Saturday, May 31, 2008


Surgery is successful!

Hello everybody! Just a quick note to let you know that Jeremy is doing well. His surgery was over around 3:00 yesterday. The doctor that came out to talk to us said that everything went as expected. They were able to remove the HO bone from Jeremy's hip and did not have to remove muscle! The way that I understand it is that when that HO bone grows it is initially a very fibrous substance-kind of like coral. At that stage it kind of infuses the muscle and it is virtually impossible to remove without taking out the muscle. Over the last two years that bone has become more solid enabling it to be carved out. Hopefully this will make it easier for Jeremy to stand up straight and give him a better center of gravity. I was also impressed to learn from our friend Becky (who also happens to be a recovery nurse at Wishard) that his doctor is very well known and highly thought of in this field. People are coming to Wishard from different states to have him operate on them. I guess that he even removed Heather Mills' leg. (Paul McCartney's ex-wife). So, I guess that he was in good hands. When I saw him he was on all kinds of pain medication and in very good spirits. They were using this new technology to block the pain. It was a pain ball. This sort of reminded me of an epidural that you can manage yourself. There was a ball in a black bag next to Jeremy that was filled with pain medication-attached to his back. He could use a dial to control how much medication was released at a time based on his level of pain-very interesting....

Anyway-at last report Jeremy was doing fine-irritated with the normal hospital things but otherwise in good spirits. Feel free to give him a call. He should be in the hospital until at least Monday. Keep sending good thoughts his way! :)

Saturday, May 24, 2008


The Surgery

The Surgery is scheduled for 7:30am on May 30th. I have to be at Wishard at 6am. Those of you who know me know that will be the most difficult part of the surgery for me. The doctor is allowing six hours for the surgery due to the invasive nature and the fact that he is actually performing two surgeries. He'll be taking less than an inch off my left femur, flattening it out, and re-wrapping the muscles to give me more padding at the end of my stump. He'll also be removing the extra (abnormal) bone from my left hip.

Due to the surgery my company is allowing me to take a Leave of Absence and utilize my Long Term Disability benefit for a minimum of twelve weeks. The amazing coincidence here is that May 30th was originally the date that my employment would end with Sodexo. We now have more time to find an internal solution that will keep me employed.

Initially the decision to do the surgery was a difficult one. The greatest risk is another round of infections. For this reason I will be in the hospital for at least four to five days so they can monitor and fight any potential infections. My other concern was that it might be too difficult for me to walk after the abnormal bone is removed, thus making all of my progress over the last two and a half years pointless. When we first became aware of the abnormal bone the doctor at the time said that removing it would require the removal of 80% of a muscle that I need to walk. He didn't say that I wouldn't be able to walk, but that it would be too difficult and I might give up.

The new surgeon has informed me that the muscle in question is almost completely calcified, which means that I'm not using it now. If the muscle is currently useless then losing it should not affect my ability to walk. If I don't have the surgery, then over time I will develop serious back issues due to the angle that I have to hold my body when I walk or stand. Also, with the abnormal bone blocking my range of motion, I'm not utilizing my left femur as much as I should. Over time this will allow my femur to begin to deteriorate to the point that I won't be able to walk at all.

The surgery will reduce potential back issues, improve the health of my femur, increase my range of motion, give me greater ability to bear weight on the end of my stump, and bring my center of balance back inside my body instead of somewhere out in front. Once I'm released from the hospital I'll return home, where I'll spend much of my time doing exercises to regain my range of motion. I'll begin a new round of Physical Therapy, and my left prosthesis will need to be refit and adjusted for my new range of motion. It's going to be a lot of pain, and a lot of work, but I think the benefits outweigh the risk.

More important than all of that, I can't ignore the coincidence here. Every time I've stood or walked for the past two years I've uttered a fairly un-prayerful prayer that the bone in my hip wasn't there. Now, when my employment and benefit coverage is on the line the decision to remove it (which I didn't think was possible), and extend my employment, has been dropped in my lap. I have to recognize the hand of God in this.

Be sure to check late in the day on the 30th, or on the 31st, for an update on the surgery. I'm sure either Sarah or Colleen will fill everyone in.

Friday, May 16, 2008


Another Surgery?

I had a followup with the Amputee Clinic at Wishard yesterday. There's a new head of surgery who wants to do a revision on my left stump and remove the abnormal bone in my left hip. The revision is because of the nerve issues that I've been experiencing. The removal of the bone, which I didn't think was possible, would allow me to stand straighter, regain mobility in my left hip, and allow the bone and muscles to strengthen. The benefits are tremendous, my only concern is the slim chance that I wouldn't be able to walk at all. I'm on the surgery schedule for May 30th. I'll meet with the surgeon next Thursday to discuss the risks again.

If you haven't read the last update, be sure to read below. There are great pictures!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008


A great moment in uncertain times

This time the delay was due to surgery. Don't freak out! Nothing bad has happened, this one was my decision, and it only took about 10 minutes. Last Wednesday I had Laser Eye Surgery to correct my vision. I was hoping to get this update done before then but, I was waiting for the pictures above to arrive in my email. Unfortunately I didn't get them until after the surgery and I couldn't stand looking at the computer screen until now.

If I'd had Lasik I probably would have been able to do the update sooner, but my corneas are too thin so I had a procedure called PRK. Instead of cutting a flap in my corneas to reshape my eyes with the laser they used an acid eye drop to eat away the first layer of the corneas and then use the laser. The healing process is longer, but my eyesight has already dramatically improved. However, this isn't the point of this update. I'll go into more detail of the eye surgery next time.

The great moment mentioned in the title is, of course, captured in the pictures above. More on that later, as I want to end on a high note. The uncertain times refers to the job situation. I've been fairly positive about this, and I continue to have high hopes, but I have to admit that things are getting a little scary. May 30th is the end date for my employment with Sodexo if we can't find an internal solution, either short term or permanent by that time. At which point my severance will kick in and I'll have to go on COBRA to maintain my insurance.

The insurance is the most disturbing part of this ordeal. COBRA is very expensive, but I can't let my insurance coverage lapse, or my amputations and any other issues resulting from the accident will be considered "pre-existing" and therefore won't be covered by any new insurance policies. I've been discharged from Physical Therapy, but there are still lingering issues. In fact, I have an MRI scheduled for later this month to see what's causing the nerve pain issues in my left stump.

As of yet Sodexo has not found a solution that will keep me in the company. There continue to be possibilities, but the number of possibilities are shrinking and nothing has become a solid opportunity. In regards to my own search outside of Sodexo, I have been looking outside of Hospitality, because I feel this is an opportunity to make a dramatic change in my life that would be both emotionally and spiritually rewarding. Unfortunately my search has not uncovered anything that is very financially rewarding and the medical benefits are uncertain at best. I'm willing to take a job that allows me to break even on my monthly expenses if the benefits are good and it is a job that I enjoy, but the benefits are the priority. I have a second interview tomorrow for a job that may fit that description, but they haven't given me a clear answer on the benefits yet.

The fact is that May 30th is fast approaching and these things are weighing heavily on my mind. If anyone reading this has any contacts in the realms of Advocacy, Public Speaking, Consulting, Lobbying, or any other area that I may not have thought of but follows along those lines, your help would be appreciated.

It would be very easy to curl up in ball and shut out the world during a time like this, but I continue to have faith that the right outcome will ultimately make itself known to me. Therefore, I continue to live life and enjoy each day as much as possible. The weekend before I had my eyes burned with lasers joined a group of youth from our church on their Confirmation Decision retreat. The decision they were to make was whether or not they wanted to become members of the church and accept Christ. As one of their leaders I was committed to helping them feel comfortable making this decision with their own free will. I was also committed to being apart of their experience on the retreat, which meant making some decisions of my own, and taking my own symbolic steps in faith.

The retreat was at a Methodist camp near Brown County that was in a fairly secluded area of the woods. I say fairly secluded because there was a shooting range nearby. The not so distant sound of gun fire added a strange surrealism to our singing, prayer, and communion service in the late morning. We held our prayers, lessons, and services in an outdoor chapel that was in the woods, along a path, down a hill from our cabins. It was the perfect place for the youth to absorb themselves in the spirit to make their decisions. However, in order for me to help them and be with them, I had to cling to my faith (and my crutches) to get to the chapel myself. The pictures above capture the terrain, the beautiful setting, and the smile on my face to once again commune with nature!

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