Tuesday, March 25, 2008

the plan

Nancy's second on the docket for surgery tomorrow morning, almost today, Wednesday the 26th. Puts her on the table around 9 AM. Dr. Bessey mentioned that the first patient, some kid, may get bumped.

Some unspoken reason why it may not be his day, he didn't elaborate. We, for obvious reasons, didn't press.

I'm not a board-certified burn doctor, not yet, so I won't go into the specifics, but Nancy opted for Door Number Two tomorrow, which is the first of two procedures.

Tomorrow they'll remove all of the damaged tissue and then apply cow collagen (bovine collagen for you 4H kids), brand-named Integra. Look it up under Integra or burn surgeries or holygodonhighthathurts.com or whatever else is out there. They bind up the collagen on top of the new wound for two weeks. This time gives her skin cells a platform and a structure and a vehicle to grow into. Promotes the growth of her own skin over the burn area.

Two weeks later, or April 9th, they put her under again and take a thinner graft than they would have taken if she had gone for the other option and then they staple that graft on and they wait five days and see she how she is.

Five days after that, barring any strangeness, she's home.

The deal is this:

The scar is going to be around a major joint, her shoulder. When you think of your shoulder, you don't usually think of the bottom part of it, your underarm, but that's still your shoulder joint and that's where some of her particularly bad burns are. She has third degree burns on the skin on the bottom of her shoulder joint, and that's a major joint. If they do it the traditional way, she's looking at the chance of eventual compromise of functionality with that joint.

A scar, by definition, is a patch of essentially dead skin that becomes hard and thick and will contract and draw in to itself over time. You don't want that kind of patch over a joint. The Integra deal is designed to create a lighter, thinner and more flexible scar.

So we're all Integra People here at the Museum.

Only big downside to the plan is that she's going to be Inside for the next three weeks. She was climbing the walls last night, pacing the hallways, beginning to freak. She's already been in there for a week.

A week without waking up alone in your own bed. A week with strangers, kind ones, but still strangers, bringing you bad food and taking your temperature every four hours. A week of fluorescent lights, tiled floors, distant and constant noises.

No way to live.

They granted the Unthinkable yesterday. The nurses saw her going crazy and said,

"Hey. The burn is dressed and bandaged and safe. You're not an idiot. Put on a coat and some shoes, walk down the hall to the elevator, hit the button for the first floor and go out and walk around. It's a beautiful day."

We were at Famiglia Pizza twenty minutes later, corner of 71st and 1st, eating a slice of pizza. She walked into a Bolton's and looked at hats.

I was out in the New York spring afternoon with my wife, just walking around.

Now I know what Christians mean when they sing about Heaven.

So let's focus tomorrow, compadres. Dr. Bessey and Dr. Joseph and the Nursing Staff and Nancy are ready to do their parts. It's a team effort. Let's not let them down.

More when I know more, but today was a good day.


Eric Winick said...

Jesus, John, it's the little things, ain't it. I'm getting on Team Nancy distrib. list and will try to get in front of the camera to say, "Hey kid," but in the meantime, my thoughts are with both of you. Go Integra. - Eric

Anonymous said...

Go Integra indeed. Constant, strong and positive thoughts with y'all. Robert

Anonymous said...

Hi John, so sorry to hear about all this - just got the email from Elena - please send Nancy my love and then some, and of course some to spare for you too...love, Julia (from London)

Terry said...

Terry loves John and Nancy.
JC, you sure do have a way with words brother. The kind of way that brings tears and hope and smiles and understanding. I couldn't possibly send more positive energy to you both (but I'll try). All my love to Nancy... and John, I'm heading out to buy a wooden barrel. If you need company, let me know. -Terry Jackson

John said...

Hell, Terry, I don't think you and I would fit into any barrel I know of, but we'd have a hilarious time trying. Good to hear from you, man.

Eric, the Big Thing is just a whole bunch of Little Things crowded together and trying to look impressive.

Thanks Robert and thanks Julia.

I'm home from 14 hours up there, but she's still up there, so don't nobody cry for me.

Today was a very good day. Surgery went without a hitch.