Mea Culpa. First, I must say that I messed up, made an awful mistake, and came within minutes of paying for it. Mistakes are how I learn; I have made so many of them that even I am getting the point.
We are happy to be home, and I am incredibly grateful for the doctors and nurses who saved my toe or my foot, or, they said, even possibly my life. It was the wildest ride yet in the wild wide we call our love and our marriage. And the scariest.
I knew something was wrong with my toe, but the stupid genes that live in so many men kept me from asking for help or acknowledging the danger until I had no choice. I guess I thought the foot fairies would make it better.
Late Wednesday, after a day of worsening and alarming signs, and just before bedtime, we looked at my foot before seeing how the compression socks I was trying on had fared, as I had recovered so beautifully from the amputation surgery. I got cocky, which is always a mistake for a 75-year-old man with diabetes and heart disease.
I am proud of the photos in this piece; I think they are some of my best and most original.
We were horrified to see the toe, discovered and swollen, clearly infected, and swelling rapidly, along with the rest of my foot. The toe was covered in blisters, some of which had opened. It might already be too late.
This was 10:30 on Wednesday night.
The Urgent Care Center had closed, and the only choice was to head for the emergency room and wait till morning. I said let’s wait until morning; Maria said I was crazy, get in the car. I may be dumb, but I’m not a complete fool.
I got in the car, and Maria drove. I knew neither of us would get a wink’s sleep if we didn’t do something; we might as well head out on the 40-minute drive to Saratoga.
We had to wait three hours to be seen. Still, when we got to the examining room in the Emergency Room (I was reluctant to go) at Saratoga Hospital, I was admitted immediately and told of the great danger of a foot infection spreading rapidly in the foot of a person with diabetes.
This one looked bad, said the nurse.
She said this was serious, and the leg and the foot were in danger. If it became sepsis, I would be in even bigger trouble. I was rushed to a room in the hospital and given IV antibiotic injections continuously for four days until minutes before I was discharged today.
We were both frightened.
I’m happy to say that the toe and the foot are fine. We are back on daily bandages, gauze, antibiotic lotions, no showers, and the dread surgical boot. I have learned my lesson, this time for good.
My, we came so close. That’s the thing with diabetes and a foot.
If you see anything that looks red or wrong, call right away, and don’t do what I did, which was wait a day. My ego is swollen sometimes; I thought I had the good diabetes, not the real one—a stupid gene lodged in my head.
Maria ordered me to go to the hospital, and I knew she was right, but my ego balked. She saved my foot and maybe me, according to the doctors.
The doctors and nurses scrambled to attack the infection and block it. It was frightening and eye-opening for me to see just how seriously they took this situation.
After two days, we knew the toe was infected but not the foot itself. The good news in this debacle is that the antibiotics pouring into my body were just in the nick of time.
Dr. Daly, my excellent surgical podiatrist, hauled her equipment into my hospital room Friday afternoon, did some surgery on it, and said afterward that I was fine; my foot and toe were fine. She said I could go home Saturday.
I’ll be taking antibiotics for another week.
The first thing I did when I got home was called a Chocolate shop in Bennington, Vt. and send five boxes of chocolates to the nurses on Floor Three at the hospital. They were truly unique, caring, and competent. And I will not forget them.
In my message in one of the boxes, I said no amount of money could ever pay them what they are worth, and I have no doubt they are not being paid nearly what they are worth.
The second thing (after a joyous and slurpy reunion with Zinnia) was to grab my camera, rush out to my garden beds, and take pictures. I could feel the emotion in them. I loved taking those pictures very much, and I love each one.
We are exhausted. I can’t remember being more tired. Hospital rooms are not a good place to try to sleep.
I wrote from the hospital on my Iphone, I had to write, or the top of my head would have blown off. I was frightened, opened up, and found ways to keep my ground. Maria was undoubtedly one of them; we held hands for about 20 hours. I tested my own faith, and it held up for me.
We are both worn out, and I’ve got to sleep. So does Maria.
I’ll write more about this debacle tomorrow; I am sure I won’t be awake long enough. I learn much from these experiences, and my lucky streak is continuing. Yes, I have nothing but gratitude in my heart tonight.
A friend tried to empathize, writing, “you poor thing, I am worried about you,” which is always one of my triggers. I am no one’s poor anything.
Are you kidding? I wrote back.
Poor thing? Was he talking about me?
My toe amputation, necessary for me to walk again, was wholly successful and has healed; my kidney stone surgery was also successful, my kidney stone was blasted to bits by sound saves, and my toe and foot were saved from infection and are 99 percent healed in just three days.
I never forget that I live with one of the most wonderful people in the world every day.
I’ve gotten through 75 years, and I am happier than I have ever been. I’m just warming up.
Poor thing? Nuts to that, friend, you do not know me. How did it happen that we came to expect full and long lives without trouble or change? Like our beloved dogs, we were not built to live forever or never change size or shape.
My doctors were shocked and delighted by my rapid recovery; too often, the outcome is much worse.
How about worrying about the people who are not so lucky, don’t have access to such good medicine, and can’t recover from their illnesses? We just made it harder for them to get food aid.
I saw some of these in the hospital this week, including my roommate.
I feel healthy, vital, prosperous, and grateful. That’s what I am; that’s who I am. I was recently told that I cannot feel negative about my life.
I am most thankful for that. I’ll add it to my list.