Saturday, August 8, 2009

Half of the surgeries in the bag

Last night Danny had the first of what we hope will only be two skin graft surgeries. The skin for the graft was harvested from the areas on his thighs that was not burned and from his stomach. They managed to finish his arms from his wrists up to about 6 inches past his elbows. The process involves harvesting the skin and running it through a machine that flattens it and cross-cuts a lot of little cuts in it. This process increases the surface area of the skin and it covers a lot more area than the area it was taken from. Skin grafts are extremely delicate. For the next three days he will be heavily sedated so that he will not move around and screw up the work that was done. It is so delicate that they will not even risk moving him enough to change his sheets or bandages for three days, even though they will be really bloody and gross. But all in all, the surgery was a big success and things are looking really good for Danny right now. It is expected that he can get that awful breathing tube out of his throat on Tuesday.

The remaining surgery will be to graft his the back of his legs from just above his knees up to part of his butt. Also his left hand was burnt a little worse that first thought and it will require some grafting. All of this should be completed in one more try and then it is recovery time. This is scheduled in 10 to 14 days from now.

A lot of really good news came out yesterday. Best news all day was about his eyes. In the hours before the surgery his sedation medication was lowered to the point that he was a little bit responsive. Several times I asked him to open his eyes and he did. They were not able to test his eyes when he first arrived at the hospital due to them being swollen tightly shut. During the surgery they did the tests to verify that there is nothing to worry about concerning his eyes and he should have no change to his vision.
Second good thing is his face. His face will probably heal on its own with no grafting and minimal scarring. Us freckle faces don't catch any breaks. After a lifetime of getting made fun of and beaten for being freckle faces, turns out that we scar worse due to those same freckles. It is hard to match the sleek leopard pattern of freckles that we develop over time. The main concern was how badly his nose was burned. It looked like one of the deepest burns on his body. However, earlier in the day a nurse was washing his face and blood was coming out of a few spots on the tip of his nose. This is a great thing. It means that there is living tissue in there that is getting circulation.
Another good piece of news is something that may not matter as much to us as it will matter to Danny. An investigation of what happened at the explosion is almost done. Initial findings show that a fuse tripped, sparking off the explosion. All of the news reports at the time of the accident said that it was a stupid painter that forgot to turn off a pilot light. Anyone that knows Danny knows that he takes pride in his work and is meticulous and exact at everything he does. That is why he is the best at everything he puts his mind to. I am sure that it will ease his mind to know that he didn't nearly kill himself with a mistake he made, but rather it was an accident he would not prevent by anything he could have done.

During his sedation vacation, the nurse was doing checks on him. She had him open his eyes. She asked him if he could hear her and blink if he could. He blinked. She asked him to move his feet. He moved them. She asked him to blink if he was in pain. He didn't blink. She asked him to blink if he was alright for now. He blinked. He is responsive and not in too much pain for now. I am sure that he has been able to hear a lot of the people that have come to visit him. As always, thanks to everyone that has come by to offer him and his family support.

I am sure that I am forgetting something. While it was a really good day for Danny, I was having a really bad day and hit a wall. If anyone has anything to add, please post it in the comments

Below is a burn diagram that the doctors refer to about his burns. The blue shaded areas are second degree and the red are third. Like we have said before some of the blue areas on his thighs are now believed to be third.


  1. Andy, your posted comments are excellent.

    I will add just one thing that we learned yesterday before you and Debbie were able to get there.

    When Judy and I arrived at 7:50 pm, Catherine and her daughter were already there waiting in the hallway. Dr. S. Morris, Danny's surgeon, came out and talked with us at 8:10. He was optomistic, but cautious about the outcome of the surgery. Most of what we heard has been covered by Andy, but I will write some additional information.

    When the dead skin was taken off of Danny's arms, it exposed the membrane that covers the muscle. When burns are that deep, the nerves are also destroyed. Skin grafting does not cure that problem and now Danny will not have the very sensitive sensation of feeling on his arms that he was born with. The Doctor told us that in those areas, he will need to be careful because he will not feel the heat or cold well enough to know when he is getting burned or frost bitten. Also things like mosquitos, biting bugs or small cuts on his arms will probably not be felt.

    A group of Danny and Andy's friends showed up while we were there. As they took turns going in to see Danny, we had a realtively enjoyable evening visiting and talking about Danny's condition following the surgery. Danny is a very lucky guy to have a group of friends that would take the time to be this concerned about him. We know that after he wakes up, he will need the diversion from hospital life that any welcomed visitor will provide.


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  3. One more thing for all that may be interested. Tomorrow, Sunday the 9th, we will be fasting and praying for Danny. Anyone else inclined to do so, please feel free to participate along with us.