The Farmer is Out of Commission
You guys, it has been quite the week and a half.
If you follow me on Instagram then this will be old news, but basically Jasper ended up being unexpectedly admitted to the hospital last Thursday, and didn’t get back out for six days.
His knee went septic.
Septic! As in, he had (still has, maybe) a staph infection in his knee that could kill him.
I know I don’t need to even say it, but I don’t know what I would do without Jasper. Besides all the reasons that have to do with how much I love him, yada yada, this farmstead pretty much only works because of him.
He does the mowing.
He builds the pens and the sheds and the fences.
He chops the woods.
He wanders around with a machete whacking things.
He goes up to check the water (and knows what he’s looking for).
He scares the scary things away.
Also, he’s the one who goes to work and makes the money. Really, do I do anything at all around here?! It sure doesn’t seem like it. I ought to get my butt in gear and contribute in some meaningful way.
I guess it all started with that knee surgery he had at the end of August.
It was supposedly an easy surgery, an outpatient day surgery, and he went home with some extra-strength Tylenol and a tablet of oral all-purpose antibiotic. He kept his surgery site clean, he didn’t work too hard (well, for a week anyway, and then he split and stacked almost a cord of 100-year-old laurel wood, but that’s life out here on the farmstead and, more importantly, that’s Jasper for you). For two weeks his knee didn’t bother him and he felt great.
You might want to read: A New Woodshed and a New Knee
And then, bam.
Exactly two weeks after the surgery, his knee pain came back with a vengeance. He could barely limp around. His knee was angry and red and swollen. In the middle of the night he started shaking uncontrollably and we both knew it was probably infected. I expected a trip to urgent care and a prescription for some more oral antibiotics. That’s what happened when a deep cut I had got infected. I believed that to be standard operating procedure.
It turns out he had one of the most serious types of infection there is, which requires very aggressive treatment.
Because it was inside his knee joint, it would be almost impossible for his body’s immune system to fight it. And so, within an hour of walking into the urgent care, he was being checked into the hospital and then getting emergency surgery to debride and flush the knee with a gallon of heavy-duty antibiotics.
They put in a bulb drain to get rid of any excess nastiness. They started giving him some of the most potent antibiotics available (which burned through his veins and dropped his blood pressure so low he felt like he couldn’t breathe).
It was a really scary time.
After a couple of days they finally identified the bacteria as a Staphylococcus bacteria. Thankfully not MRSA, but an intermediate strain, which is resistant to some of the more common antibiotics available (like penicillin) but susceptible to others.
The doctors took him off the vein-burning medicine, started him on something a little lighter, put in a PICC line to his heart, and finally let me take him home.
I’m operating under the assumption that Jasper will be OK now.
He has to have intravenous infusions of antibiotics three times a day for three weeks (which we are doing ourselves) and a home health nurse will come by weekly to change the dressing on his PICC line and check his incision sites. After these three weeks are up he’ll switch to oral antibiotics, which he’ll take for three more weeks. In the meantime Jasper has strict orders from the doctor not to put weight on his knee so that it will heal completely, and so he is cooped up and couch-bound. He can’t go to work. He can’t drive. He really can’t do much of anything.
If you know Jasper at all, you will know that this is driving him batty. Me too, but in a different way.
Jasper is my strong, wiry guy. I have loved him since he was 17 years old and somehow, in my heart, we are both of us forever those young, indestructible teenagers.
To see him in this situation — in the hospital, sick and utterly mortal — it’s hard and heartbreaking. I know we’re getting older. I know our time together and on this earth is limited. But knowing it in the abstract and having it thrust in your face are two different things.
Well, we carry on.
Thankfully, the wood has already been chopped. The garden has been harvested. The animal pens are good enough for now. I might do a little mowing, or not. I guess it doesn’t really matter.
The farmer may be out of commission for awhile, but he’s here, we’re together and we’re alive.
And I can’t ask for more.