Friday, October 22, 2010

Odd Signs Of Hope

A Short History of Medicine

Patient: "I have an ear ache."
2000 B.C. - Here, eat this root.
1000 A.D. - That root is heathen, say this prayer.
1850 A.D. - That prayer is superstition, drink this potion.
1940 A.D. - That potion is snake oil, swallow this pill.
1985 A.D. - That pill is ineffective, take this antibiotic.
2000 A.D. - That antibiotic is artificial.  Here, eat this root.

- Anonymous

Yesterday my brother Mike had what we hope is his final operation due to the motorcycle wreck, to reconstruct his face.  The fractured bones of his cheeks and at his right temple were screwed to small titanium plates.  The operation, by all accounts, went very well.  When I saw him in the ICU afterward, I was surprised at how invisible the procedure was.  The plates under the eyes were inserted from inside the mouth, and only a small suture at his right temple shows where that plate went in.  Perhaps 10 stitches.

His face was not badly swollen.  You cannot see the plates.  She realigned his bite to where his upper and lower teeth met properly.  He has something of a boxer's nose now, with a slight bend to the right.  The surgeon tried to fix that, too,but the problem is in the soft tissue, not the bones.  When she tried to insert a plate there, it showed through the thin skin, so she decided to back off.  Instead he will wear a sort of splint on the outside for a time, to see if the tissue will straighten out that way.  If not, further surgery can correct it when he has healed up from the rest.

I doubt he will bother with it.  He is not that vain.  Or perhaps he is, but in that curious way that sees a few scars and a bent nose as interesting.

One good bit of news:  the attachment to the plates was stiff enough that she did not have to wire his jaws shut as a splint.  He was talking up a storm in the prep room before surgery, answering questions, able to understand where he was and who we were.  It was obviously a strain to be cogent, but he took the strain well.  The principal sign of not being quite together was a tendency to repeat himself several times.  Hell, I do that even on some of my better days.

This was the most he has been present with us since the accident.  I fully expect that in the days to come we will not be able to shut him up, and he will begin to take soft food.

He even blew one nurse a kiss.  I take particular heart from this.

And when another asked him how he felt, he said quite clearly "Not worth a shit."  That's Mike. There's nothing he could have said that would done more to convince me that he was on the mend.



Anonymous said...

So glad to hear the operations went well. It is amazing what surgeons can do these days :)

I have been following your adventures since the plug from Living In My Car and have checked back here almost everyday to see how Mike has been doing. i know he appreciates what you have been doing for him but wanted to let you know that your love and compassion for him has not gone unnoticed. you are a good brother!!
I know it is not easy caring for a loved one while they are going through a crisis time. praying for continued strength for the journey. Sending you a virtual hug too.


Anonymous said...

So glad Mike is doing so well. I read your blog every day and check often since your brother got hurt. I am sure he has been there for you and you have certainly been there for him. I have children your age. Best wishes for both of you. Laura from CT

Anonymous said...

great news Bob, may you and your brother have a wonderful weekend watching nurses :)


jr said...

It is great to hear he is improving! I know you are relieved.

jennifer said...

I'm glad to hear the update. I know it will be a long journey, but it sounds like he is making good progress.

Hope you are taking care of yourself, as well.


Anonymous said...

just me... hoping things are well