My friend Damon is losing his right lower leg to amputation this morning. It’s a sad day. Last week he had finally agreed to a course of treatments in the hyperbaric oxygen chamber for non-healing wounds. We toured the facility and he tried out the chamber, lying down on the gurney and being rolled inside. I figured he was all set.
However, that very evening he developed a high fever and chills. His wife drove him to the emergency room, where he was immediately admitted. He spent Christmas in the hospital. This time the wound would not respond to IV antibiotics. His leg ballooned.
Damon has been unable to work, and in and out of the hospital, for two years. He’s had multiple operations to remove toes on both feet, a picc line, and most recently a wound vac. Nothing has worked for long.
He is a brave man but he is tired of fighting.
Damon knows I am not squeamish, and yesterday when I visited the hospital again he asked the nurse to change the bandages so I could see the wound. (Due to the angle, he cannot see it up close.) I think he wanted me to grasp exactly how bad it was, so I would not second-guess his decision to let it go.
The foot looked like rotten meat. The gaping wound — the original injury was caused by stepping on a thumbtack — extended from his toes almost to his ankle and at its worst was nearly three inches deep. I took a photo with my phone to show him. Damon looked at it expressionlessly. Diabetes is a terrible, terrible disease.
I will be thinking of him all day today.