Thursday, March 23, 2023

back from the hospital

I'm at the office and have a little time to bang out this entry. 

Long story short: the doc did his best to put the fear of God in me. My numbers are all pretty bad in terms of blood pressure, blood sugar, and pulse; I attribute that to not exercising at all for nearly six months, to allowing myself to fall off the wagon last year, and to being off my meds. So: gotta get back to exercising, gotta get back on my meds, and gotta be stricter about my diet (although the doc said nothing about eating). Diet-wise, the easiest thing to do is to go back to Newcastle, at least for ten weeks, then transition to something healthy but a bit more filling (I see salads in my future). In terms of meds, I need to revisit the doc in the building where I work. I actually haven't seen him in a long time, and he doesn't even know I had a stroke two years ago, so he needs an update, and I need a prescription. Working on BP means going back to cardio. I'd like to continue with stairs training, but from the way the doc sounded, it might be better to stick with simple biking. Time to reinflate those tires!

The doc fitted me with a very absorbent gauze bandage, and when I swing by the pharmacy tonight to pick up the meds he prescribed, I'll ask the ladies behind the counter whether they have those bandages in stock. The doc prescribed antibiotics and ointment (as I suspected he would). I'm supposed to go back to the hospital in two weeks: April 6 at 9:40 a.m.

So, what did the doc say? The staff took X-rays, and the doc said my wound has not reached the bone... yet. So there's a chance for healing, and he can't say how long it might take—a month? Three months? Hard to say because everyone is different. He became ominous, though, and talked about several of the bad signs associated with my condition. First: diabetic neuropathy, which is why I'm feeling no pain in my toe despite the significant wound. Second: my plantar fascia has become tense; he invited me to palpate the sole of my foot to see what he meant. I'm also apparently not able to curl my toes back as far as normal folks can (this I didn't know), and that's related to the plantar-fascia issue. One possibility is surgery (if I understood him correctly), in which the fascia would be cut to restore flexibility. That option filled me with terror, and I rejected it outright. The doc also said that, should my wound get infected and go to the bone, it wouldn't just be my toe that would come off: it would likely be the whole foot. Did he say that just to scare me straight, or is this a cold, hard truth I have to deal with? He didn't discuss the neat options I saw on those YouTube videos about diabetic ulcers, e.g., special hormone-infused ointments that disinfect while promoting healing. He also didn't mention the nifty diabetic footwear I've seen on those videos, so I'm going to take the initiative and turn one of my sandals into a diabetic-friendly piece of gear by cutting off the big-toe region, thereby lifting my toe off the ground (the best way to keep the toe from bleeding is to keep pressure off it). The doc recommended that I wrap a towel around my big toe and tug on it regularly to get it to bend backward more, but I don't recall him specifying a regimen (e.g., pull and hold for 30 seconds; do this three times a day, etc).

Whenever I leave a clinic or hospital, I normally celebrate that same day by going on an eating frenzy, then I get back into the discipline, But today, I don't really feel like celebrating, so it'll be a modest lunch for me. I'm supposed to go walking this weekend on both Saturday and Sunday, but I'm no longer sure that's a good idea. I'm feeling a bit deflated at the moment—pondering the irony of both loving to walk and loving to eat. For me, at least, these represent two contradictory paths, and I'm going to have to choose one. Probably best to choose the path where I don't lose any limbs, eh?


Drago said...

Dang, take care of yourself brother! I need to do a better job for myself as well.

Kevin Kim said...

Thanks, man. You take care, too.

Daniel said...

Glad to hear the doc at D&F got your wound dressed up and gave you some meds to promote healing. The hospital itself isn't much to look at and decidedly low-teach. Plus, the docs & nurses are needlessly gruff, but they know what they're doing when it comes to diabetic wound healing. Wouldn't be overly concerned about all the obligatory fearmongering. He pretty much said the same thing the first time my mom visited, but thanks to the dressing and daily meds, she never needed surgery for bone-destroying osteomyelitis or an amputation (the hospital's claim to fame is saving people from that awful fate). The neuropathy sounds pretty scary, however. Is there no treatment for that? As for bandages, I was able to procure the ones my mom used from Coupang for a third of the price. In any case, try and stay off your feet for the time being and get that bike road ready for some 탄천 outings (or follow its northern alter ego, the 중랑천, towards my neck of the woods).

John Mac said...

Damn, that is scary, even from a distance. I joked about losing a toe, but the idea of losing the whole foot is hard to even imagine. Now is the time to make sure that is not EVER going to happen. Daniel's words are encouraging that you still control your destiny. Good luck with getting back to normal, Kevin!

John Mac said...

Um, I can't tell if I just inadvertently deleted the comment I just wrote. Anyway, get busy doing what you need to do to get healthy again. Now is the time!

eastnortheast said...

Just to second (and third) what the others have said. Do what you need to do!!


Kevin Kim said...

Thanks, Brian and John.

Kevin Kim said...


One doc was kind of loud and brusque in his manner, but the nurses were fine, and there was another doc there who spoke a teeny bit of English and tried to help me out a bit, although he did call my big toe a "finger" (per the 엄지발가락 label, I guess). Still, 99% of my interactions with everyone were in Korean.

The system at D&F is primitive and informal compared to the mechanized take-a-number efficiency of Samsung Hospital, which is huge by comparison.

Best treatment for neuropathy is a better diet. I really fell off the wagon last year. I'm going to visit my usual 내과, get back on meds, and resume a healthy diet/lifestyle. That ought to put me back on track.

I arrived at the clinic at 9:30 a.m. They made me fill out a contact-information form. There was no patient-history form; the lady at the desk just asked me what my problem was and wrote it down somewhere. My name got called around 9:40, which was fast.

I've hiked the 중랑천 up to Uijeongbu before. It's not bad, but it's a bit too urban for my taste. Early in the hike, though, there's that one old bridge that dates back centuries. Kind of neat.