Monday, May 4, 2009

Back in shoes!!!

Since my last checkup I’ve been back in my own shoes and making a lot of progress towards normal life. The skin on my feet is now completely closed up leaving me without bandages. Instead I’ve got a tight sock with holes on both ends that I get to wear underneath my regular socks. The idea behind it is to protect the new skin a little bit and help keep scar tissue from getting too out of control on the top of my foot. It’s not the fancy colored compression socks I was initially promised, but I have another appointment next month where I’m hoping that I can hook that custom job up.

More importantly, I’m running again. Slowly, sometimes painfully. But running it is. I started with some light jogging on the grass over at the fairgrounds which was really hard. Then, did more of that but added in some strides with Lori and Kris. Another day I tried to go for a bike ride on the trails rather than run with Lori, Kris, and Eric. But it was super muddy so I ended up walking, pushing my bike, and for the last few miles carrying it which left me with 3 hours of pretty hard work. I should’ve just run. Anyway, I quickly graduated to High School Butte over in Jackson. Then there was an hour run on the roads in Driggs with Jay followed by two laps up High School Butte the next morning. Friday morning, Lori and I climbed up Snow King. All of this is to say that life gets better every day.

I’m glad to be feeling more comfortable on my feet these days as I’m adding a new job to my life and cutting back my hours a bit at VARD. In a couple weeks I’ll officially be the new deputy county attorney for Teton County, ID. Which means that I’ll be doing all of the criminal prosecution on behalf of the county. All of my efforts to avoid lawyering have now officially gone down the tubes. I am pretty excited about the change of pace for a few days each week though.

I don’t have any sense yet of when I’ll be back to racing, but I’m getting pretty excited to be able to do some consistent running here. We just got back from a weekend in Pocatello previewing the course for a 50-miler on May 23rd. I got in a solid run in the mud and rain on Saturday then went for a hike on Sunday. We stayed with our friends Pat and Dan Spurlock – a couple of the nicest and most amazing people on earth. It was just a great weekend of enjoying some dirt trails and rain (as opposed to the snow this morning in the Tetons . . .) and spending time with good people. I’ll likely be taking a couple days off here as we just started doing a cleanse last night which involves limited calories and therefore limited energy to be used for running.

Most importantly, Matt Hooley won the Eugene Marathon in 2:18:38 on Sunday!!! That makes for an trials qualifier and a helluvah time to boot, way to go Hools!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

New Skin Tickles

The recovery process is continuing along pretty well. The left foot and hand are in great shape, with just a few more toenails to lose. I'm even getting feeling back in my left toes, which means that they're ridiculously ticklish again.

The heel of my right foot was closed up entirely for a couple days. We started using 1/2 as much gauze to wrap the foot so it isn't quite as large anymore. I got a little greedy on Saturday and tried to squeeze my foot into a few different pairs of shoes. I was able to get it in, but they were a little tight and that process reopened my heel a little bit. In the meantime, my friend Kris is letting me walk around in a pair of his shoes that are 2 sizes bigger than mine. So I've got a little more time to wait before the heel closes back up again, but I've got shoes I can wear for rainy/snowy days like today which is fabulous.

On the top of my right foot, things are almost entirely closed up, including the tops of the toes. There's some pretty interesting discoloration that is appearing where the deepest freezing occurred. The last time I was in Salt Lake they kept talking about the fact that I should expect some scarring. I never asked them what exactly that might look like and am starting to wonder if that's what we're seeing.

The big yellowish/deep open spot near my big toe is closing up and shrinking really quickly. It still has a little ways to go, but I'm pretty happy with how quickly that's moving. In between my toes there's also some spots that haven't closed up entirely. Because they're so squished together it is just taking longer for that to happen. On the bottom of my foot, the thick old callouses are peeling off leaving more incredibly ticklish new skin underneath. Not to complain, but the level of tickle-sensitivity on the bottom of my foot with the new skin and regenerating nerves is dangerously high. It makes it really difficult to work with. With pain you can just set your mind against it and deal with it. Tickling, well, that's just uncontrollable.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Foot Pic Slideshow!

Click here to view the slideshow!

So, hopefully this works. Google says it will, and she seems to know everything. I'm a little non-adept at all of this so it's putting all of the pictures that I've posted up here on the slideshow. So, you've seen the first bunch, but it's the last half that has the foot pics. I put captions on them which I hope will show up. The order might be a little screwy, but I've got other things to do today so let's all just cross our fingers and hope the thing works and it turns out well.

Update: So the link ought to bring you to an album of pictures. Just double click on the first one you want to look and and then you can either do a slideshow or just scroll through at your own pace. The images will be bigger and you'll be able to read the captions once you double click, just so you know. [I've learned a lot today . . . ]

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Back in the office!

I took the next step with all of this walking and driving stuff and headed back into the office this week. It's awful nice to be back. It is a little tough to spend a full day at work with my foot hanging down in addition to commuting the 45 minutes each way over Teton pass. (Actually, yesterday the drive was a bit slower as we were in the process of getting 30 inches of powder up in the mountains). So I'm trying to split time between doing the telecommute thing and actually heading into Driggs. Oh, and to the left is a shot of my boss Sandy in the process of cleaning the office a while back.

My feet continue to improve every day. My left foot and toes are probably more flexible than they've ever been, except for the biggest and littlest toes. Those two, which spent time pressed against the frozen sides of my ski boots, were hit the hardest on that foot and they're moving a lot slower in the return to flexibility. They do flex pretty well in relation to the foot, and I'm getting more movement in the joints halfway down the toe but it's pretty slow.

My right foot is also improving, though it's been a bit swollen the last couple days from the long work days. Yesterday was a little better though as I did a better job of propping my foot on the desk and lowering my chair. I also spent a little time on the floor with my feet on a chair as I read some tips on grantwriting. All of the toes are flexing pretty well where they join the foot, though the foot itself is still really rigid. The other joints in those toes remain pretty stiff. Part of the issue though is that it's still bandaged all day, so it's hard to tell exactly where things are at with respect to true flexibility. I should probably do a better job of testing those things during wound care when I can actually see them.

Most of the skin has peeled off my left hand and the nails are starting to loosen up, especially the thumb. My hand should act as a good primer for dealing with my feet. The skin that appears once all the layers of old, damaged skin slough off is this super-thin, clear, ultra-sensitive stuff that looks pink because it sits right above the bloodvessels and everything. The bad news is that it's so sensitive that gripping anything of consequence hurts too much and in that respect it leaves me one-handed in many cases. The good news is that it's healing up pretty quick and I can already see the growth of a new layer of skin that is starting to form on top of this one. I can only hope things progress as quickly on my feet.

All in all, things continue to improve and I feel like I'm moving back into normal life a little more each week. Tomorrow I pick up Denver, the animal that I was dogsitting prior to my little unplanned hiatus from the real world. All of my neighbors and coworkers have been incredibly helpful coordinating care for Denver and his house. Lately one of the neighbors' babysitters has been staying at the house and taking care of the enormous and active black lab. But, she's leaving town and I'm taking the big fellah back. He and Sophie get along pretty well so that will be nice. Hopefully this snow will melt soon so that he doesn't constantly lose tennis balls.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Keepin' up this healing stuff . . .

So things continue to move in a positive direction. For one thing, I'm running low on bad facial hair pictures, so I thought I'd throw in one from a ski up in Grand Teton National Park that Lori and I did earlier this season. It sure was tough being the only folks who'd skied up to this point. Well, it was us and the set of wolf tracks on the trail. Pretty cool stuff.
Back to the healing. I've gotten in some pretty good walks lately, which has been nice as the weather was simply perfect. Nearly 60 degrees and sunny. Winter is making a feeble return this week with some clouds and a little snow, but nothing too crazy. So, I kept my "workout" inside and rode the bike for 30 mins. It just feels so good to get some exercise in!
On Sunday Lori and I drove over to Driggs -- the first time I've been back in Idaho since the morning of the trip across the range. It sure was nice! We swung by Derek's place, which is an amazing house that includes a 28-foot tree that the house was built around. It was great, as always to catch up for a while and check out the sweet ironwork that he and Liz have been creating with his new forge in the basement. After that we went to pick up a few things from Denver's house and, *gasp* I picked up my car! That's right, I'm back behind the wheel. Tomorrow, I'll get to actually head into the office rather than working from the couch. Pretty sweet in my book. I'll definitely miss hanging out with Sophie all day, but one of the drawbacks to this whole frostbite thing is that I actually miss going to work. I think that's a good thing.
Not too much else is going on with the healing, it's just a long process. There has been a ton of progress though. The last deep yellow spot has shed that layer so it's just a matter of time until all the skin closes up and the callousing process can proceed with extreme caution. The flexibility in my toes and feet seems to get a little better most days, the skin on my fingers gets a little tougher every day, and I just can't ask for more than that. As things get better here I'll start thinking about posting some pictures, maybe a time series or something. It turns out Allen decided it was a good idea to show the pictures to my mom, so I suppose if she can handle seeing her kid's feet look like that, everyone else can too.
Finally, there's a couple small things I've neglected to mention that have come up in the last week. The first is for all the locals here in Jackson, Teton Valley, and such. You all probably know that Laurie Andrews, local ultrarunner and all-around good person had surgery this week to repair three ruptures in her achilles tendon. Reports are that she's doing pretty well, but the recovery from that injury is even longer than I'd first imagined. I don't have to think back too far to remember just how important every email, call, letter, visit, and every other form of contact from friends, strangers, and family were/are to me. I'm sure Laurie would have the same appreciation of your emails, notes, etc as I did. We all need a little encouragement to help keep us in a happy place as we embark on long recovery and rehab projects.
The other thing is a little lighter, but I can't help giving Dan Bucy and Alanna McCleod a shout out for winning a wedding on a radio show in Fort Collins, CO. Seriously, only those two are so perfectly matched that they can get all of Fort Collins to vote for them to win their wedding. For all the fellahs and Carleton alums that are reading this, some serious congratulations are in order for these two. The news has kept me smiling all day! Way to go you two!

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Party Is On!

So, Wednesday afternoon it was 50 degrees here in Jackson. When Lori got home from work she pulled out a couple lawn chairs and a little bench for my foot and we sat outside and enjoyed the last little bit of sunlight before it faded off over the mountains. Feeling inspired on the way in, I tried walking without crutches. Granted, I'd already experimented with using a single crutch and putting a little weight on my right foot. Anywho, it went well. I even hopped on the bike on a trainer in the basement for about five minutes, it was awesome! Yesterday I pretty much walked the entire day, except in the morning. Everything hurts more then. Including my foot.
That's right, so now I'm a little more mobile, though my walk is actually a mixture of shuffling and shambling. It's a good start though, in my opinion. I've also got some ridiculously painful stretches to do with my toes to get 'em flexible and doing what toes ought to do. My right foot remains pretty rigid. I'd say it has as much flex as a sheet of 3/4" plywood. So, it's getting there, just slowly. Today I'm taking more care to put the bulk of my weight on the heel, since I think I may have overdone the pressure on the ball of my foot yesterday. I don't think that caused any damage, it just makes it hurt like hell which has an impact on one's ability to sleep.
It seems kind of funny to think that last year at this time I was in San Diego scamming hotel space and food off of the Carleton track team on spring break in exchange for having some training partners in a fantastic climate. I think I got a pretty good deal there. A whole lot has happened since then. I remember really struggling in the workouts there but still feeling excited and thinking I was on the right track for Boston. Now I'm sitting in a chair and getting excited about being able to shuffle around a little bit without aid, thinking I'm on the right track to get in some trail running this summer. I sure hope that turns out better than Boston. In any case, it sure is a change in perspective. One I've experienced before, but not to this degree. It sure does make me want to look into doing some track races next spring though. In any case, for the moment it's just one shuffle/shamble at a time.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Phew . . . Coming Home Again . . .

The good news down here in Salt Lake is that I won't be needing a skin graft on my foot -- so I'm headed home! I'm not exactly surprised as I thought my foot was looking pretty good, but I'm sure as heck relieved. I wasn't looking forward to another week or two in the ICU, even though the nurses and their assistants are as good as they could be.

It's been a great weekend hanging out with my brother, Cole Hanley, and Andrew Cole as well as Andrew's fiancee whose name I better not try to spell. They've all been just wonderful and made what could have been a tough weekend into a nice vacation.

We're off to the airport now on a beautiful 60 degree and sunny day. It'll be kind of a long time to hang out at the airport, but that's cool. I just can't wait to be back in Jackson! I don't have to come back down here for about a month, so that's pretty nice too!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Think They'll Let Me On The Plane Like This?

So, some of my good friends and old roommates decided to take this opportunity to email Lori some choice photographs of me taken in college. I can't say I look much different today, except there hasn't been an effort made to put the braids into the beard. In fact, there's a good chance I wore the same hat, super-ugly glasses, and sweatshirt in combination this winter. So much for embarrassment. Anyway, I promised to post some of them to help with the entertainment factor on this here blog.

Do not expect any pictures of my feet though. We've started taking pictures during wound care this week to give us a frame of reference to compare and look for progress. The thing is, they're pretty shocking, even to us. There's something about taking the foot out of context and shooting a picture that makes it look pretty rough. In addition, while we're seeing significant progress in terms of avoiding a skin graft, that doesn't mean they look pretty. We're still talking about pretty damaged feet. So, if you're one of those types who want to see that, let me know and I can email you pics. I just don't think they're appropriate or necessary to post here.

This week has been absolutely flying by! It's been so great to be home. Everything is more comfortable, I've got a therapy dog 24/7, and the food is to die for. Lori has been spoiling me with wonderful and tasty meals. I've also branched out on my beverages by adding herbal tea and water in the evenings to the gatorade that accounted for 100% of my fluid intake in the hospital. I was directed to get in as many calories as I could while in the hospital, so they discouraged drinking plain water. The notion was that I needed every bit of energy possible to regrow me some skin. Well, I think I'm still doing alright with that, but the warm tea is so nice in the mornings and evenings, and I was begging for cavities by drinking powerade at 3am. In any case, it just feels a bit more refined to imbibe more than one substance, which is an important feeling for a guy who can grow a 'stache like that.

It's also been a great week of work. My co-workers have been just fantastic through this whole ordeal. Not only were they on the front lines of finding a caretaker for the dog and house that I've been watching, but they've checked my mail for me and been incredibly understanding about my prolonged absence from the office. On the plus side, I was able to get in some decent hours last week and am looking at pulling a full-time week here. It's certainly not the same as being in the office, but it feels great to be able to get something done and feel like a part of the team again. One of the best things about moving out here is how happy and excited I am about going to work everyday. To be fair, I've had similar feelings at other jobs, including the firm I was working for before I left Minneapolis. But, there's something special about this crew of folks and the work that we're doing that puts a smile on my face just thinking about it.

Tomorrow afternoon I fly back down to Salt Lake. My brother is actually flying out as well so we'll meet up at the airport then hitch a ride into the city. My appointment isn't until Monday at 11am, but this was the only way to make the flight affordable. It should be great to hang out with Allen for a couple days though. My friend Cole Hanley is in town as well to do the Powder Keg rando race up at Alta, so it'll be great to see him. I don't know how he pulls that off coming from Ohio, but it's wicked impressive. And hopefully we'll get in touch with Andrew Cole again as well. Should be a good, confusing name weekend. I'm getting more optimistic all the time about avoiding the graft, but we'll see. If nothing else I'm excited to have good company to share the wait for that news with.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Home sweet home!

Yesterday Lori and I made the trek from Salt Lake back to Jackson. Everything went as smoothly as can be expected, which was nice. We did the dressing change on my feet bright and early and the nursing staff was just wonderful about packing up supplies, procuring a wheelchair to get me downstairs, and all of the million little details that come with getting discharged from the hospital. The night staff isn't typically involved in wound care which made it extra special that they were so helpful in getting that done at 6am.

The airport staff was also wicked helpful, though it turns out that neither airport uses wheelchairs that can elevate my foot. Oh well, we managed. Lori was just amazing as well -- lugging bags loaded down with books and food that have been pouring into the hospital while also pushing me through a super-crowded airport. It was good for me to get a preview of what I'll have to navigate on my own next week.

The plane ride itself was uneventful. Luckily there were plenty of empty seats so Lori and I had a whole row, both sides of the aisle, to ourselves. That allowed me to crank my foot up onto the seat next to me which minimized the discomfort. Anytime my right foot is below my heart there's some pain, and the lower it gets the higher the pain. My mantra therefore is, elevate, elevate, elevate.

So, we got into Jackson, came home, and I promptly passed out on the couch. The fatigue I was feeling from that 1 hr flight was right up there with the jet lag of flying to Europe. It worked out though, as the computer guy hadn't made it over to fix the internet over the weekend. He came over that afternoon, and by the time things were up and running I was having short periods of consciousness interspersed with uncontrollable napping.

We ran through wound care again before we went to bed, since we decided that evenings were going to work much better for us than mornings. I think that there's been a ton of progress over the past few days. The sort of dead yellow layer has peeled off in a large area and revealed a pink/purple patch of skin with lots of spots where blood is coming through. It was difficult to tell in the light whether we were looking at something healthy or not so I don't want to get too optimistic. There's also another patch that remains yellow with some brown and green splotches. Anyway, so we're going to do the dressing change in better light tonight so that we can see what we're looking at.

So I've got the day to do work and be supervised by Nurse Sophie (pictured above). She's taking her duties quite seriously and doesn't appear willing to leave my personal space anytime soon. It's awful nice to be home. I slept through the night for the first time since I went into the hospital. The furniture is also a heck of a lot comfier than my hospital bed or a wheelchair. In fact, it's so comfy that staying awake is going to continue to be a battle. Oh well, it's worth it. Being back in the Tetons has given me an amazing sense of peace and calmness that I haven't felt in over two weeks. I can't imagine that that won't help with healing.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

New Mailing Address

Now that I'm getting all healed . . . at least to the point of being allowed to use crutches in a pinch, I won't be spending enough time in the hospital to receive mail here any longer. No worries, if you sent something in the last few days I'll pick it up on Monday. Otherwise, here are the address options since a lot of you have been asking.

Chris Lundberg
P.O. Box 4534
Jackson, WY 83001

Chris Lundberg
475 W Kelly
Jackson, WY 83001

PLEASE NOTE: All U.S. mail must be sent to the P.O. Box -- there is no mail delivery to street addresses in Jackson. ONLY use the street address for something like UPS.

My apologies to everyone that has asked for this info in the last couple days that I haven't responded to, it's just been a little hectic getting everything ready to go here. Thanks so much to everyone and I'll let you know how the travel experience goes.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Going Home!

Wow, so that was a bit unexpected. Over the last day my foot has made a ton of improvement with blood starting to come through the dead area, which also shrank around the edges. The doctor is getting fairly confident that I may not need a graft after all, so I'm headed home for a week! They'll take the pic line out of my chest tomorrow and switch me to oral antibiotics, so that'll make travel a bit easier. Pretty soon it's just going to be wound care for my right foot and nothing else, so that'll also make that work quite a bit simpler.

Travel will be interesting. I managed to book a one-way ticket on the same flight that Lori is taking home on Monday morning, so that's cool. I'm borrowing a pair of crutches from the hospital for the week, then will return them. Lori has been in touch with a friend about borrowing a pair to use later, which is great. I'm not sure how it's going to feel to sit on a plane for an hour with my leg hanging down. I used the real toilet last night and just that length of time with my leg dangling was excruciating. I'm sure I'll be able to prop it up or pull it onto my lap or something though.

I haven't figured out yet how I'm going to get back down here. If I can score a flight as cheap as Lori's next weekend, like heading in Saturday then coming back Monday, that's probably the best thing I could do. Then, even if they decide to go ahead and graft after all, I can just pay a change fee and pick a day to come home. I wish I could drive, but I really can't imagine hanging my foot over the gas pedal for five hours, especially without being able to take the painkillers. In any case, I suppose I could theoretically do it, I just don't want to and probably wouldn't be allowed to. Some things are just bad ideas.

As intimidating as it is to be traveling and having to take care of myself (with beautiful help), it's pretty darn exciting to be headed home. I've tested the healing power of the Tetons for the soul time and time again and always find myself rejuvenated. We'll just have to see if there's a similar power that aids physical healing. Most importantly though, I'll be in a familiar place with a fantastic person and there can't be anything better for healing than that. I won't be able to stop smiling either.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Ridin' the bus

Brooksie, I think I had what you were looking for all along. In any case, there isn't a whole lot of news to report on the scheduling front yet. Hopefully in the next couple days I 'll be able to talk to the docs and we'll know a little more about what we're dealing with timewise. My uneducated guess is about 10 more days before I get to head home.
The days are getting more exciting all the time as I get more energy to do some work remotely. I've also been hitting the PT room pretty hard lately. Today I busted out 2 x 15 minutes on the handbike, which left my gown awfully damp with sweat. I'v made friends with an outpatient named Phil who is in there a few days a week, and we got to kick it today. He refers to the staff, lovingly, as physical terrorists. I'm so amazed at how well he's recovered from the accident he went through. We're talking major refinery explosion that nobody should have walked away from, yet Phil and three other guys all pulled through. He's definitely a fun guy to work out with and just has a great sense of humor and perspective on everything. His wife is also a perfect counterbalance to his more curmudgeonly-type leanings.
In PT today I also received a bunch of crap for not having a night staff nurse make me a milkshake yet. So, in order to avoid future ridicule I'm currently enjoying a fantastic strawberry shake as I type. Yes, the chocolate is still not something I'm ready to mess with. I mean, it's probably cool, but I sure as hell don't need to do any reversing of fortunes by constricting my blood vessels. The other thing is that I'm not thrilled about having even an ounce of caffeine until I'm in a position to safely medicate the ensuing headache with ever-increasing amounts of the good-good. So, perhaps once the skin on my feet heals and I'm running normally, I'll get back on that train.
For now, the recovery bus is just chugging along as I wait for the antibiotics to run their course and the operation on my skin. Unsurprisingly, the bus should be relatively short and I should be out of here pretty soon. In the meantime, life's pretty good. Lori will be here tomorrow night!!! That has definitely been the thought that's gotten me through the last few days. It's also been great to have so many cards and packages arriving this week -- I think the poor girl at the desk who's been lugging all the mail to my room might have dislocated her shoulder. Again, I can't thank everyone enough for all the support. I hope you all have a great weekend -- I'll post if anything interesting comes up. Thanks!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Puttin' a schedule together

Alright, so in the shower this morning the doc was unequivocal about the fact that there will be NO amputation with respect to my body. He'd pretty much said so before, but he made it official today, which is nice. Now, so that means that we get to move into the planning and scheduling phase for the skin graft on my foot.

On Monday, the doc will put me on the graft schedule for next week. It appears that they make those schedules weekly so that's the next opportunity to make that happen. In the meantime, I'll be taking in my antibiotics as they annihilate the infection in my foot. The doc will also be watching the top of my foot for progress. There's a chance, though I'm not holding my breath, that the skin may recover and even the graft may become unneccessary. In any case, he'll keep watching that up until the time of the operation and we can cancel at any time if need be, so that's cool.

While I'm hanging out and waiting for the antibiotics to do their thing and my foot to steal some skin from my hip, everything else will be healing like crazy, so by the time I get out of here I should be much better able to take care of myself than if I left earlier. My left foot and hand are in really good shape with the open wounds healing real nicely. I'll lose my thumbnail and my big toenail for sure and perhaps a few others, but that's not too out of the ordinary for me. I'm hoping the skin on my right foot will start closing up in the healthier areas soon and get a little easier to take care of.

Physical therapy continues to be a nice diversion during the day. Lately I've been burning my upright time by walking to my showers and back, so fewer laps around the unit. Because of the foot infection (which also causes extraordinary pain when my foot hangs down) they want to discourage too much use of the walker at the moment. But, I've been cranking away on the hand bike, free weights (10 pound max, what kinda gym is this?) and some thera-bands. I'm also getting pretty slick at piloting my wheelchair through the halls, though I don't think I'm quite ready to give it a try on the stairs yet.

Every time the dressings come off my feet and I see the old black sharpie lines indicating where this story could have ended, I just shake my head and try to wrap my brain around just how lucky I've been. I don't think it has all sunk in yet and I'm not sure that it ever will. But, even if I can't quite grasp the magnitude of my luck I can't help but be overwhelmed with thankfulness for the amazing staff down here as well as in Jackson for being aware of the options in Salt Lake. The support from family and friends continues to blow me away as well. I can't say this enough, thank you.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


Well, it's been a pretty good day. The therapy dog stopped by so I could pet him for a while, which was nice. My good friend from high school, Josh Sutliff stopped by for a few hours this evening which was just fabulous. He's in the area for work so it was just so wonderful that he could take some time to hang out in a hospital. Unfortunately, today wasn't all just a bed of roses.

I've got an infection in my right foot. It's not an awesome thing because it's pretty painful, but it's also nothing to worry about in the big picture of my foot. They decided to put me on some pretty intense antibiotics since I was in the hospital anyway and they didn't want to mess around with anything lingering. One of the things about this particular antibiotic is that it's hard to use with a regular IV. So, they've got me on what they call a "pick line." It's essentially a narrow catheter running through a blood vessel from my arm and into my chest, emptying out directly into an artery right above the heart. The complications of this are all in the insertion, and that was super smooth so I'm good to go.

The most difficult part of this is how, if at all, it impacts my length of stay here. I totally understand that they need to wait and see how I react to things before they can give a date for when I might get to go home. That said, it's just hard to sit here and not have any idea how soon I can go home. I'll just have to deal with it though. I figure if I just keep healing as fast as I can I'll be out of here soon enough. In the meantime, everything else will just continue to heal and I'll just be that much more mobile by the time I get out.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Touch 'em All!!!

So I'm going to head out on a limb today and say that I'm keeping every inch of toe on both my feet. The doc didn't quite say as much today, but they sure look pink to me and the doc was quite optimistic in general. Now the question shifts to the timeline and the need for grafting. I'm really hoping to be out of here soon, maybe even by the end of the weekend! That's probably pushing it, but hey, I'm in a good mood today.

I also got in a bit more mileage with the walker today. I was still restricted to 5 minutes, but I made it two laps around the unit. It was pretty difficult and it definitely got me sweating and my heartrate elevated. I was still just on my left heel -- the right is awful sore still. With a clear path and both feet, I bet I can make 4 laps in five minutes using the walker. My arms are going to suffer though -- it's pretty tough on them. Oh well.

As Lori gave a great recap of the weekend, I won't bore you all with that. Everything is improving, clearly, and that's the real news here I guess. On Sunday evening, Andrew Cole and his fiancee, who is totally amazing, brought over a salad to complement dinner. Cole has been sooo great since I've been here -- I don't know what it would have been like without him. In addition, the salad was simply magnificent.

As we were eating one of the nurses on the floor who I hadn't met and my nurse came in to confess that they had found the blog and read it. The nurse I didn't know yet, Mary, seemed awful sheepish about it but I thought it was pretty funny. We traced the connection through a mutual friend of Jen Sparks. Anyway, it was a nice conversation to help cap off a great weekend. It's funny how easy it is to forget what you're going through when you've got great company.

Sunday Visit

When I was driving home last Tuesday from Salt Lake, I decided I would try to get back to see Chris the next weekend. It's hard to be away from Chris, especially now and I knew a visit would boast both of our spirits. I didn't tell him I was planning on coming because in case the weather turned or work kept me home, I didn't want to disappoint. So when I walked into the room after 9:00 Saturday night, he was expecting it to be Morgan, not me. It was a good surprise.

It was great to meet Morgan, who I now adore. I know how busy he is with saving the world with his great intelligence so it was touching that he came to see Chris. I know how much Chris loved seeing him and catching up on old times. We hung out that night until Morgan had to catch the train back to his hotel and the nursing staff was nice enough to let me crash with Chris. Nothing like sleeping in a twin bed again, makes you feel 7. They come in at all hours of the night to draw blood, get vitals and just poke him. The staff there has been just amazing.

I got kicked out of the room around 6:45 for staff change and I went and grabbed another hour of sleep in the back of my truck. I got back up there around 8:30 and was able to go in with Chris for his shower and change his bandages. I want to see this as much as possible so I will feel somewhat prepared when he comes home. They told me to eat something before going in because some people pass out when the bandages come off. This was not music to my ears as I get a little swimmy when it comes to blood and wounds but there was no needles so that was a positive. I got to glove up, then had to put on a mask, hair cover thing and plastic gown which doesn't help the swimmy effect to be in a plastic gown trapping all your body heat in your head.

I have seen Chris's feet from the beginning and I was prepared for the worst veiwing but really it wasn't that bad. Yes, they do look like the anatomy books pictures with the transparent pages where you turn back the skin, fascia, muscle, etc. But once you get over that, they look like feet, minus skin.

I was put in charge of washing his hair and beard, which I did and then I had to re-bandage his hands which look really good. You take strips of this nonstretch webbing and put this goup on it to keep the wound moist (hate that word) and then wrap it around his finger and then put this stretchy webbing over it. Then it all gets sewn together. Not hard at all. The feet look a little more involved but I can get that down too. The whole process using me and two other nurses took about 20 minutes. Chris had a rash on his torso that they think is from the laundered sheets so they will get him organic, touchy feely sheets from now on. Chris didn't need the narcotics this time when they changed the bandages which is great progress.

After the shower, Morgan came back by and we all participated in a lap around the nurses station for PT. Chris used a walker and could walk on the heel of his left foot only, but he got around the station, waved to his old room and made it back to his bed. I pushed the IV, Morgan made sure he didn't fall and there were two other nurses on each side. He did great but said the blood rushing to his feet is really painful and he had a little sweat on his brow when he finished. There were no aid stations on the route and he might have gotten a little dehydrated (kidding).

We had burritos for lunch and while we were waiting for the burritos to come, Chris had some other another random lunch. After we ate and watched a few Seinfeld episodes, we loaded Chris into the wheelchair and got outside. It wasn't sunny but it was warm, in the low 50s which felt great. We walked outside for about 20 minutes and the nurse had to come let us back in because with the hospital construction, it was hard to find a way back in.

I had to leave around 4 for the five hour drive home and said my goodbyes to Morgan and Chris. It's hard not being there all the time but he's at a good hospital and they are taking wonderful care of him. Now my focus is on when he gets to come home and told Chris to start asking. We are still not sure what he will get to keep but progress is made every day.

I think Chris will start trying to get some work done remotely this week. I brought him some cards that people sent (thank you!) and a care package from our good friends, Kris and Julie. We didn't get to do the coloring book that they put in there but I am pretty sure that Chris has already gotten into it today. Thanks again to all our family and friends who have been undying in their support and help. Chris and I will there for all of you anytime you need us.

So it's another week of work and twice daily calls to find out what's new with Chris. Hope everyone is doing well.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

A look back...

I know Chris is super sick of being stuck in bed most of the time (notice I didn't use the "t-word") although he is having the chance to visit the outdoors a little bit nowadays. Above is a picture of "young Chris" at our Grandparents' 50th wedding anniversary party on their farm in WI (thanks Camille). Notice how Chris just plops down where ever he feels like it to take a quick nap. He used to fall asleep on the gym floor at my basketball games so he can pretty much sleep through anything I guess...

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Inch by Inch

Sorry it's been a few days since I've posted. I've spent much of my time during the day napping, reading The Monkey Wrench Gang courtesy of Andrew Cole, and trying to stay on top of emails. The last few nights I've started cranking up a fever just when I was going to put up a post, so, I passed out instead. In any case, there has been some good progress I think. In addition to improving my skills with the bedpan, during my wound care yesterday all the toes on my left foot were looking pretty pink, which is excellent. I'm very curious to see my feet this afternoon at 2pm when I take my next "shower."

My mom had to head home this morning which is a big bummer and will be really hard on her. Yesterday she went out to the grocer store for me and came back with an enormous yummy salad, a bunch of fruit, some chips and guacamole. Between that and the Taft family gift basket I'm living large on the food front. The hospital food is pretty good, it just doesn't come across as all that healthy.

My friend Morgan Putnam is coming in this afternoon and will be here tomorrow as well, which is pretty cool. He's one of my best buds from high school and is doing a phd program out at Cal Tech these days. Kid's wicked smart. He's nicern'n hell to and a load of fun, so I'm really looking forward to that. I just wish we could sneak out and take a few runs at Alta as long as he made the trip.

Getting back to my feet, last night was an unusual but exciting experience. I was getting ready to hop back on the computer so naturally I got real warm, and then my feet started burning. You know that feeling during a hot summer run when your feet are prickly hot and ready to blister? And you can feel the blood throbbing in every vein? Well, for the first time I think I felt that hot, burning, throbbing sensation in all my toes, even the big ones. On the other hand, I know that the mind can play tricks with this stuff so I'm not letting myself get too optimistic. In addition, even if I am getting blood flow, if the tissue has been sitting without blood long enough it may not recover. In any case though, that was the first time that keeping all my toes went from an abstract goal to a concrete possibility in my mind. So, let's keep our fingers crossed eh?

Thanks again to everyone for the flood of support, it's pretty overwhelming. For those of you who have sent me emails, I sooo appreciate it and am slowly responding as I have the energy.
I also can't thank everyone enough for the postcards, notes, phone calls, blog comments, views, g-chats, and everything else. I feel so lucky to have such a great support crew scattered throughout the country and the world -- all of you just blow me away. Thanks.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Something to look forward too

So, one of our good friends Anderson thought this would be a good picture to post...something to look forward to Chris...hanging out in Richfield and eating enormous amounts of food...I think that was his second sandwich that day ;)

Some Pictures

The blog was looking too wordy. We need some pictures. These are the only ones I have on my work computer. If someone wants to post some, send them to me or Allen and we will get them up. Childhood photos would be nice, preferable something embarassing to Chris.

Grand Teton Races - 2006
This is the year that I met Chris. I had done the 50 miler the day before and he won the marathon that year.

This is a picture of Chris, me and our friend Cole after a great run up Static Peak and back through Grand Teton National Park. We started and ended at the new Rockfeller Intepretive Center in the park.

This picture was taken on top of Death Canyon Shelf in the park. We did this run with our friends, Kris and Julie and it was a spectacular day.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Clean and refreshed!

So today went pretty well so far. That was the first time I've ever needed heavy narcotics to take a shower, but it went pretty well. After I got washed down the nurses went on the attack, trimming away all of the dead skin from the blisters on my feet and left hand. It took a couple quick shots of iv painkillers to help me through the process, but it worked out okay. No real answers came out, other than that I will definitely require some skin grafting for my feet.

It's difficult to tell just how deep some of the dead tissue goes, but as we go along here there'll be more encounters with sharp objects to sort that out. I'm back on standard system-wide blood thinners again to try and persuade more blood towards my toes. Other than that, I've discarded a lot of tubes and wires. The catheter is now out so I get to practice my road trip peeing technique pretty frequently.

It's been so great to hear from so many people over the past few days. It's almost hard to remember what's going on when the phone is always ringing and the emails and comments are pouring in. I don't know how I'll ever be able to thank all of you for your incredible support through this but it all means just so much to me.

I feel so lucky to have such great family and friends. The efforts that have been made to clear schedules, make phone calls, travel down here, and take care of my business back home have been unbelievable. A very special thanks to Lori for being the best part of my life and for everything she's done for me. Without her I likely would not have gone to the hospital until it was far too late to save anything. She was also the voice of reason when I was unsure about coming to Salt Lake. I could never list all of the ways that she makes my life better, but those are certainly the most immediately relevant examples. I couldn't imagine a better friend and partner for all of the ups and downs of life.

Not sure what's on the schedule for tomorrow, other than some physical therapy. I'll get to stand up on my heels! Not exactly a thrill ride, but it'll be something.

Allen appears to have a misstatement of fact in the FAQs, I may have been a bit fatigued, but not tired. It's cool, just want to be sure that it's known that I don't endorse the use of the "t" word.

Mailing Address

University of Utah
University Hospital
c/o Christopher Lundberg
Burn Trauma 4th Floor Room 6
50 North Medical Drive
Salt Lake City, Utah 84132

Answers to a few frequently asked questions

Are there people in the Salt Lake City area that are able to hang around and support Chris? Yes!!! Lori drove home on Tuesday and I flew home on Tuesday, but my dad is still there through Wednesday and my mom flew in on Tuesday and will be there until Saturday. Chris also has some high school friends coming to visit this weekend and maybe early next week. The bonus however is Chris has a really good friend (Andrew Cole) that is finishing up his residency at the same hospital, so that is a huge help from a support stand point. Plus, now Chris will be able to sit-up and e-mail, etc. more so he will feel more in touch with everyone :)

Did Chris really think the trip would only take 3 hours? No!!! That was my mistake...when listening to the story over and over again, I so how got it in my head that it was supposed to be a short trip and at the time, that made sense. Obviously, the day trip took longer than expected, but they weren't off by 20 hour (although it was quite funny that those that know Chris pretty well were not surprised at the possibility of a 20 hour miscalculation). I promised Chris I would clear that bad ;)

How is the Lundberg family doing? Well, about as well as could be expected. It depends on the time of day I guess. It was nice to see my mom for a second and that she was able to make the trip. It is also nice that her and my can be there together before he heads of to Kansas for work. I am so/so...I mean I am happier than can be that nothing worse happened to Chris, but when someone as important as a younger brother gets hurt in anyway, it is tough to deal with and all I want to do is help him get better and wish I could have been their to protect him in the first place ;)

How is Chris' friend? Derek is ok...a little tired, but nothing major. There are so many factors that could cause one person to ok and another to not in a situation like this. All I know is that when I talked with Chris on his birthday a week ago, he was tremendously excited about the ski and thought that Derek was the best skier he had ever met, so he knew he was going to have to do his best to keep up ;) So, my guess is although Chris is very fit, that his body just got too tired and he couldn't produce enough heat anymore in addition to his choice of socks, etc. It is just one of those things...on a different day; there could have been a much more positive result for an excursion like this.

From Lori

When Liz (Derek’s girlfriend) and I were waiting to hear from the guys as they skied out Saturday night, I thought about how I was lucky enough to have Chris in my life, even as I worried about him. It made me remember what someone told me about how you have to embrace people in your life for who they are and not try to change them. That’s a difficult concept at 3:30am waiting for a loved one to return. It’s easy to think that someone will change for you because they do something that could be conceived as dangerous and harder yet to think that they can’t change. Because if they change, they die a little bit inside.

Anyone who knows Chris knows that he is exactly who he should be, his truest self. It’s not stupidity and far from a death wish, but the other side of it, living life fully. People like Chris and Derek smile all the time; they are the best company in the world, totally positive, giving and grateful. I think because they get out and do long trips in the mountains, it soothes everything in them. Running and skiing to them is like breathing to others.

I just think Chris going to be okay, not right away and not without great expense but he will be fine. And back to doing what he does. I can’t wait to get him home.

Because it’s a blog, I’ll end with a quote:

“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.”

Henry David Thoreau (who also has a sweet beard)

Just a note to those concerned with Chris’s beard, his beard was in not harmed in any way during his hospitalization. He did however get a little manscape-ing down there for the central lines. Pictures to follow.
Be well,

Cleaning Up...

It Sounds like Chris gets a shower today! a much needed thing. Then they will cut back the blisters to see what the tissue looks like underneath for the skin grafts, so this will be a big day for Chris. I am sure the shower will feel great and the progress towards "answers" will be good too :)

Typing With Fat Fingers . . .

First off, it's been pretty amazing to hear from so many folks over the last few days. Thanks to all of you, it really means a lot to me. As far as important progress updates, well, the big ones won't happen for a few weeks at the earliest. I might get pretty stoked about getting the tubes out of me femoral arteries so that I can sit up and bend my legs, but I realize that's a bit less exciting to most of you. So I'll try to post when something meaningful happens down here in Salt Lake, or when I head back up to Jackson or whatever.

The big question, I assume, is whether or not I get to go through an amputation as a result of the frostbite. Like Allen has noted, that's a difficult question to answer right now. I can say that my fingers are in pretty good shape, though swollen and blistered, so I ought to be keeping those I hope. On my left foot, the biggest question marks are my big and little toes, though all of the toes are somewhat vulnerable. The right foot is the bigges issue though -- at this point about half of my foot and all my toes are at risk. The extent of all of this depends on how I recover over the next couple weeks.

What I can say for sure at this point is that regardless of what does or does not get lopped off of my feet, I won't be slowed down. It's a setback for sure, but we've all had setbacks and dealt with them over time. This is just one more challenge. I had been hoping to race the Eugene Marathon in May this year, which probably won't be happening. It's probably a bit early to commit to a race right now, but I'll be aiming for something in the spring of 2010. I'll also try to put some updates about that up over the next few months.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The First Few Days

Over the last three days, all of the treatment that Chris has received has had a positive result. Unfortunately, that means very little in the long run. Although the discoloration in his feet has changed dramatically from black/gray to purple to patches of purple, and the feeling is returning to most of these areas, but that doesn’t mean that his feet, toes, and fingers are safe. We will know more after the next two weeks or so. Also, there will be issues of infection and blood clotting to worry about from here on out in addition to tissue damage. From an external perspective, the initial treatment has been very successful, but ultimately it will be the internal result that will matter the most. So, Chris is on the right track, but still needs things to continue this way.
Chris is currently struggling with caffeine withdrawal. He is unable to consume caffeine until the fate of his feet, toes, and fingers has been decided and any necessary surgical procedures have been completed. So, you could imagine what his head feels like right now. Therefore, it is difficult for him to make phone calls because of the pain in his head. Also, until this afternoon Chris has been limited to a laying-down only position, so e-mailing has been tough too. Hopefully over the next couple of days, his severe headache will improve and he will be able to sit-up and type and possibly talk on the phone.
If you would like to send Chris anything or visit him over the next week and a half, he will be at the University of Utah Medical Center: University Health Care 50 North Medical Drive Salt Lake City, Utah 84132. Over the next couple of days, we will let you know the address of where Chris will be staying in Jackson Hole, WY if everything goes as planned.
Thank you all again for all of your support during this difficult time and check back for updates.

Background Information

On Saturday Chris and a friend climbed into the Tetons for a back country cross-country ski that ended up taking 23 hours due to more difficult skiing than they imagined, a dramatic change in weather (the temp started at 40ish and dropped to -10ish by the end), and the navigation issues that go along with skiing in the back country. With the combination of the dramatic temperature change and the exhaustion of skiing for such a long period of time, Chris' feet and fingers went from sweaty to frozen and his body could not produce enough heat to unfreeze them. The doctors at the Jackson Hole, Wyoming hospital decided that the best chance of saving his right foot and toes, left toes and left finger tips was to fly him down to the University of Utah Medical Center in Salt Lake City.

Upon arriving in Salt Lake, Chris was admitted to the "burn unit" and started undergoing treatment for the severe frostbite. This process is expected to take up to three weeks, including out-patient therapy. The entire recovery process (regardless of the result of the treatment) will take at least six months, but after the first three weeks, he should be able to leave the hospital.

Chris is in as good of spirits as could be expected, but he is obviously very concerned about the future of his feet and hand. The doctors tell him that in the situation he was in, he made the right choice by continuing down the mountain rather than stopping to build a fire, etc. which makes him feel a little better. Plus, he had a blast skiing with the exception of the frostbite and thinks that it was the hardest workout he has ever completed.

We are all thankful that Chris is alive and hoping that he gets through this with the least amount of damage and without any complications in response to the treatment he is receiving and throughout the recovery process.