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.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

More funny and sad broken leg pics!

My Favorite Funny and Sad Broken Leg Pictures!

Ive collected these. No one I know-no pet of mine..just some pics I saved from all over the web! Thought Id share!

One is a Very Loney Number

Today has been one of the rougher days yet for me since the accident. I didn't sleep very much last night because the hospital bed is extremely uncomfortable for me. And I woke up early because Bob was leaving early helping his brother move into their new house today. I knew I was going to have to be alert today because it is the first day I was home with my girls for most of the day without anyone else here to help us. I talked to Alexis my 12 year old last night and told her she would have to stick around me or at least check in with me to make sure I had everything I needed and I also explained that her sister was most likely going to need help. Alexis is old enough to help out with little things. I wasn't asking her to do heavy housework, just heating up a waffle or getting a drink for us here and there.Nothing too horrendous.

The fact that I was still living in the basement was weighing heavily on my mind. How I was going to keep up with what was going on with them if I couldn't get up the stairs to the main living area? When I woke up I felt like the right thing to do was get up the stairs today. I haven't really seen much in the way of the outside for 11 days since the only basement window is up high and I cant see out of it. And my leg had been hurting every time it became cold which in the basement it was cold a lot. I was determined to get up there. Alexis had a girlfriend stay over and she and my two girls sat with me on the steps and helped me every step of the way. They were great with giving encouragement and lifting my leg when it needed. I went up backwards on my bum. And believe me I felt every muscle in my arms but come hell or high water I was getting up there. All in all it took me less than 15 minutes. I was elated once I got to the couch. I did it. 11 days post surgical and I got there. We cheered loudly and I hugged them and thanked them for all the help they gave me. Those girls really did a lot for me. The absolute best thing was the way my 5 year old looked at me when I was finally upstairs again. She had been very wary of me since the surgery; not coming close and not asking me to help her with anything, which really hurt me. But today she was beaming with pride as we cheered that I was finally upstairs with her again. That made it all worthwhile for me. She is my baby girl that I love very much and I never want to see that sad look on her face ever again like it was the day I fell.

The first thing I saw when I looked out the front window was a robin and two finches on our bird feeder in the front yard. They were feeding and chirping so sweetly. Spring has sprung! When I entered the house 11 days ago there was still snow on the ground. No snow left-what a relief! All the light in the living room surrounded me and I closed my eyes at the brightness, but let it envelope me. I could feel it going straight through my body. Just what the doctor ordered.

What I didn't expect was the girls stayed in the living room with me all day long. Neither of them leaving my side. I think my 12 year old missed me as much as the 5 year old but she is too cool to admit it. We watched a movie and they played Wii. Alayna and I sang some Beatles songs on Rock Band. She also brought me books to read to her which she hadn't done since my accident- It was good. But I became very tired out. Surgery has taken a lot out of me. In the basement they all seemed to leave me alone a lot of the time treating me like a piece of the furniture and venturing through the room every once in awhile to say hi. I was extremely lonely but I did rest quite a lot. Today there wasn't much rest. Bob came home earlier than I thought because he felt guilty for leaving me with the kids for the morning. But he spent the rest of the day unhappy because he got a taste of being without a person who is so needy and he didn't seem to get enough of a break. No matter how much I encouraged him to go back out he would not but he spent the day in the basement -away from me.

I have to say I am glad to be upstairs but its 10:56 pm and even though I am upstairs I am alone again. Basement or living room I am alone to face the long night again.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Bob spelled BOB forwards and backwards its the same

My husband Bob is just about the funniest person on the face of the Earth. His witty one liners and his antics are what is keeping me going these days. Let me share some of the things he has done recently.

You all know as I have explained in the past blogs that he is not a cook. He hates the kitchen, never claimed he was a cook. So the menus since I have been laid up are very inventive. In the morning he usually comes down to the family room to ask me what I would like for breakfast. I have come to realize he doesn't truly mean it. He means what is the easiest for him to come up with and yet still fill my belly up. Today I woke up to the box of Golden Grahams on my bed stand. No milk or bowl just the box. I ate them without saying anything. I wont look a gift horse in the mouth. He has prepared plenty of grilled cheese sandwiches for me and his favorite side dish for almost every meal is popcorn. It reminds me of Snoopy's Thanksgiving Meal. I can almost guarantee that if I see something for lunch I almost always see if for supper that same day or the next. One night for supper he brought me cereal in a bowl with milk and said take it or leave it. All we can do is keep our humor in this mess of a situation. Who knows maybe all this popcorn and cereal will help me lose a few pounds.

There is a small bathroom off of the laundry room with a basement style shower in it. No one has really used it up until now but I do not have a choice since I cant get up the stairs. Mom gave me my first shower in there since my surgery so Bob offered to help me with the second one. I think I started to smell like a mixture of sweat and leftover surgery with some bad hair day mixed in for good measure. So there is a shower chair facing sideways in the shower and it cannot be turned any other way or it wont fit. I got all my clothes off and was sitting on the shower chair waiting for Bob to get my towel and start the water. Mind you- my basement is freezing and I am naked without a towel. He takes one look at me and starts pulling out the carpet that he has just laid down over the old ugly tile when we moved in years ago. Explaining all the while that he doesn't want to get the carpet all wet and he just knows that water is going to spill out over the shower and plus he doesn't want me to trip over the carpet as it is not tacked down. I'm still waiting as he takes the carpet away. Then he comes back with the sweeper to sweep the carpet dust left on the floor. We can't close the door because my walker is in the way and an audience of my 5 year old daughter and my 2 cats have assembled on the basement steps. 10 minutes have passed and my dangling leg is turning blue- my body is beyond freezing when Bob finally makes the decision that we can start my shower. Finally!

Bob announced yesterday that If I keep on drinking this much everything is coming to me room temperature because he can't possibly get this much ice. I have been so worried about becoming dehydrated since the surgery that almost every time he goes past the room I ask for a drink of some sort. And apparently ice must be a hot commodity. Who would've thought? Frozen water would be putting us under?

He says plenty of funnies like-stop chewing while he's in the room. If we don't stop talking he's going upstairs to watch the show he is watching. He yells down the steps when that washer is done put the clothes in the dryer knowing full well I cant even get out of the bed on my own.

Almost every time he leaves the house he comes back with a dozen Dunkin Doughnuts. So far I have refrained from eating any of them but its getting harder. That chocolatey goodness wrapped in a sticky dough could put me off my diet in an instant. My will power is waning. He bakes cookies too-his specialty is no bake or fudgie oatmeal cookies. Those are a must eat. He is an expert at them. He doesn't like to cook but baking-the sky is the limit.

He has called me many names while Im laid up. For example- the gimp, gimpy, one legger, bumm, klutz, klutzy I could go on and on. They are all terms of endearment and just another reason why Bob is the reason I will get better and he is the reason I want to get better.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Hurry Up, Marie, I Gotta Get Outta Here!

When they the doctor tells you you are going to be released that day everyone seems to disappear. I have never seen anything like it. No one came in and offered to get me bath water or help me pack my things or even to see if I needed help to the bathroom. I was left to my own defenses.

The nurse ventured in mid morning and said I had to go to one last Phyiscal Therapy session so they could "see me use the walker in the hallway." I was determined that I was leaving. The doctor suggested maybe a rehab center for a week or something like assisted living for a week-"HA! no way was this girl staying in any more institutions. Not after this experience- my arse was going home. I didn't care if I had to get down on the floor and literally slide everywhere- I needed to be at home. I was going!" So there I was at physical therapy literally pushing myself to the brink so that I could get out of that place. A funny side note- many of the physical therapy patients that were there had underwent total knee replacements. There was a man who looked to be in his late fifties and he had his walker and was going all over the room with it and help of a nice young student. She had him lie down on the long wooden bed and he was supposed to be doing 10 leg lifts . She walked away and immediately he began the loudest snoring I have ever heard. It was pretty comical considering the situation we all were in with our strong pain killers and our walkers. I envied him at that moment as to how easy he fell asleep. If only I could do that. I used to be able to sleep standing up. Sleep in the car, sleep just about anywhere, anytime. Those day were gone.

Melissa and Lana my physical therapy girls said that I was about as good as I was getting and when in doubt lower myself to the floor. At least when on the floor there wouldn't be anywhere to fall to. "Okay" was the only response to that I could muster picturing me on the floor of my family room with the heavy leg immobilizer on and no way to get up.

I sat in the hallway for 15 minutes in the wheelchair waiting to be wheeled back to my room. Once in my room, I was left up in the wheelchair to wait on my lunch. My only thought was "COME ON MARIE- get here so I can get the hell outta of this place"

Marie is a co worker that I have mentioned earlier in my postings. She has become my go to girl. She is a Physicians Assistant by trade and she is the absolute best there is as far as her work but she is an even better friend. She offered to come and pick me up at the hospital and make sure I get home in one piece so my husband can get things ready at home for my arrival. She had a meeting late in the day so she couldn't leave to come and get me until after 4 pm. It was the absolute longest wait Im convinced I ever had to endure. 4 hours of mindless afternoon TV and throbbing pain in my leg made for an afternoon I don't care to ever repeat.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Are You Trying To Escape?

I wasn't allowed out of bed and that meant the bedpan was my only answer. This presented many challenges. My right leg was splinted up to the hip and had to be elevated above my heart to help with the swelling. To actually empty my entire bladder on the bedpan didn't really work at all. I tried so hard to sit up in the bed on the bedpan but my leg would shoot pain and my foot would turn colors. So I would push on my belly with my hand and eventually the trickling made up a cup or so. Then sometimes It would spill over onto the bed. Then the bed had to be changed. At one point the doctor came in to see me when I was on the bedpan and he started to talk to me and then he said ," why is your pants down around your leg like that? " I told him I was on the bedpan and he said ,"Oh I thought maybe you were trying to escape?" Hmmm I wonder what my pants being down around my legs had to do with escaping? Still not sure but the whole situation was extremely embarassing. On the lighter side it enabled me to avoid the whole foley catheter thing which from experiences in the past is horrific from start to finish. So sometimes things do work out even though your doctor has to see your but on the bedpan.

Surgery? Was it The Right Answer?

We arrived at the hospital with time to spare and was crammed in a waiting room with many many other people in there. Everyone had the same look on their faces. The "waiting to get surgery" face. You can't mistake the fear mixed with emotion, mixed with repulsion, mixed with exhaustion. It is unmistakeable. I found myself giving the empathetic look all around the room of which I was receiving back. People from all walks of life having all different surgeries but the underlying feeling is the same no matter who you are or what you are having done. Finally my name was called and Marie wheeled me to the desk and then ultimately to another desk and my holding room/cell. They were asked to say their goodbyes and I was taken to pre op holding to sit on surgery row on stretchers with literally 50 other people. Each patient had their own "staff" of a nurse anesthetist and the anesthesiologists and just people in scrubs and hats standing talking almost everywhere you look. All of it was making me quite uneasy. The Nurse Anesthetist asked me tons of questions and then she gave me something to help me relax. After that I had no idea of anything that went on from that time forward. Next thing I knew I was opening my eyes and looking at Bob staring down into my face in my room. Mom was there and she was looking at me with caring eyes and then Alayna who had the look of absolute horror on her face. I just wanted to reach out and hold her but my body wouldn't work- nothing was working. I couldn't even hold my eyes open. So after each snooze I opened my eyes to all three of them looking at me. They woke me up to tell me they were leaving and would see me later. Alayna would not go anywhere near me to say goodbye. Hours later when I woke up for good my leg felt like a piece of cement. I couldn't concentrate on anything at all but getting the pain under control. Nothing they gave me helped. I ended up with a Morphine PCA (or a pain pump that I could control myself) I really thought I had found the answer to the pain but it caused my heart race and race so I ended up having to take Ativan (anti-anxiety medicine) with it. This is not what I signed up for. Did I make the right decision? I dont know if surgery was the right answer for me?

Pull Over I Have to Throw Up!

My surgery was scheduled for 7:00 am in Alleghany General Hospital. This hospital is one of if not the biggest in the Pittsburgh Area and it is also an hour or so away. The nurse from the operating room called on Friday and said I was to report there by 5:00 am on Monday. Are they nuts?-2 hours before my surgery AND not to mention it was at 5 am. Oh gawd I felt sick when she told me. Luck for me, Marie ( a co-worker turned BFF) had offered to take me and I hoped when I told her the time she wouldn't back out because with Bob taking care of the kids and my Mom not being able to drive in Pittsburgh traffic I wouldn't know how to get there. But of course Marie stepped up to the plate once again and pulled into the driveway at 3:45 am Monday morning. Marie, at this point, has reached the top of my will. If I die today she will receive everything I own. My Mom also had decided to go which was a good thing she did. She said if something happens someone from the "family" needed to be present. I guess she's right but it didnt make me feel at ease. We chit chatted on the way down and with each mile passing anxiety started to get the best of me. "What if I never wake up? What would happen to my kids? What if I cant walk again?" All the terrible bad talk was swirling through my head and finally I asked Marie to pull over and I got sick. In a way dry heaving released all the anxieties of the morning. And when I got back in the car I knew I would be able to make it the rest of the way. Sheesh- knee surgery and I act like this? I have a deep sympathy for the all the patients I scheduled for Open heart Bypass Surgery and asked them to be there early in the morning. I am never ever going to look at surgery scheduling the same way again.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

I am Catholic Hear Me Roar!

Prayer is the my saving grace. I have been taught as a child and as a grown up that if you pray you will be rewarded with many great and wonderful things. Of course it may not be the things you prayed for. But nonetheless it is the answer that is in the plan. You can pray anywhere, anytime about anything. Be a prayer warrior. Most of the time I find myself praying in the bathroom. I have prayed in the bathroom at work throughout my life; puking over the toilet when I was pregnant ( mostly praying that it was soon over), whenever someone disappointed me or yelled at me or if I was anxious or worried- in the bathroom to pray I go.

Lately I pray that I will get down in the tub without pain in my leg and that I can get my fanny up off the toilet. And low and behold I seem to be able to do those things- my prayers must be being answered.

Theres a sign on my bathroom wall that says Prayer-When life is too hard to stand-kneel. I have to say hypothetically I am kneeling as far as I can get down. I haven't ever had to worry about having surgery so let me just say that I am scared out of my wits. I have to put it in God's hands. Because it feels like its out of mine.

My Grandma used to say "Darcy, you have to pray the feet off God." And up until right now I didn't really know what she meant. Tomorrow (the day before my surgery) I plan on praying the feet off God. Whatever answer comes- I have to trust is the one that's supposed to be.

A New Leg Immobilizer to go with a New Doctor

It is so amazing what the right size and shape leg immobilizer will do for a person.

Today I met a brand new surgeon who told me a completely different story and outcome for my leg. I now know what the patients mean when they say they are given so many different stories that they do not know what to believe or do. I am now scheduled for surgery on my knee on Monday and I am seriously torn ( no pun intended) about the outcome. This surgeon was extremely honest and forthcoming with everything. He was willing to spend as much time as we needed and explained and answered even the dumbest of questions. I left his office feeling like I made the right decision for my knee and my future. But as the weekend progresses the more insecure I feel. I don't feel insecure about the surgeon, I feel as though he will do right by me but I feel insecure about having the surgery. He said I will most likely almost always have a limp and I will probably need a total knee replacement sometime in my life but the exact time is up in the air. Without this surgery I may need it a lot earlier in my life, not to mention arthritis and pain. But the healing time without the surgery will be the same I just will have more of a limp and more pain and more arthritis. I'm now looking down the barrel of a 12 week off work off my feet gun. All of this because I fell on a step-all this because I made a wrong choice in what door I went in at work. Just goes to show you, one twist of the knee and life as you know it changes forever. The one bright shining moment with this new doctor was when he gave me a new longer, better supportive leg immobilizer. I was never so thrilled. It has cut down on the amount of pain meds by half. It makes my leg feel so much better. So thank you very much Dr Altman- for the new leg immobilizer. Im so trying to appreciate the little things.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Boredom- an Emotional State-Who Knew?

I looked up the definition of boredom. Who knew it was actually an emotional state? Here are two of the many definitions of boredom that I found-
  • Boredom is an emotional state experienced during periods lacking activity or when individuals are uninterested in the opportunities surrounding them. ...
  • One of the most common feelings, boredom results from lack of excitement, adventure, or otherwise fun activities, instilling a sense of unrest. Prolonged boredom can lead to anger or depression. The feeling is often accompanied by loneliness and repetitive thoughts reflecting on your own

I can be honest and say I am not uninterested in the opportunities surrounding me. There really aren't any opportunities.When I look around me through the mountains of toys that my 5 year old put on the living room floor I don't see much in the way of opportunities. Unless the opportunity to clean up toys is part of that?

Instilling a sense of unrest-well thats obvious. Its 3:39 am and I'm up writing to myself about boredom.

Can lead to anger and depression--this morning I felt a welling up inside of me of irritability. I wanted everything that was on the floor of the living room out of there. I caught myself repeating and repeating,"please someone pick up the stuff on the floor." And everyone in my house went about their business ignoring my pleas. Ugh! I had already took my happy pill and it wasn't working. I wonder when they will come out with a boredom pill. We can call it the fun pill or the pill full of opportunity or something like that. There are "fun" pills but I believe they are illegeal.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Broken Leg Jokes

How does a frog feel when he has a broken leg?

Unhoppy. ...

"How did it happen?" the doctor asked the middle-aged farmhand as he set the man's broken leg.

"Well, doc, 25 years ago ..."

"Never mind the past. Tell me how you broke your leg this morning."

"Like I was saying...25 years ago, when I first started working on the farm, that night, right after I'd gone to bed, the farmer's beautiful daughter came into my room. She asked me if there was anything I wanted. I said, "No, everything is fine."

"Are you sure?" she asked.

"I'm sure," I said.

"Isn't there anything I can do for you?" she wanted to know.

"I reckon not," I replied.

"Excuse me," said the doctor, "What does this story have to do with your leg?"

"Well, this morning," the farmhand explained, "when it dawned on me what she meant, I fell off the roof!"
At the hospital, there was a man laying in the emergency room, the doctor opened the door and walked toward the man.

Man said, `Will I be ok, Doctor?"
The doctor turned to him and said, "Well there is good and bad news."
"Tell me the bad news", said the man.
"Well," said the doctor, "the bad news is that we are going to cut both your legs off."
"Oh my god," said the man, "What the hell is the good news?"
"The good news is," said the doctor, "see that man over there, he wants to buy your shoes."


What do you call a ghost with a broken leg?

Hoblin Goblin.


Just some funnies for today. Im sure Ill come across more but I just needed a

pick me up this morning as I sit in a room full of kids toys thinking how much

I wish someone would pick all of them up. : (

Friday, March 5, 2010

11 pm and All is Well- Or Is It?

The kids are tucked in their beds fast asleep with full bellies. The cats are bedded down for the night too. I have had my last slim fast bar, my last pain med and my last drink of water. My blankets are fixed just right. The pillow is under my knee so that I have my leg elevated to a perfect angle. The fan is twirling at just the right speed above my head. Not a sound can be heard but the clock ticking. 11 pm and all is well?

My leg hurts.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

I Am Still Waiting

Rarely am I on this side of medicine. I have given patients many things over the years of doing my jobs. I am always kind and patient with them. I have made spaghetti for an elderly man that I saw when I was in home health. I have sent cards to the patients in the hospital from an anonymous sender wishing them good will at Christmas even though they are in the hospital. I have wrapped up and given destitute patients food right from our work refrigerator. I've waited on hold for hours just to talk to one more person so that the patient could be approved for his surgery. Once I called a patients insurance company every day for one whole week until they approved a procedure that he desperately needed. The list goes on....

Do I deserve something in return for all these extra little things? Absolutely not- I do all of those things as part of my job description as Patient Care Coordinator. Nothing is extra in my book and nothing is too good for the patients that we treat. But I do require one thing, that when I am on the other side of medicine-when I am the patient- I do require common decency. I require an actual person on the other end of my phone call who can answer my question or at least direct me to the right person TO answer my questions. I require someone to call me back in a timely manner. So far as part of this journey that I am on with my broken leg, I haven't come across many people that have the attributes it takes to do what I require. It leaves me to wonder are these people understaffed and don't have enough help? Are they unhappy with their jobs and cant find the empathy to deal with patient issues? Maybe they are lazy and find my requirements exasperating. What is the problem?

As of now I have had to wait over 10 days to receive my MRI of my knee, get the results of the MRI and find out what my treatment plan will be. I call the surgeons office only to get a call center located out of the immediate city that I live in and get a receptionist that has no idea about my case, doesn't have a chart to refer to and has to "transfer me to another office to check on appointments." I have had to repeat the actual accident description almost every time I talk to someone at the office and no one seems to know what is happening. In the meanwhile, I am still on my couch. I am still waiting.

I Hate Star Wars!

I hate Star Wars. I decided this as I sit endless hours on the couch watching Alayna, my 5 year old, play Lego Star Wars on Nintendo Wii. Yesterday morning she woke me up from a sleep to say she was playing Star Wars before school. I peeked at the clock and it was 8:05 am. The bus comes at 8:38 am. She was in her Pajamas, hadn't eaten breakfast and her hair was standing up on end. I didn't even get "No you don't have time" out of my mouth before the shrieking of agony that I had inflicted on her started. My two kitty's who had been resting in the hall were so startled by the loud shrieking they stood on all fours and dashed away quick as they could go without the carpet being pulled up away from the hardwood floor underneath. This screaming didn't stop for the entire 40 minutes before Alayna left for school. Bob proceeded to fix her a pop tart and practically throw the tray of pop-tart, napkin and glass of milk on the floor in front of her. He quickly gets out of the room to leave me on the couch with our monstrous offspring demanding that she is playing Wii and she isn't going to school until she play Wii. At this point she has hit my nerve center and every hair was standing up on my entire body. I say in a really threatening voice, " If you don't get up and eat your breakfast and get ready for school you are going to get a licken." (slang for spanking in these parts) Now-- if I was outside myself watching this scenerio I would laugh at me saying this because I am on the couch with my leg propped on a pillow and crutches right beside me telling her I am going to spank her. Even she knows I am not going to be physically able to carry this plan out. At this point Bob comes back in the room to announce that if she doesn't eat and get ready he is taking the Wii away for today. This creates even more crying and yelling and he immediately leaves the room again. Where the hell is he going I wonder? Nothing like coming back in to make more crying. Then she announces that this is not the Pop-Tart that she wanted, she wanted the chocolate one with white dots on it. And she throws her body on the floor and the shrieking starts again. It is now 8:25 am. Bob comes back into the room again and says," You are getting on the bus in your pajamas if you aren't ready in 5 minutes." Out of the room he goes yet again. I hear him mumbling bad words under his breath. The shrieking stops for a minute and my hairs lay down on my arms-she gives me a nasty look and leaves the room. I am alone if only for a minute. My kitty slinks up to the tray that was left on the floor looking around to see if anyone is watching . He then puts his paw in the milk glass and licks it off his paw. I hear a loud banging in the kitchen proceeded by a sliding noise and then the pantry door opening. Alayna appears in front of me again with the Chocolate pop-tart box and a huge smile. I start opening the foil that the pop-tart is wrapped in. Im giving her the damn pop tart she wants because she wont cooperate with anyone without it. Bob comes around the corner to see me in this traitorous act. My first reaction was to hide the box but I didnt do this I opened the chocolate box and gave her one explaining that I cant get up to heat it up and she would have to eat it cold. She grabbed it and off she went to the kitty paw milk to dunk it like she always does. I wasnt even going there with the milk- what harm could it do? At least the shrieking stopped. She then got her clothes on and out the door to the bus stop she went. Everyone was gone. I looked up to see the box of Lego Star Wars laying on the floor in front of the TV stand and I throw my crutch at it. I hate Star Wars!

5 Things That Are Impossible To Do With a Broken Leg

1) Getting in and out of the bathtub without anyone to help hold your leg and move it over the side of the tub.

This presents a two fold problem- First the water is running in and it is taking a long time to get clothes off and sit on the side of the tub so be sure you are near the faucet because if you move away and you cant get back fast enough to turn the water off you will have a flood that you wont be able to clean up because you can't bend your leg.
Secondly you are in your birthday suit and your legs are kind of spread apart before you get your leg over the side so the person helping you should actually be someone who has seen this part of you. Lets face it -nudity is only attractive in certain moments. This moment would not be one of those moments.

2) Accepting Flowers at the door when the florist rings the doorbell and you are the only one home

You are using crutches to get around and you go to the door and the floral delivery guy hands you an arrangement of flowers someone was so nice to send you. If you accept them in one of your hands then you can't use it to hold onto your crutches again without dropping the flowers. I found out if you tip the flowers the water drips out on the floor so you cant hold them halfway and accidentally tip it. I would suggest setting the flowers down on the floor and wait for someone to come and get it. Although this didn't work for me because I have two kittys and they tried to eat the flowers after I sat down and put my leg back up so I had to retrieve the bouquet off the floor. I sat down on the floor and sort of crawled with the flowers to the kitchen to put the flowers on the table. All in all it took about 20 minutes to accept flowers at my door. I did appreciate them though. Dont laugh- desperate times call for desperate measures.

3) Getting your own drink out of the fridge that needs to be poured in a cup

If you get the glass onto the counter and retrieve the pitcher or the 2 liter of pop out of the fridge the crutches can be leaned on while pouring the liquid into the glass but you have to make sure everything is within reach or you may have to put something back until you slide the glass closer. Once it is poured I recommend just drinking right there because I have tried to take the cup in the living room with me and I have to set it down go a few steps move it further set it down go a few steps set it down...etc.. this requires great patience which I do NOT possess. Average time approx. 15 minutes.

4) Sex (it just has to be said)

I have an extremely understanding and terrific spouse. He has a great sense of humor which in this case works to my advantage. You need a sense of humor to enter into an encounter with a broken leg. My knee can't be bent so it has to remain straight and I cannot move around very much so lets just say I'm going to have to be the passive partner for quite a long time. This is causing me great frustration.

5) Cooking -Anything

Keep the phone book handy-take out is your only option if you are alone. My husband is not and does not claim to be a cook. His menu if he is cooking is hot dog, mac and cheese, eggs, toast and grilled cheese. So I have been living on Yogurt, Animal Crackers, String Cheese and toast. Even though I do need to lose weight this diet leaves you hungry with no means of cooking food. So --trust me- phone book is your best friend at this point.

To sum it all up-with a broken leg you cant bath, eat or drink, have sex or answer the door. Shoot me now!

My Ambulance Driver Was HOT!

OK-so I'm in the ambulance on the most uncomfortable stretcher ever made. I look around an I actually see an axe behind a glass case beside actual axe and a fire extinguisher. Why is there an axe in an ambulance? Thoughts are swirling in my head- OMG they could cut my leg off with that axe. Fleeting thought but none the less- I thought it. A teenage boy plops down beside me. He has curly hair under a funny tossle cap and sparkly eyes. " Mrs Miller I just need you to answer some questions". UGH- he called me Mrs Miller which means he thinks I'm OLD and he also thinks I'm the same as all of his other patients and this is going to be a boring ride to the hospital. Then I remember someone put a white towel around my head before they took me out to the ambulance in the cold. Oh God I have a towel around my head and mascara all over my face from crying. The cute ambulance guy is looking at me and only God knows what he is thinking. Slowly and inconspicuously I pull the towel off my head. Wish I had a mirror-wait no I dont.
I say a dumb thing ,"sorry I caused so much trouble for everyone this morning." Then he says," thats ok! I was just sitting around playing video games anyhow" I almost laughed out loud because this gave me a clue as to how old he actually was. Maybe I actually AM going to be ok, after all my hormones are acting up in the ambulance while my leg is throbbing in pain with every turn of the road. I almost don't recognize myself.
He says his name is Nick. Of course why not-a cute name for a cute face. The ambulance makes a quick sharp turn into the hospital and I shriek out with pain involuntarily. Nick doesn't look at me with this outburst , he is on a cell phone talking to the hospital dispatcher now. I hear him describe me and my injury to the hospital. "38 year old female ( well at least he knew that I was a female) with a fall on the ice. Injury to her right leg-stable vitals"-BLAH BLAH BLAH! OW! My leg hurts in every place possible. But all I can think of is Nick at the beach with me frolicking in the water. God help us all!
He and his other ambulance boys pull me out of the ambulance still on the horrid stretcher. They put that stupid towel back on my head. I pull it off immediately as I get pushed into the Emergency Room. Everyone seems to stop what they are doing at the Nurses Station as I go past and they turn to look at me with pity on their faces. I recognize quite a few of them because of my past employment with the hospital. I could crawl in a hole. On his way out I say " thanks for everything, Nick." Then as I'm left in the room by myself to wonder-other than the ride to hospital what did he really do? And it occurs to me-he did the best thing he could've done in that situation. He was a great distraction in what would've otherwise been a utterly horrific ride to the hospital. So thanks for everything, Nick. I hope your sparkly eyes distract someone else in their time of need.

Oh no I Fell Down!

Everyday presents a new challenge as a mother and a wife AND a person that tries to hold down a full time job. But there are some days that are much more challenging than lets say the other 364. This was the day-rushing like always to get everyone and myself ready in the morning- I looked out the window and guess what? More snow...Pennsylvania has been usually snowy in 2010. Compared to my entire lifetime of 38 years this year has the most snow I have ever seen. My oldest daughter went straight to the TV-low and behold they cancelled school AGAIN. This always presents me with using my talents to create somewhere for the girls to go so I can get to work on time. Phones rings- its Sally, my Office Manager, who truly appreciates my dilemmas on snow days. She suggested bringing the girls in to the office and they can "color or watch TV" until my husband gets up from working the night shift. I appreciate this idea so much, I haven't ever tried this before but it was worth a shot. We have had so many snow days in our school district this season and frankly I'm running out of my vacation days. Kids are excited to go to my office when I tell them because we have a 52 inch TV in the waiting room and lets be honest-52 inches of SpongeBob is cool no matter how you look at it, right? We all pile in the car when I realize no one ate breakfast-Alexis, my 11 year old, suggest doughnuts but I tell her the roads are too bad to venture off the beaten path so we all decide that we will go to the cafe in my office building on the way in and they can get something. At the office- out of the car, snows coming down pretty fast and I'm fumbling in my purse to find my $20 that I took out of Bob's (hubby's) wallet. The kids are excited and go ahead of me across the parking lot- as I step up the concrete step to go into the building my world changes. I ended up on my right leg on the concrete and as I'm falling, in slow motion I hear popping and cracking of my leg bone. I think of something really stupid-I think if I was in Florida this wouldn't be happening. What a stupid thought when I'm falling. I land and I look up at the white treetops. I can't move my leg to the "right" position. I guess I was screaming that my leg was broke because Alexis ran into the building and told the building concierge, Tina. The next thing I knew a very skinny man with a white lab coat was in front of me saying ,"hold me around my neck and put all your weight on me" Is he kidding, I'll crush him, the skinny man that he was. He kept insisting- so I did-what choice did I have? Wheelchair bound I was parked in the lobby of my building to assess what just happened. I fell down. I fell on the ice and my leg's broke. Tina knelt down in front of my leg and proceeded to pull the pant leg up. No! No! I didnt want to see it, it was broke I was sure and I don't care if it was bleeding. Sally, my office manager, came into view and Lil who works in my office and they ask me about the pain and what I wanted to do with the kids, did I think I should go to the Emergency Room. Im not thinking-my mind is focused on Alayna my 5 year old who had tears trickling down her face. She didnt get her breakfast-someone get her breakfast. Her mother has a broken leg she needs to eat. I must have said that out loud because Lil takes the girls into the cafe and they come out with doughnuts and muffins and a drink. Oh God a drink-im so thirsty. Sally decides that I'm not very coherent and suggest calling my sister at her office which is very close to get the girls. I can hear Tina in the background calling for an ambulance. In what seemed like a minute my sister is in front of me saying she is taking the girls to our Moms and she will call me later. My leg is broke I say to her. She turns and leaves with my girls. Alayna is crying-did she eat?