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Eastern Europe Trip

A year of adventure and misfortune - the story of our Eastern Europe trip, the accident and subsequent recovery, and our lives up until September 2008... For the latest blog, click on Blogs in the header...

Monday, 24 September 2007


Progress... Of sorts...

Well, I’ve finally got round to finding time to update the blog… I do have a valid excuse, though, in that for the past 2 weeks I’ve been spending most of my time at the hospital, or getting ready to go to the hospital…

Anyway, enough of the excuses, it’s time to bring things up to date.

First, and most importantly, Tracy. She finally had the operation on her arm last Monday (17th) when they removed all the dead skin from her forearm. Unfortunately it was so badly damaged that they had to remove all of the skin from her elbow to her wrist. Then they wrapped the arm in a vacuum dressing to stimulate recovery before they do the skin graft. This is a relatively new treatment that consists of a special foam block which is cut to fit the wound, then wrapped in an air-tight “cling-film” with a vacuum tube that leads to a machine. This then creates a vacuum, sucking the foam tightly onto the wound and drawing away any fluids to keep the wound clean. It cycles every 15 minutes, pumping for 5 minutes at a time, and is, as you can imagine, excruciatingly painful. They then administer strong painkillers (a form of morphine) to help make the pain manageable. Not nice, but hopefully effective. So, following the operation, Tracy was back on the ward, somewhat drowsy, when we discovered that the vacuum dressing hadn’t sealed properly and so wasn’t working as it should. When they tried to seal it, the pain was too great, and so they decided to leave it overnight and take her back to theatre the following morning to have it re-dressed… So on Tuesday she went through the starvation and general anaesthetic procedure all over again and this time when back on the ward the dressing was working and she was given a Patient-Controlled Analgesic (PCA) which is a button she could press to get a shot of pain-killer to help her manage the pain. This seemed to work for a couple of days, although it did make her extremely drowsy and prone to minor hallucinations (such as seeing a man in pink pyjamas crossing the ceiling…). However, by Saturday the pain was very intense again, and when we asked about changing the dressing (the literature I’d read suggested it should be done every 48 hours) we were told they would look to do it on the Sunday due to the pain – and that it wasn’t necessary to change it more often in her case due to the nature of the wound.

Unfortunately this increase in pain coincided with a visit from her mum, dad and sister, who she had been really looking forward to seeing. They’d wanted to visit sooner but as they live over 200 miles away, this was the earliest we could make it happen. It was also Tracy’s mum’s birthday, so visiting seemed a good idea. It was such a pity that they had to see her in such pain, especially as the previous 2 days had been some of her better ones. They visited again on Sunday morning before Tracy went back to theatre, and this time when she returned the dressing looked much neater and was sealed well – and they made sure they administered her pain relief every 3 hours as they were supposed to do. Speaking to her this morning (Monday), she’s a lot more comfortable, and actually managed to get some sleep, which is a real bonus. The nightmares also seem to have subsided, which is great news. In addition, when she had the 1st operation they discovered a severed nerve leading to her little finger, which must have been caused in the accident and means that she will lose all sensation in this finger, permanently. It also looks likely that she’s lost all sensation in the next finger too, again as a result of this severed nerve. She’s still able to move her fingers, although the dressing is preventing her from doing so at present.

Whilst all this has been going on, the consultant has intimated that he wants to transfer her to Wythenshawe hospital, which is where the plastic surgery team are based, as the arm is now the primary injury site – indicating her back has been healing as expected. We’re very much in the dark, though, as the communication between the consultant (who Tracy very rarely sees, and when she does, it’s usually when they wake her up and she’s too drowsy to take all the information in) and the rest of the team looking after her is very poor. I’m trying to get to speak to the consultant myself, in order to see if we could transfer her privately in order to improve things.

So, in summary, Tracy’s had the first operation on her arm, has it encased in a special dressing which will need to be in place for a couple of weeks before she can have the skin-grafts. Her back is healing but she’s still got to lie flat all the time, and her other injuries are also healing well.

I’ve also been back to hospital to have my leg x-rayed. It appears to be healing well, and I’m being referred to the physiotherapist and have been signed off work for another 6 weeks. At least that takes the pressure off, and allows me to continue to spend most of my day at the hospital with Tracy.

Back in the UK...

On a lighter note, the bikes and our luggage have been returned to the UK. My bike has gone to the Carole Nash repair centre to be checked over and repaired if viable. Lydia was returned to our home and is now tucked away in the garage. Unfortunately, I was at the hospital when the delivery man came, and Katie wasn’t sure if all the other luggage he had was ours or not (although why she thought the tent wasn’t is beyond me – after all, we’d been camping!!) and so sent it all away again!! They were not best chuffed when I called them the following day to ask them to re-deliver it, but they did without too much fuss… and that’s when we discovered what the Slovakian police had done with our camping gear… it seems that they took the easiest option possible when it came to “breaking camp” for us, as all they had done was remove the poles from the tent, taken up the tent pegs and then picked up the tent, including all it’s contents, as a bundle and thrown it in the back of the van… and that’s exactly how it arrived back to us – not in a bag or a box even – just one big bundle which I got the delivery man to put in our front room for me to sort out!

The tent and its contents return, not exactly neatly packed…

The good news is that most of our belongings seem to have made it back, including (and most importantly!) our Wok and the little chopping board!

Pity it’s going to be such a long time before we get to use them again… but we will, just as soon as we’ve recovered…

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