Here we go again (my dad's foot!)

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Here we go again (my dad's foot!) Empty Here we go again (my dad's foot!)

Post  VickiG on Fri Oct 08, 2010 12:01 am

I don't know whether I've posted before about what my dad goes through with his foot, but I think it has been a while, so let me tell you the background before the new details.

My dad has a badly collapsed arch in my left foot, so badly that the bone has cut into his blood vessel, causing blood and fluids to build up. Eventually, they will create enough pressure that they burst open a hole in the bottom of his foot. This could be anywhere. It'll bleed and ooze for a while and then heal over, just to recreate the routine somewhere else on his foot in a few days or week.

He used to have to wear a special big boot on his foot to take the pressure off the spot where the ulcer was and to create a rocking motion, so no one spot on his foot would have more pressure when he walked than another. Then, about six months ago, they took one of his walking boots and did a big refurbishing job in it. They put a steel shank in it to stop it from being flexible. They made it rock like the big boot. And they put a similar bottom in it, with an interlocking series of stars that can be adjusted to take out a hole where the ulcer is.

Well, a week and a half ago, the same day I was seriously considering asking my dad to take me into the ER for a morphine shot because my pain had been so bad for so long that I just didn't know if I could keep it up, my dad informed me that he was going to the ER himself because his foot was clearly infected. That ruined any hopes I had of going myself because I knew they'd likely keep him there, which they did.

His ulcer has a staph infection. Fortunately, it's not MRSA, but even a non-MRSA staph is serious enough. They also have to be concerned because he has artificial knees, and a year ago, he got a strep infection in one of them, and it was really serious. They essentially had to redo the knee replacement, and he had to go through all the rehab for it again, but with dealing with the infection in his body on top of that. He had a mid-line put in, so for 4 months he was giving himself IV antibiotics twice a day with the strep infection.

He had a staph infection in his elbow just before leaving for Kenya this summer, but it didn't reach his blood stream, so they let him go, but they did have to operate to clean it all out.

Emergency operations for my dad are no easy feat. You see, he's had two pulmonary embolisms, the second of which had already passed through his heart and was almost to his lung. And yet he still tried to go in to work that day, despite the fact that he couldn't even walk from his car to the elevator in his office building without having to stop to catch his breathe! He hid it from my mom, who was furious when she got a call from his secretary, who told my mom she had seen what bad shape my dad was in and forced him to let someone else at work drive him to the ER. My dad had wanted to attend a meeting that afternoon before going to see his doctor!

The first blood clot was clearly because he had gone to Kenya and hadn't walked around on the airplane, and because he is 6'7" (or 5'19", as he likes to say), he really cramped his legs, and he got a clot in the leg that ended up in the lungs. It took 3 ER visits before a doctor figured out what was wrong that time, so he was really lucky that he didn't get killed earlier. It was misdiagnosed as a reaction to the anti-malaria drug when it was just in his leg and then misdiagnosed as pneumonia when it went to his lung. Can anyone say malpractice?

The second blood clot had no apparent origin, so that means that my dad is on a high dose of coumadin, the blood thinner. They say that they have him on a higher than average dose because the clot formed without any evident provocation, so he is at higher risk. But that means that if he needs urgent surgery, they have to thicken his blood before they can operate. That takes about 24 hours to do, giving him plasma and something else.

So back to the foot. All the medical personnel have been urging my dad to have his foot reconstructed. This would be surgery to completely rebuild it and would require him to stay off his foot for 3-6 months. My dad has been adamant that he doesn't want to do that. He would rather go to the wound clinic every two weeks to have them cut away the dead tissue and clean it out. His figure was that the last time it got infected, it was 4 years ago, so he can count on having to deal with an infection every 4 years, which is worth dealing with so he doesn't have to stay off his foot.

His argument is that a) it might not work, b) it would be very hard for him to stay off his foot (he couldn't do it when he had minor foot surgery and was supposed to stay off it for two weeks; the doctor got mad at him and put a cast on it, hoping that would keep him off the foot, but he just walked on the cast!), and c) it is working just to have the wound seen to.

Oh, and another new detail is that his last physical a few weeks ago came back with his being pre-diabetic!

Can you tell where I'm going with this? My mother, my brother, and I all strongly want him to have this surgery to get his foot reconstructed. The friend who my dad uses as an example of its not working had both feet done at the same time, so she did not stay 100% off her feet. We argue that it is better for him to stay off his foot for 3-6 months than to risk losing it altogether. Makes good sense to me!

My dad's latest argument? He has had 2 pulmonary embolisms, a strep infection in his knee, two staph infections, and the ulcer for several years. Yet none of these have killed him. THEREFORE, HE HAS A SUPER BODY! Yes, his body just won't give in, so he doesn't have to be bothered.

I retorted that it means he is living on borrowed time.

In any case, my dad will be going in for surgery on Tuesday most likely. He needs to get his infected ulcer cleaned out thoroughly. When the wound doctor put a Q-tip up the hole, it went up his ankle two inches! This is under the skin, but vertical to it. I think that sounds really creepy! And that's also something new. He hasn't had it hit his ankle before. His foot has always been very red and swollen, even where the ulcer is not. But now his ankle is showing symptoms too.

He's back to wearing his old bigger boot, which is more spacious and gives him more room, especially on the side, where his ankle is. But I found out that he's even now not supposed to be on his foot. He sees his doctor again tomorrow.

I just hope someone talks some common sense into him and gets him to realize that he's toying with both his whole foot and even potentially his life! If the foot were to get badly infected with the staph, that could go to his blood stream and infect his whole body! That's dangerous!

Thanks for letting me vent about all this. I just needed someone to write about this to, especially someone who was understanding about medical issues, as everyone on this board is.

I'm sorry I haven't been around much lately. My head has been especially bad. I had two morphine shots last week, and it's still bad this week too. I had to give up going to see Phantom of the Opera tonight with my parents because I'm just not well enough. My dad was kind of annoyed at the waste of the ticket, for which I felt bad, but what could I do? I can't keep my right eye open, and the volume of the music would have really sent me to the ER!
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Post  Paradox on Fri Oct 08, 2010 7:22 pm

I'm sorry your Dad is suffering.

And sorry you had to miss Phantom! it's wonderful! But, I can think of one scene in particular that would have you screaming in pain. Good call not to go.
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Post  VickiG on Sat Oct 09, 2010 8:47 pm

Now my dad is talking about not going through even the weaker surgery after all! My mom is furious! I'm not happy either. One woman who came to our international student group last night made the comment, "How can a man who is so smart be so stupid about his own health?" My dad's only response to such comments is that we don't have to put up with being off the foot, like my dad would be if he did the surgery.

Superman indeed!
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Post  lesherb on Sun Oct 10, 2010 10:44 am

Vicki,

What does your father do that is so darned important that he has to be up on his foot?

The diabetic thing is a BIG RED FLAG imho. Diabetics are notorious for having foot infections and ending up losing their feet to amputation.

I suspect your father is afraid. I don't mean he is a coward. He is afraid of being incapacitated while recovering from the surgery. My mother had her feet operated on (one at a time) and it was extremely painful. I don't know what the surgery was called but it was to remove bone which caused bunions (not sure if they were truly bunions but that's what they looked like). So, yes, he will have to stay off his foot to recover. Isn't that better than inviting disaster? (my annoyance is with your father, not you).

My father passed away when he was almost 67 (and I was almost 29). He ignored medical issues until they got to the point of no return. I've spent 21 years without him. My younger son was 1 when he died, the older was 5. I don't want that to happen to you. Please beg your father to do the right thing. My life would've been so much different if I had my father longer.

Good luck,
£eslie
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Post  crt on Sun Oct 10, 2010 5:35 pm

Vicki,

I think your dad is afflicted with a syndrome that I won't say that I'm entirely free of either. (Sometimes I wait way too long to seek medical help.) I am talking about the John Wayne Syndrome. It's more prevalent in males of certain generations, but no age group nor gender is immune from this type of behavior. The John Wayne Syndrome, in a nutshell, as one writer expressed it, is "suffering in silence while your guts are being ripped out."

There is no virtue in this, in fact, it's just plain dumb. John Wayne wasn't even John Wayne. He never served in the military and in the end cigarettes got the better of his body.

A geographically distant friend of mine in his 70s died alone and probably distraught, afraid, and angry because he was unwilling to tell the people who cared about him what was going on. I didn't see him often but the last time I did see him I knew there was something very wrong. I noticed some vials of meds in his refrigerator. He saw me looking at them and grabbed them before I could see the label. I'm glad that at least he was getting some medical attention, but I don't know how much.

I told him I knew there was something wrong. I told him that he need not divulge the problem to me if he were uncomfortable doing so. At the same time, I begged him to seek care and a support group for his problem. I told him that no matter what the problem, no one is going to understand better than another person who is going through the same thing.

He brushed it off, saying, "Oh, that would just be complaining and I'm not a whiner." Well, crap. He was dying, although I didn't know it at the time. He thought talking to other people about it was a sign of weakness. Apparently dying alone in misery was better than having support and love surrounding him on the way out.

I found out from one of his friends, after he died, that he had leukemia. I still feel that he had a chance to beat it if he had sought and accepted more medical and psychological help. He certainly had the genes for a super long life. His older brother and his dad, nearing 100, are still alive and very well. The John Wayne Syndrome isn't just an odd personality quirk. It can be deadly.

Chris

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Post  VickiG on Mon Oct 11, 2010 1:36 pm

Chris, you are right about the John Wayne Syndrome! Although I do think that in most areas, my dad is starting to be more alert to his medical conditions. He did go on a diet after testing as prediabetic, and I understand that when he was in the hospital after they first found the staph infection, the retest came back o.k. But it's still a big scare for the rest of us.

All of my family and friends want him to have the reconstructive surgery, and yet he is still making a big deal about not even wanting to do the cleaning out one.

And most of what he does can easily be done sitting down. He can work from his laptop from his bedroom if he wants! He was able to keep up with stuff from the hospital room. But he just is super independent and doesn't like the thought of losing that independence. I think that may be the key to the whole issue here. I can understand to an extent. I had to give up my own independence bit by bit as my migraines got worse. But I discovered it wasn't so bad.

But I think he also thinks about providing for my mom and me, in terms of getting us around and helping when we are not well enough to do stuff. One woman from my church said that she was talking with another woman from church, and they said they'd be happy to help us go to the doctor or go to the grocery store or wherever if we ever needed, especially if my dad is not able to get around. But he doesn't like having to depend upon other people.

Tomorrow's the day when he is supposed to go in for this surgery. We'll see what happens then!
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Post  AZgirl on Tue Oct 12, 2010 12:29 am

What did he decide to do????
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