Senior Connections Senior Connections Dec. 2018 - Page 11

One step at a time: Lester Prairie woman doing well after foot amputation BY STARRLA CRAY Associate Editor Having one’s foot amputated doesn’t seem like a laughing matter, but Linda Rehmann has kept a sense of humor about the situation she’s found herself in. She had her right foot removed in May, and grins when she thinks of all the funny things that have happened since then. “It was hilarious, well, not really hilarious,” she laughed, telling the story of her second day home from the hospital. She had been instructed to wear her new pros- thetic leg a few hours a day, and gradually get used to wearing it longer and longer. But, when she at- tempted to take it off, it wouldn’t budge. Her husband, Gary, wasn’t able to free it, either. They ended up driving from their home in rural Lester Prairie to urgent care at Glencoe Regional Health Services. There, two nurses and a physical therapist gave their best attempts, but to no avail. “I thought, ‘Am I going to have this on for the rest of my life?’” Linda recalled. Finally, the physical therapist suggested that Linda elevate her leg for 15 minutes, in case the problem was swelling. Then, the leg came off al- most too quickly. “It went fl ying at Gary,” Linda laughed. “He al- most fell over.” The next day, a doctor who specializes in pros- thetics found that there was a small piece of fi ber caught where the leg connects. That, combined with swelling, was most likely the cause of the ex- citement. Fortunately, Linda hasn’t had a problem since, and she can quickly attach and detach the leg as needed. How it all started Five years ago, Linda never would have guessed she’d be dealing with a prosthetic lower leg. Her leg problems started in early 2013, with a broken tibia and fi bula. “I thought I had a sprained ankle, and I walked around for six weeks that way,” Linda said. Since she felt pain in her ankle, only that area had been x-rayed. Eventually, an orthopedic sur- geon x-rayed a larger area, and found the fracture. By then, Linda’s leg had become infected. The day after her surgery, she was told her mother had passed away due to a stroke. Linda was able to at- tend her mother’s funeral, but doesn’t remember the details because of the pain medication she was taking. Linda thought this would be the worst of it, but over the next few years, more of her bones began breaking. She had surgery on both hips, and also on her right elbow. “I counted this up – I actually had 13 surgeries,” Linda said. Linda was told that the medica- tion she had been taking for rheu- matoid arthritis since 1989 (metho- trexate) may have contributed to her brittle bones. Meanwhile, the infection on her right foot wasn’t going away. Trying to heal In January of this year, doctors made another attempt to clear the infection, but when they later tried to remove the stitches, a tendon came up with it. At that point, doctors decided to remove the metal plates that had been inserted, in case there was something else going on. When they did, they discovered that the plates were “coated” with bacteria. Linda was given medication to help get ride of the bacteria, but more bacteria kept forming. Linda stayed at the Glencoe hospital for seven weeks, where a nurse changed the bandage on her foot daily. Doctors tried surgery to get the tendon to go back in place, but ended up having to cut the ten- don off. Unfortunately, the incision from the surgery wasn’t healing properly, either. In April, a plastic surgeon from Fairview Health Services had an idea to bury the leftover tendon by putting a fl ap over it. The procedure sounded encouraging, but when it was done, the surgeon told Linda, “I’m sorry, but it didn’t work.” The next step was the Wound & Hyperbaric Healing Center, locat- ed on the lower level of Ridgeview Medical Center in Waconia. There, Linda tried vaccuum-assisted clo- sure of a wound, also known as wound VAC. After a few weeks, doctors told Linda, “This isn’t helping.” They suggested trying hyperbaric oxy- gen therapy an hour a day for six Linda Rehmann of rural Lester Prairie has a realistic looking prosthetic More REHMANN on Pg 24 Senior Connections HJ.COM lower leg. It snaps in place with the click of a button. Senior PHOTO BY STARRLA CRAY Connections December 2018 11