The journey began with a visit to the foot doctor to have toenails clipped and my mother’s feet checked (diabetes). The doctor noticed a black spot on the ball of my father’s foot, just under the big toe. It was a pressure sore caused by consistent pressure in the same area for a long period of time. Upon closer inspection he decided to opened it up. It was deep with possible infection. He began cleaning it out.
My father has neuropathy in his feet (total numbness) so he didn’t feel it. He sat and talked to the doctor the whole time. My mother noticed something was wrong and went over to look at it. She was surprised at how deep it was. It had only been 6 weeks since they had last had their feet done and it was almost to the bone. The doctor dressed it and told my father to stay off his foot as much as possible.
Ten days later my mother took my father back in to see the doctor because the sore looked worse. It was now open to the bone with definite signs of infection. My father was told to stay off his feet until the doctor could order a special shoe that would support his weight on the heel and take the pressure off the sore.
The Excitement Begins
We live in a cul-de-sac around the corner and at the end of a dead-end street. It is a very close-knit and friendly neighborhood. That very day our crumbling sidewalk, the entire length of our property access, was taken out in preparation to be replaced. The large cement pieces were hauled away leaving a large hole approximately 6-12 inches deep and at least 5 feet wide. We now have no direct property access except through our neighbors yards and have to park our cars down the street. Not being the only one who cannot get into their driveway there are many cars parked on the street. The construction workers, upon watching my mother using two canes to totter her way through the bushes dividing our yard from the neighbors, went into a complete panic that she would fall and hurt herself. They made sure that she made it to her car safely and then placed a piece of plywood over the ripped out sidewalk at the base of our driveway to give my mother access to the street with her chair.
To understand what happened next, you need to understand my father. He is a hardworking man who has taken good care of his family and takes his obligations very seriously. In the Latter-day-Saint church (Mormons) we are assigned families that we are responsible to check on every month to make sure that they are doing well and to share a positive/spiritual message. My father is very diligent in this responsibility.
Having being told to stay off his foot, my father did just that. Until about 9pm. He got out of his chair, changed into business casual clothing and began to go down stairs. My mother wanted to know where he was going. He had an appointment with one of his families who happened to be our next door neighbors. My mother suggested that he take a cane for balance. He refused saying he would be fine. He would walk on his heel so as not to put pressure on the sore. It was only next door and he could walk over the small berm easily. My mother did not argue with my father and told him to be careful.
Safely at the bottom of the stairs I saw him from where I was watching TV. I asked the same question as my mother and voiced the same concerns. I got the same response. I watched my father limp out the door. After about 10 minutes I got a phone call from my father. He had fallen on the driveway. Please bring Mom’s electric chair. I called up to my mother to tell her.
My father didn’t make it to the neighbors. He lost his balance going down the two shallow steps from our front deck to the driveway. He tried to get up, but fell again. Laying on the driveway he made two phone calls. He first called our neighbors and said, “I’m not feeling well and my foot is bothering me. I won’t be able to make it over this evening.” He then called me and said, “I’ve fallen on the driveway and I can’t get up. Please bring Mom’s chair.” Yes, my father is really like this.
I drove my mother’s electric chair out to the driveway. My father tried to get up and into the chair, but he could not. I went back into the house and called my son to come help. My son came out, lifted my father under the arms and helped him into the chair. We took the chair over the ramp to the street and then to the van. My father was unable to get into the van. He drove the chair back into the house and we called the ambulance. My mother, now downstairs, looked at my father with that I told you so look. Daughter who was going to bed was very worried about her grandpa. We had a family prayer while waiting for the ambulance which helped all of us. My daughter was sent to bed, but got back up to see the fire truck and ambulance.
Outside in the Street
Cars are parked on the street in our cul-de-sac. A single construction vehicle is also parked there. Now comes the ambulance and a fire truck. Our neighbors are wondering what my mother did. She is the one who falls. They put my father into the ambulance and I put my mother in the van. We follow the ambulance to the hospital. I’m surprised the emergency vehicles could even get turned around and out.
In the Emergency Room
I’m there because my mother cannot walk so I’m driving the wheel chair. The texting begins as all my siblings are notified and then kept up-to-date with the Dr.’s reports. Neighbors are asking if my dad is alright and commenting on how they thought it was my mom until they brought my dad out. I got a text from a neighbor asking if I thought we could get anymore vehicles into the cul-de-sac. I replied with, “Of course.”
Exams, x-rays, doctors and nurses. Diagnosis? A broken hip and a sore on his foot. Yep, knew about that second one. One of nurses remembered me from when I broke my finger last year because I had made her laugh so much. We made her laugh some more. I let my children know what happened. I got a text from my oldest daughter saying that Grandpa needs to stretch more before he participates in any more acrobatics. Maybe a harness would be helpful. We all laughed. My dad was admitted about 3:30 a.m. I took my mother home. Daughter has stayed up all night watching for us and worrying about her Grandpa. I excused her from school the next day and told her to turn off her alarm. I also apologized for not texting her and letting her know. I had thought she was asleep.
Since both injuries are on the right side, my father had surgery on his foot to make sure there was no infection before they did the hip surgery. He has a beautiful new titanium ball in his hip. He was in the hospital for 5 days. Because of the infection in the sore on his foot he was sent to a specialty clinic where they could watch it closely and treat him with serious antibiotics. He now had two (possibly three) new sores. Two on the heel and one between his little toe and the next toe. Eight weeks there for physical therapy and treating his infection.
After we brought him home things were easier, but simply because we didn’t have to drive everyday to see him. We are still fighting the infection though two of the four sores are not healed and closing. The other two are still open to the bone, weeping swollen and infected. It has been just over two months and we are fighting to keep my dad’s foot. We had to stop his crohns treatments because the drug suppressed his immune and his body couldn’t fight the infection. There are many doctor’s appointments and trips to the foot doctor. We found out that when they did the surgery they did not remove the infected bone. They just cleaned it out and sewed it shut. Really?!! The foot doctor has removed two bones from his foot. My father sat and chatted while the bones were removed. He still can’t feel a thing. My sister, bless her, dresses his foot everyday. I can’t even look at it without feeling sick.
My dad is always tired because of the infection raging through his body, but is usually in a good mood. He has lost a lot of weight because the antibiotics make the food taste funny. We have to try to feel him 4,000 calories a day just to give his body what it needs to heal and another 2,000 to put some weight back on him. He is required to drink half and half, put cream on his fruit and cereal, have sausage and/or bacon with his eggs and ice cream every night. Even with all that we are not even getting a third of the calories down him.
Anyway, life here continues to be interesting. I’m handling the stress fairly well, though there are times when I just want to curl up and sleep the day away and I’ve been having esophageal spasms again. Hooray for Eleviv to keep my cortisol levels down and Limitless to give me energy when I need it.