It has been a while since I updated, and I have a ton of updates for you all!
The last time I posted was just before my partner Tray’s top surgery. You can click his name to get the full update, but, there was a lot of good and a lot of bad.
1.) The good news: his chest look simply amazing. I would recommend that anyone who is looking to have top surgery considers Dr. Meltzer. Tray had very large breasts prior to surgery (larger than a DD) and his chest looks perfect now. No dog ears, no odd nipple placement. Click here to go to his website for more information. The staff was so helpful, kind, and went out of their way to make everything as stress free as possible for our family. There are pictures of Tray’s chest on his blog, which you can find at www.journeytomeftm.wordpress.com.
2.) The bad news: Tray had very serious complications. The issues had nothing to do with anything any of the doctors did, so no worries if you are considering top surgery. (Trust me, I have the medical knowledge to know if it was!). No one knows why, but Tray developed compartment syndrome in both legs. Compartment syndrome is, however, something that individuals usually develop from severe traumas (falls from buildings, being crushed in an accident, etc), so it took days to diagnose correctly. No one expected someone to wake up from chest surgery and have trauma in both legs.
He screamed and screamed for over 48 hours and no one could figure out what was wrong. After over 24 hours of being in pain that was untouched by IV Dilaudid, one of the strongest pain killers out there, he looked at me and said, “Please don’t let me die.” My heart broke, and all I could do was promise him that I wouldn’t and that it would all be okay.
He was finally moved via ambulance from the Surgery Center to Scottsdale Osborn Hospital, which has a Level 1 Trauma Center. The orthopedic trauma surgeon ordered an MRI of both legs, and it was determined that Tray did indeed have compartment syndrome, and needed emergency surgery to prevent the loss of both legs and both kidneys. The doctors had Tray so drugged up in an effort to keep him sleeping and in as little pain as possible, so he was delirious and didn’t even understand what was going on. After speaking to the doctor, I went in to explain to him what was happening. I didn’t want him to stress more and decided to just tell him, very simply, that they figured out what was wrong with him and that he would need a couple more surgeries to fix it. I told him that he was being so brave and that I was so proud of him, and that he would not be alone through any of it. He just nodded his head and drifted off again.
The surgery that he needed is called a fasciotomy (Warning/Disclaimer: if you decide to Wikipedia it, it’s gruesome). The good news was that it fixed the problem almost immediately. The bad news was that a total of three surgeries were needed to fix the legs. So, yes, my poor guy had four surgeries in a week, and each time, I was a wreck! Here a few photos from the process, but, for a larger more in-depth update about what happened, visit Tray’s blog; he posted a very detailed run-down of the ordeal!
First, here’s a link to the YouTube video of the first time he walked. Yes, I cried while I video taped it. The first time he stood, after almost losing both legs, was very emotional for both me and Tray’s mom! Click here for the video: Tray standing for the first time.
These are wound-vacs, or vacuums that sucked fluid out of Tray's legs, which, after the first surgery, remained open for almost five days. Wikipedia fasciotomy if you'd like to learn more!
This is one of Tray's legs after the three surgeries were complete and his legs were closed. He had 44 staples in one leg and 40 in the other!
Tray is now on his way to a full recovery and is still in physical therapy for range of motion and strength deficits in his ankles. He is almost there, though! No one knows why this happened, but a couple of theories exist. First, Tray has had shin splints his entire life that were so bad that, after strenuous activity, he was physically unable to bend his ankles. Shin splints, particularly of this severity, are called exertional compartment syndrome, a milder form of compartment syndrome that occurs only with physical activity. These shin splints are unresponsive to any conservative treatment (icing, physical therapy, etc.) and basically occur because the muscles in the leg swell or are too large for the fascia, or sheath, that surround them. I “diagnosed” Tray with this a few months ago after hearing about his lifetime of terrible shin splints, and told him he should really see an orthopedic surgeon to get it fixed. After this ordeal, the doctor asked about if Tray had ever had anything like this, and officially diagnosed Tray with exertional compartment syndrome. (Pat on the back to me for diagnosing it before!). It is possible that the intermittent compression devices that are used during surgery to prevent blood clots exacerbated Tray’s exertional compartment syndrome, causing acute compartment syndrome, which is a medical emergency. The silver lining of this whole ordeal is that the surgery will fix the exertional compartment syndrome, and for the first time in his life, he will never have shin splints again. Woohoo!
I need to, as a final note on the ordeal, make a shout out to my mother-in-law, Harriet, who was there through all of the surgeries, and for weeks afterwards while Tray was recovering. I couldn’t have done any of it without her. When you are going through something so emotionally, mentally, and physically draining, it is the little things that make a huge difference… Someone there to give you a hug, going home and finding that the laundry is already done and folded, that your gas tank is already full, that the mail has been checked and the cats have been fed. I look back to the day where Tray made me promise that I wouldn’t let him die, and if I had to, after that, go home and worry about something like doing laundry, I would have collapsed. Harriet provided the mental, emotional, and physical energy that I needed when I was so drained, and I am forever thankful for that.
Does that sound like a lot for a month? Well, it’s not even the only update! After this whole situation, last week, I became a victim of a fraudulent scheme ran through ASU’s Student Employment Website. The situation is still a part of a police investigation, so I’ll save the details until I am sure I can discuss it all, but the end result is that all of my money (and then some) was stolen. Both my checkings and savings accounts were wiped out. But thats not the worst of it: The situation created a negative balance of $1,400, which was then taken from my partner’s savings account, by Bank of America, to cover the overdraft on my account. Due to the nature of the fraud and transactions, this money cannot be recovered by my bank. My only hope in ever recovering the money is if the individual is caught by the police and I sue. However, it is likely that this individual is taking money from dozens, if not hundreds, of other individuals, and would never be able to pay all of the money back to their victims, especially if they end up in prison.
Don’t worry, though, I saved my final two updates, which are positive, for last.
First, I have officially finished ALL of my secondary applications for medical school. I sent the last one off to The University of Colorado yesterday, so now I sit and wait to hear back. Most of mine were in months ago, but with everything that happened, two had to wait, and I finished them yesterday.
And drumroll please…. the final update is… that I have scheduled a consult with Dr. Meltzer for my top surgery. The appointment is on Monday, February 6th. I’m already getting nervous about it, and I have over a month to wait. My surgery should be much less involved and less expensive than Tray’s because… well, I have very small boobs. At the end of the day, however, I can’t live my life fully with them still here, and they create an enormous amount of body dysmorphia. In addition, we live in Arizona, which you all know is incredibly hot. Like I’m talking regularly over 120 in the summer. Since I do still have boobs, this means I’m wearing some kind of compression device or shirt year-round, which can actually be dangerous in AZ in the extreme temperatures. If it’s 120 outside, it feels like 140 under tight compression clothing.
Phew. That was a long update! That is all for now, my friends. I am working feverishly to finish up one last paper for my Health Economics class, which I had to take an “Incomplete” in due to everything that happened. After that, I will be off to Las Vegas for New Years, which is a present from my mother in law, Harriet. Tray and I will be able to sit back and relax for the first time in… I don’t even know how long. Trust me, it’s much needed!!