Friday, October 5, 2012

Close Call

Unfortunately, and in the words of Robert Frost, I am writing this post "ages and ages hence" so I will definitely lose the fresh emotion of this story but it is certainly worth documenting.  Of all the crazy things Nick's done in his life, I don't think anyone would have thought his closest run-in with death would come from a dirty piece of plastic from the Potomac River getting lodged in his ankle. But, this was the case.  In July, 2012, Anjie's sister, Tia, was in town with her family so Nick agreed to head up a canoe trip for a bunch of us.  Nothing out of the ordinary but before we even got started, Nick lost his footing on the muddy edge of the river and slid from the bank into the water and punctured his heel on something.  In true Nick form, it hurt, but he never mentioned it.  By that night, however, the wound was dark red and really hurting.  He was heading out on a high adventure kayaking trip in a few days so he figured he better get some antibiotics.  That he did and the next day--no change but the pain was intense.  He went back to the doctor and they gave him something else and he headed to West Virginia in more pain than I had ever seen him in, but with the faith the medicine would kick in and all would be fine.

According to him that was probably the worst week of his life.  It was all he could do to make it through the pain during the day but by night he would have to completely drop out of commission and elevate it just to bear it at all.  Nights were awful and on the third night he thought he'd need to go to the hospital but their location was so remote it was impossible.  He said one of the most sincere prayers of his life and by some miracle he made it through the next few days.  When he got home he went back to the doctor and his infection was out of control.  They ended up giving him a different round of antibiotics and we hoped for the best.  He muddled through the next week but would come home from work looking awful--terrible coloring, hot then cold, clammy and sweaty, his ankle ready and infected looking--nothing had changed.  All he would want was a green smoothie.  He'd say, "it's like my body is craving it--like I have to have it."    We had been drinking them daily for a few months now.  A week went by and on Saturday we were supposed to go to a Calleva event but Nick was feeling too awful.  That night we called the doctor on call and when he returned the call he was really short and rude.  Nick gave him a rundown of the past two weeks, the river infection, all the different meds,  and all the current symptoms he was having--that he'd made little improvement and was actually feeling worse.  The doctor had the nerve to tell him to take a Benadryl and then hung up.  I was so undone by the conversation and what a jerk he had been that I said I couldn't go to bed without saying a prayer together.  Following that prayer,  I had a dagger stab my heart so sharply and clearly with dread that I knew instantly he had to go to the hospital.  When we got there and the nurse took a look at him, she put him ahead of everyone and said he was in big time danger as his body was going septic.  He then spent the next days in the hospital with all kinds of specialists and on an IV drip.

 We ended up calling our good friend from church, Ruth, who is an infectious disease doctor and she immediately took him under her wing.  In a nutshell this resulted in saving his life.  She truly believed that something was stuck in his foot even though it didn't come up on the X-ray.  I am so grateful for her.  She said she literally couldn't believe the healthy state Nick must have been in, because there was no explanation for the week preceding admission into the hospital.  She said his immune system did wonders at keeping the sepsis at bay because by the time he was admitted he was in terrible shape and the infection in his foot was out of control.  To this day, both Nick and I think the smoothies are to thank.  He would not have been able to survive that week had his body not been so healthy and ready to fight.

Long story short.. he had surgery and sure enough Ruth was right-- there was a weird piece of plastic inside his foot just keeping everything festering.  He wasn't out of the dark yet, his body was a wreck.  He stayed on the IV drip for a whole month after the surgery.  He had to carry that bag around day and night and he felt lousy.  He seriously never complained and did his best to set an amazing example for the kids.  It was a really scary thing to go through.  I'm just so grateful for receiving the warning that I did that night and for amazing doctors and friends like Ruth who go above and beyond to help people. Also, for the fighter that I married.  He's one amazingly tough man and I love him.

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