Tuesday, May 3, 2011

May 14, 2012

3:30 A.M. Josey's condition is deteriorating. She's been shivering hard, and mumbling incoherently. We can't get her to take any water. All color is gone from her face, even her lips are white. Occasionally her eyes flutter open, revealing only the whites because they're rolled up.

I uncovered the wound so I could clean it out with alcohol. It's starting to weep a foul smelling pus. Kevin had to step outside...

Cleaned it up the best I could, then wrapped it in clean bandages. Gave her another antibiotic shot, but I skipped the morphine because she's so far out of it. I'm afraid to give her too much, and as far as I can tell she's not feeling any pain. Please God, let her pull through...

6:30 A.M. Daylight is breaking and Josey is still with us, but barely. Her shivering has stopped for the moment, but she's impossibly hot to the touch. And to make matters worse, her foot has started to turn greenish-black. I'm afraid gangrene is setting in. I'm even more afraid of what might have to be done.

9:00 A.M. Her foot continues to worsen in color and the pus from the wound has increased. Kevin steeled himself to it, and took over monitoring his mother so I could dig into the medical books I brought back from the military clinic.

1:15 P.M. It's time. Her condition is degrading rapidly now from the injury and dehydration. I can't delay any longer. Kevin is begging me to do it. Oh God I can't even write it out, what I'm about to do...

11:00 P.M. At this time, I'm about half way through my second cup of vodka. My hands are still shaking... I have never held a life in my hands, and I never want to again.

Kevin started a fire outside and put the largest pot we had full of water on to boil. While he sterilized the freshly sharpened knives and the hack saw, I wiped down the 6x8 piece of poly tarp with alcohol. Then I gently worked it under Josey, and wiped it down again when I was done. Next I arranged what little medical supplies we had on the small counter top next to the bed.

Kevin brought in the sterilized tools on a tray covered with another piece of sanitized poly tarp, and looked at me with the most desperate look I've ever seen. I began to shake, so I took a shot of vodka to calm my nerves. Didn't help much. So I just clenched my teeth and went to it...

 I tied a tourniquet about five inches above her knee; then Kevin pulled a pair of nitrile gloves, previously washed in alcohol, on to my hands. Then I gave Josey a shot of morphine and waited several minutes, just staring at the knife while my insides curled up into a knot. Then I looked at her face, so pale and glistening with sweat. I looked at Kevin's face, twisted with fear. Almost unconsciously, I felt my hand reaching for the knife.

Two hours later, for better or for worse, the deed was done. Josey made not a sound during the whole gruesome thing, which was a great relief to me and to Kevin for sure. The procedure is detailed in one of the medical books I found, and I followed it the best I could, taking great care to be as clean and thorough as possible. When I'd finished bandaging her stump, I left Kevin with her while I disposed of her leg. I buried it, to keep the dogs or whatever from eating it. I don't know that they would, given the condition it was in, but I shuddered at the thought. And when I was finished, I vomited. If I ever have to do all that again in my life, it will be too soon.

She's still in bad shape. Her pulse is weak and her heart rate is slow, but at least she's still. Kevin even got her to take some water just a little while ago, which is encouraging. Now I'm going to finish my vodka and collapse...


  1. Ugh. But unfortunately a pretty realistic possibility when we get to this point in the collapse. Although gross, still great writing!

  2. good to stash the right instruments, painkillers, and antibiotics in your medical kit

    and for the one whom does the deed; we whom had to do it understand...