There and Back Again

I had to get up at 4 a.m. in order to get to the surgery center at 5:30 a.m.to check in, but that was because I was the first one on the surgery schedule, which was absolutely great.  No lying around on the gurney/bed for hour after tedious hour without being able to drink anything, waiting your turn.   I was in before 7:30.  The surgery went very well.  No complications. I was weight-bearing on the operated leg the next day (Saturday).  Ended up with surgical dressing and an Ace-wrapped leg from mid calf to foot. Of course, I had rock-hard postoperative swelling and did the Lasix thing — every hour on the hour all night long for two nights hand running.   Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy were working with me and I could do all the things I needed to be able to do to be at home.

They had given me a nerve block at the time of surgery so I had no immediate postop pain to speak of — I’m allergic to opiates, which means I can’t take any of the good stuff, like morphine, Demerol, Darvon, codeine, hydrocodone, Toradol, fentanyl, etc., unless I take a healthy dose of Benadryl with it, and then when I get lost in the ozone again, I scratch as I wander.   The Benadryl  knocks the itching back to a mild but annoying all over itch (a real buzzkill) for as long as the opiate is in my system . What it works out to is deciding which is more annoying, the pain or the itching?

They had me on scheduled IV Tylenol which kept the pain pretty much under control.  I have to say that so far,  my knee has not hurt any more after the surgery than it did before the surgery (less, in fact), but before the surgery, I only had pain when I was standing on it.  Now I’m having pain whether I’m standing on it or not.  But, once my body gets over having had my kneecap flipped off to the side out of the way, the ends of my leg bones sawn off and pieces of metal shoved up my leg bones, I’m pretty much home free.  Needless to say, my leg muscles have some rather salty things to say about the whole process, and I’m on the brink of having some pretty spectacular and Technicolor bruising, but the worst is over. It’s all downhill from here.

I may have mentioned a time or two that I’m on the spectrum and prone to sensory overload, which is made worse by sleep deprivation (which is endemic to hospitals anyway), having to deal with a chaotic environment and the inability to control access to my space.  Add to that there was a dementia patient up the hall who would literally scream repeatedly at the top of her little-girl voice, apparently with very little provocation or cause.

There were 15-20 cable channels on the TV with very little worth watching on any of them.  (I hate to say it, but I can only watch so many reruns of Family Feud before I want to start banging my head against the wall, and the Wal-Mart delivery commercial (and its variants) was clever and funny for about the first five times.)  The hospital does have the C.A.R.E. Channel.  The nature pictures are nice, but I can only take so much of that arpeggious new-age piano, guitar and bamboo flute music. . . .  (The clue word is “heartfelt” —  When you see that on a CD, it means whoever perpetrated the recording has little musical talent, is self taught, plays by ear, gets about half a bottle of wine on board,  and “improvises” on the piano at their friends wine parties, which friends encourage them to put out CDs.)  Why would I want to listen to somebody with little skill or talent “noodling” for an hour and a half when there is Manuel De Falla, Albenez, Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, John Williams,  and a gazillion other talented and skilled composers whose music has some meat on its bones?  OK.  Sorry.  Here endeth the rant.

Because it was a holiday weekend, nothing important happened until Tuesday, but all the PT and OT people I worked with felt I was safe to go home to be by myself (I broke that kneecap in 1990, so I’m familiar with using a walker, joint mechanics, etc., etc. It’s easier to prepare yourself when you know what you’re getting into.  I had my strategies all worked out.)

Still they sent me to a rehab facility approved by the VA.  I was already pretty stressed out by that point, and I really should have stuck to my guns and insisted on going home, but I let them take me over there.   Dementia patients walking their wheelchairs around the halls was the first red flag.  The second one was the director (with delusions of Jeff Foxworthy) who started talking 20 days in that place (I didn’t last the night!) and assured me I would be kept strictly separate from the dementia patients.  It kept getting iffier and iffier.  Supper was hominy, a puddle of canned sloppy joe mix, a white roll (without butter), unsweetened tea* and breaded, deep fried, dill pickle slices.  (Apparently, there are people in this country who will bread and deep fry anything.)  I had to turn on the light app on my phone to see to find the chains that turned on the bed light so I could see to get up to go to the bathroom (they did tape the relevant pull chain to the head of my bed after I pointed out the situation).  When I pulled the call button to tell them the toilet wouldn’t flush, it took them an hour and a half to answer it.  The window of my room was next to where things were rolled about in metal racks, thrown into a dumpster, and where people stepped outside to smoke, yak, and cough up the odd lung.  All.  Night. Long.  By 9 o’clock the next morning, I was calling my mom to come get me.  I signed out AMA and had her bring me home.  I’ve been soaking up the peace, quiet and solitude like the desert soaks up rain ever since.

I had already gotten a stool to sit on to prepare food — some broiler toast and some cottage cheese with mandarin orange slices.  I have a plentiful supply of plastic plates, bowls and eating utensils.  (It’s rather tricky to carry a plate and use a walker at the same time, BTW.  A tray on my walker would be handy.  Amazon has one  that clips onto a walker .  It should be here by Monday.)  So, been there, did that, now I’m on my way back.

*which in certain parts of the country is considered cruel and unusual punishment contravened by the Geneva Conventions.

Author: WOL

My burrow, "La Maison du Hibou Sous Terre" is located on the flatlands of West Texas where I live with my computer, my books, and a lot of yarn waiting to become something.

4 thoughts on “There and Back Again”

  1. I think there may be just a tiny bit ‘tmi’ in this post about your leg op… 😉 But I’m glad it went well. You have to take Lasix for the swelling, on top of everything else you’ve got to cope with? Yikes!

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  2. Glad the surgery went well and that you’re now at home. I think it’s the best place you can be when you are recuperating!

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  3. There’s no question you’re better off at home. One of my customers, who was in ICU for 17 days, got sent off to a rehab facility once he was sprung from the hospital, and it took him exactly one day to do the AMA deal and get himself home. I have some pretty strong opinions about those places — at least, some of them.

    I’m really glad things went so well. Here’s another thought — after Mom broke her ankle and was dealing with a walker, she got a basket to go on the front, too. She could throw her knitting, a closed tumbler of coffee, and whatever else she wanted in that thing and really make some tracks.

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  4. I can relate to wanting to be at home, I hate hospitals. The lack of control over anything is depressing, plus in my country (both the one I came from and the one where I live now) hospital rooms are shared, often by many people, so there is zero privacy and there’s just no way to sleep. A few years ago I went through a series of intestinal surgeries and every time I noticed my recovery sped up the moment I was back home and could shower in my own bathroom, decide what I eat and when, etc.
    I hope you continue to heal fast and that the surgery helps!

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