2012 was quite the year for my dad, and little did I know we’d have more tough roads ahead. After my dad recovered from his mitral valve he was able to go back to work, but that didn’t last long. After the mitral valve replacement he started noticing swelling in his legs and he noticed that it was getting harder for him to walk because of the swelling. We went in to see his doctor and found out that he had lymphedema. Lymphedema is caused by your lymphatic system not being able to return fluid to the body as it should. During that appointment they discovered that he had congestive heart failure and with having CHF that can exacerbate lymphedema. There were times his legs would be swollen so bad that fluid would weep from them.
After learning about the heart failure a good portion of the summer was spent with appointments at the wound healing center at the hospital. They have specialist that deal with things like lymphedema. We tried all kinds of things to help with the leg swelling from ted hose to Jobst socks and nothing seemed to work to keep the fluid build up down. There were days where it would be better than others, but overall his left leg was always larger than his right because of a vein they had to remove for his heart bypass.
As fall and winter came my dad had more appointments with specialists including cardiology. They did arterial venous duplexes on his legs and a carotid artery duplex. The results from those tests came back showing that he needed to have a femoropopliteal surgery and surgery on his carotid artery. His surgeon decided to do these surgeries two days apart. His carotid artery surgery was first because it was blocked about 80%, which if plaque had broken off could have caused a stroke. Two days later he was back in the OR to have a graft placed to bypass his bad artery to help increase blood flow to his leg. Both of these surgeries took place about a week before Christmas and thankfully dad was able to leave the hospital on Christmas Eve day.
At a follow up appointment we pointed out to the surgeon that the area where they had made the incision was not healing and looked infected. The surgeon took a look at it and did some lab work and it came back that the area was infected, which meant yet another surgery in early 2013. Before they took him back to the OR they said that surgery could go one of two ways, either it was a simple abscess that they could drain and debride or the infection had reached the graft and they would have to redo the whole surgery. Thankfully it was only an abscess, but it left a pretty big opening on his leg. This is really when I started to learn a lot about the medical field and really paid attention to things and absorbed as much as I could. I had to learn how to pack the area with sterile gauze (wet to dry) and measure the area to make sure it was healing. While it wasn’t a fun situation for my dad to go through it was a great learning experience for things that were yet to come.