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Old 08-02-2006, 10:46 AM   #1
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I just thought I'd pass on the (hopefully continuing) good news regarding my health.  While far from completely healed, my ankle wounds (three open wounds that have refused to heal for almost two years now) have finally started to show some sign of improvement.  My skin tissue has finally started to granulate and at least one of the wounds has closed by over 50%.  They're still not to the point where I'm off 24/7 bedrest but at least they're getting smaller.

My pain level is down by immense proportions.  This time last year, my ankles felt like I was having a hot clothes iron pressed against my skin every second of the day.  Now, with the rare exception of some aching, I'm almost pain-free.  Last August, I required painkillers 24 hours a day just to tolerate the pain.  As recently as March, I was getting about 15 minutes of sleep a day which was the best I could manage on account of the pain.  Now, aside from a couple Advil and the occassional Darvocet to offset the walking and OOB (Out-Of-Bed, just thought I'd toss out the pun on the ol' OOC term) time I have to do on my weekly trip to the hospital, I'm moving toward being pill-free (well, I still take the blood pressure medication which is probably partially responsible for aiding the healing) and sleeping my normal 2-4 hours a day (I'm an insomniac).

Of course, Wednesdays are my pain-filled day since that's my weekly doctor's appointment at the hospital to examine my ankles.  However, thanks to the new dressing they started using a few months ago, that process is far less painful as well.  This time last year I was routinely passing out from the pain of removing my bandages, a process which would take as much as two hours of soaking per foot just to loosen them enough to attempt to remove them from my skin, this due to the dried blood, wound-drainage, and tissue sticking to the dressings.  Now, on account of the use of mepilex transfer bandages, they come off in seconds with little or no soreness, much less enough pain to knock me unconscious (even while maxing out on painkillers and having them numb the tissue before removal).

My doctor won't give me a timetable for healing, but I hope I'll be fully-healed in time to begin looking for a teaching job again.  After more than 22 straight monthes of this problem, it'd be nice to see money come in instead of going out to pay medical bills (at an average rate of $500 a week not counting another $150,000 in failed surgery attempts).

I realize a few of you couldn't give a damn (and even one or two of you were so nice as to tell me in no uncertain terms you were happy I was having medical problems...all my love to you too, assholes), but for those of you who did express the hope that my health would improve, I just wanted to let you know how I'm doing and to say that I thank you once again for your well-wishes.

Take care,

Jason
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Old 08-02-2006, 02:37 PM   #2
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Well wishes with sincerity.
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Old 08-02-2006, 04:46 PM   #3
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Best wishes and health to you.
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Old 08-02-2006, 06:31 PM   #4
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Glad to hear you're on an upswing! Best wishes on continued recovery.
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Old 08-02-2006, 09:29 PM   #5
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Those new bandages sound like they're helping out a lot, it's interesting the things they come up with in medicines these days.

Anyways, I'm not sure what your personal beliefs are, but may the lord watch over you in your recovery.
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Old 08-02-2006, 11:22 PM   #6
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Glad to hear that you're doing better. I can't imagine living with such pain on a day to day basis.

Good luck and I hope you have a swift recovery from here on out.
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Old 08-02-2006, 11:58 PM   #7
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Glad to hear things are getting better.

I am curious, if you don't mind me asking: what is preventing the open wounds from healing and how did you get them in the first place?
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Old 08-03-2006, 12:49 AM   #8
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Very good news to hear that you are on the road to recovery. Chronic pain is no laughing matter, and I wish you all the best and strength in getting through it with grace and courage.
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Old 08-03-2006, 01:44 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Threshold @ Aug. 03 2006,00:58)
Glad to hear things are getting better.

I am curious, if you don't mind me asking: what is preventing the open wounds from healing and how did you get them in the first place?
They initially thought it was advanced venous-stasis, a condition which normally afflicts the elderly and not people in their late 20s (when I first developed these problems) or early 30s (like this latest recurrence) or diabetics (been tested multiple times and I'm not diabetic). Excessive weight can lead to the development of such a condition, but I'm a trim 175 pounds, right within the proper range for 6'2" height, and diet-wise they've determined that I eat well (heh, when I told my mom that, she refused to believe it...do mothers ever think otherwise?).

They've run every test they can think of on me. I've been to an Oncology Clinic to be tested for every possible type of rare cancer. I've had dozens of blood tests run on me to check for obscure diseases and rare blood or clotting conditions, been tested for HIV, tested for everything short of some condition that afflicts pregnant women (they didn't deem it likely I'd develop a disease like that *grin* ). I've had countless biopsies done, many to ascertain the rate of wound infection, which has not been a problem for the last six months (an infection I developed in November 2004 was so bad they had to put me on the strongest antibiotics known to medical science) which is good since every one of the infections has set my healing back tremendously.

I've had venous and arterial Doppler scans run on both legs from my toes to my groin and surprisingly the blood flow is excellent. In fact, in the worst of my two feet, the blood flow is even better than in the other. They have no idea what is causing this problem which is why treating it has been so difficult.

They've used two different types of skin grafts (one surgical, one not), a variety of different medicines including steroid treatments to do everything from increase my body's ability to regenerate tissue to shutting down my immune system to prevent it from slowing tissue growth. Nothing showed any last results. The average turn-around for patients at the Wound Clinic is 3-4 months to full recovery. I'm presently in the 22nd straight month. Aside from some old guy with advanced venous-stasis, I'm the longest patient they've ever had in their 12+ years of operation.

Most of the techniques used in wound treatment today were developed by plastic surgeons to repair damage to tissue from accidents, fires, etc. as well as to heal reconstructed tissue following surgery. To give you an idea how effective this stuff and the clinic normally is, they had a woman come in with a hole in her toe deep enough to make the bone visible. She smoked a pack a day and had obviously been doing it for a long time since her voice sounded like the synthesized voice of Stephen Hawking only it was her own voice! She told the doctors and nurses she wouldn't stop smoking and they fully believed she'd probably not even come back to the clinic a second time, much less show any signs of success with the treatment they tried because smoking not only impedes tissue regeneration, it can reverse it (I was told years ago that if I were a smoker, I'd be a double-amputee by now given my wounds). Well, after 3 weeks of the treatment they'd prescribed, not only was she better, but the wound had closed completely! Even the doctor was surprised because given her smoking, there shouldn't have been any change, much less so quick a recovery. But these treatments today are incredibly effective on 99.9999999999% of patients (yeah, you can guess who the spoiler in that figure is) barring the onset of diseases like HIV. Even then, they probably have some success in treating the wounds even if the disease can't be stopped.

The situation with the elderly smoker is especially frustrating for me given that I have never smoked in my life (I avoid even being around smokers) and was doing the total bedrest now for over a year. Now that I'm finally showing some progress, we (myself, the doctors, and the nurses) have all come to the conclusion that the bandages which were sticking were doing too much traumatic damage to the tissue because since they started using the transfer, I've seen results (in fact, just the transfer alone on one ankle and a $400 per application treatment on the other showed that the transfer was more effective despite costing only a fraction of the other). Normally this sort of thing wouldnt' be a factor since all the dressings they used prior to the transfer are also supposed to be non-sticking (and I'm the only patient they'd ever heard of some of the bandages sticking to) and had never been a factor in preventing recovery before. As I joke with my nurses, leave it to me to be difficult beyond any other.

Anyway, this week's appointment went off without a hitch. Still showing progress and so their continuing this treatment which seems to finally be working. Thank you to you all again for your thoughts. It is much appreciated.

Take care,

Jason
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Old 08-03-2006, 02:45 AM   #10
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I'm glad you are getting better Jason, and I will pray for your continued healing from this!

Keep up the good cheer!
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Old 08-03-2006, 11:10 AM   #11
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Wow, that must be incredibly frustrating to see people have faster, better results when they aren't even TRYING to take care of themselves. It reminds me of a situation I experienced. When I was in college, an apartment complex I lived in didn't clean the HVAC system, and it was full of mold that I happened to be allergic too. Breathing in this mold for a year caused a lot of damage to my lungs, and I developed a type of temporary athsma.

It took a long time for various doctors to figure out the cause, because I was in school on a rowing scholarship, and as a result of the rowing, my lung capacity even with damaged lungs was double the normal capacity for someone my age. As a result, doctors kept saying there was nothing wrong. But I knew something was wrong, because I couldn't take a full, deep breath. There was a long time where I was so ****ed that I had to suffer this problem when I didn't smoke or do anything like that and yet still had to deal with not being able to take a deep breath. I spent many nights trying to get to sleep, feeling totally miserable about the "unfairness" that I did everything I could to take care of myself and still had this problem.

It was an allergist who finally figured out what happened, and the treatment was pretty simple - mainly my lungs just needed time to heal and for the scar tissue to go away. 6 months or so later everything was normal.

Obviously, that's nowhere near what you are experiencing, but I think I understand the frustration of knowing there are people not even trying to take care of themselves who don't have to deal with what you're dealing with.

How did your ankles get wounded in the first place?
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Old 08-03-2006, 11:21 AM   #12
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It's wonderful to hear you are feeling better. Looking forward to more good news as you continue to progress.
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Old 08-03-2006, 12:35 PM   #13
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Glad to hear you're feeling better.

I definately know what it's like to be in constant pain for months at a time. I've got a completely ****ed hip, Ankylosing Spondilytis{sp?}, and during the winter months I can't even roll out of bed at times, or walk to the toilet without my good ole cane, or make love to my wife, or do much of anything except feel sorry for myself. Pain medication never worked for me, and only made me itchy and sleepy. I finally turned to the wonders of marijuana.

Not to encourage you to deviancy or anything, but if, gods forbid, you continue to have problems, you might give it a thought to help manage your pain.

-WP wishes you luck.
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Old 08-03-2006, 10:32 PM   #14
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Damn man, you are a medical mystery.

Sounds like a job for House.

Good luck.
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Old 08-04-2006, 05:57 AM   #15
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Glad to hear you're getting better, Jason.

It's redundant of me to say this and I have no actual grasp of what you went through, but I'm guessing it was Hell. Things are only going to get better from here on, eh? Do your best to make up for it an enjoy yourself.

Make sure to post when you're completely healed as well.
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Old 08-04-2006, 08:33 AM   #16
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I PMed you about your troubles, but didn't hear any reply back. I still think you should look into melaleuca oil. At the very worst, it won't do a damned thing. At the very best, it'll be a huge help in cleaning, healing, and preventing infection. The only caveats: can't use it during chemo, or in conjunction with homeopathic treatment, and shouldn't be applied to bandages made with plastic. If there are hours when you need to be unbandaged (to let your skin breathe or whatever), that would be the best time to apply the oil. Undiluted, just a drop or two to the infected/affected areas. Definitely ask your physician if it's something he's willing to let you try. It also helps as a topical analgesic, and allergic reactions are probably rarer than this mysterious ailment you have. Treatment for any allergic reaction is simply - ceasing its use. Allergic reactions are always mild: a slight rash, which goes away by itself in a few hours without any medicine at all.
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Old 08-04-2006, 01:45 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Jazuela @ Aug. 04 2006,09:33)
I PMed you about your troubles, but didn't hear any reply back. I still think you should look into melaleuca oil. At the very worst, it won't do a damned thing. At the very best, it'll be a huge help in cleaning, healing, and preventing infection. The only caveats: can't use it during chemo, or in conjunction with homeopathic treatment, and shouldn't be applied to bandages made with plastic. If there are hours when you need to be unbandaged (to let your skin breathe or whatever), that would be the best time to apply the oil. Undiluted, just a drop or two to the infected/affected areas. Definitely ask your physician if it's something he's willing to let you try. It also helps as a topical analgesic, and allergic reactions are probably rarer than this mysterious ailment you have. Treatment for any allergic reaction is simply - ceasing its use. Allergic reactions are always mild: a slight rash, which goes away by itself in a few hours without any medicine at all.
I've had suggestions for everything from maggots to herbal medicines. As my doctor says, "We're way beyond maggots." My legs are bandaged constantly, with a four-layer wrap from my toes to my knees, except for that brief 30-60 minutes every Wednesday at the hospital when they remove them and clean the wounds before rewrapping. Sucks when it's warm out because they itch but there's no way to scratch with the bandages covering.

In response to the question of how I developed the wounds, the reason they thought it was venous-stasis is because it is like that condition in every way. I had ulcerations develop on both of my ankles (sort of like scabs right on the middle of the inside of the ankles). I developed the wounds when one of the ulcerations on my ankles caught on my sock and ripped off back in September of 2004. It was only a hole about the size of the fingernail on your little finger but inevitably it got infected and within a week was about the size of a thumbnail. Antibiotics took care of the infection but the wound wouldn't go away. My doctor recommended I go to the wound clinic at a hospital about 75 minutes away. Started going there and they began treatment on October 4.

By early November, the wound was half-healed but the same problem (sock catching on the ulceration) occured on my other ankle. They both were responding well when I got an infection in late November. Biopsies showed it to be an incredibly resistant infection. They put me on Zyvox, an antibiotic for which there is no known resistance to, for 3 weeks (about $2500 worth of antibiotics). Pretty potent stuff, I found myself alternating between puking my guts out and breaking into a cold sweat from the pain of the infection. Needless to say, that was one of the worst months of my life. The Zyvox did it's job, but the damage was done. The infection had caused the actual wounds to quadruple in size (at least) to about 7-9 centimeters in diameter each (with affected tissue about the size of the palm of a hand and the actual wound possessing a depth of about 1-2 cm into the ankle...scary to see a hole that size in one's foot).

A third wound opened on the outer part of my left ankle when the bandages caused a friction wound about the size of a thumbnail. With a third infection in February 2005, that friction wound turned into an open wound about 6 centimeters in diameter. The reason for all the infections was partially a response to the Prednisone treatments. Prednisone lowers the body's resistance to infection but also prevents the body from blocking tissue from growing more effectively. So, it was a gamble. Perhaps because the dosage just wasn't enough, the Prednisone didn't work the first time it was tried. Additionally, my wounds kept hypergranulating (new tissue growing in clumps rather than spreading to close the wound). This required application of silver nitrate to burn off the extra tissue. The second time they tried Prednisone, the higher dosage (December 2005 to May 2006 was 50 mg instead of 20 mg) seems to have done the trick. Coupled with the mepilex transfer bandages, which don't stick (all of the other "no-stick" bandages actually stuck to the wounds) and hence don't rip off good tissue with them when they're removed, the wounds are now closing properly and are about 3-5 centimeters in size.

Here's hoping infections stay at bay and the wounds continue to heal.

Take care,

Jason
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Old 03-28-2007, 08:18 PM   #18
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Today I was finally "released" from further hospital visits and cleared as "healed". The wounds themselves are fully-closed and managed to withstand over a month now as such. Here are some pictures taken 4 weeks ago (except the first one). The wounds themselves once covered an area 10 cm x 12 cm in size stretching across each of the ankles. The left ankle also had a wound 6 cm x 8 cm in size on the outer side (so yeah, nearly the entire left foot was an open wound). The wounds on my left leg are friction wounds from the bandages and these are the ones that drained and stuck my leg hair to the bandages which, by the time of removal, caused all the hair to be ripped out.

Still have to take it easy on the ankles but my doctor said a day or so every few weeks I should try to extend the activity I can do (try some long walks, etc.) but nothing too strenous as the tissue still has a ways to go before it's fully-healed.

Just thought I'd share an update on my status.

Take care,

Jason
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Old 03-29-2007, 04:07 AM   #19
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This sounds pretty sick.

Really it's one of those cases where you value your immune system a lot more. I'm just glad I got good genes and all that.

It's good you healed too by the way.

Oh yeah, doctors suck.
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