Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Saga of the Infected Leg

Thanksgiving took on new meaning for me this year.  I am thankful to the Lord for another wonderful day in this marvelous existence we call life.  A day with family and friends, a day with goals and wishes, and with the strength to reach forward to new challenges.

I wanted to thank the many that wished me well and prayed for me during my recent bout with a staph infection on a leg.  I tried to keep things low key, but there were so many friends that had questions about my condition, that I felt I needed to write something about it.

Time for a confession, I was definitely nervous about my infection last month.  This was really evident the second night  I was in the hospital and I couldn't get to sleep.  Earlier in the day my leg had been operated on.  The 3/4 inch deep hole in my leg, about an inch and a half in circumference did not look well.  This infection was on my shin, near the ankle, and the doctor made it a point to show me how clearly you could see the bone through that last thin layer of muscle in the hole.

Up until that night I had remained cheerful and optimistic. I had even joked to Elias, who produces our TV program, that in the worse case scenario we would have to change the program format from dealing with social issues, to instead, a children's program with me dressed as a one-legged pirate.  We had laughed about this, but later that night, it suddenly did not seem so funny.  I tossed and turned, and started getting worried. "Majority world" or "third world" medicine does not have a good reputation.  What if something terrible happened? Why did this happen to me?  I rebuked possible curses uttered against me.  I believe as Christians we need to do that every once in awhile.  I  am a firm believer in spiritual warfare.   I rebuked the spirit of fear, and depression.  We need to do that also as needed.  I examined myself spiritually, but that doesn't usually help very much because then I have to thrust myself on the mercy of God.  What I mean is that I am conscious that without God's promise to me of forgiveness and acceptance I really don't measure up to His standards.  I am a work in progress, forgiven, but still flawed.  If God wanted to find fault with me, he wouldn't have to look too hard.  Needless to say, I was definitely down in my spirit.  Debbie was spending the night in my room on a
narrow sofa (it is quite common in the DR, for a family member to be with the patient all day and night). At 2 am, I woke Debbie up and asked her to pray with me.  I felt that I was stressing out and needed prayer.
We hugged a moment, and I even shed a few tears. It is wonderful to be able to ask your wife to pray for you.  (I am glad she didn't think about the many times I had left the lights on downstairs or forgot to take my plate to the kitchen). We prayed together and I was able to sleep.  I felt much better the next day. I spent two more nights there at the Centro Medico Padre Fantino, then was released.

Every day for the next three weeks, I would go to the emergency room to get my bandages changed.  I watched the hole slowly start filling in. The next two weeks I only went twice a week.   When I go, I have the bandages changed and the leg examined by my doctor, Jochi Perez.  I really followed his orders.  Too many well-meaning friends told me horror stories of staph infections that left people legless or dead. I was also told about the flesh-eating infections that had been reported in the U.S..  Why do people always volunteer those depressing negative stories when you are going through a health problem?  I took all the medicines faithfully like clockwork.  I kept off my feet (most of the time). Now the hole has closed up, and I am waiting for a good scab to form, as it is still somewhat  tender looking.
After four weeks, I was able to visit a church construction project I am overseeing in Ranchito

How did this infection start?  As far as I can tell, the infection on my leg started when I put on some  tight black socks. They were really tight, and I remember thinking that I would need to take them off in a few hours as soon as I returned home and changed to less formal wear.  However, I kept going that day, dressed as I was, and that night when I took off the socks, I had a number of rings around my ankles from the elastic of the tight socks.  I saw a small 1/4 inch diameter red spot just below the surface of the skin that I took note of.  The next day I checked my ankle and noticed that my leg was warm and the ring was an inch and a half in diameter.  I thought, could this be internal bleeding?  I popped a couple of 82 mg. aspirins, as I had heard that aspirin thins your blood and can help in avoiding blood clots. The next day the red had
This leaf was supposed to draw out toxins
spread to about a 4 inch circle on my leg, and I called the doctor.  He is a friend of ours and is a surgeon and a blood circulation specialist. He prescribed me some antibiotics (cipro) and told me that I came to him early enough and this should knock the infection out; he wanted me back next week.  Unfortunately, I didn't think to mention that I was taking Humira for my arthritis, and the number one warning on the Humira box was that it should not be taken with an infection in the body.  In two days the infection had grown, swelled up, and my skin broke open revealing a mass of puss and blood. I called the doctor and met him in the emergency room.  He looked at my leg and told me I would have to stay in the hospital for a few days, so they could monitor the treatment.  I was immediately put on a medicine regimen that thankfully brought the infection under control.  A biopsy revealed it was indeed a staph infection.

I am 58 years of age and suddenly feeling rather vulnerable.  Many of my contemporaries have already passed through some life threatening situations.  Needless to say, this infection has been a wake-up call for me.  What if something more serious were to happen to me?  How would the ministry be affected?  Is there a good plan in place to insure a fruitful future for the work?  Do those who would follow have a clear vision about the importance of the ministry that we are involved in?  Are the Joshuas starting to stand in the gap in ministry, or are there no Joshuas or successors around?  What about my wife, how will she be affected?  How will her ministry be affected?  My prayer is that the Lord will help me to have everything in place for when that fateful day arrives.  You know what?  I trust Jesus, and so can you!

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