And as they say “that was just the beginning…”
With my hand amputated I at least felt that I was on a road to recovery; but it was far from over. My arm was still open, likewise my leg, with many more surgeries still required.
The next two weeks fell into a fairly regular routine of three wound dressing changes a day and four hours of hyperbaric treatment, interspersed with a surgery or two during the week as they continued to bebride my arm and leg. It seemed strange to have my leg and arm remain open so long as they waited to see what was viable tissue. I was lucky to not get any major infection or complication throughout my recovery.
As word spread of my accident flowers started to arrive from friends and family. My mum flew in from Spain for a week, my brother from the UK and my very good friend from California. Being so far from anywhere I’d call home it was great to see familiar faces.
After the two weeks of surgeries they finally felt they would be able to close my wounds. This was to involve taking a free flap from the thigh of my left leg for my arm and a skin graft from the top of my right leg for my right thigh. The flap was a delicate operation, including connecting an artery and nerve that they took with the flap from my leg. The entire surgery took a total of twelve hours and at the end my arm had swollen to twice its normal size.
The first 24 hours after the operation were critical , the nurses checked blood flow and temperature ever hour or so to see if the flap was viable. This was an incredibly stressful time as we waited to see if everything would be successful. As the first 24 hours passed I recommenced hyperbaric treatments to assist with the healing and now I had wound care not just for my arm and right leg but also my left leg where they’d taken the flap from. Dr. Gonzalez-Hernandez was hoping to stretch the skin on my leg to avoid a further skin graft…this involved twisting wires in my leg every few days to try to close the gap!
The one consolation was the great view from my hospital room window and the weather, couldn’t have been much better if I was staying at a 5 star hotel. As I started to gain strength both physically and mentally I could venture outside in a wheel chair with my wife behind mem, I could enjoy the sun while California was being drenched in rain.
Even though the closure surgery was a success I was to still undergo several more surgeries as there was concern over the viability of my bicep and brachioradialis muscles. They kept a hole open at the bottom of the flap so they could continue to bebride the muscles, this wouldn’t finally be closed until I reached St. Francis hospital in San Francisco.
As the weeks rolled by both Kerry and I felt the desire to return home. We could have probably stayed another month or more in hospital in Miami recovering, but, with Kerry living out of a hotel and the hotel bills rising and after being away from home for nearly two months it was time to head home and so we worked with Kaiser Permanente and our doctors to get medically evacuated again back to California.
My finally surgery in Miami was to close my left leg, unfortunately my skin hadn’t stretched enough to cover where the flap was taken and so they did another skin graft to close the remaining area…not pretty but it did the job.
And so after a 10 hour flight involving stops in Alabama and Denver our medevac jet arrived at SFO and I was transported to St. Francis Hospital in San Francisco.
We meet some amazingly caring people at Mercy Hospital who helped both
myself and my wife get through such a traumatic time, I’m sure we will
continue to stay in touch and thanks to all of you for your kindness.