Saturday, May 15, 2010

Somebody- Paint My Toenails!

My 12 year old daughter, Alexis, has been painting nails for a few years now. She has become extremely good at it. She can make watermelons out of her nails and paints fancy designs with the stroke of her brush. Over the past few years she has collected quite an array of colors in her nail drawer. She also has many gems and glittery pretty stickers to add to her collection. Her friends come over and they go into her room and within minutes I smell that familiar nail polish smell. She loves to share her collection and talent with her friends pretty much any chance she gets. So I didn't think asking her to paint my toenails would be out of the question. She has done it in the past for me AND I cannot reach my right foot since my right knee is broke and I can only bend it now still only 65 %. But this time her response was a flat out NO! She didn't even take time to think about what consequences there would be by saying no, she just refused to paint my toenails. I was taken aback by her hasty response. She immediately went to her room and shut the door not to emerge until hours later with pretty designs freshly painted on her fingernails. I then asked her again, explaining that I cannot reach my right foot and that I would appreciate the help. Again the response was NO but this time with an ewww after it.

I dropped the subject matter for the day and waited until the next day to discuss this with her when I wasn't so hurt by her response. The next day as she was due home from school I got the color I wanted my nails painted and asked her when she walked in the door if she would paint my toes for me before I went to physical therapy and had to take off my sock. My right toenail paint had mostly all chipped off and were looking quite ragged. Her response was, " Mom, I don't want to do that. Can't you do it?" I calmly told her I would do it if I could reach them but I couldn't and besides she always does everyone's nails all the time and I didn't see how this was any different. But still she refused. I was and still am so very hurt. There was a time in our lives when she would do anything I ask of her without question and she was glad to be helpful. We have reached quite a turning point where she became this person I didn't even know. She has become the pre teen who thinks her Mother is ewwwww. Needless to say my nail polish is still chipped on that foot and I refuse to ask her to help since she thinks its gross. But I can't help but feel bad inside. Mom, if you need your toenails painted just ask me and I will do it no questions asked.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

First Time In Three Months

May 1st was finally here.

The day I was going to put my foot on the floor. The day that my life was going to begin again. I could hardly sleep the night before thinking about how I waited for the last three months to start actually doing something to change my situation. An hour before physical therapy time I already had my tennis shoes on and I was counting down the minutes. Time crept slowly until it was time to go. I arrived 10 minutes early and hopped with the aide of my walker back to the therapy table. I jumped up on the table, took off my leg brace and prepared myself to do some healing. The assistant applied the moist heat and ultrasound to my knee. "Big day today, finally get to put some weight on your leg-40% right?" My heart leaped-I get to put weight on my foot. Even though its only less than half my weight its still going to be on the floor.

The therapist waved at me while he was working with another patient. I just kept thinking,
"hurry up hurry up"- I was dying to get moving. The heat machine was on a timer and I watched as it was counting down... 3 minutes to freedom, 2 minutes, 1 minute. The beeper went off and the therapist motioned for me to get off the table. "Grab your walker and come on over here." He met me half way across the room and showed me exactly how I was to put my surgical leg on the ground an walk through my steps. I stepped down on my foot and immediately noticed tingling and something else- Whoa - there was actual feeling there. The blood supply was getting down there. But what I didn't notice was pain. I didn't have any pain! I spent some time the night before anticipating the excruciating pain I would feel when my bones in my knee hit the plate and screws that were put in there during my surgery, but it never came. I walked with my foot on the ground across the room using my walker and following the directions exactly. There was a few times when I wanted to hop like I had been doing all this time but I reminded myself that I'm allowed now.
When I reached the other side of the room the therapist asked me if I wanted to try the treadmill since I was doing so well. Okay!So I got up on the treadmill. It was set for gimp mode which means really slow. He asked me to hold on to the bars and to treat them the same as my walker to see how I do. I did all of 30 seconds before pain shot through my kneecap like I never had before. He stopped the treadmill- "30 seconds is better than none" he said so matter of factly but with a smile. I felt a huge let down. I didn't let on to any of the staff there but I was so disappointed in myself. I tucked those feelings inside and continued the rest of the excercises. It wasn't until later at home when I finally let myself feel the let down. I wanted to walk so much, I wanted to toss aside the walker and put my foot on the ground and walk but it didn't happen that way. It was at that moment that I realized how long the road ahead of me is going to be.

That night as I put my leg brace on over my pajamas just like I have been doing every night for the last 3 months I noticed how swollen my knee and foot were. I worked so hard keeping my leg propped as much as I could and in one day all the swelling was back. And to top it all off my good leg and knee were starting to hurt. I'm guessing that favoring that leg is starting to take a toll on it. I took a pain pill and laid back in the bed. I looked up to the ceiling fan. I have been watching the ceiling fan go round and round for months and its still there, twirling and blowing cool air on my face. I looked to my left and my bedside stand is still there holding my books and alarm clock. To my right is my closet with all my clothes put away by Bob, nice and orderly just like always.

Nothing had changed.

Nothing had changed except that I put my foot on the floor today and walked first time in three months.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Get Off my Feet, Bella!

Let me introduce you to Bella. She is my 4 year old long haired domestic cat. She came to us when she was just over 5 weeks old. And she has been living in the house ever since. She's never been outside but she spends most of her days and occasional nights sitting in our big front window watching the birds. She is a lap cat and most of the time tries to solicit a pet or two from my two girls. They are almost always annoyed with her. I felt sorry for her early on because our male cat, Rigby, the jokester of the house is always galloping and chasing his tail or doing some funny or odd thing that warrants a photograph. The cats remind me of the Garfield and Oatie cartoons. Bella, playing the role of Garfield, the smart stuck up cat watching the silly jumping around dog, Oatie, who is played by Rigby. She will watch from a door of a room while Rigby runs at full speed down the hall once again for no reason whatsoever. Bella, forever donning a look of utter disgust at his incompetence.

The truly amazing thing about Bella is her keen sense of others discomforts. Alayna (my 5 year old) went through a period of night terrors when she was three and four years old and Bella would prop herself every night at the bottom of Alayna's bed . When Bella was sleeping with Alayna the night terrors ceased. I was amazed at the effect Bella had. From the first day I came home from the hospital Bella positioned herself at the bottom of my hospital bed. Any chance she got she would crawl up and put her front two paws on my bad leg. She never ever chose to lay on my good leg. I thought this was so odd. She knew which one hurt. It is now going on 6 weeks since my surgery and she follows me from room to room ever so careful not to get under my walker legs. When I finally get well and go back to work she is going to go through withdrawal from nurturing me back to health.

I have to say that without the constant companionship of my cat during this time Im not sure I could've done as well as I have. When no one is around I talk to her. I tell her all about the books I'm reading, the tv shows I'm watching, or just any old thing that comes across my mind. She has become my guardian angel in a black fuzzy costume. If you drive past my house be sure to look up in the window and wave to Bella. She is sure to be sitting there pretending to watch the birds but secretly she has her eyes and ears open in case I need her. And I am forever grateful.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Bob Drives Too Damn Fast!

We are headed down Interstate 79 to my first post operative doctors appointment. Up until this point I had been looking so forward to this appointment. I got to get out of my house and see the outside world after 13 days. I donned on my "doctors appointment outfit", curled my hair, put on make-up and made sure all my crevices were clean. After all you never know when the doctors wants to look at a crevice or two right? But now I regret the choice of driver taking me to this appointment. At this moment my stomach is doing flip flops and my body is jumping up and down in the front seat. We are in the farthest lane to the left on the interstate passing every person we possibly can because Bob thinks we aren't going to get there on time. All that I can do is hold on to the "oh Shit" bar on my side of the car and hold my breath. My leg is dangling and jerking with every movement of the steering wheel. Each mile closer I wonder if I'm going to make it there without wearing my breakfast. Bob is oblivious to the extent of my sick stomach. He tells me to "go to sleep" until we get there and stop thinking about it so much. I considered trying my luck at getting into the backseat so that I could put my broken leg up onto the seat to feel more like I was in control of my surroundings. I decide against this idea considering my bum would have to make it over the seat while cruising along at 70 MPH on the interstate. Even without a broken leg I don't think I could pull it off. Instead I do the only thing I could do in this situation and that was say prayer after prayer. What could possibly happen after all- I would vomit in the car and all over myself. But that could mean I would not end up at my destination and I wouldn't get my sutures out today. And I need those out. I definitely do not want to come back down here another day with the same circumstances. We pull up the ramp off interstate 279 to the North Side of Pittsburgh and I sigh with anticipation. Only 10 more minutes until I can visit the bathroom. The office building is in site-on Federal Street in Pittsburgh-only 2 more minutes. Bob pulls up to the door of the building and comes around to my side with a wheelchair and the look of sheer perseverance to wheel me into the building before he parks. The parking garage is across the street and looking very full in the mid morning hour and I was secretly glad I didn't have to see it from the inside. He parked me inside the door facing out. I do a 360 scan of the first floor laid out behind me-no restroom signs-no doors leading to a toilet in view. Sweat dripped off my brow and panic was starting to set in. I'm not sure how much longer I can wait to toss my cookies. I start to think crazy thoughts. My purse is really big but full of everything but my kitchen sink. I could remove whatever I don't want ruined and use my purse. This way I may get away with no one seeing me do it. I wheel myself over to the side of the window almost hidden from people leaving the building but still in site of the people coming in. I start to remove my wallet, a few pill bottles and keys and shove them down the side of the wheelchair on the seat next to me. The rest looks like it would survive an attack and I am just ready to turn my back to the lobby when Bob comes into view at the door. He doesn't notice the way I'm facing or my stuff out of my purse he just grabs the handles and heads for the elevator. I hurry and shove everything back into my purse. The door opens at the second floor-Orthopedics "Head for the Bathroom" I scream as the a lot of people in the waiting room turn to look at me. The bathroom says women on the door so Bob opens the door and gives me a big shove into the bathroom. I go flying across the room to the other side barely getting myself stopped before I run into the wall with my elevated broken leg. Now I have to get myself turned all around and maneuver into the handicapped stall which is the only one a wheelchair will fit in. Hurry Hurry Hurry- I get to the toilet and woooosh I make it just in time. Luckily no one else is in the bathroom to hear all of this going on which I said a silent thank you to Jesus for. I wheel myself to the door after about 10 minutes and Bob is on the other side shaking his head. "Don't talk to me" I spout as he grabs the wheelchair and put me in front of the doctors sign in sheet. The rest of the appointment went off without a hitch. I got my sutures taken out and they gave me the bad news that I cant bear weight at all until 5/1/10. Then only 40%. No full weight bearing until at least 6/15. Dang!!!
I wanted to be back to work by that time. Looks like Im out until at least mid summer in this leg brace and wheelchair bound. Lets see- it could be worse. I could've thrown up in my purse.

This isn't my xray but it looks pretty much exactly like the one they took. The only difference was the big screw on the top of the plate on this one is through my bone below the plate in my leg- otherwise itlooks the same. So I have have a plate and 3 screws!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Preventing Post Surgical Depression-A Guide

As a caregiver and as a patient there are some things that they don't tell you when preparing you to have any surgery so I am going to post some things that will aide in a more effective recovery period.

For the caregivers-

Post surgical Depression occurs in 32% of patients roughly. This is mostly related to lack of independence, body image, boredom and anxiety from their illness. Depression can cause a whole array of things but for the surgical patient it can impede their recovery causing many set backs. Studies have shown that depression related to surgery can inhibit bone growth, cause chest pain, pain in surgical areas, insomnia, nausea and vomiting, failure to get better, hair loss, lack of concentration and increased rate of infections.

Suggestions for the caregiver to prevent or flush out depression after surgery:

  • Promote independence by offering the patient things they can help with around the house or even with their own care such as folding small amounts of laundry, cleaning small items as they sit or lay down, opening mail, writing out bills, reading to the kids or even small things like folding blankets in the morning or rearranging the throw pillows.
  • As a caregiver do not complain about the extra amount of work you have because of the patients illness. The patient is aware their illness is causing problems in the household but reinforcing this issue over and over by complaining about things that have to be done or things the patient asks you to do causes a great depression in patients AND eventually they will refrain from basking for essential things that they need to prevent undue stress upon themselves and you. This will slow down the recovery process
  • Ask the patient questions about their illness or surgery. This will provide you with greater understanding of what is going on with their bodies and give the patient an opportunity to voice concerns to you. You may even find out there are things that they don't understand about their surgery that you can answer for them
  • Keep a list close by of things you come across and need to ask the doctor. Jot down things as they come up so as not to forgot when speaking with the doctor
  • Upon leaving the patients area make sure they have everything close by- telephone, pen and paper, a snack and drink, any remotes for the television and anything else the patient may need. Please ask them!
  • Provide the patient with as many encouraging words, hugs, kisses as you can. Touching can go along way in the patients recovery. If the patient goes days without any touching or encouragement from their caregiver or significant other they may experience a set back in their recovery.
  • Don't leave them alone for hours at a time. There may be something they need that they can't get and won't ask until you come back to the room. They may not want to "bother" you and try and get something themselves further hurting themselves and making their recovery longer which isn't good for anyone involved.
  • Ask if they want to get washed up every single day. If they go long periods of time without washing their bodies they will stink and they could get infections. Bring them water in a basin or even a bucket if you don't have a basin and encourage good hygiene. The patients appearance is a reflection on the caregiver. If they look dirty and disheveled you aren't doing your job. Which will be noticeable by others.
  • At the end of each day check in with the patient and have an impromptu meeting letting them voice their concerns from the day and help them to get a plan for the next day. Keeping them involved in every aspect of their care will help them to get better a lot faster and feel that they are important to you.
Suggestions for the patient to aide in quicker recovery time and prevent depression after surgery

  • Try and remain as independent as possible without hurting yourself-i.e. if you can change your own clothes do so, if you can make your own decision as to what you will wear,what you will eat and so on try and do that also
  • Ask for things that you need to aide in your recovery-despite the way that people react to your requests it doesn't change the fact that you need to eat, wash up, take your medicines, get to the bathroom, even change the channel on the television so ask for what you need.
  • Keep in touch with your caregivers as far as what they can do better to help and make things quicker and easier
  • Eat healthy and drink plenty of liquids to prevent dehydration and to help get stronger after surgery-very important. You have control of very little after surgery but what goes in your mouth is one of the things you do have control of
  • Keep your incision area clean and dry and watch it for redness & drainage. If you get a fever call your doctor
  • Most importantly keep your spirits up-surround yourself with things that make you happy try not to take anything out on the ones that are the closest to you and are helping you get well. Say plenty of thanks to those who get you what you need and if you feel yourself slipping into depression let someone know so that you can get the help you need.

The Millipede Made Me Do It!

Creeping along the window on the top side of it was a millipede. Not one of those baby ones that you scarcely could see it was a big one about 2 inches long with the long antennae on the front of its head and the legs after legs all around the body. It was 12 midnight and no one else was up in the house. I of course am laying on the couch watching this ugly degenerate mock me as it walks slowly down my wall. Visions of this sleep steeler crawling on me as I descend into my measly 2 hours of sleep that I manage to get and now no sleep in on my horizon with this insect looming. How dare this monster invade the sanctity of my living space tonight. This space is my only refuge from many cruel attacks I have been experiencing in the last 24 hours. All the culprits of which have gone to bed and left me to deal with another long night of fending for myself and no sleep. But this leaves me to wonder what joke nature has chosen to play . A millipede ridiculing me from afar as if to say, "you have no chance against a clever bug like me-you with the one leg. You will be left to roll the dice and see what will be."

I scan the room-nothing long enough to reach the ceiling and I know the brooms and mops are hung above the steps to the basement. The likes of which I am unable to access without both my legs. Not the mention the walker I have to use clomping on the kitchen floor aiding me in getting to the steps. None of these were an option. I scuttle slowly across the carpet using my walker and pick up a shoe near the door. The ugly bug now choosing to reside on the top of a photo frame near the front door and it is facing downward. It is seeing me coming. Then it stops in mid crawl as I get closer and closer. Midnight hour coming to an end I throw the shoe above the spot on the wall that the millipede is perching and he moves slightly to the left. The shoe landing with a loud thud on the floor in front of me. I hold my breath hoping none of the members of my assault team is awakened from their beauty rest and wants to have another round at me before I even had a chance to rest from the last 24 hours. No noises come from the princesses and kings rooms. I dodged the first bullet. I pick up the shoe and turn my attention back to my latest predator and with a swift hurl of the shoe I hit the millipede directly and it comes crashing down with the shoe. Of course I have no idea where it fell but in my past experiences with millipedes, it only takes a touch and they disintegrate back the earth from whence they came.

I move slowly back to the couch with only one small lamp as my guide and rest my legs up on the soft cushions. Looking around -no more bugs in site for now. I lay my head against the couch pillow and with one last glance I close my eyes only to descend and to get my regeneration for the next abuser that happens on my scene.