Thursday, June 20, 2013

OMG What Have I Done! #NSFT

On Friday, June 14th, I had my right lower leg amputated below the knee.  I was discharged a day earlier than scheduled on Tuesday, June 19th.  

Because I am awesome.

If you can say this about hospital stays, it was some of the most fun I've ever had.  My hospital room felt much more like a college dorm room with the constant flow of visitors, hot nurses, and hilarious staff.

The only thing that sucked was the lack of sleep.  My oxygen and heart rate were lower than normal, mostly because of the epidural, so an annoying machine would wake me up when my rates dropped below a certain threshold -- usually under 55 bpm.  That just meant I hit up Twitter, @snowboardvstree, every 5 minutes all day, every day.

I'm still really tired this evening, but I wanted to bring the blog back to its roots and end with my favorite type of pictures.  The gory ones.  This post is not safe for Troy (#NSFT).

This is my Jackson-Pratt wound drain.  It was embedded inside a few layers of tissue inside my stump to dramatically reduce the swelling in my stump (which reduces the pain).  For the first few days in the hospital, the drain was emptied into a cup.

Over time less fluid was collected, indicating that the drain needed to be removed.  The longer the drain is left in the stump, the greater the risk of infection.  The tube was stitched in place to prevent it from coming out on its own.

The incision site looks amazing.  The bleeding is all normal from the stitches and staples.  The dressing will be changed every three days by a nurse that comes to visit me at home.  Her first visit will be Friday.

We weren't entirely sure where the bruising was from.  We're assuming it's caused by the drainage.

This was one of the first pictures we took of the bottom of the residual limb.  That flap of skin used to be the back of my calf.  When one of the medical students touched the bottom, it felt like someone rubbing the back of my calf.

Here's a blurry image of my JP drain after it was removed.  It was huge!

This was the video took of the JP drain being removed by an unpaid summer intern.  I can't tell you his name because he never introduced himself.  There's more we could say about this guy, but his reputation already preceded him.  All of the nurses already knew about him.

Before the JP drain was removed, the staples were removed.

I'm not sure what that dark spot is on the lateral side of the stump.

Another picture of the bruise around the drain.

The hair is left on the stump for a couple of reasons.  When you shave your hair, you can get ingrown hairs.  Those ingrown hairs can lead to infections.  That's not something you want just after surgery.

I noticed that there was a new small bulge on the medial side of the stump (on the right side in the picture above).  Margaret, Dr. Attinger's Nurse Practitioner, looked at the picture and said we'll just have to monitor it, but that it's probably nothing.  There's still a lot of fluid in the stump, and now that I'm moving around more the stump will change shape.

I tried to get another picture of the bulge.  It's harder to see it in this image.

This is what I see when I look at the stump without a dressing.  I'm so happy!  It's the perfect length and yet there's enough clearance for great prosthetics.

The underside of my knee is still very bruised from the tourniquet during surgery.

I'm very tired so I apologize for the late update.  I'm hoping by tomorrow I'll be caught up in my rest and I'll have more time to update you on the blog.  In the meantime, continue following me on Twitter.  I had so much fun doing it while I was in the hospital that I don't think I can stop.

Thank you to everyone for the support.  I just wanted to finish with one thought.

This is my wife, Brooke.  

When I had the accident, Brooke had just started her Masters of Science in Nursing for Nurse Practioner. She had to put away her studying to join me in the ER after the accident. That wasn't the last time she'd have to do that for me. 

Three and a half years later, Brooke kept a full time job as an ICU nurse, helped me recover from five surgeries, prepared meals every day, and took care of the apartment and dog while I spent most of my time immobilized.

The day after my accident, Brooke reminded me that your attitude plays a significant role in determining how successful your recovery will be. I knew immediately that if I not only wanted to recover completely, but if I wanted to keep her sane, keep her entertained, and keep her around, I'd have to make the rest of our recovery light and funny.

My wife is an inspiration to me.  I love her.


  1. Your wife is awesome. Everyone who knows even a little bit can tell that she's awesome. And you're pretty dang awesome for appreciating her awesomeness.

    Nick even said that the last part of this post got him "all choked up." He would never tell you that himself, but one of my greatest joys in life is embarrassing Nick in a public forum. Not my most awesome wife trait...

  2. I don't kno how I dribbled across this.. I never read blogs but wow u and ur wife are an inspiration. I have to remember to always stay positive, be thankful for the wonderful people around me and to keep it light and funny.. Life really is too short. I hope u continue with a great recovery & will love too see when you post a picture of you snowboarding again!

  3. THIS IS AWESOME. My ankles are loaded with arthritis and I feel more and more they are collapsing. Might be looking at fusion next year and screws BUT I told Doc I am okay with amputation. Would rather have parts that allow me to function than substandard parts waiting to crash. Might improve my robot dance:)