Madison requires immediate surgery

courtesy photoDoctors in Oklahoma had said Madison Birdwell was going to lose her leg.

Enter Dr. Andrew Trussler, a plastic surgeon on the medical staff at Children’s Medical Center. He succeeded in taking a muscle flap called the soleus from the calf, rotating it upward and wrapping it around Madison’s damaged leg. When he visited Madison’s parents, Susan and Glendon Birdwell, after the surgery, Madison says he told them: “’That was easy.’” She adds: “My parents were looking at him in awe.”

Four days later, Dr. Trussler performed a second surgery to put skin grafts on Madison’s leg. The grafts were taken from the tops of her thighs. A third surgery required the removal of a Wound Vac device that had applied negative pressure to Madison’s injuries, thus continuing her healing process.

Psychological help for Madison
All along the arduous and painful way, Madison was helped by Gretchen Noble, Ph.D., a psychology post-doctoral fellow at Children’s, who used a variety of mental techniques, including deep breathing and guided imagery, to help Madison control her pain and adjust to the fact that her leg would never look the same as before the accident. This fall, Noble will become a full-time pain management psychologist providing inpatient consultations and outpatient evaluation and follow-up.

Madison’s experience with Shaolin Kung Fu training helped her to focus mentally on Dr. Noble’s guided imagery, especially during her wound dressing changes and the first time she saw her leg exposed. “She helped me prepare for that. She helped me with my psychological reasoning,” says Madison. “My leg is attached to me. It’s my leg and I’m going to have to get used to it.”

Read more about Madison Friday.

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