Being part the second of the full account of the injuries of Ms C Hurley
May 15, 2012
Slightly long interruption there. Where were we...
I'm going to cover the bits that aren't my lower left leg, given that... well, it's the big finale but apart from that, if I talk about the 'blue' bits, it will help to explain the remedies that helped me to, vor example, not lose my left foot.
Top right thigh:
What this represents is three different plastic surgeon induced post-injury er... injuries? Not really injuries but not that my body would notice the difference. Collatoral damage. The two horizontal sections are skin graft sites. The one on the top of my thigh is still very sore all over (remember we're now nearly three months after the crash); the one on the side of my thigh over on my right hand side is still sore at the top.
Both of these were covered after the 'big' operation with large sized 'Mefix' which is kind of like the material you get around the edge of sensitive skin plasters (except it reacted with my skin, which was nice). After ten days (eleven, in my case) the mefix could be lifted off, given that the new skin should have grown underneath. Which is did. Mostly. Ask me if it hurts seeing chunks of your very tentative skin growth being ripped off on a massive plaster. Go on.
One of the oddest things about these assaults on my body was how much they "gunged out", as I put it at the time. The lack of skin produced an onslaught of lymph and goo (not blood), pouring from the open wounds in hospital, leading to my poor, numb and bruised thigh being wrapped in dressings designed to soak up 'exudate' (ie: gunge), yet still waking every morning to find the right side of the bed soaked through. To sum up the short-term situation: yeeeeuch. So these, each are about 2.5 inches across, and five or 6 inches long.
What do you mean, what's that long blue line? Ah well, you see. This is the bit that has continued to be numb for three months (and counting). This is the bit where they took out a 'working blood vessel'. This is the bit where they took a patch of skin and sewed in to my other leg... not to mention a large chunk of flesh. The line of rounded off by a perfectly round punctuation mark. A full stop, just above the knee, where a tube sucked gunge from underneath the scar, where it couldn't, presumably, 'exude'.
Bottom right calf:
Lower down, below the knee on the right leg there were a bunch of bruises which, in retrospect help to put bruises in to perspective. Extremely colourful and vivid, nevertheless these dispersed within a couple of days, it seems to me now. It just goes to show you. It's the deep, nasty invisible bruises you've got to worry about. Not these surface rainbow coloured affairs.
Bottom left calf:
Ok! What we have here is in three distinct sections:
1) Straight graft
2) The beach
3) The flap
4) The long side
There are some sub areas, such as 'the pit', but we may come to those. I'm going to talk you down the leg from the knee. You will remember that I have a hematoma on the inside right of my left thigh. Well it's not just that - the knee is entirely numb on the right hand side too, and has hidden, odd swelling that makes everything feel tight and stiff. In essence, the lorry when it clipped me off the bike, took my left leg and as it hit the breaks, dragged it along the road, before coming to a stop on top of it. The bruising and damage extended up to almost the very top of the left thigh on the inside but up at that level there were merely huge yellow and dark red bruises. As discussed above, these disappeared fairly quickly, leaving swelling, the skin laceration above the knee, the hematoma, the swollen knee and as we go below the knee, we reach I presume the skin and flesh the lorry lay on top of.
Part 1 - The straight graft starts as the knee stops, punctuated with a small red comma of lost skin just above it, as if an orbiting moon of the 50p sized scar above the knee. As you can see from the image, the missing skin (and onward) is pretty much the covering to the Gastrocnemius muscle. the very top of the calf, where the skin covers the bone, escaped the de-frocking of the surgeon's knife. So, first: a section about 2.5 cm's wide and maybe 3, and 3-and-a-bit, leading to 4 inches in height has a skin graft on. Only the skin was lost here - no flesh. The recovery of this area is amazing -you would not know it was a graft. The only difference is that it looks like an area that has been very bruised.
Part 2. The beach. There is a thick curve around the edge of the first graft area, after which a section of comparable size looks like nothing less than a light purple lunar landscape. Graft, placed in top of bare muscle. I lost all my flesh on the side of the leg from this point on. I have a fairly big problem with this area. Well. I have a practical problem with this, which is that when I moisturise the skin (which I do, daily), some of the lotion gathers in the deep crevasses, and it is impossible to get it out, or moisurise it in. My second poblem is... fuck, it looks ugly. I mean really damn strange. It's not like this stuff is unobtrusive, either.
Why is it called 'the Beach', you ask? The skin growth granulated strongly, in to many nobule things called 'Fibroplasts'. these are basically overgrowth of collagen, amongst other lesser bits of your (basically) 'underskin'. The bit that needs to be there so that your thin and wispy but super important epidermis can grow on top. Consequently, there are many, many nobbly bits.
Part 3. The flap. Now, do you remember the long blue line? What you have to remember is, the skin and flesh is missing along the inner side of my left leg from about two thirds of the way up. Graft covers the muscle initially but as the leg moves dow toward the ankle, things get a little more hairy. It's not just the flesh that's gone. The vein that goes from the foot back up the leg is damaged and failing. If that fails, the foot fails. not only that but as my poor husband will attest, the bones in my ankle are exposed to the air. Bones don't tend to like that sort of thing.
So what they did was this. First of all, a lozenge shaped piece of my right thigh skin is cut out. It's really huge! They also stretched it a bit on the leg before sewing it on but basically we're talking about a piece 2.5 inches wide and 6 inches on one side, 5 on the other, sew on... well, three sides sewn on... well, two and a half sides sewn on (you can only stretch skin so far) to my leg above my ankle. What does it look like? Somewhat like a home-mended soft toy. I am left with a permanent reminder of Woody and his home sewn arm in Toy Story 2. the half a side that wasn't sewn was left to its own devices, and the triangular portionn that was missing (basically) gradually skinned over. I called that 'The archipelago'. The archipelago really didn't want to heal, for ages.
Moving around from the archipelago was 'The Cliff'. this was the fourth side of the flap. The bit they didn't sew. The bit, in short, which consisted of a large, raw section of my thigh, with no skin on, a fair approxumation of which is drawn above. I could actually see the layer of subcutaneous fat underneath the skin (reassuringly thin ;) before the flesh started. It looked like a fresh chopped roast, wrapped in its own skin, ready for the oven. It was awful. Fascinating, but beyond imagining. I will not be able to describe the taboo nature of this well enough. You are looking at the inside of your leg. On the outside. Everything in your body screams that it is wrong. I have been thinking about that, in conjunction with thoughts about 'Crash' by JG Ballard and want to write a muse in a few days.
The last nicknamed piece is 'The pit'. This is at the bottom of the right hand side of the cliff (from my position). It is a tip-of-the-thumb sized dip, which whilst it was raw I wouldn't have dared touch, but now, I can stick my little finger in to moisturise it. Its where all the gunge and 'exudate' would collect. As well as blood. Even though I was standing up sometimes at least, nevertheless I would find it full. Also full of piles of cheesy dead skin cells. A delight!
Referring to the image above, what's the story with the chopped bit then? That's... er... kind of. Chopped? When it was all entirely raw, it looked as if someone had taken a machete to my leg. In reality, the difference was hugely exaggerated due to the flap at the bottom sticking out so far, but it still looks depressingly weird. How could it not.
Lastly, the bottom section in fact runs along the length of the injury from the flap upward. It received no grafts and the difference is clear. It is still dark red and blotchy; it has areas of thickened skin which feels tight. It's a little odd, but there's no indication it won't gradually get paler over time.
More granular detail to come, plus, nearly time for an actual photograph! I would have had it a week or so ago, but an annoying blistery bit came up on the beach which then burst. Lovely. Nothing nasty, just a red and open bit. As soon as it heals we can contemplate going swimming! just how much of an ordeal will that be? God knows.