorrow morning.  My surgery will be at 11:30am and should be a quick one if everything goes as planned.  Will keep you posted . . .

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

We went round and round wondering if I should spend the day by myself today, or if we should get a "babysitter" for me.  Looking back on my blog, we noticed that I was pretty "out of it" the day after the last surgery (the one where they removed the external fixator).  Although I am in some pain today (feeling the little timer pulling on those strings!!!), I am happy to be taking lots of naps and working to schedule my surgery for tomorrow!  

I had two thoughts though . . .

One, you would think that having surgery would give you permission to "check out" from being a Mom for a few hours.  Not true.  The minute the kids got home around 8:30pm, we were dealing with the last-minute stresses of finishing homework, packing lunches, walking the dog in the rain, and choosing appropriate clothes and shoes for the Hawaiian dress day.  Of course, I was trying to manage all this from my bed--which usually results in a lot of yelling with no one listening.  When everyone was finally quiet, we all realized that the stress is really just about one thing--the fact that Mom having surgery is scary, brings up lots of bad memories, and invites new concerns about the future.  Not very fun.

Two, when I wake up from surgery, there is really only one person I want to see . . . my husband.  When he walks into the room, my heart still does a little happy flutter.  He has been so patient, and loving, and long-suffering throughout all of this.  I love him.  I love him.  I love him.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Hey!  I survived!  

Last night, I ate a ton of food right up until midnight (the food and water cut-off time for surgery), and then stayed up and watched T.V. until 2 am. My plan was to sleep in this morning as late as possible so I wouldn't notice that I wasn't going to be able to eat until after 8:00 pm!  I made it through the morning without any accidental snacking and took a nice, hot shower--knowing it would be my last for a while.  

When my friend, Nancy, came and picked me up to bring me to Jackson, I felt like I was leaving for a haircut.  Seeing as this is my fifth surgery since my fall, I feel like I have the surgery routine pretty down pat.  The blood work.  The EKG.  The lovely gown.  The gazillion medical questions.  The endless search for a good vein.  The annoying need to go to the bathroom right after being hooked up to the IV and heart monitor.

I was assigned to Nurse Judith.  A by-the-book, on-the-ball, to-the-point, not-messing-around kind of nurse.  She was wonderful and even brought me peanut butter and jelly with some crackers after my surgery.  Best meal I had all day.

I like a nurse like Nurse Judith MUCH better than the dropping-the-needle, misplacing-the-armband, rolling-the-eyes-at-the-doctor, what-was-your-name?-kind of nurse.  That had happened the day before when the nurse walked in and said, "OK, Ms. Heetderks, we are ready to take you for your chest X-ray . . ."  I thought, "I am getting my ankle fixed and getting a cosmetic enhancement at the same time???  Hot-diggedy dog!!!"

Anyway, when it was time for the surgery, a man came in with Dr. Carbonell to explain the procedure that they were going to use on my foot.  Basically (look at the picture), they would staple a number of metal brackets around the perimeter of my wound.  A wire would be strung through the rings and attached to a timer (the blue and white thing).  The timer will gradually pull the wire over the next two days--slowly cinching the wound closed.  The diagram shown here is so pretty.  When I saw what it looked like on me after the surgery (I chose not to include a picture out of respect for my squeamish readers!), it reminded me of some fancy new advancement in torture technology.  

The surprise for Doug and I was that I will be having another surgery in two days on Thursday!  This will be a quick surgery where they will remove the brackets and the timer, and then secure the closed wound with staples.  Amazing.

Dr. Carbonell is hopeful that this procedure will actually work and will be the end of my open-wound days.  If it is successful, we will still have to keep a close eye out for infection or rejection of the tissue on the metal.  For now--we will stay positive.

It was so funny.  On Monday, I had a full x-ray done of my foot.  When I was leaving the radiology department, there was a dark room with the door open.  Here inside were two men staring at computer monitors with a big foot illuminated on their screens.  They were discussing various aspects of the image, so I was trying to inconspicuously hang around so I might catch a word or two of what they were saying (as inconspicuously as a big woman with a turquoise walker and a tube hanging from her leg can look).  As I was analyzing the image, sure that I was recognizing hairline fractures in the talus, and slight bone death on the perimeter of the bone . . . I realized . . . the foot didn't have any pins or metal plates screwed into it.  What an idiot!  It wasn't my foot at all.  Remind me not to quit my day job to pursue a career in radiology.

Dr. Carbonell said that he didn't get to see MY ankle x-rays because the computer was down. Just as well.  I don't want to get any bad news about bone death.  Today is just about wound closure.  

A special word of thanks to all of you who have been praying for my family and me.  God has been allowing us to learn so much through this experience.  Every day is a blessing in its own way.  

Love to you all!


P.S.  As if having his aquarium explode wasn't bad enough . . .  This morning, Doug was getting ready to do a little presentation at our morning faculty meeting, when he heard the maintenance guys using the weed whacker around his barn.  Unfortunately, they were not aware that two of Doug's hens have been faithfully sitting on eggs underneath the chicken coop over the last few weeks.  By the time Doug reached the coop, it was too late.  The hens and all of their eggs were weed-whacked to smithereens.  He had to reach under the coop and pull out the dead hens and all of the broken eggs with the little chicks inside.  So sad.

Monday, May 18, 2009


On Friday, I went to visit my infectious disease doctor, Dr. Jacobsen.  I haven't been to that office in a while, now that I am off of my antibiotics.  It was a riot to see everyone again.  Dr. J. was happy to hear that Dr. Carbonell was going to close up the wound on Tuesday. He can't tell me enough times that as long as the metal hardware is exposed--my risk of infection is very great.  Even with tomorrow's surgery, he still has his doubts that the wound will heal over the metal.  I just have to hope that my body will surprise him.

I attempted to go shopping for some clothes . . . a first since my fall.  I was delighted to see that long, sleeveless dresses seem to be in for this summer.  Perfect fashion to disguise a big, black boot!  Hooray!

Doug and the girls took a late night run over to the home of a family friend to witness the birth of puppies!!!  It was quite an eye-opening experience to see this dog give birth to 10 puppies--one every half-hour.  The girls LOVED it.  
Unfortunately, this experience may have wiped out any chance of us having any grandchildren.  The girls concluded that they don't EVER want to get pregnant now that they know what is involved in giving birth!

I am one of the leaders of our middle/high school youth group at our church.  So, on Saturday, we got on a bus and had a beach outing at Bill Baggs Beach on Key Biscayne.  To protect my foot, I wrapped it up in a garbage bag and hoped that no one would throw it away on accident (just kidding).  The kids helped carry me down to the water and set me up with all my garb on the beach.  The only problem was that I fell asleep and when I woke up--everyone was gone.  I was burned, thirsty, and I had NO way to get back to the picnic area!  So funny.  

Elise was able to come along with us and had a great time hanging out with the big kids.  She was even very impressed that I was able to jump up the three steps of the bus all by myself.  She is such a cheerleader for me.

Annika hung out with Doug on Saturday and brought chickens from the Discovery Barn over to a local farm.  They spent the day checking out animals that could become the newest members of Doug's Barn program.  So much fun.

We are gearing up for having me "out of commission" again this week.  I am excited to begin a new chapter of my healing (maybe even get rid of the tube attached to my ankle?!?!?).  I will let you know how it goes.  

Thanks for all of your prayers!


P.S.  As usual, Dr. Jacobsen ended my appointment on Friday with a bad joke.  Here it is . . .

So, Dr. J. was meeting with a husband and wife who had just found out that their son had been in a terrible accident and was in need of a brain transplant.  The doctors explained to the parents that there were two brains available for the transplant.  One was the brain of a young man which would cost $100,000.  The other was the brain of a woman which would cost $30,000.  As the parents considered their options, they felt they had to ask why there was such a difference in the cost of the two brains.  The doctor said, "Well, the woman's brain is used."

Baddum-bum.  (I told you it was bad.)