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Life Happens When You are Making Other Plans…

Sunday morning a week ago at 11am, I limped into the ER with a foot that looked more like a balloon artist creation at a birthday party than an actual foot. I figured I’d get a shot or two and a prescription for antibiotics and be home in time to watch the ball game later.

I came home Wednesday night.

Suffice it to say, that was not the plan. Everything I had scheduled, which were several live speaking events, zoom appointments, collaboration meetings, delivering my blog to my loyal subscribers, supporting my awesome team, and a host of personal things, was completely unimportant and off the table for 4 days….Just like that.

So, what happened? And why should you care?

It’s not my place to tell you what you should/shouldn’t care about, but I can tell you there are a lot of cool lessons that I am going to drop on you from the experience. If you read this whole thing, then you’ll know if you should care or not. Your choice and I respect that.

As to What Happened…

I had one of my closest friends (I call him Little Dog, and others know him as Captain Tim. We’ve been friends for 40 years) visiting for three days of fishing and crabbing. It was Saturday morning and we were on the river in kayaks with our fishing rods and crab nets at 6:30am.

At 7am we pull into a point that is a great place to crab because it has a lot of stumps and logs for crabs to hide in. I step out of my kayak and within a minute I step on top of a log in a foot of water, and then step down into the river on the other side. With the full force of my body weight coming down on one foot I land on a large nail attached to a plank from an old dock that was buried in the soft sand. The nail went all the way through my water shoe into my foot and literally poked the top of my foot. The pain was intense.

I yanked my foot off the nail and stood on one leg howling for a few minutes. After the pain subsided a bit, I tested my foot to see if I could put weight on it.

I could. In fact, I could sort of “walk it off.” I knew enough to know that I definitely needed a tetanus shot, but since I could put weight on it, and it was my buddy’s last day with me, I didn’t want to ruin the morning on the water by having to go to a clinic, so I figured I’d get the shot later when we came in for lunch.

THIS was the dumb decision that changed the course of what will be at least a week and a half of my life, but thankfully I actually got off easy in the big picture.

I stayed in the river for 4 hours, we came in, headed to a Harris Teeter for a tetanus shot (yes…I said Harris Teeter….“I’ll have a dozen apples and a tetanus shot please”), went and had some lunch, came back to the house went out and checked my crab traps and went about the day.

My foot hurt, but you would expect it to hurt, right?

Sunday morning, I woke up with a brick for a foot. I thought this was just the swelling from the soft tissue injury of a nail pushing a path through a foot. I could not have been more wrong.

I drop Little Dog off at the airport and go to an urgent care. The doctor, thank God, knew her stuff. She looked at my foot (by the way…it’s never a good sign when a nurse/doctor look at you in horror as if what you have has never been seen before😊), and learned that the injury had happened over 24 hours before, and that I had been in the brackish water for hours with this open puncture wound, and enlightened me to the fact that I was in a very dangerous situation and that I should go immediately to an emergency room.

Now I was a little concerned, but actually more irritated that I would have to go to an ER, because I know it will cost me several hours of my Sunday and I had plans to do lots of stuff, including bait my crab traps. (This is where it’s okay for you to say “What an idiot!”)

After a few hours at the ER, they draw some blood, and I figure they’ll give me some medicine and I’ll be on my way.

The nurse practitioner comes back a little later and says these simple words…”you’re going to be here a few days.”

What????

That’s When She Began Scaring the You Know What Out of Me.

I had a raging infection. My white blood cell count was through the roof. There are a zillion bacteria in brackish water, on rusty nails, on rusty nails in brackish water, and on rubber shoes. Many of which, if left unchecked, can kill you once they proliferate in your body, or at least cost you a limb.

They had no idea of what or how many of these bacteria had made a home in my foot, only that it was at least one and likely several, given that my foot stayed submerged in water and river bottom for several hours with an open door for the bacteria to come in and set up shop.

For the next 72 hours I had around the clock care, and an IV with a wide range of the strongest antibiotics there are to deal with all the various types of fungus and bacteria that could possibly be in my body.

But no guarantee that they could anticipate them all. The hospital (Carolina East in New Bern) was caring enough to consult with a regional University hospital (ECU) infectious disease department to create a treatment strategy, but they were still flying blind.

Through this 72 hours, I laid in the bed mulling the predicament I had put myself in. I knew I wouldn’t lose my life, but I wasn’t certain I would keep my foot.

Entertain that idea for a few minutes.

Wednesday afternoon, I got the news that it appeared that the strategy had worked, and while I needed to continue treatment for a while, I could go home. I was out of the woods.

If You are Still Reading, Here are Lots of Nuggets and Lessons and Shout Outs…

*If you ever step on a nail in the water, go immediately to the hospital. I don’t care what you are doing at the time. It’s not more important than your life. (DUH, this is the obvious one, but I can’t assume you didn’t get it😊

*Be grateful you live in this age of modern medicine. As you know, I am a holistic wellness advocate. If you take care of yourself right, you shouldn’t need pharmaceutical drugs generally. We are an over-medicated society. The system is a “sick care system.” It is very flawed on many levels. But when you have an acute situation, a diagnosis, a chronic issue that cannot be rectified through lifestyle change, you are beyond fortunate to have access to modern medicine itself. Without the antibiotics and the collaboration of caring people, I would be toast.

*You can dislike a system, but remember that there are still good people doing good things with a good heart, doing the work. The fourth floor Neurology staff at Carolina East Medical Center were simply awesome. I was attended to by no less than 15-20 nurses, techs, and other staff during this time. They were caring, diligent, responsive, and operated like clockwork. When I hit the call button they were there. When they came in every hour or two during the night to change my antibiotic, take my vitals, draw blood, they were gentle and considerate. They were engaging. If I had a question that went and found me an answer if possible. Some of them I will never forget. As crazy as this sounds, they actually made the experience somewhat pleasant. That’s a remarkable thing to be able to say.

*When bad things happen you find out who your friends are. And I just learned I have lots of friends. My neighbor Jack Wilson was a superstar. He took care of our dog Scout and our house and brought me items from home on two separate occasions. We live 20 minutes from the hospital (Mel was out of town when this happened). He has continued to help out even though Mel is home to care for me, by doing things that I can’t do. The number of people who offered sincerely to do anything, bring anything, serve in any way is mind-boggling. My friend Bethany Richards brought me a delicious protein shake one morning in addition to a book to read. She is crazy busy, but she did it anyway. In my lucid times after the first 12 hours, I was kept busy responding to all the messages from so many caring people. It brings tears to my eyes just writing this.

*Foundational health serves massively in times of severe injury. Had I not been in tremendous physical condition, this experience would have been much worse. Taking care of your self by doing all the things I teach in 3C and my MLT community doesn’t just show up in higher productivity and higher quality of life, it is an elevated platform of resources for adversity. My nurses were astonished at the speed in which my freakish inflammation began to subside. On Tuesday, which was my 63rd birthday, in between IV doses, I was able to get down on the hospital floor and do 10 push ups (on one foot) for every year I’ve been alive, plus one, because I’m funny that way, for a total of 631 pushups while my body was fighting a crazy infection. The pain meds (I was on mild ones) helped, but even so…

 

*Thankfulness and gratitude are not just a practice. In time, if you consistent evoke this in your spirit it truly becomes who you are, not just what you are trying to be. I felt grateful the entire time. I was grateful to be in a hospital, instead of pissed off that I had to be. I was grateful for my life, even though it was a tenuous time. I have been practicing gratitude for so long, that I got to experience the fact, that I now am truly grateful as a way of existence…because this kind of experience tests you. It shows you who you are, not who you are trying to be. I was so thankful for the nurses and the care. I believe it impacted the staff. I don’t imagine they are used to walking in a room and having the patient be happy despite the issue at hand, especially in the hardest part of the issue, or to thank them every time for everything. Maybe that reflected back in the care they gave me, but I think they care like this all the time…but I bet they don’t hear about it much.

*Peace and faith. Did the idea of losing my foot terrorize me? Of course. But I still had peace in that if this is what is in my future, then through faith, I know it will be meant to serve a higher purpose. And I truly believe this. I look back on my life, and know without question, that many of the hardest things I have gone through and there have been many, have made me a better version of myself, and more importantly, have taken me to a place of development where I can help and impact others at a unique level. All peace and faith.

*The Power of Prayer. I know that there were literally thousands of people praying for me. That’s humbling all by itself, but the real point is that you can’t have that much focused good juju coming at you without it making a difference. Prayer is God’s universal energy in motion. I prayed too of course, but I pray daily anyway, and I didn’t alter my prayers much. I still prayed mostly for others, and the world, and the normal things I pray for me, and just added the foot. The power is all the others who prayed for me. If that’s you. Thank you. I felt it.

I know I could go on here, but I think this gives you enough to chew on and at least one thing to reflect on in your own life. If you read all the way to here, you either care a lot about me, or an exceptional person, or both. Most people want their information and nuggets in quick bites.

Quick bites create zero learning.

I guess there was one more nugget after all.

Many Blessings, Todd

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P.S. When you feel better, you do better. If you want to take your physical and mental well-being to an entirely new level, check out my new Wellness page: Wellness – Todd Burrier

 

P.S.S. Would you like to join a community of people that are making life happen? Where you can flourish and grow and be supported? Where you are encouraged and helped to be better? The community I serve is chocked full of people that are excelling in life and moving towards their best life. If you took a handful of these people and put them in any organization, doing any kind of work, it would be a better place in a very short period of time. If that intrigues you at all, reach out to me directly and we can talk about it.

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