April 4, 2014 at 3:53 am #6735
This is not a post-civilization event, but Bushrat and I learned many valuable lessons in our private medical battle that will hopefully help others.
Lesson #1-Always question doctors. And other “experts”. We made the mistake of believing the third one because his diagnosis seemed logical. It was wrong. Bushrat lost his legs due to our trust.
To set the background, Bushrat began having cramps/pains/numbing in his feet and legs in 1995. At the time, he was training riot teams, so our local doctor thought he might have hairline fractures (from kicking the newbie’s shields and running with the teams every morning) even though nothing showed on the XRays. Casts for months, no improvement.
Second doctor, a podiatrist, said he had tarsal tunnel syndrome and needed surgery. Bushrat asked about prognosis; no guarantees, so he refused.
A few painful years later, we consulted a neurologist, who did some tests and proclaimed “peripheral neuropathy” due to delayed nerve impulses showing in the tests. Since my Dad had had it, due to diabetes, and the symptoms seemed similar, we trusted this diagnosis and told subsequent doctors that Bushrat had neuropathy. A big mistake. No one bothered to verify or check further. Neither did we. As Selco says, do not believe everything people tell you. Check it out yourself.
Pain continued to escalate and hiking/hunting became a chore, having to sit and let the pain subside several times an hour. This was embarrassing to an outdoorsman; we did not realize how serious it was.
Lesson #2: Think outside the box for solutions. You will notice that each doctor made a diagnosis within his narrow field. Plus–each of them felt a pulse near the ankle and immediately discounted vascular problems. Wrong again! If they had turned him over for an exam—instead of his sitting on the exam table–they would have found the problem. And we had too much trust in the diagnosis, not checking thoroughly ourselves, or exploring more avenues.
Fast forward to 2009. Bushrat was in India speaking to a group; he collapsed with severe pain in his right calf. Blood clot! He got to a major hospital in a major city (eventually) and they did what American doctors never did: A Doppler (ultrasound.) They found long strings of serious arterial aneurysms behind both knees. His feet/legs had been starving for oxygen for 15 years. They tried a bypass. Too late. The damage was too severe and irreversible. His feet began to die.
So, by December 2010 his left leg was amputated, the second in May 2011. In between, the first leg needed 8 more surgeries to debride dying flesh. The fifth floor nurses knew him by name…
Lesson #3: Get your health issues addressed now while there is still modern medical help available. In a post-civilization scenario, Bushrat would have died of gangrene.
Lesson #4: Huge open wounds do not necessarily get infected. I cleansed his raw, bleeding wounds at least twice a day with sterile saline (could be made with a pressure cooker and salt during survival) and changed the bandages. His right leg did not heal completely until November 2012, almost two years after the beginning of this battle.
Yet the only infections were two massive, recurrent staph infections from hospital/surgical visits. And two life-threatening cases of C-diff as a result of the antibiotics that cured the staph… (The antibiotic for C-diff was $1500. I also gave him yogurt and probiotics—the specific one against C-diff is Sacchromyces boulardii.)
Lesson #5: You can free yourself from addiction. Bushrat lived in a morphine haze for months, due to severe, excruciating pain. They had wound pumps on him for a while, and the sadistic nurse would not premedicate him before she changed it. Torture, screams…
Anyway, when the hallucinations began to sink into the lucid segment of his understanding, he was determined to get off the morphine. The doctor who prescribed it would not counsel him as to how to do it; recommended a specialist (fear of litigation paralyzes much of today’s healthcare.) We could not afford a specialist.
So, Bushrat did it himself. With the help of God (and many nights of my holding him during the sweats and shakes). He went from one every five hours to one every six for a week; then one every seven, etc. Took three long miserable months, but he did it!
Lesson #5: You can’t always do it alone. I know it’s hard to trust anyone with your life esp when things go down. And many younger survivalists pride themselves in self-reliance. We did too, at one time. But if we had not had friends, esp at church, we could not have survived this battle. Men came over to help me bathe him, people brought meals, financial help was raised. We had a support network for three years.
And we stood by each other. I clearly remember speaking to a man several years ago, in a gun shop in Alaska. He had been diagnosed with breast cancer, and his wife immediately filed for divorce. She “couldn’t deal with it.” The judge was disgusted and told her she didn’t deserve her husband. She left him when he needed her most… One of the most important things in survival is having at least one person you can trust unequivocally. This is both a physical and an emotional/spiritual resource. Thank God, I have that. And so does Bushrat.
Lesson #6: You can survive much more than you think you can. Like the “Prospector” who posted his experience of getting back to camp while badly injured–he had the will to live. One WWII veteran told me that in POW camp, they only had quinine and aspirin, and many of them survived horrific diseases. My own great-grandmother and her neighbors were forced into the mountains at gunpoint and left to die; she was in her 60s and contracted pneumonia from exposure. They had nothing but what they grabbed and carried; her husband made a fire and heated stones, placing them around her body. She survived.
Plus, Bushrat constantly reminds me that many people die of gunshot wounds—who are only minimally hurt—simply because they are conditioned by TV and the movies. You get shot, you fly across the room and die…
This post may not be totally ‘on topic’ about survival, but it covers many of the emotional aspects. Hope some observations will help and encourage you.
And if you think that Bushrat is my hero, you’re right! Lesser men would have given up and vegged the rest of their lives in a recliner with a TV remote… Bushrat, on the other hand, told the prosthetic tech (he got his legs in March 2012) that he was returning to India in May. IMPOSSIBLE! But he spent a month under primitive conditions in a Third World Country…and we spent three months there in 2013. Hard? Yes. But his record so far is climbing 50 stone slab steps up a hillside to minister in a leper colony… God is God of the impossible. Life is an adventure! Live it!April 4, 2014 at 4:36 am #6742
It seems Doctors from India are more perceptive , perhaps different training ? All I know is , that it was a Dr. from India that got my ex properly diagnosed and removed from the mentally ill prognosis , the other doctors didnt get that she was allergic to SSRI’s . I had surgery when I was 17 , they gave me Morphine for 3 days ……I LIKED IT !!!! dreams like you wouldnt believe ! , then they cut me off …….sorry he was on it long enough to get addicted , I can understand how .April 4, 2014 at 5:00 am #6746
Thanks, Tolik, for reading the post. Please clarify–what is ‘SSRI’? Oooooh, yes, Bushrat liked the morphine at first. And when they finally got the sadistic nurse straight, they premedicated Bushrat with morphine/dilaudid and something else. He like that too. But, he began to realize, after daily conversations with non-existent people, that morphine had to go. I am grateful that he had enough strength of character to follow through.April 4, 2014 at 10:02 am #6760
These drugs given to help you through hard medical problems can cause a lot of problems. In my family, my brother has had horrible back issues due to birth defects. As an adult, they put him on drugs, then a pump in his back that delivered what started with morphine and the addiction began. Now he is completely hooked on the drugs and can’t live without them. Ditto for my sister who suffered a fracture in her spine. She is now on dilaudid in her spinal pump. They detoxed her once, but she went right back to the drugs. She was completely and totally addicted and doesn’t want to be without them. What was a terrible situation for them, just like it was for Bushrat, now became a drug addiction and there seem to be plenty of doctors who go along to keep the big pharmas in business.
I am so glad that Bushrat had the fortitude to help himself and get off those wicked meds! He sounds like a super hero, and you are right up there with him, Wildartist. I am so glad that he has you by his side and to cover his back. You two are my heroes and it is good to hear stories like this. It shows what strong people can do when they aren’t willing to take the easy road. I will pray for you both.April 4, 2014 at 10:46 am #6762
Great advice Wildartist! Question all doctors and educate yourself and don’t give up! Bushrat is a hero! What a strong will and soul. You are so fortunate to have had the love and support of church friends and others. Makes a big difference. You are a hero too! The role of Caregiver is a tough road itself – few realize. It came close to breaking me several times.
I took care of my mother at home for 2 years before she died years ago. That was my biggest education. Learned quickly not to believe everything and to educate myself. Lived with a Merck Manual near me all the time. Had no problem changing doctors or getting 2 and 3 opinions either.
Used to ride horses when young competitively. Bad accident. Thrown into a jump made of telephone poles. Years later back surgery to remove scar tissue pressing on nerves/spine required. Took 4 surgeons to find a doctor that I believed, who would promise me that if I thought I could make it out of the hospital after the surgery he would release me with pain scrips. He did, relucantly, do as I asked and somehow after anesthesia wore off I was out of there. Wasn’t easy, painful as hell, but well worth the effort. Otherwise standard post op treatment 8 weeks in hospital on my stomach as the 8″ deep incision down to my spine healed. No thank you! Wanted to control my own pain meds and not be doped up with Dilaudid and Morphine. Give me some Percodan, Let me go home and I will deal. Incision had to be left opened, cleaned with saline and peroxide and repacked with wads of dressings twice a day, every day. God Bless my sister. Took a year to heal from inside out but I was off painkillers in a week and didnt’ get staph or mursa etc.
Stick up for yourself! If you’re too weak/in pain to do it get someone as an advocate who will.April 4, 2014 at 11:08 am #6765
I had what was supposed to be simple foot (feet) surgery in 2009. Now, here it is, 2014 and I have completed my 5th surgery and I hope it is the end! We will see. I will always have trouble/pain walking now, but at least I can walk. No bugging out for this former power walker! At least, not by foot, hiking across the wilds of Texas! That is OK. I can still do my chickens and my gardening and my canning. I just have to pace myself. That is OK, too. You do what you have to do. What I have learned is the same thing that everyone else seems to learn. Just don’t take the advice of one doctor and head to the operating table! For drugs – well, I can’t really take them. Tylenol is the heaviest pain reliever that I can take, so there is no issues with addiction to drugs. However, post surgical isn’t always a fun time. That is OK, too. It doesn’t last very long and I seem to be able to handle the pain fairly well. Good thing that is true. Otherwise I would be up a creek without the proverbial paddle. God is good. He has seen me through some rough times medically and He is the One who has my back for me. So now, being a poorer but wiser girl, I too have learned the wisdom of obtaining lots of opinions before making a decision. It is our bodies that we get to live with for the rest of our lives. Once the doctor has said, “Oops, failed surgery!”, he gets to go home and go out and play golf. We live with the results of the “oops!”April 4, 2014 at 12:25 pm #6781
Thank you so much for sharing you and bushrat’s story!
I’m so glad he was able to quit morphine.
It is so encouraging to hear that you guys were able to put your trust in Jesus throughout the whole thing!
HannahApril 4, 2014 at 3:34 pm #6817
good words of advice, completely agree. in the past when iv question health care profesionals i found i got sub-service afterwards…. being left half dressed, in the dark, shoved into a corner…. okay maybe i was a bit worried but we got questions and concirns. anyway… a second and third opinion will usualy show different results with different opinions.
..my youngest was born with downs syndrome, an extra chromosone. he had open heart surgery at 6 months old, he weaght 6 lbs. i read all side effects of all meds, WOW…. i say no way to murcury, or statins, even chlorides…
baby formula mixed with tap water becomes toxic from flouride….. other fake foods have msg or harsh preservative that reacts to the developing brain. holy cow….
we found out a lot, just like you guys, keep looking, asking, researching…. lead by example.
Prepare, Preserve, Protect...April 4, 2014 at 5:36 pm #6835
Thanks for sharing this experience, and you are wrong, this story is completely about survival.
People are are capable for great things, especially if they have right support.April 4, 2014 at 6:38 pm #6845
SSRI’s are a drug line of anti depressants , 90% of them fall under this category , but there is a very small percent of the population that is allergic to them and makes them suicidal .April 4, 2014 at 8:05 pm #6859
Thanks, Tolik, for clarifying about SSRIs. The pharmaceutical world has very little conscience. (My brother was International Communications VP for Ciba-Geigy before they merged to become Novartus. His job was to sell the image of the corporation, across the world, as a caring, concerned entity. Ha! needless to say, he and I are not close.)
I think they ignore many side effects…I cannot believe the TV commercials (see them at the “Y” gym, don’t clutter our brains or our home with TV). They have soft music playing and happy people drifting across the screen, while the announcer is hurrying through warnings such as: risk of blood clots, stroke, paralysis, heart failure, death, etc.
My philosophy is use as few medications as possible. Stay strong by exercise, getting outdoors, eating right. I’m 71 and still very active and strong for my age. Less so than at 50, but such is life.April 4, 2014 at 8:22 pm #6867
I hear ya ! the side affect list disclaimer sounds worse than the disease most of the time .April 4, 2014 at 8:23 pm #6868
Thank you for the comments and compliments, libbylindy. Sorry you’re going through so much with your feet. Bushrat and I have both realized the importance of legs and feet. And–so true about the ‘ooops!’ of doctors. Will pray for your complete recovery.
Yes, it does change life to have physical limitations. Bushrat is very experienced with strategic planning, dealing with mobs, etc but we have to face the fact that he will not be able to ‘bug out’ on foot. We do have a travel trailer at the ready, and a hefty F-250 to pull it which he or I can drive, BUT it requires gasoline and clear roads to accomplish anything. If things go down quickly and the roadways are clogged, we are going nowhere.
Bushrat has faced me with a gut-wrenching ethical dilemma. He tells me, if we are overrun, to get out the back way and live, since I am strong and resourceful. He plans to hold them off while I do that. But, within me, I can’t bring myself to abandon my best friend and life partner, to certain death. He says it is better for one of us to go, than both. His rationalization is, that I have a lot of skills and experience that might help others before it is my time to meet God. I’d appreciate some feedback from you, Selco, and anyone else who reads this. God help me to make the right decision, if it ever needs to be made…April 4, 2014 at 8:30 pm #6871
Thanks for your comments, Hannah. Yes, God is our Rock. Jesus is our Guide and Savior. We could not have survived this battle without Him. We’ve had other events, too, but this one was the worst. I do not know what people do without the hope that God provides us. Even if this world goes down the tubes, we have an eternity to look forward to. And in this life, He walks beside us. From the day we met, Bushrat and I know that God has ordered our steps. Many things happened/came together that were too wonderful/perfect for mere coincidence. Even in pain and suffering, He is there. We plan to write a book…really!April 4, 2014 at 9:00 pm #6877
Tweva, thanks for your input and comments. Had a mean horse on the farm when I was a teen–my parents forbid me to ride her. So what did I do the moment they left for town? You guessed it! My experience was nothing like yours, at all, but I still bear scars across my nose and eyebrows from the episode. Thank God you survived! And blessings to your sister who nursed you through it all. You must have had tremendous skill to ride competitively.
And good for you, leaving the hospital. As I stated above, the only infections Bushrat dealt with, were from the hospital. I was my Mom’s first child, and came unusually quickly and easily. In those (ancient ) days, they made women stay in the hospital bed for three or four more days after childbirth. She contracted salmonella poisoning from their egg salad, and was sick for weeks. Hospitals are a hotbed of bacteria and other pathogens.
As for being a caregiver…I applaud your taking care of your Mother. Caregiving is HARD but it brings you closer, and in a way, repays your elders for their investment in us, the next generation. I sometimes tell people that there is something intimate in changing the bloody bandages of someone you love deeply.
I have no nurse’s training, but LOTS of experience. Took care of my grandfather in his final years, when I was 18-21. Forced upon me by my father, but I didn’t resent it as much as many teens would (no social life, etc) since Papa (my grandfather) spent many an hour walking me across the floor, comforting me, as a baby with colic. And he was always the one who bought us children ice cream… He had been in a nursing home and we visited one day, not during visiting hours, and found truly appalling conditions. Tied to a bed, soaked in urine. Home he came with us. Family was always priority.
Then my Dad, who had non-Hodgkins lymphoma while I was in my 40s. Shared the care with my Mom and sister, but it still feels like a nightmare, helping him in the shower, while he sat there a virtual skeleton, 150lbs down from a very muscular 220 even in his 70s. Thank God, he went into remission for a year and a half, which gave us time to say we loved each other, and prepare somewhat for the final good-bye.
These experiences–and stubborn determination–helped me nurse Bushrat for over two years. I was working full time as a manager for UHaul truck rentals/mini storage–the kind owner gave me the job, which was originally Bushrat’s. It was God’s grace that brought us into this (temporary until we found a retirement home/property) job before the medical battle began…we lived in a little apt right behind the office, so I could care for Bushrat between customers. One real problem was, he could not access the miniscule bathroom in a wheelchair, so we had to set up facilities next to his hospital bed in the living room; and I devised a system to bathe him, sitting in a shower chair over a child’s wading pool, in front of the kitchen sink. The men from church helped me get him into a Hoyer lift, ease him down onto the shower chair, and wait while I bathed him–then help get him hoisted back into the bed. They all lightened the situation for him, joking that all privacy and dignity goes out the window when you are sick. So true…
And thanks for reminding me about a Merck manual! Need to get one!
Also my experiences with animals on our farm helped give me some added experience. Even did an emergency rumenottomy for a heifer calf who ate yucky hay and got impacted/bloated. My Mom and I cut her side open, spooned out the nasty hay, doused her with quarternary ammonia solution, sewed her up, and she walked away. It is amazing how experiences come back to you when you need the information to make decisions! Everything works together for good, to those who love the Lord….
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