Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Diary of a Knee Replacement Part III

The Hospital Day Two
   The morning dawns bright and early. I am already on a first name basis with my night shift nurses. I should be. They were in my room and in my face every two hours during the night. And that is not counting the visit from the night vampire: the tech who draws the blood. I know that there is going to be a shift change at 7, and the new crew is going to stop by to make my acquaintance. I want to get on good terms with them because I need to get my catheter removed first thing. FIRST THING cause this darn thing is driving me crazy. I already feel better today after being fortified by my dinner last night of chicken broth and orange jello. I am ready to face the world. But I have to get this catheter OUT.
   I call ahead to the "Room Service" to order my customized breakfast: grits, bacon, coffee (yes!), and fresh fruit. I am not a big breakfast eater, but I know that I need to eat.
   It's not rocket science to know that I am having a terrible hair day and my mouth feels like it needs a good scrub. Every woman knows that the finer details of one's toilette must always be perfected in front of a mirror. A bed does not suffice. I also want to get out of my gown and into the lovely outfit that Southern Joint provides (not free of charge, I am certain) for you: a navy t-shirt with the Southern Joint logo and a pair of gray gym shorts. Yippee. I also know that I will have Physical Therapy not once, but twice today. I am so excited. Not.
   The young nurse assigned to me senses my desperation and tells me that I will get my catheter removed shortly. I hope her idea of shortly matches mine. She reminds me that I may NOT get up without assistance. I nod as if I comprehend.
    I try unlooping my catheter bag, but I am not having a lot of luck with it. And then there's the IV pump on the other side of the bed. I determine that I really am going to ask for help if I want to get up.
    She comes back. Yay! On her command I take a deep breath and whoopee, I am a free woman. I am no longer tethered to the catheter! I know I need to wait a bit to get up. I want to consolidate my bathroom trips to keep my time on my feet to the limits they have imposed. In the meantime, the tech helps me get dressed in my "uniform." I am already feeling a little more human and that's a good thing.
   PT comes in and this time, I try not to pass out (as if I tried before). We make it all the way down to the nurses station where I wave to everyone. I feel sorry for my therapists. I have still not brushed my hair or my teeth. They are courageous men and women in my book. We head back to my room and I ask them to drop me off at the bathroom. They comply and tell me that I must use the call button if I run into trouble. I find what I need in the bathroom and give myself a quick make-over. In the hospital a make-over is brushing your hair and scrubbing your face and teeth. I even slather some of their all purpose cream on my face because my good stuff is in the bag beside my bed. Oh well.
    The day passes quickly. I have a few visitors, lots of check-ins with the nursing staff and another round of PT. My extension and flexion amaze me. When Dr. Hodrick stops by I brag on myself. I know that he is thinking something that I can't quite grasp. Then I remember that the nerve block is still working. He reassures me that he was able to get great flexion and extension in the operating room so I should be in good shape as I move forward with my therapy. Yikes. My Hospitalist comes in later and spends some time talking with me about pain management because I am going home tomorrow. She goes over the meds that have been prescribed and what I can expect. I am still not hurting much, if any, at this point, so I am hoping her comments are superfluous.
    Sometime during the night my block starts to wear off, and I have this dull ache and slight burning pain thing going in my leg. It won't go away. I start to worry how I am going to manage without my lovely pain medication. I am now having to ask for the pain meds. A couple of times during the night I am actually counting down the minutes until I can have my meds again. I am thinking that this does not bode well for the future.

Day Three and Heading Home
   Even though I have brought my own pillow to the hospital, I am ready to sleep in my own bed. I know that I will be more comfortable. I am tired of making friends with the night shift. As a Southern woman raised right, I make it a point to be as nice as possible to everyone who enters my room, even if it's two a.m. in the morning. I know about everybody's children and grandchildren and why they wear each of the pins on their badges. It's a lot to keep in my fuzzy head. At this point all I want is sleep, uninterrupted sleep. And I know that even though I will have PT twice today before I go home, I will have a break on Sunday. I can't wait.
    My gourmet breakfast of oatmeal, fruit and two cups of coffee (ahhh) arrives at 7:30, and the day nurse gives me her low-down on the best items on the menu. On her recommendation, I am going to have the chicken quesadillas for lunch. I wonder where she was yesterday when I was playing Russian Roulette with the menu. I ask her if she will help me get up to take a SHOWER. I am going to be a real person again. I will be clean. No more hospital smell. I have even brought my own soap, my own shampoo, and my own lotion. I forgot to bring my own towel, but I get the tech to bring me four or five of the hand towels that are supposed to double as body towels. The nurse agrees that I am ambulatory and off I go.
   As soon as I got into the shower, I knew that I did not want to get out. The water pressure was great and the temperature was hot. If I closed my eyes, I could easily forget my surroundings and the fact that I was seated on a shower chair in a room with a drain in the floor and a two call buttons on the wall. I stayed in there until my hands were good and shriveled. It felt so good.
   I put my uniform back on and decided to take a good nap. My PT session in the afternoon included a training session on how to get in and out of the fake car that they have in the little gym. Of course I tried to get into the driver's seat, but they reminded me that I will be the passenger for six weeks. I don't know whether I will survive. We also practiced going up and down steps on their little staircase. I passed all of their tests and was deemed capable of being released from the hospital.
St Thomas Joint Replacement Center
See the stairs to the left and yes, that's the fake car
where we practice getting in and out of the passenger side.
     Now is where the itchy pants come in. I have cleaned up my room, gathered up all of my possessions and am roaring and ready to go. No husband in sight. As the last man standing in corporate America without a cell phone, there are times when I am ready to ring The Husband's neck. He is nowhere to be found. Just as usual, he is off the grid. I am fussing and fuming. I think about calling the grocery store and having him paged but I have been there and done that too many times already. I also discard the notion of calling our local Y to see if he could possibly be there. I go over my discharge papers with the nurses and think about hitching a ride down to the patient pick up area, but then I realize that he will not know to look for me there. I call my children to complain. This eats up 30 minutes. I have four children. Just about the time I am ready to pull out my hair, The Husband breezes into the room all happy and cheery. My chicken quesadillas look so good (my leftover lunch was still there) that he wants to finish them first. He is definitely not in a hurry. He does not understand that I am propelled by visions of the comfort of my own bed in my own house.
   We get moving. I have not seen the sun for three days. It feels wonderful. I make it up the steps to our house and down the hallway to our bed. I fall into its comfort. I am home. I have a new knee. I don't have PT again until Monday. God's in His heaven and all's right with the world.

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