Thursday, December 10, 2009

Seton Hospital's Healing Garden

Copyright © 2007-2009. Suburban Wildlife Garden. All Rights Reserved.

Hello Garden Bloggers,

I hope you’re enjoying the holidays. It’s getting quite chilly here in Austin, Texas. I’ve had to break out my winter coat. My goldfish appreciate the heater that keeps their water from freezing at night. I've included some photos of Seton NorthWest Hospital's Healing Garden throughout this entry as I explain what I've been up to these past two months.

[BTW: I will share some personal medical info below. If you'd prefer not to read such things you may want to move on to an alternative entry at this point. ~D]

As some of you may know I had a biopsy to rule out Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC) on October 14th. Happily the lab results were fine and apparently I am cancer-free, for which I am very thankful.

That should have been the end of the story. Unfortunately, I had an allergic reaction to the adhesive in the biospy dressing and lost all of my skin surrounding the biopsy (rather like a third-degree burn). Since she was a dermatologist & an MD, I trusted the doctor who did the biopsy to treat me. I knew on the 10th day post-op when she said, “Your wound looks no better. I’ll see you in 2 weeks,” that I needed a second opinion.

Thankfully, my wonderful internist, Dr. Debra Dollar, took one look at my wound, saw it was necrotic and knew what to do: She sent me directly to the NW Seton Hospital’s Wound Clinic. I've been going there 3x's per week for wound therapy since 10/29/09 and will continue to do so until I’m completely healed.

As you might imagine, I’ve learned more about wounds than I ever desired. Oddly enough, a flower-bed metaphor works well in comparison. In gardening you must first remove any dead plants (necrotic tissue), before you can build good soil (granulation tissue). Gardeners use fertilizers and soil supplements; while wound therapists use calcium alginate (made from algae) on the wounds to help stimulate healing and silver to keep out harmful bacteria. And, like a good gardener prepares a bed before planting flowers, the same goes for growing the epidermis. A wound patient must go through all the proper, sometimes painful, therapy phases before total healing is realized. Right now I’m happy to be in the collagen phase of healing. Hopefully I’ll be completely healed by Christmas.

Sorry if this is all TMI. I've hesitated to share this story on my blog. Yet I do hope someone might learn from my experience. I wish I'd known two months ago what I do now: Not all doctors can treat certain kinds of wounds or even identify necrotic tissue. If I’d been sent to the Wound Clinic as soon as my wound had developed I would have healed in a fraction of the time and avoided all sorts of pain & unpleasantness. The moral is: if you're feeling uncomfortable definitely get a second opinion; it might save your life.

That said, I’d like to thank Dr. Debra Dollar and the wound therapists at NW Seton Hospital’s Wound Clinic. I’m very grateful for your help.

"Sometimes our light goes out but is blown into flame by another human being. Each of us owes deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this light." Albert Schweitzer

Copyright © 2007-2009. Suburban Wildlife Garden. All Rights Reserved.


Caroline said...

I'm sorry to hear you've had to endure so much, but I'm glad things are on the right track now!

Pam/Digging said...

Good heavens, Dawn. I am so sorry about all the worry and pain you've gone through recently. Thank goodness you knew to seek that second opinion when you did, and I hope you are completely healed in time for Christmas.

I enjoyed the pics of the healing garden at Seton. It looks like a peaceful place.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

OMG, I hate to hear that you have had to go through this Dawn. I hope you heal faster than a speeding bullit so you can enjoy the rest of the holiday season.

The Lone Star Queen said...

So glad you are on the path to healing and I'm glad you got a second opinion. Hope all is well by Christmas.

SomeLikeItHot said...


So sorry to hear about your ordeal. It sounds just awful. I'm so glad you're doing much better now and that you were able to find a great doctor. I hope you're completely healed and back to the garden very soon.


mss @ Zanthan Gardens said...

What a terrible experience! I'm so relieved that you don't have cancer but very unhappy that you had to suffer so much anyway.

I think it's important that you shared your story. People need to know that it's okay to take charge of their own health, especially if they feel uncomfortable with the treatment they are receiving.

Rachel @ in bloom said...

Oh my goodness, Dawn, I'm so sorry to hear you've been through this. As the others have said, thank you for sharing your story with us. It's horrible that you've had to suffer like this, but maybe your experience can help someone who might face a similar situation.

Leigh said...

What a terrible thing to go through! I think I better understand what the news was referring to as the 'risks of false positives and biopsies!'So glad you are on the mend and thank you for the lovely pics from the healing garden.

from A Larrapin Garden (Ozarks, US)

Cheryl said...

Well, it was not TMI...I'm going in for a biopsy Friday and I feel better informed. Thank you for sharing. I'm going to keep your doctor in mind...

Jeannette said...

I thought you shared your story with great delicacy. I hope the first doctor is fully apprised of what they should have done for you...that it will not happen to anyone else.
Did anyone suggest a hyperbaric oxygen chamber treatments? ( the real deal not little home style) It can facilitate wound healing greatly. If your healing doesn't go forward sure and ask about it. Having just discovered your blog I am off to look at your garden pics. Merry Christmas to you.

Chriss Blagrave said...

Hi Dawn,
Thank goodness that you are on the mend. I have been checking the blog occasionally and wondered if things were ok with you. This was definitely not TMI, as I have never heard of such. You are kind to share. Knowledge is powerful. Hope you have a wonderful Christmas with your family,
Chriss (from S & H)

Anonymous said...

Dawn, I'm so sorry you've had to endure this painful experience. I think you should mention this blogpost to the original treating dermatologist - she needs to know what happened to you in order to learn.

Annie in Austin said...

I'd noticed you weren't posting lately Dawn, but had no idea what was going on. How dreadful that you had to go through this, but how admirable that you have shared your story and taught us something.

Sure hope you're healed and better soon!


Dawn said...

Thank You So Much Everyone,

I continue to be amazed by the capacity for kindness on the blogosphere. You are all so very thoughtful. I appreciate your comments, e-mails, e-cards, etc.
Many thanks!

I am still in the healing process and am going to NW Seton Wound Clinic regularly. Though I'm looking forward to the day when I can drive by Seton and wave without stopping, I am certainly thankful for their help.

BTW, I sincerely hope no one will ever hesitate to have any necessary biopsies because of what I have experienced. Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC) is extremely dangerous and I am still glad I ruled it out despite the rather grave post-op mistakes of my biopsy doctor.

Be well and have a Very Happy 2010!


Jayne Wilson said...

I'm so sorry to hear about this very painful experience Dawn. I wish you the very best of health for 2010.

Anonymous said...

I like your blog a lot. I'm going to follow.