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The following years - Part 3

It has been almost six months since the accident and I thought a follow up would be appreciated regarding Karen's condition.

Three months ago, though she was mobile, her movements were largely limited by the fact that she had to use a walker to get around. A rather severe infection had set into the left knee and there was fear that they would have to operate again on it to clean it out. Instead, the doctors put her on a huge dosage of medication that she has taken daily to this very day (5/3/96). The infection is gone! She is to finish her current supply of the pills and no more.

Two months ago the walker was ditched and a cane replaced it. Her left hand was almost fully functional again though she was unable to touch her little finger tip with her thumb - but there is strength again in the hand and she is starting to type with it.

Last month she essentially ditched the cane. She now walks without any assistance whatever, though she is still unable to straighten her left leg fully. Similarly, though she is walking without aid, she is only able to touch her left heel to the ground with effort. She walks on the balls of her left foot. For strength rebuilding, Karen has started her weight training again. She goes to the gym three days a week and her trainer has received special training himself on working with severely injured people. Karen is doing very well indeed with this activity. As to mobility, Karen now drives a car (just did a 200 mile trip to Dallas and returned a couple of days later by herself.)

Oh, and last month she mounted a GoldWing, as passenger, and was taken to lunch by the Lone Star Ladies of Houston.

Eighteenh months after the accident ...

Though I had thought this case study was over, it is not.

For the past three months Karen has been working in Alaska. Two weeks ago she returned to Houston - the condition of her leg having been the principal reason for her return.

It turns out that though her accident happened 1 1/2 years ago, the bone infection she developed at the time of the accident has never healed. Last weekend she underwent her sixth operation in an attempt to clean out that infection.

That operation did not go well. Apparently some of the infection managed to get into her blood stream. The hospital had to perform a complete transfusion to get rid of it. Her heart stopped during the procedure and they had to shock her back to life.

During the operation they also had to take another couple of inches of bone out of her leg.

After all this time and all these operations it now looks like Karen is going to lose her leg. It is still possible that this will not be required, but the doctors suggest that the odds are against her being able to keep it.

Once again Karen can use your prayers.

Two years after the accident ...
Date: November 17, 1997

Miracles happen.

The first one happened at the time of the accident. Though there was massive damage to her leg, the main arteries in Karen's leg were not severed.

The second was during her first stay at the hospital - she survived the trauma.

The third happened in Alaska. Karen's leg bones remained infected (osteomyalitis) for over a year and antibiotics simply were not up to the job of killing that infection. While in Alaska Karen underwent yet another operation because of that infection. Her doctor there happened to mention that a world famous persistent infection specialist was in Houston. He arranged for Karen to meet the man and Karen returned to Houston as a result. Several months of hyberbaric treatments in Galveston (70 miles south of Houston) resulted in conquering the infection.

The fourth was during an operation six months ago - Karen's heart stopped yet they managed to revive her.

The fifth is that as a result of care from the doctor team in Galveston, Karen's leg bone has grown about two inches! The thigh bone has grown that much, but not quite straight down. But that can be corrected and Karen is about to undergo her 19th operation this week to do just that. And, while in there, the doctors are going to do the last bone graft. The result should be that her leg will be once again, finally, the same length as her undamaged leg.

Yep, the leg has been saved!

Now for the sixth miracle - The enormity of scar tissue that she has had to deal with for the past two years has diminished until it is now only about ONE-THIRD the size it once was - and what scar tissue exists is both softer and smoother than it has ever been. While it will never be all gone, a little more plastic surgery and this gal will be able to look back at the ordeal as history rather than constantly with her.

Your prayers have helped. Thank you all.

[The 19th operation went without a hitch. Two more plugs were taken from her hip and used to lengthen the femur. The bones are pinned in place and though not quite straight, can be straightened over time. (There will be another operation - number 20 - to finish the job sometime near the end of February.) There was no evidence of bone infection. Karen is home and recuperating. She plans to spend this coming Christmas with family in Dallas. The worst, by far, is behind her now.]

Exactly four years after the accident ...
Date: November 12, 1999

Next year there are at least two more operations to have to undergo. This past year, which had started with great promise, resulted in exactly zero progress, though not from a lack of trying on the part of both Karen and her doctors.

As this is a motorcycle safety oriented website rather than a medical school, I will spare you the details. However, acknowledging that the accident happened exactly four years ago and that it is still far from being mere history, I thought you might wish to see a thought that Karen carved into the internet this morning - she told me I could share it with you all.

By Karen Miller

November 12
It's today's date, am I supposed to celebrate?
The answer's YES, though most ask why?
The story told, makes most folks cry.

I laugh, I love, I even walk....
and yet, reflect with deepest thought...
A Sunday ride....
a pickup truck....
to live, to love, it wasn't luck...

Family, friends, they've all been there, along with Ted, my teddy bear.
To hold my hand, wipe away my tears, share a smile, and calm my fears.

Four years today, a lifetime seems..
No runner now, I've different dreams..
Uncertain still, what lies ahead..
lonely nights and pain, are what I dread.

But once again, my faith takes hold, I'm loved, I know, and so am bold..
heart filled with joy, smile lights my face, with God's strength alone, I'll win this race...

Eight years after the accident ...
Date: September 23, 2003

It's been eight years. There have been 31 operations since this began and all is still not right. Nevertheless, Karen's courage and efforts are amply shown in the following - a note she sent to her friends today:

   Hi friends and family,

   This is to share the latest news with you about my progress in healing.

   On Sat, Sept 20, I did my first "Fun Run" 5k in over 8 years. Didn't set any land "speed" records
   but wasn't the last one through the gate either.

   Next challenge is the Susan B. Komen 5K on Oct 4.

   I thank ALL of you for your continued support and prayers these past 8 years.

   May God Bless you all.


   Karen J

Perhaps you'd like to send her a congratulatory message? Karen

A plea for your help