Thursday, December 30, 2010

Change in Plans

So my vac change went well today. The drainage continues to make me nervous, but my nurse isn't concerned at all. I have had some extra redness and itchiness around my wound, which she noticed on Monday and today it seemed to be a little worse. She said right away that she think it's a yeast infection and that it will clear up with some meds.

Well, she talked to Dr. H (GR) and his answer was not meds, but that I should have a break from the vac. WHAT?? No, it's not time for it to come off, but he said that sometimes the skin around it gets irritated from drainage that doesn't come through the sponge and that it may just be that my skin needs to have a break and breathe. SO, Nurse Jodi will be here tomorrow again to take the vac back off, and then to show me how to dress the wound with gauze. The gauze will be damp/wet with saline solution and put onto the wound, then a large dry gauze pad will be put over that and it will be taped down. It has to be changed twice a day, and has to be done by me until I go to see Dr. H on Tuesday.

This is basically what they did in the hospital after the initial infection of the appendectomy incision. Which is probably what makes me a little nervous since that's what ended up spreading to the rest of my skin and causing this larger wound (or at least a bacteria infection caused it to spread). I don't have an infection now, so it shouldn't be a problem, BUT I guess it just still makes me nervous to have to do it this way right now. In some ways it might feel really good to not have the vac on for a few days. It has been a little uncomfortable the last few days as I said before so maybe this will be a little relief.

Last night I had some struggles with getting Keaton to have a good night of sleep. He was restless and just didn't sleep as soundly as he has been. Plus, my pain was a little more intense the last few days and getting up and down all of the time was more of a struggle. I was tired and frustrated and this morning was the first time I truly got upset about all of this. I haven't really had an emotional meltdown so far. To me, this is just the way it would have to be for a while. While in the hospital, we knew things were at times very serious, and to even be here and be able to take care of my family, even in this capacity, is a blessing! But still, this wasn't the state of health that I was planning on being in when Keaton and my girls all came home. I'm used to running our household; cooking, cleaning, laundry, errands, playing, etc. etc. etc, and doing it all with ease. When I have to pick up a bag and hose and concentrate on getting up with as little pain as possible before going anywhere or doing anything, it gets a little old.

We continue to take one day at a time. For the most part, I continue to feel healthy and am very capable of getting around the house to do things. This little irritation on my skin is probably something minor, and I'm thankful that I'll be able to experience life without the vac for a little while. I'm nervous for how it may make the wound feel and how much I'll be able to do over the weekend, but also thankful that it's just the weekend, and even that this will be a little sneak peak into what it will be like when the vac comes off for good. I have been feeling so good emotionally, and I know that God will continue to watch over me and our family as we go through this. Being tired from a newborn is enough, I know, and to have to heal from this just adds a whole other dimension to life. We couldn't do it without His strength and your prayers.

Please pray that the break from the vac will be just what my skin needs to heal and that the gauze treatment will go smoothly over the weekend. I am confident that it may not be much longer that I will have the vac as my measurements today were 4x11x.3cm. Remember on November 26 the measurements were 8x17.5x3cm with a 3cm tunnel even further into the wound. It's looking healthy and there hasn't been any more infection. Please keep praying that the healing process goes quickly and smoothly so that we can soon say this was something of the past.

We continue to look to our God for all things!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Back to Normal...sort of

So the title could be kind of deceiving. Are we really back to normal yet? Well, in some cases yes.

My parents left during the day on Christmas Eve. It was very hard to see them go. What a blessing they have been over the last 2 months. Our girls have never had so much quality time with Grandpa and Grandma Hospers and it was such a gift for them to spend that much time with them in Iowa and then also here in MI. We basically spent our days hanging around the house, feeding Keaton, taking naps (all of us that were home!) and just spending time together. They did our shopping, cooked meals (unless someone brought them in, which was a nice break for my mom), held and fed Keaton, drove the girls to and from school and other things, played with the girls, cleaned my house, did yard work, scooped snow, and the list goes on and on. From the moment they took them to Iowa to the day they left, God showed me what being a parent is all about. We don't just care for our kids while they're in our care, we continue to love on them even when they're having kids of their own and live hundreds of miles away. They dropped everything to come and care for me and my family during a really tough time, not just while I was home, but when I was in the hospital too. My dad called me every morning at 7:30am (6:30 Iowa time) to see how my night went and how I was feeling. Seriously, every morning. Children are a gift from the Lord, and they took this seriously and faithfully. I pray that I am even a fraction of the gift that my parents are to me to my own children!

So minus 2 adults, our house has gotten a tad quieter (although, Keaton has become a little louder:) ), and a little more back to normal. I'd have to say that it's nice that it's still Christmas break so that I didn't have to dive into driving the girls back and forth yet this week. It's nice to just be able to lay low and hang out at home just a little bit longer.

As far as me being back to normal yet...nope, it may be a while. Still wondering how long? Yeah, so am I.:) I continue to take it one day/week at a time. I am still wearing my vac and will be until the wound doc or the home nurses order differently. As of last week Wednesday, my wound is measuring 4x14x.5cm. It continues to shrink, but slowed down from the previous week. Nurse Jodi said it's going to do this and some weeks it will change a lot. I do have to say though that it's changed already from last week to this week. I have another change tomorrow morning which is when Jodi will measure it again and I think she may even take a picture. Monday, she was quite impressed with how it was looking. Will I have the vac off next week, probably not. A new nurse that I had over the weekend said that they won't take the vac off if I'm still having drainage. The drainage has changed a bit, enough even that it's kind of made me nervous, but the nurses have said that the change is normal and as long as it looks the way it does, it's doing good.

Something not so fun about it right now is that it seems to hurt more. I've had to be pretty religious with taking ibuprofen and Tylenol to take the edge off. It never hurt to have the sponge taken off of the tissue, but over the last week it's become more painful. One nurse said it could be due to the fact that there's newer vascular tissue forming which may have more nerve endings in it. Again, as long as it looks healthy, that's what's important.

Next week Tuesday is my next appointment with the wound doc in GR. I'm VERY anxious to go since he's the one who will probably dictate when the vac comes off and the dry dressings will start. Once the vac is off, there will still be quite a bit of healing to be done. There will be a gel that will be put over the wound, then gauze and large pads covering the gauze. This will need to be changed daily or even a couple times a day depending on what it looks like. It will also be my job to do it. It makes me a little nervous to think about this part of my healing, but I know that once we get to this point, it means the end is "near". So I guess this answers the question that some people may be wondering: Are you going to do the skin graft? I'm kind of sticking with "no" right now, unless Dr. Hodgson says that it NEEDS to be done. But according to his reaction to my question 3 weeks ago, he seems to think that just letting it heal on it's own is also a good option, and it's the one that I was hoping to hear. I guess when you're living one week/day at a time and waiting for something to heal, you can't look too far ahead, and that's what I'm trying to do. Continuing to give it up to God and let Him heal me and give me peace about what happens one day at a time.

Please keep us in your prayers still as my wound has a ways to go yet, and that it stays clear of infection and irritations. Pray that our family stays healthy during a time of year that so many sicknesses are going around. Keep Kevin in your prayers as he has been battling one of those nasty colds; congested, coughing, losing his voice, energy drained, etc. He's barreling through it, but I know he's exhausted with working all day and then trying to do more at home. We are continue to be so grateful for so many prayers being offered for us. God continues to do his work on me and our family and we are so grateful and give him all the praise and glory!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Wound Doctor

Again, I let a week go by. I guess I can make the excuse that I have a newborn at home, yet I can't make that excuse because I also have 2 babysitters who hang out with me all day. We kind of let our day pass us by, and before we know it, it's after school and the girls are home and it gets a little busier around here. So I just don't make blogging my priority right now, but I know most of you check facebook (my guiltiest pleasure) and I do little updates on there too. So if you don't check facebook, I apologize! If you do, this will be a little more detailed (or in my case, A LOT more detailed-not so good at keeping it short!).

So this really was a normal week. My vac changes were on Tues/Thurs/Sat this week because I had an appointment with my wound doctor in GR. Let's call him Dr. H. My dad drove me there because I still don't feel comfortable to not take vicadin before my changes and I'm not supposed to drive when I'm on it. It doesn't affect me that much, but you never know, I suppose. My appointment went really well. It was so nice to see him again (very kind man). A nurse took the sponge off, then Dr. H came in and assessed my wound. He measured it, poked at it, and talked to me about it. He really didn't say much other than I would have to have my vac on until after Christmas-duh-and that I should come back in 3 weeks (Jan. 4). He said it looked good, was shrinking nicely and that's about it. He didn't bring up my ever pressing question: When will I need a skin graft? So, as he was making his way towards the door, I asked.

He started it off with, "Well, you do have 2 options. You can have a skin graft or you can let the skin heal together on it's own." He then proceeded to go through a list of things that a skin graft would cause: another wound site to heal (probably on my inner thigh), I would always have a square scar (scars are the least of my concerns), the skin graft on my stomach would probably not look the same and always be a little sensitive to light. WHEREAS, if I did not do the graft, I would still only have one site to have heal, and he feels like it won't scar as seriously as they had originally thought.

SO, how did I feel about this? Honestly, I have been laying awake at night after feeding Keaton and wondering if I really want this skin graft. The thing that has worried me the most is having another surgery, and another site to heal. My built-in babysitters will be leaving soon (and I know there are many others who would love to help, but it's still hard to get that all organized). And I just want to be a mom and heal. I don't want to have another surgery and I don't want to have another wound. I had already talked to my family about how my number one concern was having 2 wounds, and when my mom heard what Dr. H had said about the graft, she said, "Well, then you got your answer, right?"

I basically don't know how long it will take for my wound to heal all the way. Eventually, this vac will come off because there won't be any place for the sponge to go. But my skin will NOT be completely closed around the tissue. Then I will need to wear dressings to protect it as my skin slowly comes together. Yes, it may be a while. Yes, a skin graft will probably heal it quicker, but do I want to have another wound? Not really. Do I care if I have scars...NO! That has been the least of my concerns since I had all this happen. All the doctors have looked at me like I was crazy, but honestly, I'm not a bikini wearing girl, and where this wound is located is not a place I would show to the general public anyway.:) I just want it to heal.

So this is my prayer: that God will give me a clear direction and peace with my decision. I am so thankful to be healthy and just simply healing. Carrying around the bag hasn't been so bad, and I've slowly been doing more around the house and outside of the house (Kevin and I even went out to do our Christmas shopping and dinner on Saturday). I do still get tired and sore when I do too much, and sometimes knowing what too much is is hard, but then I take it easy for a couple days and take some ibuprofen and feel better in no time.

God has continued to keep his promise to stay with us as He does even when times are not tough. We are happy to have our whole family together and happy that progress continues to happen. We just keep praying that this continues in the right direction. Praising God for his faithfulness...

Saturday, December 11, 2010


I said I was going to do better with these posts and I honestly intend to do so. Really, my days are pretty uneventful. Like my mom said, we do the same thing every day. We get up and hang out with Keaton all day until the girls come home. Feeling very blessed. Yes, I know. I have this thing on my stomach that tends to remind me that I'm supposed to be healing too, but besides that, it's pretty great to be home and for the most part healthy.

Right now though, things are pretty quiet. All 3 of my kids are napping, and Kevin is driving my parents to downtown GR for an evening on the town. As an anniversary/thank you gift we got them a night stay at the JW Marriot, a beautiful new hotel downtown GR, dinner, and tickets to The Nutcracker. How fun! I'm actually kinda jealous! Kevin has been to the JW with his buddies on a guys night out, but I haven't even stayed there yet! Really though, I'm so thankful that they can get out and have some peace and quiet on their own. So, here I sit, Kevin and my parents are gone, all 3 kids are sleeping, a hot cup of coffee, Christmas tree lights on and candle burning...ahhh, serenity.:)

I'm seriously so thankful that they get a chance to do something special like this. After all, they dropped everything, literally, and took our kids home with them on October 16 and have taken the parent roll all the way back with them to MI. My mom took a leave of absence this month so that she could come and help my dad help us. What a blessing! They buy our groceries, drive the girls to school and the sitter, cook dinner, stay up with Keaton late at night, and I could go on and on. They deserve some time away as well, and so glad they get to do it.

I really don't have a lot to report except that I had another vac change today and because it's the end of the week, I also have measurements to share...drum roll wound is now
6.5 x 14.5 x 1.5cm and the tunnel that was at first 3 cm, NO LONGER EXISTS!!! Praise God!! If you don't want to look back to the previous post, the first measurements of my wound were
8 x 17.5 x 3 cm. Wow God! Thank you for answering our prayers. I have been off my antibiotics for a week now, and no infection or fever has come back, so we feel that it's safe to say that the infection is gone too. It's definitely a slow process, but healing is happening, and we're so thankful for that. One of the most obvious changes is how much my nurse has to cut off of the sponge that covers the wound. She only shaved small amounts off of the sides of it before, whereas now she's cutting about an inch off of it all the way around. The sponge is a medium so there is a size smaller that will eventually be used, and while we're not to that point yet, I can see that in a few more weeks, we may be.

People ask quite often yet if I have any idea how long it will be before I can go back to work or will be finished with the vac. I honestly can't say, and I think it's going to be a week by week situation. Even my nurse said they won't be the judge as to when to take the vac off, it will be up to Dr. H and when he feels it's necessary for me to have the skin graft. I now realize that it probably will have to happen in order for me to heal completely. I will admit though, that I'm already nervous for that day. Having another surgery does not sound like fun, especially since they will be taking the graft from another site on my body which will have to be covered and heal. But when I look at my wound from one change day to the next, I have to realize that it would probably take months even after the vac would be removed for my skin to completely cover the wound. It's just inevitable. I honestly just want it to be over and to be able to move around like I'm used to, but I know too, that God is the ultimate healer and in His time these things will happen. It's just not always easy to be patient.

I am thankful though that most days I feel really good, and can move freely around the house. Do I run the vacuum and go to the grocery store yet? No, but there are some days that I can do more than others. I don't necessarily get tired when I'm up and throwing a load of laundry in or put a load of dishes in the dishwasher. If anything, I get sore from too much movement. After all, this wound is directly in line with where I have to bend, and with too much movement, it can get pretty tender, which in turn, puts me on the couch for a while. Again, so thankful to have my parents here to are willing to do the jobs that most days I should not be doing. All in all though, the pain that I have is not intense, rather it stings just as a cut or scrap you would have to cover with a band-aid, it's just a lot bigger.:)

Keaton is doing great and continues to be the best baby alive. Honestly, we almost think there may be something wrong with him. He ONLY cries when he's REALLY hungry, but otherwise he just grunts and coos and stares at the world around him. Not that I wouldn't be thankful for a healthy, colicy baby as well, but I'm ULTRA THANKFUL that God gave us our beautiful baby who's laid back and happy just to take the world around him in with his quiet demeanor. As my mom said it the other day, he's laid back like his daddy, and it's so true.:) Peyton and Addy are sweet as always and continue to be great helpers around the house. This too is a blessing. They play so well together and rarely have pushed the limits of anything. God has given us some parenting relief as we deal with the healing that has to happen on me. Thank you Lord!

Well, that's really about it. We're just busy over here relaxing and healing and doing our thing, and we know that we have your prayers to thank. I could say it again and a million times over, but without Christ, the turn in my health would not be possible. No matter the steps that it took over the course of the last month, His arms were wrapped around us each step of the way, and He listened to your pleading along with ours.

Oh, what a joy to celebrate this gift of Christmas. That God's son was sent as a gift to us, not just to be seen as a miracle worker and teacher of good, but as the One who brings us to the cross...that he paid the ultimate price so that we can live without suffering and doubt. That we know that our life here on earth is not the end, but our witness to what's waiting for us in Glory.


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Catching Up

So when I mentioned that I'd do my best to update, I meant it, but obviously didn't follow through very well!

The week after Thanksgiving was a busy one for someone who doesn't get out much. I had a doctor's appointment on December 1 with Dr. H. He said my wound was looking good, no more skin infection around it (PTL!) and then he redressed it and said he wanted to see me in a few weeks. Probably the biggest part of our visit was the discussion of when I should be getting a skin graft. When I left Spectrum and after talking with the wound doctors there, my understanding was that I would probably be wearing my wound vac until January some time, then when the wound would be too shallow for the vac, I would only be dressing it with salve and gauze. The skin graft was talked about, but they made it sound like it was something I could do later. For those of you that don't get queezy at the thought of an open wound or even if you just don't quite understand what it is that's on my stomach, let me explain. I have an open wound that is quite large and deep. This is not just from my 3 inch appendectomy incision. This wound happened because I had infection that surrounded the original incision and for whatever reason, a large part of my skin had to be cut away because it was infected by an unknown growing bacteria that was spreading all across my abdomen and back. Once cleared, the wound was 8cm wide by 17.5cm long by 3 cm deep...and there was also a "hole/tunnel" that was cut away inside the wound that was another 3cm deep. Yeah, not fun to think about. The wound doctors told me that I would have a SIGNIFICANT scar, but I told them I wasn't much of a bikini wearing girl anyway, and I just wanted it to heal so that I can take care of my family again. They seemed satisfied with that answer and didn't say much more in the area of skin grafts, other than it would probably have to happen at some point. Well, Dr. H said that he doesn't believe the wound will heal completely UNLESS I do a skin graft. It does make sense. My wound is big and for the skin to all close up, he said it would take a really long time. If I do a skin graft, then that would close it up a lot quicker. So before I left the office, an appointment was made with the plastic surgeon for a consult, but not until mid January. It makes me nervous thinking about having to have another surgery and also having another site that will have to heal, but again, God is in control, and in order to heal completely, I'll do it.

Keaton had his first appointment with our pediatrician on the 2nd and he passed everything with flying colors. We don't even have to go back until his 2 month appointment because our doctor knows my situation and thought it would be easier for me and getting out if we just waited until then. Also, she isn't concerned with Keaton's growth and development because he had gained an ounce a day. We have never been worried about Keaton throughout this whole thing. He was taken care of by the best nurses (in my opinion) in West Michigan and he really didn't have any struggles except that he needed to get the eating thing down. I think a lot of people think that he was in the hospital for more serious things, but he wasn't. He breathed on his own from birth, never had any infections, had his IV out as soon as he started keeping food down...he was just a lazy eater. He's definitely made up for that though and is doing great. To be honest, he's the EASIEST baby I've had so far! Peyton and Addy were both good babies too, but even they cried more than Keaton does. When he's awake he just looks around, checking everything and everyone out. He NEVER cries unless he needs to eat, and even then, it's usually if he's REALLY hungry. Maybe he lets out a grunt here and there and he doesn't always sleep the soundest at night, but I'll take that! So we are very thankful that he's doing so well and growing like a weed.:)

That really brings me to this week. So far I've had 5 vac changes, and they really are getting easier every time. I think that's another thing people don't necessarily understand. I may have explained this before, but I'll do a quick (?) explanation again. I carry around a little black bag with a machine in it that also has a long tube attached to it. The machine is constantly running and "vacuums" out the drainage from my wound. The tube is attached to a black sponge that is cut to perfectly fit over my wound. The tube and sponge are taped to my stomach over the wound. When the machine is turned on after the vac change, the sponge gets vacuumed/suctioned together (probably the most painful part of the change) and that's what's working my wound to help it to heal. Because of this vac, my wound will heal months earlier than if I would have just gauze on it. So everywhere I go around my house, I carry my black bag and tube around the house. It's my "friend".:) Since it runs on battery, when I go to bed at night, I have to plug the bag into a cord in the wall, lay the bag next to the bed and sleep plugged into the wall. I've gotten used to this whole process, and every once in a while I catch myself thinking about how sick of it I am, but I guess I have to quickly squash those feelings because I really have no idea how long I'll have to be attached to my vac, and I don't want to start having negative feelings way before the end is in sight. And as my nurse has said to me, it definitely could be worse.

For all you prayer warriors out there who have been praying for healing, let me give you some stats: my wound will be measured at my last vac change of the week. So far it was measured on November 26 and December 3. The wound is definitely shrinking! If you go above to reread the measurements that I wrote earlier in this post you can compare them to the Dec. 3 measurements: 7.5cm x 16cm x 2 cm and the tunnel is at 1cm. Not THAT'S an answer to prayer! Then over the weekend, the tunnel healed up so much that the extra sponge they packed in was no longer needed...thanking God for honest to goodness measurable progress!!

This week there is nothing in the planner except vac changes which happen first thing in the morning. Basically, the day consists of hanging out with Keaton, and my mom and dad. I'm so thankful they're here. This would be VERY hard without them. Peyton and Addy are enjoying their regular routine of school and babysitter. I get out only when needed and I do need to watch how much I do during the day. I get sore when I do too much and usually pay for it the next day. I've been trying to not take as many meds, which has been fine, but it's nice still having them on the counter, just in case. The Christmas tree was decorated last night and we occasionally get other things done around the house, but I want to heal, so it's best to be sitting or laying the majority of the day.

I can not tell you how blessed we are for the prayers that you all are saying on our behalf. I know that I've said this so many times, but it can't be by chance that my body has healed thus far. It isn't just medicine that did the work of taking the infection away. God has been present in every place during surgery, every CT and ultrasound, every antibiotic, every nurse and doctor, everything. And He keeps showing his face even to this day, through the sweet same home nurse that I've had for the first 2 weeks (probably the hardest vac changes, I've been told) when I could have had someone different every single time, to Peyton and Addy's laid back and well behaved natures while mommy can't be running around, to Keaton's quiet and sweet demeanor, to meals provided, and friend visits, and I could go on and on.

These aren't just things of chance.

This isn't just people being kind.

This is how the family of God does things. This is the face of God shining down and we praise Him for every moment of this journey.