Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The HIPPY Tale

                             Here we are at the Crouse hospital in Syracuse, N.Y. at 6:30am.
As we departed for Crouse at 5:15am, we both were thinking the same thing, and that was, it felt like we were getting ready for a triathlon. Getting up before daylight, packing a bag, and sporting water bottles. Everything felt the same, except we did not require a wetsuit or a bike. We did bring running shoes for PT, but that was not required either.   It was rather fun making the parallel between a total hip replacement (THR) and an ultra distance triathlon.  A triathlon race requires a good attitude, positive thoughts, and the right equipment. A major surgery such as a THR requires a good attitude, positive thoughts, and the right equipment (provided by the doctor of course). 

We were truly in good spirits upon our arrival to Crouse.  The valet park our car,  and he told us that his wife had her hip replaced, and is the best thing she did. 

 Our first transition area (T1) starts on the 5th. floor where I get to wear the didey of a gown and potentially moon anyone that happens to be behind me.  A young lady named, Christine came into the room to stick me where the IV would go. 

She seemed to be in a hurry, as she inserted the needle between my elbow and wrist on the flexor side of my arm. After she left the room, I started to have a sharp stinging sensation in the area.  That did not seem right to me.  I waited 5-10 minutes but the hot stinging sensation was still there. She thought it might be the tape. That is not going to work for me, so I asked the other nurse, and she looked at it. She agreed that Christine needed to re-do the IV portal.  She removed the first one, and put the other needle on the dorsal side of my wrist. Thank goodness, because when the other needle came out, my forearm flexor tendon was raised and hard as a rock!  Five days later I am still sporting a nice 2" bruise on my arm.  You may not think we are off to a good start, but Russ and I consider this a mild race mishap, kind of like forgetting your socks, and having to borrow a pair from your spouse (did indeed happen to me) . Haha.  Luckily it was easy to forget it all happened because they gave me a cocktail of drugs to get things started.   Time really seems irrelevant since we are really at the disposal of the doctors and nurses so that they are sticking to their schedule.  About 90 minutes before surgery time, Dr. Clarke, and his assistant came in to mark up my leg. He immediately informed me that, "The tattoo is toast." I replied that it was okay, I can always get another one on the other side!!!
As the meds started to kick in, my mom called, and by then I was laughing and giggling. Russ thought it was quite funny.  The entire process seemed a little surreal to me.  I have never had major surgery, yet, I was feeling elated that after the surgery and after recovery, I will be able to resume a normal active lifestyle without pain or limitations!

T2 will be the "holding" room where pre-op patients are taken downstairs. Here we are making a speeding transition into T2.
The holding room looked like an Embassy suites where you can see what was going on in the middle of the room, and all the patients were in private room with glass doors facing each other. This Embassy suites provided you with a very warm blanket too! In the room was a beautiful black and white photograph of a waterfall. We were told that one of their doctors did the photo. Russ and I were pretty cheery while waiting for the different nurses to  talk to me and sign my life away. One of the nurses said, "Gee, you guys are in a really good mood, most patients are really nervous." 

So there I am with the warm blanket, and the stylish hat.  It's just about time for the event to begin, and Russ has to wait on the other side of the operating room. He can watch the progress of the surgery on a screen. I am given a number, and he can see where they are during each step of the process. He was told that it will take about 50-60 minutes for the procedure from start to finish.
One thing that Russ told me was, "If you are awake (which I was) when you go into the operating room, DO NOT look on the table where all the tools and equipment are."  So there I am with my eyes closed, and the ER nurse comes over to me to introduce herself to me. I told her why I had my eyes closed, and she said to look at the table next to me. Then the anesthesiologist came over to give me the epidural in my back. I was a bit nervous about that, only because I met a Para-Olympic athlete that is in a wheelchair after a routine surgery due to the epidural not being done correctly.  They had me slide over to the smaller table and sit over the side and lean forward while being supported by another nurse. As the epidural is injected I can feel a warm sensation going down my right leg. Like warm water flowing down to the foot.  After that I was on my back and they opened my legs like I was going to get a pap smear, so I figured they were putting the catheter in me. I am not sure because they placed the oxygen over me, and I dose off.  I do remember laying completely on my left side, in order to expose the right hip for a posterior incision. There is much discussion about this and that and what the doctor prefers, then lights out!

T3 is the Recovery room.  It took about 2.5 hours for the epidural to wear off.  As it was starting to wear off, I could feel this wave of tingles come and go in my left calf first.  That sensation was from the calf pump machine that they hook your up to in order to prevent blood clots. I pretty much wore those the entire time I was in the hospital. Foot pumps is another way to keep the blood flowing and I did those all the time in bed. I was very happy when I could wiggle my toes again.  The nurse said that Russ could come into the room while we waited to be transported to T4. Since surgery is more complicated and involves a lot more people than a triathlon, there are more transitions to go through as you can imagine. The recovery room nurse was fantastic, just as all the nurses are at Crouse. We really felt like we were in special hands. 
Now starts the tough part. 1. Staying ahead of the pain, and not chase the pain. 2. Wanting to move mentally, but the body is not cooperating, 3. Wondering when I will be able to go home. 

The final transition area is T4, which is on the 6th. floor where I will stay for a few nights. Dr. Clarke did 8 joint replacement that day, so 8 of his patients were on the 6th. floor. There are 40 beds on that floor. Friday night was rough. I won't bore you with all the places I was feeling pain and stiff. From my hips down my body literally felt like it was in a straight jacket.  My back was tight, and the bed was not comfortable. It was not fun. Around dinner time I told nurse Kaleigh that I HAD to get out of the bed and stand up. She seemed a little surprised. I stood up and my right side felt foreign. Throughout the dinner hour I was pretty nauseated and threw up twice. Every few hours a nurse would come in and give me some pain meds, but they seemed to wear off too quickly, and I was uncomfortable most of the night. My roommate who had her lower spine fused was not a happy camper either.  At some point I was able to sleep a few hours, and a sweet, young, soft spoken nurse, named Jessica came in to put fresh ice on my hip (which I did not even notice she did) and give me more pain meds. Around 1am I decided I needed to get up again, so I rang the nurses station. Jessica came in and we went for a walk. I shuffled with the walker out of the room and down the hall about 10 ft, and  felt nauseous, so she quickly brought me a chair, and I felt defeated that I did not walk back to my room. Oh well. Maybe tomorrow will be better. 

Saturday the P.T. person arrived to get me up and out of bed. This time I was able to walk about 15 ft. Later that morning I had a light breakfast of yogurt, orange sections and coffee. One of Dr. Clarke's surgical nurses came in to see how I was doing. He was not in the surgery room. What really made my day was when Russ arrived, and we spent the afternoon together. We watched TV in bed, and walked the halls. We walked A LOT!  I teased the nurses that we were doing a half marathon, plus I would teach them yoga. I would stretch my torso left to right and side to side to try and limber up.  We even sat in the hallway for a bit for a different change of position and scenery.  I asked Russ to get me a Starbucks coffee from across the street, which he kindly did, and I ordered lunch. Lunch was a turkey sandwich, but as soon as I looked at the sandwich I could not stomach eating it. Russ enjoyed it.  It was about time for Russ to head back home to take care of Yigo, but before he left, my roommate was having issues. She had not had a BM 5 days after her surgery and the nurses were very upset. They informed her that she was at risk for a colon obstruction.  Since the suppository on Friday did not work, the nurses were determined to get things moving for her. So, there Russ and I are sitting in the bed, enjoying an old western, while my roommate is eating Kentucky Fried Chicken. No Joke!  When the nurses came in, she had to stop eating, and her family members had to leave the room. The nurses told the patient that she needed an enema. OMG!  Two nurses, one male and one female, proceeded with the procedure. One nurse had never done one before, so this was a learning experience for her. Thankfully the patient went to the bathroom in the bathroom and not a bed pan. After all was said and done, she happily resumed eating her Kentucky Fried Chicken!!!

We are very fortunate to have one of our neighbors, Gary take care of Yigo, which Russ was spending the day with me. It was getting to that time, so Russ and I bid our farewells, in hopes that I would be released from hospital the next day, Sunday.  I took a selfie in the hospital bed, and here is a pretty picture of the incision site. 

Saturday night was a better night's rest.  I did my best to get up on my own to go to the bathroom. Transferring in and out of the bed is the toughest. I was looking forward to showing the PT on Sunday that I can walk up the 3 steps in the PT room.  Hospital beds usually have an apparatus overhead that you can grab to pull yourself up, and I did that a lot to take the pressure off the bum!

Sunday morning I ordered the usual breakfast of yogurt and coffee. I tried a piece of rye toast, but that did not task very good.   The P.T. arrived (different guy than Sat) and I showed him I could accomplish the 3 steps up and down twice, plus walking a block around the nurses station. He said that I was good to go, and saw no reason why I should not be released. I was told that either Dr. Clarke or a P.A. would come in to check on me, and if they release me, then I be discharged. The P.A. arrived around 10:40am, and asked me a few standard questions, like is your calf swollen or painful, etc. Her name was Sophia and she saw no reason why I cannot be released. I spoke to my parents, and my dad asked me if I had had a BM. I had not.  Sometimes they won't release you from the hospital until you go, but I was able to go home.  When I finally did have a BM on Tuesday, it was after taking some fiber pills along with a natural herb called, Senna that helps the digestive system get moving more efficiently. 

I was thrilled to be going home!  I notified Russ, and he was excited too.  The paperwork was very easy, and even Kaleigh mentioned, "This is the easiest discharge I've done."  Kaleigh is a student nurse, and she is a hard worker. She was fantastic! Always there for me and asking me what I needed. One time, I had strained my inner thigh muscle (adductor) trying to get back in bed, and it brought me to tears. I was nervous that I did something wrong. She came in to give me Tylenol, plus a little lecture on what I needed to do and not do as part of the recovery process.  She had a nice balance of being stern and kind in delivering the message that I needed to be patient, and not push it, and to know that my body will heal in time.  Then she said, "That is my lecture for you today." It was great, and it really sunk in!  Whomever she marries will be one lucky person!

Ready to get going, Russ brought all my belongings down to the car, and the transport person brought a wheelchair to my room.  Here we are leaving room 6001, in hopes of a speedy recovery at home!
                                                   Nurse Kaleigh, my saviour!
Going Home!

I will write a little more about the recovery experience.  It will be a long road, so more to come. My motto during this process will be, be happy, be positive, and be grateful!

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