How about another update on Chris?

Chris had a follow-up appointment in Iowa City yesterday. They removed the staples (between 3-4 dozen), which was a pleasant experience as you can imagine. :)  They also examined the grafts and said that everything looks "just as it should". It looks worse, but it's actually better. Does that make sense?  Pictures are at the way bottom of this post, as usual.

The dressings are different from here on out. We have to put Vaseline on gauze or an alternative material (they suggested pillowcases or something of similar material...I think I'm going to buy a new set of sackcloth towels and cut them into strips), then lots of Bacitracin (double antibiotic ointment) and put that on the graft sites. The antibiotic ointment is for obvious reasons and can be discontinued once the area has "healed" (a couple of small areas are close already!),  and the Vaseline prevents the area from drying and it also makes the area more pliable instead of "tight". Then over that we put some tight-fitting "socks" that go down around his heels but let his toes stick out. The reason they have to go over most of his feet is because otherwise his feet could lose circulation and/or swell.

Chris is like a new man today, let me tell you. In fact, when I walked in the house after bringing Pierce to his testing location, Chris was in the kitchen walking around pretty well. He thinks the staples were a major source of his pain, and he also thinks the Vaseline helps the area feel better as well. The dressings he left the hospital with had gotten pretty dry over the course of several days, and that probably didn't help.

Chris still has the Tegaderm (like sticky plastic wrap) on his donor site. That area is healing nicely and should be healed enough by the end of the week (or shortly thereafter) that he can remove the Tegaderm. I posted a couple photos of that area as well. We removed the old Tegaderm and applied all new today after Chris took his mock-shower, so he wanted me to snap a few photos before putting the new ones on. It's pretty cool, actually. The skin is an amazing organ!

(That evolution stuff is just amazing, let me tell ya!)

(Don't even get me started on evolution.)

(What a bunch of malarkey.)

Anyway, the graft site needs to be redressed daily, and Chris needs to wash the site with mild soap (he's using scent-free baby soap) and dry with a clean towel.

Chris isn't "allowed" to return to work for at least another 3-4 weeks. The area needs to be completely healed (meaning no open wounds, etc.), he needs to have full function of his legs (no pain), and since he frequently operates heavy equipment at work, he needs to be completely off the pain medication. All three go pretty much hand-in-hand, so it's a no-brainer.

He has a follow-up appointment next Thursday, the 28th, during which they'll examine his legs again. They'll also fit him for some custom-made compression socks that work well to prevent the area from healing all "bumpy". Apparently the skin tends to sort of "curl", so the compression socks help with that. Actually, we noticed after Chris bathed and had his socks off for a little while that the skin did start to curl a bit right next to the graft site. It's hard to explain, so maybe we'll try to get photos if we notice it again.

Some more random info for those that are curious about all this (and if you're not curious, I'm sorry for boring the snot out of you!). Some of this I may have already shared, but I'm too lazy to look at my previous posts, so please forgive me!

  • Chris's graft site can't be exposed to the sun at all this summer or it could cause the area to be permanently blotchy. Plus the area will always be extremely sensitive to sun.
  • The area will also be more susceptible to frostbite, and since he won't have as many nerves there, he won't be as able to sense the early warning signs of frostbite.
  • We won't know for at least 8 to 15 months whether the graft is completely viable. Until then, Chris has to be extremely careful that nothing hits him in the graft site since that skin is so thin right now and will be for many months. Because of that, we'll probably try to find some thicker socks and maybe even shin guards. We're thinking adult-sized soccer socks with the built-in shin guards might be the perfect solution, especially since his right calf has a lot of grafting down the shin.
Chris is itching pretty badly, which we know to be a good sign, but it's annoying nonetheless! Ha! He has been taking 50mg of Hydroxyzine every 8 hours, but it wears off pretty quickly. But like he keeps saying, it's WAY better than pain. Praise the Lord!

{scroll down for photos}

Top of right leg

Top of left leg

Left/under side of right leg.

Right side of right leg

Right/under side of the right leg.

Right/under side of LEFT leg.

Left/under side of LEFT leg.

The socks he wears. You can see how the Vaseline has soaked through a bit.

The donor site as of today, in between changing the Tegaderm. This shot doesn't show it very well but the lighter pink areas are more healed than the darker, and the lighter pink areas have a fluid-like "coating" all over it. He didn't wash this area, per the recommendation of the doctors and nurses. We just quickly covered it back up!

{Giveaway} Winner!

The {week five} winner* of One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp is....

...the 3rd person to comment on my giveaway post.

That would be SquireChoir, my In-Real-Life friend Heidi ! I already know where you live, so I'll get it sent to you straight away. I hope you love it!
And now for the winner* of the gift set - One Thousand Gifts plus the corresponding Day Brightener.

What I did was I started at my first giveaway post and went straight through all five giveaway posts, making a running list of every valid entry. I then crossed out each of the entrants that had already won the book. Finally, I numbered the list, and then used to select the number. And here was the winner.

According to my list, the 26th entry is Christine! Christine, I've already contacted you via your blog, but if you happen to read this first, please email me at mamabirddanielle{at}gmail{dot}com with your full name and mailing address so I can get your gift sent to you as soon as possible!

I love how the timing of this worked out. The final winners will receive their book around the time when we are celebrating the ultimate GIFT, the salvation and everlasting life we can receive through the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus Christ! Praise Him!

*winners selected using

a super quick update on Chris

Since we got home on Friday, things have been Cuh-RAZY.

Chris's pain has decreased significantly in his left leg, both at the donor site and the graft site. In fact, the donor site has little white dots all over where skin is healing! Very cool. His right leg, however, has remained the same pain-wise and possibly gotten worse. We're not sure if it's because the burns went down the front of his calf, on his shin, and it hurts more because there's not as much muscle there to pad the area, or if it's simply because the right leg was worse in the first place. I'm anxious to see how it looks.

Tomorrow Chris has a re-check in Iowa City at 12:30. They'll remove the staples and then we're not sure what all they'll do. I'm hoping and praying that his right leg as not gotten worse as far as the graft slipping. I'm hoping that's not the source of his terrible pain.

I'm also curious how Chris is going to manage getting down the basement stairs to the van. He can barely put any weight on his right leg, and when he does his 5-10 minute walk every few hours, he leans heavily on me, so I'm hoping he can manage the stairs well enough that he doesn't fall and hurt himself (or me...that would be bad if we were both out of commission, huh?!).

Also, Lynnette had a good question regarding the graft and I thought I'd answer that here for those who are curious. She asked if the graft actually grows new cells or if it works more like a bandage until new skin grows underneath.

Because the graft came from Chris's body, new blood vessels will grow from the recipient area (where they removed all the dead tissue) into the transplanted skin. This process actually began within approximately 36 hours of the surgery.

Skin can be transplanted from another person, but from what I understand, that's only done when the patient has had burns to so much of their body that they don't have enough of their own skin to transplant all at once. The skin from another person is then used to protect exposed tissue to prevent infection, and to prevent fluid loss, but it's only a temporary fix. The patient has to undergo numerous surgeries to transplant their own healthy skin to the burned areas. This takes a long time because once the healthy areas are used as donor sites, they have to wait 10-14 days or more before that area is ready to "donate" again. Does that make sense?

Anyway, that's pretty much all there is to share regarding Chris...

One more quick thing...

Pierce (our oldest, who is 8 years old) has his annual assessment tomorrow through Wednesday (we homeschool and this test is the accountability method we chose for this year). Will you pray for him? I'm confident that he'll do fine, but he is a worrier in the first place, so I'm a bit concerned that all the recent events might affect his concentration and performance on his test. If he does really poorly, it's not a huge deal. I think we just have to submit a remedial plan to the school district, but I would prefer to not submit a remedial plan. We talked about it a lot tonight and assured him that he just needs to try his very best, that we believe in him, and so on.

Will keep you posted. :)

we're home...and another update on Chris

Today was a rough day for Chris. This morning he went and got cleaned off in the "bath room". He laid on a big metal table/cart/bed thing and a couple hoses came down that were used to clean Chris off. They started by undressing the graft site, and ohmygoodness. It looks way worse, even though it actually is way better. (There are pictures, at the way bottom of the post. They're graphic, so consider yourself warned.)

When they peeled the dressing off, Chris was reeling from the pain. He said it was the worst pain he's felt so far, and I could tell. He was squeezing my hand pretty hard (my right hand at first, and then I decided to switch hands just in case he squeezed a bit too hard...haha!).

Part of the graft did slip, leaving a small strip about 1/2", but the doctor said that shouldn't be a problem since it's such a small area.

Anyway, so the surgeons and physicians liked what they saw and said Chris could go home. The nurse redressed the wound and she let me help, even though I won't need to redress the wound at home yet. She started with a good layer of N-Terface, then something called Acticoat, which is a black mesh-like material. It has silver in it and the anti-microbial properties activate when it gets wet (I think that's what she said). The next layer was wet Kerlix gauze, followed by dry Kerlix, and then an Ace bandage wrapped around his feet all the way to just below his knees. His dressings won't need to be changed at home yet.

After the bath, the physical therapists had Chris walk the halls for about ten minutes. They also have a set of four stairs that they had him climb a few times. That was rough. But the walking really loosened his muscles.

The ride home was painful because he couldn't have his feet elevated, and then walking up the basement stairs was super painful. He was wiped out. If it hadn't rained so much here I would have pulled up to our back deck so he would only need to climb a few stairs, but Chris didn't think I could make it up the hill without getting the van stuck in the wet/muddy grass. Poor guy.

He's down for the night already. I'm scheduled to give him some more pain meds here in about 15 minutes and then I'm going to sleep as well. I'm going to set my alarm every night to make sure he's getting the meds every 4 hours on the dot, at least this first week or so.

Chris is supposed to get up ever 2-3 hours and walk for 5-10 minutes (except during the night). So I'll be setting some sort of alarm for that otherwise the time will get away from me. He's also supposed to use this filter-type thing every hour or so to prevent anesthesia-related pneumonia. 

With all the meds, vitamins, diet requirements, breathing deal, and exercise, I'm trying to figure out a good system to help ME remember what he needs when. I think just keeping a log like I've been doing is going to work best, but we'll see. :)

The Tegaderm covering the donor site has been really leaky, which is normal, so they patched that today and sent a bunch of extra Tegaderm so I can patch it if necessary. It's still leaking a bit even now, but that's almost unavoidable. They said the blood always seems to find its way out. We're keeping a pad under him to catch the blood that escapes. (Ew. I'm sorry if that bothers you.) And tomorrow I'll work more aggressively to find the leak, if Chris lets me. He's patient with clutzy me.  :)

We need to go back to Iowa City on Monday (changed from Tuesday) to have the staples removed, and I'm not sure where he'll go from there as far as treatment.

(Forgot to mention in last night's post that while he was at the hospital they were also giving him Lovenox (anticoagulant), and they gave him Trazodone last night to help him sleep. It worked. He snored most of the night away! Praise God!)

We're so glad to be back home with the kids. I was in a super crabby mood when I picked the kids up, and my poor mom thought I was mad at her. What a way to show my gratitude, huh? SIGH. I can be such a butthead. SIGH. I apologized to her but still...I'm a butthead. SIGH.

The first hour or so after picking up the kids, I was panicking on the inside. They were chatty and noisy and KIDS and all of a sudden it hit me that somehow I need to keep these four little wildcats from bumping Chris's extremely fragile legs, take care of Chris, take care of them, et cetera et cetera et cetera.

(I know. Woe is me, right? Sheesh.)

And then I remembered everything that God has shown us about His provision, along with all that He showed me in the hospital (more on that later), and I snapped out of it. I grabbed our portable DVD player, a movie, and all four kids and we watched a movie upstairs in the boys' room while Chris slept downstairs. It was nice to snuggle up with my little peeps again.

It's funny...they look different. How is that possible?

I really missed their cute little faces and I'm so glad we're able to be home so soon.

{scroll down to see photos taken today}

{click to see larger if you're brave}

This is the donor site. You can see the "strips" they took. The yellow stuff is an extra adhesive to help the already-adhesive Tegaderm stay in place better.

I think this was his right leg.

Closer up. You can see the holes they "punch" in the skin when they run the skin through a "meshing" machine. (Using really technical terms here.) Isn't that amazing?!? This is his left leg.

Right leg.

Both legs. His right leg (shown on the left side of the photo) is much worse.

Side/back of right leg. The red is where the graft slipped. We're hoping he doesn't need to have that re-grafted because that would mean another surgery similar to the one he had on Wednesday. When I was looking up close at this side of Chris's graft, I said to the nurse that the bubbly-looking whitish-yellowish spots looked like fat. She said that's exactly what it was. They did have to remove some fat that had been damaged, but no muscle was damaged so we were so relieved to hear that.

Thank you, again, for all the encouraging words via Blog comments, Facebook, text, phone calls, and voice messages. They mean so much to Chris and have been a great source of encouragement for him.

Also, we had his phone turned off for a couple days because he wasn't up for much phone talking (which says a lot about his pain level because Chris is a talker!), but he'll have his phone on more now for those of you who have tried calling or texting.

I have some stories to share later, but just wanted to get all the facts out there first.

I'm headed to bed now to sleep in my wonderful, comfortable, heavenly bed. :)

aaand...another update on Chris

Really quick update...

Chris recovered from surgery fairly well. They said he did vomit when they removed his breathing tube, and we were surprised to hear they needed to use a breathing tube. I'm not sure if that had something to do with the fact that Chris snores and stops breathing in his sleep (for about 5-10 seconds), but we're hoping to find out what the dealio is with that.

Morphine isn't doing much for him. The donor site (his left thigh) is extremely painful and actually hurts much worse than the graft site. As I type this (from the hospital hall) they're getting some Dilaudid (sp?) for him because Dr. Wibbenmeyer (the surgeon) thinks he'll respond better to that. I'm praying that is the case.

Speaking of the surgeon, I asked her today about his release date. She said he will be released tomorrow around mid-day. YAY!

Chris's blood sugar was pretty high after surgery so they've been giving him insulin. Just a while ago they tested his blood sugar and it was 107, so just low enough that he doesn't need insulin anymore. (High blood sugar is pretty common after surgery, I guess. Something to do with how the anesthesia affects the pancreas or something? I dunno.)

They stapled the graft to his "good" skin, and those staples will need to come out next Tuesday. Also, an interesting tidbit is that the donor site is covered in a sheet of plastic that acts sort of like an authentic scab. It is a bit leaky so he's bled onto his sheets quite a bit, but that's common.

They apply a solution to his graft site several times a day. It's a mixture of silvadene with a saline solution. The saline solution acts as a thinner so they can just pour the silvadene on instead of having to rub it on. They don't even unwrap the area, they just lift the wrapping and squeeze it in there, so I haven't had a chance to see the graft yet. Chris wants me to take photos, and I'll post them on here for those of you who are curious.

I think that's the gist of it. Most of this info is for my own information, so I apologize if I've bored you half to death!


post-surgery update on Chris

Chris went in for surgery around 12:35 p.m. (the previous surgery went long...praying for whomever that patient is). They told me it would be 3-1/2 hours, then an hour in recovery.

So I went to the cafeteria and forced some food into my gullet since I hadn't eaten anything yet today, and then I went to the waiting room and settled in. A little before 2:00 the receptionist came and got me and brought me to a meeting room and said the doctor would be there in a moment.

I'd like to tell you I was calm, cool, and collected. I was on the outside, but on the inside, I was freaking out.


I thought something must have gone wrong because it had only been 90 minutes. Plus I had no idea the doctor was going to be the one to let me know when he was out of surgery. And then the doctor walked in and had a "look" (I'm sure I imagined it) and then she sighed.

And then she said everything was fine.



And then I swear I heard God say to me, "Oh ye of little faith". :)

Anyway, everything went well. They only needed to take a graft off his left thigh in three strips. She initially thought she would need to use both thighs because he has huge calves (seriously...huge calves...he has the best legs ever), but that was not the case. YAY!

She did confirm that the graft sight will probably be the most painful, and while he's here, she's going to put him on a PCA (Patient Controlled Analgesic? I can't remember) so he can just push a button and it will give him more of the good stuff, aka DRUGS. :)

She's also going to write him a script for a different pain medication for at home since the morphine didn't do much more than take the edge off.

Let's see...what else....

Oh, she said she wants to keep him here for two days, but then she said something about "when you go home on Saturday". It didn't occur to me that there was a discrepancy until later, so I'll need to ask about that later.

I'll stay overnite with Chris tonight for sure, and then we'll talk about what's best for everyone (the children included) for the next night(s).

Right now he's in recovery and they said it'll be 1-2 hours. So pretty shortly here, I should be able to see him.

Thanks to everyone for your prayers and support! The surgery is over, and now we'll wait to see if the hard part is over, or if it's only just begun. It could go either way.

More as it comes.

pre-surgery update on Chris

I had totally planned to update earlier today but the day completely got away from me.

We are in Iowa City right now at a hotel (courtesy of our amazing friends J&L...we love you guys), the kids are at my parents house (we love you guys too), Chris is sleeping, and I'm blogging.

There I go being Captain Obvious again.

And guess what. I forgot his morphine at home. I grabbed every other vitamin and pain reliever, necessities for us and all four kids, plus the kitchen sink, but I forgot the morphine. I had it hidden (from the kids), and planned to grab it last minute so as not to risk Aniston (2-1/2) getting into it. She's always sifting through my purse looking for gum, and I know she'd put those little white pills in her mouth if she found them. That would be very, very bad.

So anyway, I'm feeling like the worst "nurse" ever, but Chris insists his legs don't hurt now that he's in bed and they're reclined. I think he's lying and I'm debating whether or not I'm going to hit Walgreen's to get some more morphine.

I'm feeling babbly tonight (What's new, right? This blog is named appropriately!), but I'm going to try to make this quick to save you from my babbles.

(You're so very welcome.)

(I'm here for you.)


So tomorrow we need to be there at 8:30, surgery will start around 10-10:30, should last around 2 hours, and then we're expecting Chris to have to stay overnight, but that might not be the case. If he does have to stay, I'll stay with him in his room on a cot or chair or whatever accommodations they have. Who knows. All I know is they will let me stay in his room, and I'm glad for that. This way, I can see as much of what the nurses do, hear what they say, be the eyes and ears as much as possible in case Chris isn't with it enough to remember something because of the meds.

Speaking of drugs. I've got a notebook full of medical related notes, contacts, food log, Thank You's that I/we need to write, and I think I need to have a section labeled "drug-related funnies". I've already got a couple. I'll share later. Heehee! :)

Anyway, I'm planning to update via Twitter (updates show up on the left side of this page, or you can go directly to my Twitter page by clicking right here). Those twitter updates also automatically forward to my Facebook account so if you are connected to me there, you can see updates there. I'll call a few people, but mostly I'll be sending out a mass text to save myself a lot of phone time. (Thanks for grace on that, by the way. I want to be 100% there for Chris.)

If there's a computer at the hospital, I may sneak out while Chris is resting to update, if necessary. But we'll see.

I think that's all?

Chris has been in such a great mood tonight. We watched some HGTV together, had a Happy Joe's taco pizza (his favorite...although he only had three pieces), and he said he's surprisingly calm about it all. God's already shown His hand in this so much that it's hard to feel anxious. We're so thankful!

Good night all.

One Thousand Gifts: 04-12-2011 {Giveaway}

The last week has brought some of what Ann calls the "hard eucharisteo" (in her book, which I'm giving away today!), for Chris especially. But even during trials of every kind, there is still so much for which to be thankful!

You can read more about our week by searching for the label "papa bird's burns", or just click here. I'll share a  pre-surgery update as soon as we get the final details.

{Giveaway details are at the end of this post! You don't want to miss it this week!}

#141- Read-aloud time with all four kids in our bed, and how intently they listened even though there weren't pictures in the book. I can't imagine what their imaginations were doing! :)

#142 - Pierce and Xander each reading the scriptures to us at bedtime.

#143 - Orion's belt, Betelgeuse, and the rest of the stars shining extra-brightly on a clear night. The heavens truly display His handiwork.

#144 - Chris's burns weren't on his feet or on his knees.

#145 - a second opinion.

#146 - a quiet drive to and from the burn unit. A rare gift.

#147 - a flat tire on the way to the burn unit. God had a reason, and we're thankful.

#148 - replacing two tires on the van, thinking the timing of that expense was inconvenient, but trusting God would provide. Returning home from the tire shop to discover an overpayment check in the mail. The amount almost completely covered the cost of the tires. God rocks!

#149 - modern medicine

#150 - an opportunity to serve my husband in a way I've never served him before. It will stretch me a little, and Chris a lot (it's hard for him to be so incapacitated), but it's what we both needed right now. God is so good.

#151 - a husband who is a shining example through this. Truly inspirational.

#152 - a warm sunny day in April. Perfection!

#153 - an 80-degree house with breeze flowing through. More perfection!

#154 - kids' water play in April.

#155 - morphine

#156 - resilient children

#157 - sharing (for the umpteenth time) the story of the sparrows (called "The Singer" in the Jesus Storybook Bible), this time with children who are worried about their Daddy, and seeing how the story all of a sudden has new meaning to them. Calm came over them, and Pierce said, "Oh, I get it now..."  God's Word is truly alive, and always relevant.

#158 - calls and visits and phone calls and help offers from family, friends, and even strangers. God is blowing us away with His love through other people.

#159 - closing my eyes and feeling the warm sunshine beating down on my face. I love that feeling!

#160 - a visit from our church's interim Pastor who already had a special place in our hearts

#161 - the boxful and bagful of food she brought with her

#162 - and the prayers she prayed over Chris. They blessed us, encouraged us, and revealed more of God to us. Such a gift!

#163 - workman's comp. Another provision.

#164 - dandelion gifts from four loving children. :)

#165 - my mom, who's taking the children during Chris's surgery and overnight stay(s).

#166 - anticipating lots of family time over the next month or two!

#167 - a slowing-down for Chris. As Pastor Suzanne mentioned, God has something specific in mind for him through this, so we're praying for God to reveal that to Chris.

#168 - seeing how God has been preparing us for this for months. At the beginning of this year, I was spending around $700 on groceries, household necessities, diapers, etc. Through scratch cooking, careful planning, and couponing, God has helped me get that bill down to about $75-$100 per week, without sacrificing quality of food, and despite the rise in prices. That's $300-$400 per month! Plus, I've built a small stockpile of staples and frozen goods. Tell me that isn't God's hand?!?!

#169 - the timeliness of Ann Voskamp's book. I'm not sure I could have been thankful for this before reading Ann's book. I know that is of God.

#170 -  the man working next to Chris, who was also covered in wet cement, didn't get burns at all. He was very recently injured at work and missed many many weeks of work, so for him to go through this now would have been a hard blow for his family.

#171 - a reminder of the frailty of the human body juxtaposed with the power of Almighty God.


Do you have your own copy of Ann's book, One Thousand Gifts? I sure hope so, because no book (besides the Holy Bible) has ever impacted my life as much as this book. God blessed me so much through this book, and prepared me for the situation we're currently in. I want to give it away to every person I know.

Since we don't have that kind of money :) , I decided to go on a (much) smaller scale and give away five copies of Ann's amazing book. I've given away four over the last four weeks, and today I'll give away ONE MORE COPY of Ann Voskamp's book, One Thousand Gifts.

BUT THAT'S NOT ALL! I'm also going to put all the non-winning entries from all five of these giveaways into a "hat", and pick a winner. That winner will receive a copy of One Thousand Gifts, plus the corresponding Day Brightener. I don't have the Day Brightener yet but I will be asking for it for Christmas! It contains excerpts from the book, so I know it will be amazing!

Here are the details:

  • Enter by simply leaving a comment! Any old comment will do.
  • You can receive up to three additional entries by sharing this giveaway through Twitter, Facebook, or your blog. (One entry for each...please leave an additional comment linking to your tweet, blog, etc.)
  • Entries can be received up until Palm Sunday, 4/17 at 11:59 p.m. CDT. I'll announce the (randomly-picked) winners sometime on Monday.
  • I'll ship the book directly from Amazon or Dayspring to you or a friend or relative of your choice.
  • U.S. participants only please. (Which is somewhat ironic since Ann herself lives in Canada...hmmm.)
  • This giveaway is sponsored by the famous Mama Bird (yep, that would be me) and her husband. :)

And again, will you pray with me? That God will put these items into the right hands?

{Thank you.}

A blessed week to you all!

quick update on Chris

There isn't much new to report since my last update, but I did take a few photos of how Chris's legs look today, so I thought I'd post those for the curious and strong-stomached. The photos will be posted at the bottom of the post so you can still read the update without having to see the gore if you don't want to. :)

Chris's pain is being managed a bit better using a combination of morphine and ibuprofen. It still hurts but the morphine takes the edge off.

He slept better last night, which is very very good.

The morphine is causing a loss of appetite, so I'm struggling to get him to eat as much as he probably needs. Protein is my focus, and I'm also trying to give him foods with lots of anti-oxidants in them. Since he's not eating much I'm trying to make every bite count by giving him foods packed full of nutrients. I'm also giving him a multi-vitamin daily at breakfast, one Iron supplement (to build up those red blood cells before surgery) at lunch, and one Vitamin C pill at supper to boost the immune system. I also bought some drinks that are fortified with Vitamin E for the skin, along with lots of other nutrients. I give those to him at breakfast, lunch, and supper. I don't know if any of it will do any good, but I figure it can't hurt, especially since he doesn't want to eat much.

I've been keeping track of everything he eats, drinks, and also his meds and vitamins so my head doesn't explode from trying to remember. I'm not a good rememberer.

(I'm ignoring the red squiggly lines under that word because I like the word "rememberer" and I want to leave it just like that.)

(Rememberer. Rememberer. Rememberer.)

Anyway, I've made a fool of myself on the phone today with approximately 3,216 people (or maybe four) because I'm super-tired and acting delirious, which means I sometimes get giggly and, well, stupid. I think Chris spiked my water with morphine when I wasn't looking.

Chris is doing great. He's handling everything so amazingly and he is setting such an inspiring example for me and the kids. He could be grumpy and crabby and stressed and sad but he is none of those. He's kind, positive, and grateful and I couldn't be more proud.

We already see the hand of God in this situation in so many ways that I can't wait to share them all. I've remembered to write many of them in my gratitude journal, because I never want to forget God's provision.

And now for photos of Chris's burns as of today. (scroll down)

They look much worse, I think. There's some bruising going on as well, which is normal. And some of the greyish skin around the edges is actually traces of the burn cream (it's made from actual silver shavings and turns grey). You can click to see the photos bigger.

Inside of right leg. The right leg is much worse than the left. (Sorry about the blood drips...I didn't notice those until later.)

Front of right leg.

Inside of left leg. I didn't get any more shots of left leg.

Another shot of right leg.

{Giveaway} Winner!

The {week four} winner* of One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp is....

...the 2nd person to comment on my giveaway post.

That would be Murdock's Mama! Email your shipping address to me at mamabirddanielle {at} gmail {dot} com and I'll get it ordered right away! I hope you love it!
And if you didn't win, you'll just have to come back on Monday to try again! :) I'm giving away one more book and there will be a special surprise as well!

*winner selected using

yet another update on Chris

(I really need to come up with more creative titles!)

Wow what a day. I'd be in bed right now but I need to push drugs on my husband at 12:30, so I'm killing time instead of going to bed only to wake up in 5 seconds. :)

This morning, Chris woke up in even more pain than the last few days. He wasn't scheduled to see the doctor or anything, but we were planning to fill his script for pain medication (he caved...I'm reason to "be tough" when medicine will help you relax and therefore help your body heal) and also for gauze.

Well, on his way to the bathroom, the dressings on BOTH LEGS fell off and his wounds were totally exposed, with no new gauze to recover them. I immediately barricaded the room off with a child safety gate because the idea of the kids walking in there, kicking up dust and such from the carpet, well, it made me panic a little bit. Chris got irritated with me because I was making too much of a fuss. My gut said THIS IS NOT OKAY and WE NEED A SECOND OPINION. He learned that I was right. Well duh, I'm always right.

Just a little humor there. Gotta have humor! :)

Anyway Chris got on the phone with the clinic to have the scripts called in, which was taking FOREVER because of all the workman's comp insurance company red tape (don't even get me started). As he was talking, the nurse said that they were making the recommendation to have his care transferred to Iowa City (about 2 hours away...the only certified burn unit in Iowa). PRAISE GOD ALMIGHTY THANK YOU LORD I FEEL SO MUCH BETTER.

So we got the kids loaded up (and packed overnight bags just in case), stopped up at Chris's work to have one of the shop dudes put air in two (yes TWO) tires that were incredibly low, then stopped by the local hospital to have his wound cleaned and redressed, then headed to Iowa City with a pit-stop at my parents' house to drop off the kids.

And then we got a flat tire. About 20 minutes from home.

So we waited for the same shop dude from Chris's work to come and rescue us. He put the spare on (which I suppose I could have done but it may have taken me until 2012 to finish) and we were off again. Chris's right ankle was swelling by this point (not a good sign), so I was feeling a bit more concerned. We dropped the kids off at my parents' house, swapped vehicles with them (thanks Mom and Dad!), and headed.

By this time it was around 4:00 I believe. We left home at 1:00. It had taken us 3 hours to get only 35 miles away from home. New world record baby!

Again with the humor!

Anyway, praise the Lord there was a wheelchair right inside the doors from the parking garage so Chris didn't have to walk (he'd still be walking if it weren't for that wheelchair). And then it all started getting interesting.

Two nurses cleaned the wounds and two doctors examined him as well. I can't remember the order of everything but here are some more lovely bullet points for your viewing pleasure:

  • We probably should have gone straight to Iowa City from the git-go.
  • Shortly after arriving they started discussing whether to admit him right then and there. We weren't exactly expecting that.
  • They informed us that his wounds needed to be washed DAILY (not every two days like we were told by the local specialist).
  • The area needs to be checked several times per day to make sure that the area is still moist and apply cream (silver sulfadiazine) to keep the area moist. If it dries we can use soapy water (baby soap) to moisten the area so the dry gauze doesn't pull at the skin and dead tissue.
  • They decided that Chris could go home if he felt confident in his and my ability to wash the area thoroughly. We do, so we're home.
  • Chris can also take showers daily (glorious for him to hear!), as long as he uses mild soap. Baby soap will work great and I told him that will be especially good because then he'll smell like a baby and I can spend hours sniffing his head, which should cure my baby fever. :)
  • We have to be back in Iowa City on Wednesday morning at 5:30 so he can have surgery.
  • They will excise the area that sustained third degree burns (the described the procedure as being similar to peeling an apple, only a lot less yummy) until no dead tissue remains.
  • Then they will remove skin from the front and (out)sides of Chris's thighs and graft it in.
  • They take the good skin and "mesh" it (turn it into a mesh-like material...sort of criss-crossed with holes in it). This allows them to take less skin from the thighs and make it go further on this wounds.
  • We mentioned that our local person had mentioned using foreskin on Chris's wounds, and they looked at us like we were crazy. Apparently transplanted tissue is only a temporary solution because the body rejects it eventually. There may have been some miscommunication or confusion there (with the local people). Not sure.
  • We also double-checked on the drinking 1000 (one thousand) ounces of water per day, and they again looked at us like we were crazy. They said just make sure he's urinating frequently and that it's not getting too dark. Chris was relieved. He had to pee in a cup twice on the way. I had the distinct honor and privilege of dumping it out. It was a moment I will treasure forever. :)
  • The surgery will take around two hours. The lead surgeon will then be the one to decide how long Chris needs to stay. We didn't ask if they're talking an overnight stay, a few days, or what the range could be, so I think we'll call to make sure we can plan accordingly.
  • Good nutrition is important. Well, it always is, but especially now. Protein was particularly recommended for regrowth of the cells. This won't be a problem. Chris is a guy, and (most) guys love meat. We're good there.
  • Chris has morphine. It didn't take care of the pain; however the doctor said it might take a little more time, and that it might help to take either Ibuprofen or Tylenol with it. So we're trying to find the right "cocktail" with the doctor's help. I'm praying for some relief for him.
It looks like Chris will be out of work for at least 4-6 weeks after surgery. His eyes popped out of his head when he heard that. I could see the wheels turning, and sure enough, he asked if he could return to work after a couple weeks if he did this and this, and the doctor gave him a doubtful look. Chris got a little stressed out and started saying that he has four kids and wife to support, to which I quickly retorted, "YOU DO NOT WORRY ABOUT THAT. Everything will be JUST FINE." Then the doctor pretty much told him that he NEEDS to take off enough time to heal or things could go very bad very quickly.

Shortly after that everyone left the room, and Chris got stressed again.

He said, "What are we going to do? We're screwed."

And I said, "No. We're. Not. DON'T. WORRY."

And he said, "No you don't understand, we're screwed. You know we are."

And I said, "You know what? Maybe you're right. You find that verse - "You're screwed" - in the Bible for me and I'll agree with you."

He cracked a little grin, then said, "Yeah but..."

And then I interrupted him and said, "God has never ever NOT come through for us, and He will come through for us now. So do. not. worry."

And he finally said the magic words, "'re right..."

See? I told you. I'm always right.

There's a little more humor to round it all off. :)

So it's going to be a long couple months for Chris, and I imagine it will get extremely hard for him to be confined to a recliner for that long, but I'm hoping to make him as comfortable as possible. I'll try to come up with some different ideas for time-killers and distractions. And he'll no doubt get a LOT of cuddle time with all of us.

And I just wanted to add that we're so incredibly thankful that the local specialist was humble enough to admit that Chris needed more expertise. If we had remained in their care, things could have gotten ugly fast. So we're very thankful for her.

Tonight when we arrived in the burn unit, there was a little boy about Emmersyn's age (almost 5). His left arm and entire torso were covered in gauze and he was limping gingerly down the hallway with his parents. It tore my heart in two. I simply can't imagine. It gave us incredible perspective.

It also helps to remember that this whole situation was filtered through the Father's hands. This is His story that was written before we were even born, and He will bring glory from it. What an amazing thought! I pray that Truth brings comfort and strength to my man in the weeks and months (and possibly years) of healing to come.

Thanks again for your prayers. I'm not going to leave you with any specific prayer requests. Instead, if Chris is on your heart, I encourage you to ask the Spirit to guide you in your prayers. Such a cool makes me smile. :)

And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.
-Romans 8:26-27

Another Update on Chris

Chris called the clinic this morning to look into getting gauze and prescription pain medication, and upon speaking with him, they've decided they want him to get a second opinion from the burn specialists in Iowa City. So right now, we're waiting on someone to come out to our house to rewrap both of Chris's calves. Both of his bandages fell off this morning and he's sitting in our not-so-sterile living room with both legs exposed. It makes me very nervous. He's thinks I'm over-reacting. Ack.

Anyway so as soon as they arrive and re-wrap, we'll head out with the kids. My mom is going to take the kids so we don't have to drag them all the way there (thanks, Mom!).

If there's anything new to report before we get home, I'll probably tweet it. (Click here to see my tweets.)

More later.

Update on Chris

It's past midnight and I'm soooo ready for bed, so I'm using bullet points. If anything is confusing, just leave me a comment (or send me an email: mamabirddanielle (at) gmail (dot) com).

Or just pretend it's coherent and laugh at me.

Either way's good. :)

  • Chris had a re-check again today and also saw a burn/ulcer specialist. He came home with all kinds of new information.
  • The specialist will be the one to do the debridement from here on out. Debridement is when they scrape away the dead tissue from the wound area. It's pronounced "dee-breed-ment" and it took me forever to find the correct spelling on the internet. I know you feel sorry for me. ;)
  • The debridement will need to be done twice per week for at least a month. The specialist said she'll know she's finished when she gets down to the muscle, at which point Chris will have large portions of exposed muscle, making him susceptible to infection. (Didn't God create the human body wonderfully? SKIN! It's a super-protectant! It's amazing!)
  • The specialist told Chris that the debridement will only get worse in the weeks to come. It will eventually involve some heavy-duty brushes, and even scalpels. Morphine will be involved in the future, but it will only help a little. Lord, have mercy.
  • Every two days Chris needs to change his dressing, and when he does so, he needs to use a prescription cleaning agent (if it's available by prescription - otherwise water with a few drops of dish soap is a suitable replacement) to clean the wound, making sure to get all the mucous (sorry!) off. He'll then apply the burn cream (some sort of Silvadene...Chris couldn't remember what exactly the name of it was). He might also use Thermo-Gel (sp?) if it's available, though I'm not sure if that's in some sort of cold-pack or if it's applied directly to the skin. I think it's in a pack...he's got some right now and his dressings were extra-bulky tonight.
  • His first run at cleaning his wounds on his own will be Saturday, and if he does well, the specialist will allow him to keep doing it at home. The debridement obviously can't be done at home, since no sane person can inflict that much pain upon themselves unless it's a life and death situation.
  • Chris is allowed to go to work, but only if it's CLEAN work. He also has to be able to take a break every two hours so he can elevate his legs for at least 15-20 minutes. Thankfully spraying is underway (he's a custom applicator ) so he can at least stay off his feet for the most part.
  • Chris worked today for a few hours, but he only went on a parts run, so he was sitting almost the whole time. Getting out of the recliner is excruciatingly painful and it takes him quite some time to get to the point that he can actually walk. Even then, he limps a lot. :(
  • I convinced him to take the day off tomorrow, so he'll be able to rest until Monday. I hope that gives his legs at least a little more recovery time.
  • The specialist told Chris that water is extremely important. In fact, we learned that dehydration is what usually causes fatalities with extreme burn victims. The fluids just can't get pumped in fast enough. All that mucous and healing requires a lot of water, I guess.
  • Chris is supposed to drink at least 1,000 (that's one thousand) ounces of water a day. He's going to ask about that again, just to make sure that number is correct. So I'm planning to haul the garden hose inside. That should work good. (Kidding, kidding!)
  • If Chris isn't careful, and doesn't follow all the procedures, he could end up in the hospital's burn unit. That's actually an option for him right now, if he wants it. (He doesn't.) This little piece of information was sobering.
  • The specialist is pretty confident that skin grafts will be needed. There's a chance that Chris's own skin will fill the gap on its own, but because of the width of the burned areas, she's not hopeful.
  • Regarding skin grafts, Chris can choose between have some of his own skin taken off his sides and bottom, or he can use transplanted foreskin (from circumcised boy parts...who knew?!?). We'll cross that bridge when we get there.
  • Chris has so far declined narcotic pain medication. He keeps saying "You gave birth to four children without pain meds...I can handle THIS without pain meds!" to which I respond "A) Giving birth doesn't last this long. B) I declined pain meds because of the potential risk to the babies and last I checked you don't have any babies growing in your belly! and C) I guarantee this hurts worse." He's also concerned about dependency and addiction, and I'm trying to remember that the Holy Spirit might be giving him hesitation for a reason, so I'm trying not to push too hard. I just don't like seeing him in pain. Ugh.

I think that's all. Thanks for putting up with me! And thank you thank you thank you for praying for Chris. He's still in pretty good spirits, and we're feeling so thankful that it wasn't worse. The cement could have seeped all the way down his boots and burned his feet. That would be much much worse. It could have burned a few inches higher and damaged his knee/joint. That would be much much worse. So we're thankful.

I want to be Awe-full so I'm not so awful

I just started reading Devotions for Lent (online version here) and this poem by Frederick Ohler was in there. It really spoke to my heart, and I wanted to share it with you.


Great and holy God
awe and reverence
fear and trembling
do not come easily to us
for we are not
Old Testament Jews
or Moses
or mystics
or sensitive enough.
Forgive us
for slouching into Your presence
with little expectation
and less awe
that we would eagerly give a visiting dignitary.
We need
neither Jehovah nor a buddy -
neither "the Great and Powerful Oz" nor "the man upstairs".
Help us
to want what we need . . .
and may the altar of our hearts
tremble with delight
Your visitation

-Frederick Ohler

Friends, may we all be more awe-full so we can be less awful.

proof that wet cement can burn skin

Warning: this post contains images that some might consider graphic, grody, icky, or all of the above. Consider yourself warned. :)

Monday night Chris worked late, so I fed the kids supper, read some Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, did our Bible story and prayers, and tucked the kids in bed. I came downstairs to finish up the supper dishes, and as I was scrubbing my last pot, someone knocked on the sliding glass door just off the kitchen.

It was Chris's boss's wife (we'll call her S), and she walked in holding two gigantic gauze-type pads and a bottle of vinegar. Then she said, "Chris must not have told you I was coming? got burned today." Of course, I started imagining all kinds of terrible scenarios involving chemical (he sometimes works with agriculture-related chemicals), but she went on to tell me that it was a cement burn.

"Oh! Phew!" I thought. "How bad can that be?!"

Turns out, pretty bad.

backside of his calves (4/6/11)

Chris came home while S was still there, and oh boy. Boy oh boy. Each of his calves had horrible burns encircling his entire calf, creating a four-inch band around each of his legs. He soaked in a water/vinegar bath that night so the vinegar could stop the chemical reaction that was taking place.

The next day, he went to work and ignored his wife's persistent requests nagging to go to the doctor.

Finally around 5:30 he decided to go to the doctor.

The doctor knew he was seeing a patient with a cement burn and was expecting to see the typical small little burn he'd seen in other patients, so obviously when he walked in to see Chris's legs, he was slightly shocked. In fact, he told Chris, "WOW! That's a wicked burn!"

front of the calves (4/6/11)

It turns out that 60-70% of Chris's burns are third-degree burns, and the rest are second-degree. The doctor told him it could have gotten much much worse if he had waited another day. In fact, yesterday they didn't need to scrub the wound at all, and the cream they put on the wound helped ease the pain quite a bit. He was told he could go home, but to keep his feet elevated at all times, and take the next day off work (obviously).

So he was home today, and he had another appointment this afternoon to recheck and rewrap the burns. Fortunately, it doesn't seem to be getting worse. Unfortunately, the wound had to be scraped today. Chris said he's pretty sure he left his hand-prints in the metal frame of the exam table. He's been shot once and stabbed twice (he's a former Marine), but this was the worst pain he's ever felt.

Ouch. Ouch ouch ouch. OUCH.

I told Chris I'd take child-birth over that any day of the week, thankyouverymuch.

inside of right calf (4/6/11)

So here's what here's what happened.

Obviously he was working with concrete. He and another guy (who had NO reaction to the cement whatsoever) were wearing tall rubber boots, but apparently they weren't tall enough. It looks like the cement that seeped in the top of the boots settled around Chris's sock line. He was wearing tall socks that went up to his calves, and you can see the worst part of the burns form a band around his calf, where the top of his socks would have been.

front of left calf (4/6/11)

This is a very rare occurrence as far as cement burns are concerned; in fact, Chris's doctor asked if he could let some other doctors and interns have a peek as well. The doctor jokingly told Chris that he's a medical marvel.

I suppose that's better than being called a freak show, right?

front of right calf (4/6/11)
Chris has worked with concrete many times in the past, and he's even had a time when he was practically coated in it from head to toe (there might be a story behind that occurrence, huh?), and he's never had a reaction to it. He assumed that meant he wasn't "sensitive" to it and therefore shouldn't ever have a problem with it.

(Something tells me that's not the case.)

(Just call me Captain Obvious.)

back of left calf (4/6/11)
Chris asked the doctor for an explanation, and here's what we learned. Wet cement is acidic, and depending on the pH levels in your body, it can react with your skin. Apparently, in the past, Chris's pH levels were such that his skin didn't react with wet cement when he was exposed to it. This time, however, his pH levels were at a level that caused the acid to start a chemical reaction in Chris's skin, which burned his flesh.

And since our pH levels change all the time - depending upon our diet, exercise, stress, sleep, and so on - you can never be sure that you won't have a reaction when your skin comes in contact with wet cement, no matter how many times you've "lucked out" in the past.

It's also known as concrete poisoning, and can affect people in all different ways.

Thus ends today's science lesson. :)

back of right calf (4/6/11)
Chris has been fore-warned that he'll probably lose some feeling in part of his calf for awhile, and he'll definitely have scarring. But that doesn't seem to bother him, so I'm thankful for that. He's quite a trooper, let me tell ya.

(I'll keep you posted on his progress. We're praying for a complication-free healing process. Obviously there are some risks for major infection. But Chris has been in great spirits. He's in more pain tonight after the scraping, but I went and picked up some extra-strength pain reliever tonight after the kids were in bed, so hopefully alternating acetaminophen and ibuprofen will help dull the pain enough to sleep decent. He's hoping to work a half-day tomorrow (Thursday). I'm hoping he stays home and takes it easy.)

*Photos taken by the doctor after taking the gauze off today.
**Linked to Works For Me Wednesday, because preventing third degree burns definitely WORKS FOR ME!
***Follow up posts can be found by searching the label {papa bird's burns}

::some of my 'pinteresting' stuff::