Next Steps

It’s been a while since I wrote an update, and a lot has changed. Today is 98 days from my first surgery. In the last few weeks, we’ve gotten some additional opinions, had an array of tests, and even a couple of surgeries. Several weeks ago, I was supposed to have a surgery, but we decided to hold off until we could get more opinions.

In doing so, we learned that we should be concerned about the potential for osteomyelitis which is an infection of the bone that is common with large wounds like mine that have been open for an extended period of time. If a bone is infected, that needs to be dealt with before any major surgery can happen, either with 5-6 weeks of IV antibiotics or by physically removing the bone depending on the severity of the infection.

Unfortunately, the process to determine the presence of osteomyelitis is involved. Lab work. An MRI. And finally, surgery to extract some bone for testing. So, we spent a couple of weeks not knowing how that was going to turn out, and my last two surgeries have been about cleaning out my wound and obtaining that bone for testing. It was a lot of waiting and wondering.

My surgeon had us expecting a bone infection. After the surgery to remove the bone for testing, they went ahead and hooked me up to IV antibiotics with the expectation of needing the treatment. Then, I spent a few days in the hospital on the IV antibiotics as we awaited the results. (It takes about 5 days for them to be sure there’s no infection.) During this time, we’d get small rays of hope in that the tests were looking good, but nothing official.

During my hospital stay, I was introduced to physical therapy, and I took my first steps in three months with the help of a walker. I’ve got a long ways to go. I also had one more surgery to finish cleaning out the wound. It was a very minor surgery, and afterwards, we got the all clear on the bone infection. I went home with the main surgery scheduled for little more than a week later.

That was about a week ago. Tomorrow morning I’ll go in for what’s going to be my sixth surgery since July. Or about one every other week for the last three months. We found out this morning that it’s supposed to last 6-8 hours, and I’ll be in the hospital for about five days afterwards. This is without a doubt the most significant, invasive, and most important surgery I’ve had yet. (For the curious or medically-minded out there, it’s a free flap surgery.)

Unfortunately, it’s not going to be the last. During all of this, some tendons had to be removed, and once the wound recovers, those will need to be repaired if I have any hope of playing basketball on the same level again. In addition to that, free flaps often need another surgery down the road to work on the recipient site.

It’s still supposed to be 9-12 months before the process of surgeries and physical therapy is complete, and there’s no way of knowing whether I’ll be able to recover to where I was pre-surgery. I’m not quite ready to give up hope on playing basketball again, but I may end up not having a say in the matter.

Finally, thanks to everyone for the encouragement and kind words. While this process doesn’t even come close to what some have gone through, it’s been challenging. I can’t say thanks enough.