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!

Thursday night, September 30

Today ended up being kind of a strange day. After they pulled out the nerve block, I feel like I was in a mental tug of war trying to discern my level of pain and how best to handle it. They haven't been real generous with pain medication so I can now tell that I need to be a little more direct in asking for help. No matter what--I made it through my first day and am now a little wiser in what to ask for tomorrow.

Whatever. The best part of the day was getting a visit from my Dad, and my friends and co-workers, Sharon and Lisa. They brought some cards that kids had made for me. They were all adorable, thoughtful, and sweet. I can tell that we should probably have a school-wide spelling test on how to spell our last name (Heettricks, Heetdreeks, Hendricks, Heaterks, etc.) . . . But one especially cracked me up.

It started as a piece of paper folded up so many times that it resembled a very unique form of origami--only to be carefully secured with about three miles of scotch tape. After spending 10 minutes just trying to open it up, I could tell that there was another wad of paper inside the package. Well--the paper was none other than $21.00 in bills. When I opened up the card, there was a beautiful watercolor painting of water and a prosthetic leg with the message, "For the water leg."

When talking with the kids on Monday, a lot of them asked if my fake leg would rust in water. I explained that I was going to have to save up some money for a special prosthetic called a "water leg" that can be used when walking in and out of water at the beach, washing a car, or going waterskiing (for example). Well, this little girl took it upon herself to get a "water leg" fund going for me. Too funny. So sweet. (Don't worry--I will get the money back to her parents as soon as I can.) :)

Anyway--I am slowly getting used to the look of my new body. I haven't had a chance to stand up yet--we will cross that bridge tomorrow. Thanks for all of the encouragement. Love to you all!


Thursday, September 30 -10:40

They just took out my nerve block pain pump so I am trying to distract myself from what might be coming. The pain management doctor was incredible. She would like to avoid putting me on the morphine and go straight to an oral pain medication so I can go home. She says that there are so many nasty germs in the hospital that I am better off getting home tomorrow. She is also going to put me on a medication called neurontin that is a medication that targets nerve pain. I know that many amputees have been helped by this medication so I am excited to try it.

Doug and I slept for 11 hours last night. I think we should vacation in the hospital more often.

The man in the room to the left of me has been screaming constantly since last night. The man on the other side of me likes to sing. Doug said that he was singing out all the things on his breakfast tray the last time he passed by. The man two doors down apparently committed a serious crime two nights ago so there are two policemen outside his door at all times. Makes me feel like I don't need to worry about my laptop sitting out in plain view. Miami's finest have got the place covered.

Just in case you are getting the impression that I am not pleased with my stay here at Jackson Memorial--let me set you straight. The staff here is LOVELY. Everyone is happy and helpful--very compassionate and willing to get what you need at a moment's notice. I had my brother on speaker on my cell phone last night when a male nurse came in. The nurse introduced himself, helped me move my rear end to make room for the pain pump, and then told me the names of the other evening nurses. He told me how well I was moving my body and did a little dance while he explained that I should keep trying to keep my body limber. When he left, I checked back with my brother to see if he was still on the phone. He said, "Gee--are you at DisneyWorld or something? Sounds like the happiest place on Earth! You have Jonny, Janet, and Jennell helping you tonight and they even dance and sing!" Yes, despite my noisy neighbors, I feel like I am in a good place.

Dr. Hutson woke us up this morning and answered our gazillion questions. He explained a bit more about how he performed the surgery. As for the nerves, he said that he isolated each one, stretched it out, and then cut it so that it would retract back into the leg. He said that this keeps the nerve endings away from the bottom of the stump. He was also pleased that he used an extra piece of the tibia that still had arteries attached to it to create the bone bridge at the base of the tibia and fibula. This would make it more likely to heal and connect with the other bones. Doug wanted to know if he spent any time going through my ankle (I think Doug would have liked to do a dissection of it just to see what a mess it was). He said that he would never have done that because it creates the possibility of introducing bacteria to the sterile part of my good leg. We thanked him for taking his time to do a great job. What a kind man.

Well, it is now 11:05 and the pain is starting to kick in. I am going to rest now.

I thank you again for all the love. Doug sat this morning and read each email to me out loud. He can hardly get through any of them without his voice cracking or starting to tear up. Such a honey.

Thanks for coming along on this journey with us.


Wednesday, September 29

All is well, my friends. All is well.

The alarm went off this morning at 4:45 so we could get to the hospital by 6:00. I anticipated having to wait, fill out forms, answer gazillions of questions, etc. etc. Boy was I wrong. After a brief wait in the waiting room, my name was called and Doug wheeled me over to the Ryder Trauma Center. In no time my IV was in, my big black boot was in the trash, my gown was on, and was being wheeled into surgery. Dr. Hutson was as sweet as ever--giving me every confidence that all would go well. And it did.

I can't get over how light my new leg is--makes me wonder how much a foot weighs. Although it is gone, I find myself protecting my foot from getting bumped or moved. When I was waking up from surgery, I had a charlie horse-type feeling in my foot--but had no way to relieve it! Even now, my foot feels like it is asleep and needs to be flexed. I keep moving my good foot just to see if it makes the feeling go away. So weird. If you think of what it feels like to have a pinched nerve, you can only imagine what your body is going through when you actually cut all the nerves for an entire leg!

I am not using any IV or oral pain meds because they put a nerve block on my leg. This little machine puts anesthetic into a major nerve down to my leg so I don't feel pain. Starting tomorrow, they will transition me to morphine and then or percocet. I am grateful to be feeling the way I do right now. Definitely feeling pain--but it is manageable. It makes me a little nervous to think that major pain might be coming but I will take that one on when it comes.

I guess my eyes were open a bit during surgery so my eyes are killing me. So grateful that my eyes are my biggest issue right now. :)

They have me on heavy duty antibiotics (Vancomycin) which makes me happy. I really don't want to deal with any infection anymore!

They have my new leg all wrapped up in a splint to keep it straight. Apparently, many people bend their leg to relieve the pain. The only problem is that this prohibits amputees from being able to fully straighten their leg later on (which becomes a problem when adjusting to the prosthetic).

Doug is the sweetest man ever. I just love having him here with me. We are just hanging out in my hospital room--talking, processing, reading emails, and feeling thankful. He and my Mom hung out during the surgery (it ended up taking 6 hours!) and had lots of time to think about the last 20 months. Time to say goodbye.

We have a tropical storm coming through right now. Elise was all excited at school today saying that it was a perfect day for me to have my leg amputated because I always love it when it rains. So sweet. She thought I would love watching the rain from my hospital room. So true.

We had a lovely evening last night. Right after school, we finished homework and then went to a nail place to get our nails done. I decided that I wanted to get a french manicure on my good foot so I could wake up to a beautiful foot. And yes--I only had to pay half price. :) After that, we went out to dinner together and then got dressed up for Annika's choir concert.
I was struck by how pretty and grown up she looked up there on stage. They started the concert by praying over me--very kind. After the concert, we drove each of the girls to a friend's house to spend the night. When I got in bed, it was weird to think that I had just spent my last day with my foot.

Everyone is knocking themselves out to help us out in any way possible. One Mom made us blueberry muffins in case we got hungry at the hospital. My students drew lovely pictures for me and even wrote little prayers for me to read. The lovely emails coming in have been so encouraging. Friends are offering to help our kids with homework and drive them from place to place. Not enough space to mention everyone--just understand that we appreciate all the love.

Our Farewell to the Foot party was very therapeutic and fun. We all raised our glasses and toasted my foot thanking it for 41 years of faithful service. I loved going through all of my photographs in preparation for the party. So amazing to see all the times I had used my ankle and didn't even think to be grateful for how well it worked. Makes me just want to be thankful for everything that works well--my hands, my good foot, my eyes. So blessed.

I met with all of my students on Monday morning to let them know what was going on. They were amazing. I thanked them for praying so faithfully for me and explained that sometimes God doesn't answer prayers in exactly the way we might expect. However, I assured them that my new "fake foot" was indeed a wonderful answer to prayer. They had lots of questions and comments:

- You have a fake foot and I have a fake tooth!
- My Mom has fake hair!
- Why can't they just get you some new bones?
- If you take a bath, will your fake leg rust?
- I saw a boy at Disney World with one real leg and one fake leg and he could walk and go on all the rides just fine.
- A lot of people get things cut off their body. My Mom had fat cut off of her belly.
- During the surgery--will you be asleep or awake?
- How will they cut it off? Do they have a big saw? Are you going to watch them do it?
- Where will they put your foot after they cut it off?
- Can you put nail polish on your fake foot?

The remarkable thing about kids is that if you treat them with respect, stay calm, and tell them the truth--they respond in kind. So many kids came back to tell me how much they loved me, that they would pray for me every day, and that they were glad that I was going to get to walk again.

We spoke to the girls tonight and they both sound good. We are so proud of them.

Doug is staying here with me in the hospital tonight. It isn't even 9:00 and he has already made his little bed out of the vinyl chair thing they have here in the room. He is freezing so the nurse keeps bringing him more and more sheets. I don't think he has ever been in bed this early. Going through the stress of watching your wife get her leg amputated must be exhausting. He took good care of me today.

We love and appreciate all of you so much. Pray that tomorrow will be a manageable day.