Wednesday, November 04, 2020

Things That Are Good

Not a lot of things are good right now.

Sunny has a wound on her leg. It started last year, shortly after she finished radiation treatment for skin cancer. A sore, smaller than a dime. She put ointment on it and bandaged it up and it went away. Then it reappeared, and it grew. She reported it to her family doctor, who ordered at-home wound care. (This doctor never saw the wound himself, in the months of it existing while Sunny was in his care: he "had it described" to him. She has since changed doctors.)

She has spent most of this year on various schedules (daily, every other day, back to daily) of having nurses come to the house to change the dressing. They watched the wound grow. A second ulcer appeared below the first. Her doctor sent her to a surgeon to "clean it up," but he had limited success and said it was her fault for not better tolerating the pain. This was in early July, during the height of Covid shutdowns, and she had to go to the appointment alone.

I have since learned that "clean it up" is debridement. When tissue dies in a wound, it forms a useless blob that can interfere with healing and hold in infection-causing bacteria. Debridement is the removal of this necrotic tissue. I have also learned that debridement is extraordinarily painful.

Last night was the second time I held Sunny in my arms while a plastic surgeon "cleaned up" the wound (the two ulcers merged several weeks ago; at its widest spots, the affected area now measures 12cm by 6cm). Sunny was a fucking trooper. She yelled. She sobbed. She held my hand and buried her face in my chest, as best she could while on a hospital bed in a clinic with me sitting on a stool beside her. 

This surgeon is kind and efficient. We will see her again in two weeks after another round of antibiotics and a visit with an infectious disease specialist. Major surgery is likely not an option, but a skin graft may be possible.

I started this post with the title and I'm tempted to change it for, uh, obvious reasons. But I started writing this morning, just after my walk with Cruz, in which he ran and ran and played and played and waited, smiling patiently, outside the drugstore while I dropped off Sunny's prescription. I was thinking about how lucky I am to walk with him every day, to watch him trounce happily through crunchy piles of leaves and to throw a stick for him in the snow. I thought about how lucky and honoured I am to be here with Sunny, to hold her hand and ask her to tell me stories of her childhood to distract her during the painful nurse visits. To help her dry off and rub lotion on her back after her showers. And to hold and comfort her, as she did me for many, many years.

These are things that are good.