I. Journey to the Far Side of Tomorrow, Part OneTim Gilmer

I’ve been sentenced to a six-month journey with a stage IV ischial pressure sore, but I don’t want to do the time.

II. Hospital Production Line — On the Slab

My plastic surgeon, Dr. B, is the head honcho of the state’s plastic surgery association, respected, pleasant, but humorless. “I’ve read over all your information and chart notes twice. I know your situation and have a good idea what’s needed.” It seems he’d rather not hear my version of how my Stage I pressure sore suddenly exploded to a stage IV subdermal wound. He’s all business, and I’m OK with it.

III. The Cost of Profit-Driven Health Care

One week after coming home to bed confinement following my debridement/biopsy, Dr. B’s scheduler calls to tell me my flap operation will happen in nine weeks. “Nine weeks?!”

“It’s the first opening he has. He’s a busy man.”

IV. Working the Black Hole of Our Health Care System

“Working” any system implies the system can be understood and made to work for you, but our nation’s unfathomable health care complex resembles a swirling black hole rather than a logical system. We enter at our own risk.

V. Finding My Patient Advocate

Those of us who have spent too much time in hospitals tend to think of insurance companies as cold and heartless, but when I got a call last August from Carolyn M, a former nurse employed as a case manager for my Medicare Advantage plan, something clicked.

VI. Lessons Learned from My Flap Surgery Journey

Six months ago I began my journey with a stage IV pressure ulcer, facing down time, flap surgery and more down time. Today I still spend most of each day in bed, but my incision has healed. I’m up in my chair four hours a day and making slow progress at home, looking back and seeing with clarity what I did right and what I did wrong, both before and after the wound appeared.

VII. Complete Healing: Reclaiming Lost Ground

When is healing complete? Wounds close, bones mend, infection passes, but complete healing requires taking back lost ground and returning to a familiar life, which can take months or even years. Knowing this, while recuperating from flap surgery I set a future date as a challenge.