Thursday, June 5, 2014

Personal Trial: Leg Sores (Hospital Stay)

In the Oro Valley ER Friday night we were visited by two doctors, neither of whom had seen this kind of condition before.  The nurses did some tests (including blood work -- time #2) and the doctors must have done some research because he came back after a while and told me the diagnosis was Pyoderma Gangrenosum, a condition that had evolved from the Erythema Nodosum I was almost finished recovering from.  Ultimately the doctor sent me over to the University Medical Center since they have a dermatologist team there.  After a long time of waiting for them to get everything straightened out (paperwork, a room, etc.) we finally headed to UMC around 11pm.

We got checked in at UMC, answered lots of questions, they did some more tests...  The doctor wanted to clean the wounds and I cried, mostly from the anticipation of excruciating pain (also, he had just made me do the lay/sit/stand blood pressure check -- standing on my legs made them hurt already -- hello?!?).  He assured me that it wouldn't hurt, but he let me pour the saline on the first wound.  It didn't help that I wasn't so trusting of the doctors since the first one at the Oro Valley ER basically stuck his finger in my wound!  It hurt so bad, what the heck!!  Anyway.  It didn't hurt very much at all as they cleaned out the wounds, but I still was not happy with them.  The doctor went over the diagnosis of Pyoderma Gangrenosum again and told me that I would be visited by the rest of the med team in the morning and also that he would call the on-call dermatologist around 8:30am the next morning to see if and when they might be able to come take a look at my leg wounds.  He sounded unsure that a dermatologist would come in over the weekend since "there are no dermatology emergencies" (they kept saying that).  He also thought the dermatologist may want to get a biopsy of the sores.  The nurses and techs did more tests (including more blood work -- time #3), and finally just after 3am they all left us alone and we were able to go to sleep.

Everyone knows, however, that you can't get much sleep in hospitals.  Saturday morning the nurse woke me up at 5:15am and told me she needed a urine sample, and they took my blood pressure then as well.  Since my legs had been up for a while I needed help into the bathroom so she grabbed me a walker, that was nice to have for the remainder of our stay.  Also, I loved all the railings in the bathroom!  So nice.

Saturday was mostly a waiting game.  Adam and I were able to take lots of short naps, and the nurse/tech would come by every once in a while, around 2 hours or so.  8:30am came and went and we hadn't heard anything about whether or not the doctor got ahold of the dermatologist.  Around 9am the new med team for the day came in to pay me a visit.  It was just like in the movies or TV shows as the head doctor and about 5 or 6 students all piled into my room, each one rubbing their hands with sanitizer, and surrounded my bed.  The doctor said I would probably need more steroids to help with the healing, but that it was not infected even though there was redness around the wounds (my theory is that the redness was just from the leftover Erythema Nodosum -- there were no other signs of infection).  He said that a dermatologist would need to do a biopsy to confirm the diagnosis, but he wasn't sure if they would come in to do it over the weekend or if I would need to wait until Monday.  He also said that healing for this condition would take weeks or even months for a full recovery.  The students looked at my legs, asked me a few questions, and then they left.  At this point I still had no idea what the course of action was going to be once we left the hospital (or when we would even be able to leave).

We never did hear from anyone whether or not a dermatologist was going to come in that day to see me; they never even told us if anyone had been reached.  A little frustrating, but it ended up working out OK so no big deal.  Sometime after 2pm a couple of doctors came into our room and announced that they were the dermatologists.  HURRAY!!!  That was a huge relief!  They took a look at my wounds and confirmed that it was, as they suspected, a pretty obvious case of Pyoderma Gangrenosum.  They said that they see it a lot (which was a nice change from every other doctor I saw that weekend that had never seen anything like it).  They explained that any injury can make the condition worse so they advised me to be very careful as it heals, and also because of the ease of it worsening with injury they said that they did not want to do a biopsy.  They did, however, want to do a culture swab of the wounds.  This was one of the first things that the Oro Valley ER doctor did, when he hurt me!, so I told them that the doctor at OV did one and that we brought a whole package of info with us when we came to this hospital and that maybe that info was in there.  FINALLY someone agreed that they didn't have to "do their own" stupid tests and they checked the paperwork and thankfully that was enough.  The dermatologists explained again that healing would take some time, several weeks at least.  (No more dance for me for a while.)  And they said I will have some "nice" scars as a result of this.  They gave me course of care which was to clean the wounds each morning with running water and ivory soap, apply a steroidal ointment once in the morning and once at night, and apply an antibiotic ointment once in the middle of the day.  I was scheduled for a follow-up appointment the follow up Wednesday, when we would see if the course of care would remain the same or change depending on how my wounds were doing.

We spent the next few hours waiting for paperwork and prescriptions and finally I was wheeled out of there around 5:45pm.  Whew!  What a beginning to a weekend.

A condition like this sure is not ideal.  Especially with a husband and a son to take care of.  But it could be much worse.  I still feel very blessed.  Not only are we surrounded in proximity of miles and airwaves by so many loving and supportive family members and friends, but we are full of peace because of the love of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  Because He suffered for and bore the trial of all our sins, pains, afflictions, infirmities, and weaknesses, my joy is full because I know that life is still good and that this isn't the end result.  Because He died and rose again, I know I will too, and that my body will one day be free from all these bodily ills and imperfections.  And what a great blessing that my loving Heavenly Father has given me a body in the first place!
"For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." -- Moses 1:39

To be continued...

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