Sunday, August 04, 2013

Aftermath

I had the surgery on Wednesday. I got through the process pretty well. I was mostly calm though I did get upset about a really minor thing--but I managed to let it go quickly and everyone was still really nice and pleasant. It was quite the team of nurses and doctors attending to me! Two nurses settled me in the pre-op area, going over my medical history and taking my vitals. The operating room nurse came by to introduce herself and check on me. Then two doctors came by to perform a "nerve block," a type of local anesthesia that left my entire right leg numb. The main surgeon came by to say hello and put his initials on the knee that was getting cut. The main anesthetist came by to introduce himself, at which point I said, "I don't think I'm going to remember all your names!" He said, "I know, but we try."

I remember being wheeled into the OR, meeting another new person, and the nurse who'd been by earlier, having the oxygen mask put in place...and then waking up in a different room. I don't know how long the actual surgery took, but I was out for less than two hours.

I woke up around 1:30pm, and soon after, I was put into a huge rolling chair and wheeled to a different area. I got some ginger ale and saltines. Soon after that, Pele showed up. She was taking me home and helped with the discharge process. What a process it was! It took four more hours--until 6pm!--to get out of that place. The staff was really friendly and they were trying, but they had a brand new computer system and it made the whole thing slow like molasses.

One thing that I hadn't anticipated was that my right foot was totally useless, due to the nerve block. The foot had no feeling and I couldn't move it. Even though I could move on crutches, I was terrified of banging that right foot and hurting it unintentionally. We had quite the adventure navigating the four steps that led into my house. I had to sit down and scoot up the steps, and Pele had to help lift me up from behind. Pele had to stick around for a couple more hours to make sure I was settled. She heated up some soup for me and ran to the store to get more saltines. I was exhausted and fell asleep around 10pm.

Since then, I've been doing ok. Feeling came back to my foot by the next day, which was a relief. The main effects of the other anesthesia have mostly worn off. It's hard to move but not impossible. The second night, I barely slept because I couldn't get comfortable, but last night was much more restful.

Things are going ok and I am making some progress. I have been stepping down the pain meds, but I needed almost the maximum dose the first day. Yikes. Yesterday was better and today will be even better.

I had things worked out so that one friend would visit me each day, but after that first day, Pele and I knew that I would need more help. I called in some reserves and Danielle made a morning visit on Thursday and Pele on Friday. Along with the already planned evening visits by Susan and Alicia on those days, I was all set. Pele is coming around Saturday morning and we're going to try and leave the house. What a good idea! I like being here, but leaving is sort of exciting. I already need less help, though, and will be fine with one visit a day going forward. Also, without being asked, my dad decided to come and stay for almost a week starting next Tuesday. This is when the planned visits ended, so the timing is perfect. I will still have the brace on when he goes home, but if my pain levels are down, it will be much easier to get around. The only dilemma about my father's visit is how to tell my mother, who I fear will not react well.

At this point, there are two issues--the pain and the crutches. In fact, I was able to take one non-crutch assisted step yesterday. I shouldn't do that because I don't want to stress the joint. Then there's the pain. It's mostly an extreme discomfort, but that's enough. If the pain were lower--when the pain is lower--I'll be able to move more and leaving the house on my own becomes possible. I wonder if I can go down to one crutch with the brace--probably not. Two crutches is the worst. Not because of the discomfort of using them, which I don't mind too much (though my hands ache), but because you can't carry anything or easily do basic tasks. My kitchen is laid out in one long line. In order to even heat things up, I have to move to the fridge, take something out, put it on the counter behind me. Move to the object, pick it up and place it an arm's length further along the counter. Move to it. Repeat. Doing anything slows to a crawl. So, in a few days, it won't be that I need help because it hurts to stand very long. No. Rather, because it tries one's patience to do things at a "crutch-pace." It's time to start carrying some kind of bag, isn't it?

And last, there is one boy on the horizon. He's someone who I met a month or so ago--maybe I mentioned him? The end was a huge disappointment, but we're texting again and, while I don't think things will end well this time either (fool me once), it's at least fun to consider. Distraction, my friends, that's the name of the game.

Grateful for: the best friends in the world.

2 comments:

  1. Glad you're back "almost on your feet". Take it easy! Pain is your body's way of telling you to back off, so respect it, as much as you want to get back to being self-sufficient.
    Anon11

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  2. Use a backpack around your house to carry stuff around. Sounds silly as one veteran knee surgery person, its the easiest thing I've found.

    Did your doc or pt give suggestions on when you can/should start walking without crutches?

    The intense pain will diminish, the minor aches will be around a while. Not to be all gloom and doom, but don't underestimate the time it takes to feel normal again. It's a long road, dig in.

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