Subject: Burn Update #2
From: David Rush <>
Date: 14 Jul 2002 11:11:09 +0100
Message-ID: <>

Hi Y'all,

First of all, for those of you who haven't received any of these
updates before, I have posted them all on our family web-site at
<>. If you follow the
site-map to the ZAP! Pages, you'll see them there.

Anyway, as I begin to write this, I'm actually having a lot of
pain. This has been becoming less and less common, but ... well I'm
telling things all out of order. I sent the last update out on June 9,
which is just a little over a month ago (today is Sat 13 June, 2002),
so I'd better back up a bit.

I suppose that it's a good sign that I'm having a harder time
remembering the past weeks. I'd have to say that overall, I'm doing
noticeably better. There's less to remember. Over the last month I
have returned to work, but I have also had more and more difficulties
with my burned leg.

Actually, my leg troubles began shortly after I sent out the last
update, and for a while it wasn't clear that there was an actual
problem developing. The condition of my various wounds as they heal is
very much like the Irish weather: if you wait a bit, it will
change. Most days I have some level of difficulty for at least part of
the day. Usually evenings are worse, but mornings can also be
difficult. And when things go badly for a few days, they generally get
better within a week. So it wasn't until my leg got continually worse
over the period of two weeks that I began to worry.

The worst came during the week of Judah's birthday (21 June). We
actually had three, maybe four, sunny days that week. This year we've
been trying really hard to take advantage of them when they come by;
it was the rainiest spring on record (and the summer is looking like
more of the same). It was going to be a really busy week anyway: we
had the annual Irish home-schooler's conference, my first private GP
appointment in 20 years, Judah's birthday, an appointment with the
company doctor, and a BBQ with some new friends from CORE church in
downtown Dublin. On top of that we added a day out flying kites
(safely away from all power lines ;).

The home-school conference was interesting, as usual. It is important
to remember that, in Ireland, the home-school movement is made up
almost entirely of people who want to keep their kids away from the
church, since the school system is almost entirely run by religious
organizations under state supervision. Our appearance at the
conference provided some opportunities for low-grade witnessing, but
it's difficult to get too overt with a crowd so decidedly
anti-christian. But the conference meant that I was basically on my
feet for all of a fairly long day.

Monday, I was off to meet Dr. Alan Byrne for my first visit to a GP in
at least 20 years. He's a good guy with a lot of interest in sports
medicine, making him a good resource for my once-and-future hand
issues. In fact, he immediately referred me off to a physical
therapist who specializes in hands and arms. It was actually a litle
bit funny. I talked to him for a total of twenty minutes; he charges
me the equivalent of U$40 and tells me to go pay someone
else. (Patricia said I got good value for my money. On her first visit
to a GP here, she said that the doctor only spent about five minutes
and charged the same amount) But there is a noticeable difference here
between the private and public health systems: with these private guys
I'm getting next-day appointments and more aggressive
intervention. The difference is a big topic of political debate over
here which I'd previously thought was a bit overblown. It's real
enough, but I'm still not so sure how much it matters.

Now between driving to the conference and the doctor's office I was
starting to develop a disturbing trend of stabbing pains in my burned
leg. These would occur mostly when dirving, particularly when
maneuvering in parking lots. This trend continued on Tuesday, when we
went to the Curragh (the largest public common - not quite a park - in
Ireland) to fly kites.

Fortunately, I had some sun-block because it was a lovely, sunny
day. Believe me, the tanning power of the Irish sun is not all that
great, but I have been repeatedly warned about the dangers of sun on
my grafts and the donor site. Apparently I am now a high-risk patient
for skin cancer. Anyway, there was enough wind so that there wasn't
really any running required of me in order to get our kites in the
air. At least not until Bethany let go of hers and screamed for Daddy
to go running down the hill to get it before it was lost completely.

It was pleasant to be able to oblige her. It was not pleasant to feel the
spikes being driven into my thigh. But it got better, so I thought of
it as just a passing thing. But when I went birthday shopping for
Judah the next day I paid for it. I was nearly unable to walk all
morning, my knee simply would not hold any weight. It didn't hurt,
exactly, but it wasn't terribly comfortable, either. But then again,
by the afternoon things were quite a bit better. Since I was going to
be seeing a private physical therapist (Roddy McConnell) the following
Monday, and was going to be back in to the hospital in a little over
two weeks, I continued in my wait and see approach. Sure enough, on
Thursday, my leg wasn't too bad, and I managed to sit for most of the
day even though we spent it at a water park with another
home-schooling family we know (who are Baptist missionaries and *not*
members of the Irish home-school network).

By Friday, my problem had subsided to a fairly manageable level
(walking was OK. Standing and the clutch pedal weren't), so
Dr. McMahon (the AOL company doctor) said that she figured that I was
in good enough shape generally to return to work.  By the Sunday BBQ
it was clear that standing had become an issue. However, when I saw
Roddy McConnell the follwing Monday we didn't actually spend much time
addressing the leg issues, though. He actually put a lot of work into
my hand, which left it quite a bit looser than it had been previously.

At least temporarily. the next three days were pretty bad for my hand,
as well. And I couldn't really tell you if the leg was problematic
during that time. I'm finding that the different pains tend to drown
out each other so that I can only really pay attention to whatever's
at the top of the stack. This is a little bit weird, I know, but I
also find that I don;t have enough words to describe how it feels when
I go to the various doctors and therapists. This was particularly true
when I finally got my PTs to pay some attention to my burned leg. Some
of the things they would do didn't exactly 'hurt', but they felt very
wrong. One stretch that Joanne Harford, my PT at St. James' hospital,
helped me with nearly had me in tears, but it never felt anything like
what I would have ever described as pain. This may be a result of
nerve damage both from the electricity and the surgery.

I also don't feel normal fatigue signals from my leg - one of the PTs
was teaching me how to do wall-squats properly. I was supposed to hold
the position for fifteen seconds, which wasn't too hard, but
about two minutes later my left leg completely collapsed under me,
hurting worse than it had for quite a while. "I guess you shouldn't
hold it for that long," was the PTs response. The joys of
cut-and-paste treatment...

Well, I reckon that I've rambled on for rather more than most of you
care to hear and I've actually brought the chronology pretty much up
to date, so I think I'll sign off now. Again, the good news is that
physically I'm doing quite a bit better, but it's also pretty clear
that the surgeons weren't kidding when they told me it would take at
least a year for everything to settle into their new 'normal'
state. Whenever anyone asks me how I'm doing these days, I tell them
it's just like the weather...some days good and some days bad, but
always changing.

Thanks for your continued prayers. As all of the doctors, surgeons,
and therapists have observed, I've been coming through this with
essentially no complications. They seem to find this surprising to
various degrees. I find it encouraging to think that God is watching
over this time of healing.

david rush

	-- Death, in _Hogfather_