Many people have expressed curiosity of what my hands and feet looked like during the time of they hyperbaric chamber and surgeries. Whether it's idol curiosity, a want a better understanding of my journey, or some twisted interest, I'm showing the pictures from several of my appointments. Please do not look if you have a weak stomach or no interest in this part of my story. Either way, I keep these photos in the front of my mind and look at them quite often to remind myself how far I've come in just a short amount of time. From relearning to walk on weeping blisters to running and Zumba-ing in just six months, I say that is quite an accomplishment. 🙂
June 25th – First Assessment
The following pictures were taken at Wound Care Center at Sacred Heart Hospital in Allentown, PA. I was at Moss Rehab, located in that hospital, during this time. It was just two days earlier when the podiatrist saw me and mentioned double amputation up to the knees. I needed the hyperbaric chamber to work.
July 11th – Second Assessment
Mepitel, used to put over open wounds so the gauze or wrap won't stick to them, is covering my toes. There is no medicine on them. I was not allowed to wear anything other than my two hospital gowns while in the hyperbaric chamber. No gels, or lotions were allowed in the room because of the oxygen.
July 25th – Third Assessment
Just a month in and already there is remarkable improvement. Every Friday at the podiatrist he would find another second that would just peel off revealing brand new, pink skin.
August 7th – Fourth Assessment
Moving right along with my treatment, my feet are amazing everyone and now there is only talk of losing pinkie toes.
August 27th – Fifth Assessment
At this point I love going to the podiatrist because he finds more and more pink on my feet. Feeling is returning, which is very painful, but I welcome the intense pain because that means I'm one step closer to being “normal”.
Many people questioned what the hyperbaric chamber was or did. Most often they are used for scuba divers who come up to the surface too quickly and they get what is called the bends. In my case my podiatrist wanted me to start ASAP because of how they help aid healing.
Oxygen helps heal. Just sitting here we are breathing only 20% oxygen, inside the chamber I was breathing 100% pure oxygen at twice the atmospheric pressure. The higher pressure allowed my blood to carry the pure oxygen at a faster rate. Also, for reasons unknown, plasma, which is not normally a carrier, will carry oxygen around. Talk about more bang for your buck.
September 17th – Thumb surgery
October 17th – Fifth Toe Amputation
One the one month anniversary of my thumb surgery I had my pinkie toe removed. After going through the seven hour surgery with my thumb, this thirty minute procedure was nothing. I woke up smiling and laughing with the nurses. I was told if I needed another surgery to come back to them. They liked me. 🙂
Funny to say this was the hardest part for me. Even when the podiatrist told me about possible leg amputation I knew deep down inside that I would be all right. I just knew that it wasn't as bad as all that. Call it naivety or call it intuition, but it turned out to be true. What I couldn't handle was my hair loss. As vain as that may sound it's the truth, I'm not proud of it but there it is. I am known for my red hair. I have people on Twitter that followed on me because of it. Losing it was not something anyone prepared me for. In fact, no one knew why it was happening. Was it the pain meds? Was the shock to my system? No one knows a definite answer but the common theory is that is most likely from the shock to my system.
During that time when I was in the ICU my body basically shut down and rebooted. I like to call the new me Karen 2.0, better then ever, baby. 😉 Things that were wrong or not right with me were no longer a problem. However, in order to start over, I needed to start over with everything. And that included my hair.