13 January, 2015

Pain pain go away, don't come back another day.

Oh, if it could only be so easy.  

What if you didn't experience pain?  Emotional and physical pain are a part of life.  There are multiple choices one can have such as embracing the feeling - live in the moment!  You can cry, whine, bitch and make everyone around you miserable.  You can wish it wasn't happening, wish it upon someone else, wish it would go away...on and on

Physical pain is one thing, in the majority of cases it is temporary, thus having a beginning and an end.  You get hurt, you heal.  The length of time varies, but in the end you heal and the pain ends.  This is physical pain such as my stupid leg that continues to be an albatross around my neck.  but that too will end someday.  It's inevitable and may take another month, but the physical pain I have learned to live with for the past 2 months will end.  This I know.

What about emotional pain.  It hurts in a different way.  It's not necessarily constant, comes and goes as it pleases without any evidence of staying away for good.  There is a beginning but sometimes no end in sight.

In four days, my father's physical presence will have been absent in my life for 6 years.  This fact is hard to believe.  SIX years without his laugh, his sarcasm, his philosophies, his worrying, his sarcasm, his laugh.  The hurt I feel when typing this is real, it's as real as the physical pain in my skin graphed butt (a pain in the area, that I am sure I was to him many a time).  How can you stop the pain in the provable heart?  In my experience, you can't.  Over time it may lesson and be absent, but then a smell, a sight, a sound can trigger a thought and the pain flows through my body like it was 17 January 2009.

The first quarter of given years has held many adventures for me.  I moved to other countries during the first quarters of years.  My birthday is in Feb, which is always a change.  The first quarter always seemed like a new beginning.  When I was 21, I moved on Feb. 5th, during a terribly cold day (wind chill below 0 F).   A day I will always remember.  With the news channels siting a chance of frost bite on any exposed skin, I moved from one apt. across the complex to another.  Something quite small in the realm of things, but at that time, I was moving into a new life - I didn't care about the weather, I was entering into a new life with new adventures.  The family and friends who helped me cared though...A LOT and I am forever in their debt for sacrificing their comfort as they cursed and tugged and carried and cursed as they drug my and my flat mates entire world across a pitted parking lot covered in ice and snow.

After years of adventures in the first few months, 2009 held a new kind of adventure.  An adventure of living with part of my heart gone.  No skin graft to cover the large hole left behind by my father's death.  No pain killers to dull the ache.  No "little yellow pill" to help me on my way, to help me get through a busy day...

Yeah, my leg hurts, yeah, when I went to the doctor today, only a part of the skin graft adhered and I had to have another 'smaller' graft.  So what that my butt will have another scar.  There is bigger pain to deal with today and in the coming week.  A pain that will slowly subside...for a bit and then come back; waves flowing in and out.  

There is a good thing about emotional pain though, through the tears, sometimes a memory makes you smile or triggers a laugh-out-loud and over time, this happy pain takes over the sad pain as it occurs more often.  Smiling though the tears doesn't have to mean you are being strong, it can mean a loved one is very present at that moment in your life, so present that your lips curl into a smile and maybe just maybe that hole become a little smaller.

06 January, 2015

the saga continues...

Well, had my checkup today and he took one look at my leg and said it indeed needed a skin graft.  Although the sore was doing good, it was just not going to close up and the tissue was ripe for a graft.  If we waited longer it would not be good.

The area around the sore was becoming sore from all the bandages on and off the area.

I didn't know what a skin graft consisted of, so I mentioned that I didn't have a lot of money and also didn't want to stay in the hospital over night.  He said he would do it for $50 and that it would be over in 15 minutes.

I was a bit dumbfounded and said clearly "I will be finished in 15 minutes and can take a tuktuk to my hotel?"  He said "Yes".  Really?

Well as I have learned to do over the years...just go with the flow and trust my instincts; which said to trust the doctor.  I did ask to go to the bathroom, so I could walk away from the situation and breath a little.  When I walked back into the room the doctor and 2 nurses were both in surgical scrubs.  I thought "well this is it!"

I dropped my pants so they could get at my upper thigh skin and hopped up on the table.  The thought crossed my mind that I should have worn a little nicer underwear...then I remembered that well, I don't really have any.  

As I laid on my left side the entire wall in my view was one long glass cabinet storing all the medical supplies.  One long glass cabinet that had a mirrored back.  


Yep, there I was looking back at me.  There I was, able to view the doctor inserting a needle into my thigh to numb it.  He told me it would be painful and it was, but only a little.  I guess I have become a bit impervious to pain.  As I watched him moving the needle around, the site became numb.  

Soon the needle was removed and I saw him take out a medical knife and I quickly removed my glasses, - there are some things I just don't need to see, although it was hard not to watch the now blurred profiles.  I could feel the tugging on my thigh and my imagination went wild!  I felt like I was being skinned...and literally I was.  I just kept thinking that this procedure will have a end, it will have an end, it cannot go on much longer.

And then it was over, the area bandaged up and I rolled over to my back.  The doctor walked around and showed me the small piece of skin he had removed, something I didn't not necessarily want to see especially since it looked like a piece of chicken skin.  But realizing he was just being informative (since I had asked so many questions), I figured "what the hell" and propped up on my elbows and watch him lay the piece of white thigh skin over my tanned shin.  It looked totally out of place and even more like it came from a chicken!

The area was bandaged up as well and I am not to remove the bandage for a week (when I go back in for a checkup) and not to get it wet.  It's no problem since I haven't properly showered in a month trying to keep it dry.

I paid up and walked out of the hospital less than 30 minutes after I walked in.  My tuktuk driver was waiting and earlier he had told me that he cannot see blood because he will get a sick stomach.  I joked on the drive to the hospital that I was going to remove the bandage and show him and he would say "NOOOOO, I will be sick"  ha ha

Well when I got back in the tuktuk he asked if I was okay and I told him that they cut skin from my thigh and put it on my shin.  He looked at me like I was insane.  I said I was not joking, it really happened and he looked a little green and said, "do not talk anymore" and turned around and got on his moto.  As we started to drive off on the bumpy road, I put my hand on my thigh because it felt weird and my hand came away wet; my pants were soaked in blood.  Seems that the nurses either did not put enough gauze on the sore or I'm just a heavy bleeder?

Luckily my pants were black so it wasn't noticeable, but I was bleeding all over his tuktuk's plastic seat.  I grabbed my backpack searching for anything to use and came away empty handed; there was nothing inside to absorb the blood...hmmmm, except for the backpack itself.  So, I jammed the backpack under my right butt cheek to put pressure on the wound.  My backpack is dark blue, so it didn't show.  I did not want the driver to turn around and see anything; I didn't need him to wreck on top of everything.

We got back to my hotel safely and I promptly changed my bandages putting a ton of gauze on the sore before taping it back up.  The area was still numb so I didn't feel anything.  I did take a photo of the skinless area, but I'll spare you the details!  I should have taken a photo of my mis-matched skin graft area though, it's pretty weird looking.  I have no idea what it will look like in a week.

All's okay now although it's pretty painful since the numbing has worn off.  Not sure why I didn't stop by the pharmacy and get some good ole codeine, it would come in handy right now!

There's still a chance that the graft will not adhere, but at this point I am staying positive.  That's about all anyone can do in this situation, right?


02 January, 2015

Leg update



click here for part I or part II or part III


Well a lot has happened in over a month.  The last post was about going in to the doctor and getting 10 days of antibiotics...well those days went by with the sore seemingly getting better...but a week after that I headed back in to see the doctor.

She took one look at it and said that I needed to see a surgeon because the middle part is black and infected, possibly to the bone.  I felt sick to my stomach, but was glad that I came to see her and didn't keep putting it off.


I went to the hospital she recommended which her fellow Russian doctor friends work at.  The Russian surgeon (who has only been in Cambodia for 2 months) took one look at it and said something in broken english that sounded like 'oh it must come out'.  After the four of them discussed the leg in Russian, I was told by one of them that spoke English that they must do surgery and they must removed all the black part and if it is infected to the bone, then they would have to remove tissue from my thigh and put it over the bone, blah blah blah...that's about all I could stomach before my mind blacked out for a second.  Then I heard him say that it must be done that day (Monday at 2pm) and it was 11am at the time.  

I was kind of in slow motion not fully recognizing what I was to undergo, but was aware enough to call a tuktuk so I could check out of the guest house I had stayed in the night before and then back to the hospital.    I was put into a room (ironically in the Labor and Delivery ward) and soon they were wheeling my bed into the elevator and into the surgical room. 

I thought they would put me all the way under, but they only gave me an epidural (I was seeing a weird pattern here).  They put this blocker sheet at my chest so I couldn't see what was going on and I couldn't feel anything below the waist - a bit unsettling for a person like me who likes to be in control of herself. 

I felt like I was in a scary sci-fi movie - there I was, no feeling below the waist, in a room with the nurses and anesthesiologist speaking Khmer and surgeons speaking Russian. It was a bit surreal and then the doctor said only about 20 minutes and it would be over....

When he was finished, I was told that the necrosis had not reached the bone, YEA!  I was wheeled back to my labor and delivery room and left to mull over what just happened.  They said I had to stay the night and I pretty much slept from then until the next morning.  My leg was in pain, but the worst was when they had to change the dressings.  There was tons of antibiotic cream on my sore, but parts of the gauze was stuck to the sore and I tell you what, I've had a lot of physical pain in my lifetime, but when they pulled the stuck gauze off my new wound, I cried out and jerked my body.  It was ridiculously painful, but I survived to live another dressing change....and another...

The next day I was in limbo waiting to be discharged and when I was checked that afternoon he said I needed to stay another day.  He said my leg "was better, but not the best' and I couldn't go home until it was the best."  

Lucikly I had bought a loaf of olive bread from this French bakery the day before.  The day before was the same day before that I figured I would get some more antibiotics and then head home... so I nibbled on the bread on and off.  In the hospitals here they don't give you food, you have to either have someone bring you some, or you order it take out, but the Khmer menu they gave me did not have anything vegetarian on it.  When I asked for just rice with vegetables, the nurse kept referring to the menu and asking which one.  I finally said "I do not want food".  

Another nurse came to me concerned and said I needed to eat.  I didn't know how to tell them that I just ate 1/2 loaf of bread, so then she brought me a menu from a Russian restaurant...all in Russian.  I said "I cannot read this" and she gave me the number to call the restaurant.  I finally got the restaurant person to understand what I wanted and ended up with some potato cakes stuffed with mushrooms.  It was good, but not worth the hassle...but the nurses were happy that a foreign woman did not starve to death on their shift.  I spent the rest of that day and night sleeping and being awoken when someone had to either give me more IV's or rip the dressings off.  

Wednesday morning at 9am, the doctor said my leg "was the best" and I could go home.  It still took them 5 hours to discharge me.  The Russian doctor said "I am sorry a thousand times", then he said, no "I am sorry a million...no a billion times" (seems he forgot to sign the discharge papers and got busy with other patients).  His russian accent and lack of English was pretty endearing so I forgave him.

So finally at 2:30 on Dec. 11th, one month after I was dethroned  I was signed out of the hospital and on my way to a guest house for the night and then back to Wat Opot the next day

I have been going back in every week for a check up and am told each time that I may need a skin graft...but i'm hopeful I won't have to.  The pictures below show the amazing transformation from a small cut with 2 little stitches, to where it is today.



Went to Phnom Penh to the Naga Clinic. Ten days of injection and tablet antibiotics.  Sitha and Wayne readying my medication












Heading back to the Naga Clinic, and then on to Sen Sok University Hospital.  Covered wound with an antibiotic creme 24 hours a day.







Switched from antibiotic creme to climbOn creme.  Rapid transformation with chemical and pain free healing.






Upon recommendation from my doctor, started using liquid B12 during the day (putting it directly on a small piece of gauze and covering the wound) and climbOn creme at night.




Going back in on the 5th...wish me luck!