Sunday, September 27, 2015

Still Sore


It's only been two weeks since the surgery to remove the pins and rods from my thigh and hip, so I am still sore. But the pain is not much more than it was before the metal was removed, so it's no big deal.

I've been out and about on my crutches, trying hard NOT to put more than 50% weight on my surgery leg. Easier said than done. Since it doesn't really hurt, it's far too easy to forget not to use it. I am being as good as I can.

In the house, I am using my wheelchair which offers its own challenges. It is decidedly faster to get around than it would be on the walker, but my house is not easily navigable.  Fortunately, the chair fits, with some extra maneuvering, through all the doors and down the hall. The biggest obstacle is the bathroom which is too narrow for either the chair or the walker. So, I've stashed the walker in front of the sink and use it when I'm standing there for tooth brushing and such. Then, I have a shower seat that extends over the tub so I can sit and then swing in, and a raised toilet seat with arms. I kind of hold on to these to support me in and out of the tub and toilet area.

Sorry to go on with the detail, but as I noted the last time I was handicapped with such devices, I discovered a world not exactly user friendly to people with mobility issues.  So many places look, on the surface, to be "handicapped accessible," and yet, in reality, still pose quite a challenge. My favorite was the US Post office with all kinds of beautiful exterior ramps and parking for the handicapped, and then, a set of heavy doors with no automatic openers that were REALLY difficult to open when you were seated in a wheelchair.  Or, there was the restaurant "accessible" bathroom that had the access door partially blocked by a pile of children's seat risers that made it impossible to get out of the bathroom hallway on wheels.

Like  a lot of things, the ADA (American with Disabilities Act) has a set of regulations public access places are required to follow. But, following the letter of the law and the practical application of the law are two different things.

I've also entertained myself by food shopping with those electric carts the markets provide. Since I can't exactly shop on crutches, the carts are the answer. But so far, two different stores have two different kind of carts with totally different sets of controls. It's not quite rocket science learning to use them, but there is definitely a learning curve involved. Store #1 had carts plugged in near the door, easy to spot. I just had to unplug one from the wall and hop on. However, trying to find a place to stash my crutches while I rode was a bit of an issue. Fortunately the controls were easy to decipher. Store #2 had the carts in a little hall just past the door...a bit harder to find. I unplugged one, only to find it did not start. Looked it over and realized it needed a key. So I had to crutch over to the service desk to get one. Then, I had to figure out how to make the darn thing to. It had a push button panel, I managed to guess my way through. And then I had to pull the handle knobs towards me to make it go forward, only after I pushed the "forward" button. If I need to reverse, I had to push a blue button in the middle, then the "reverse" arrow button, and then again, pull the knobs towards me. In the other store, pushing the knobs forward made the cart go forward and pulling back made it go back. All in all, a bit confusing to someone who was not too "tech" savvy.  

Again, some kind of standardization would be a big help.

When I left Store #2, I only had two bags of groceries, so I held them in my hands and crutched my way out.  Once I was in the parking lot, the sweet guy who collects the stray shopping carts called over to me--we always say "hi"--and said, "You could have ridden the cart out here."  I thanked him and said it was fine. Besides, I hate to make extra work for him if I can avoid it, and I would have either had to leave the cart in the parking lot, or driven it back into the store and then crutched back out anyhow, so no big deal.

The cart in Store #1 was clearly labeled "For In Store Use Only."  Huh? So you shop, get a bunch of bags and then, how do you get them to the car?  The clerk inside told me to drive the cart on out and not worry about it. I did, then did the return drive to the store and the crutch back to the car. Took me twice as long.

All in all, a humbling experience. And definitely something to think about.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Surgery Report

On Me

I had the surgery to remove the pins and rods from my hip on Monday.

All went well but the doctor decided to keep me in the hospital overnight. That was a bit unexpected, but I was not totally unprepared. I did have to contact my horsesitter to feed the indoor kitties for me, but otherwise, it was OK.  The only annoyance was that my doctor had decided that before I got to the hospital so it would have been nice if he'd told me ahead of time.

Don't remember a thing after I got into the operating rooms. I must be a "cheap date." It was a spinal injection and I don't even recall getting it.

Woke up in recovery with a lovely, kind nurse, unable to move my legs.  That is a strange feeling for sure. Your brain sends to command to move, and nothing happens. The anesthesiologist had told me that might happen since she was giving me a little extra stuff since they didn't know how long the surgery would take--it's not a common procedure. I was told later it was an hour and a half.

Back in my room, I was soon able to order late lunch--3 PM or so--and then a dinner.

Now, people do complain about hospital food, but I may say, University of Princeton Medical Center at Plainsboro has some darn good chefs in the kitchen. Some of the dishes are downright delicious. My meatloaf could have used a bit more spice, but the roasted tomatoes and the sweet potatoes were wonderful. The next day I had some amazing chicken salad too. Wish I knew how they'd spiced that.

You can order food all day from 7AM to 7PM and there is an extensive menu if you are not on a restricted diet.

Nursing care there is wonderful as well.  The staff is very responsive and, since I make an effort to be friendly to them, they are really kind. As I did the last time I was hospitalized with the initial broken hip, I tried to get everyone to laugh before they left my room. It did make the frequent visits interesting.

I guess my only complaint is the typical hospital one. It seemed that every time I did manage to drift off to sleep, someone would come in to take my vitals signs or give me a pill of some sort.

The Physical Therapist insisted I get a walker, so now I have just about every assisting device I could need--shower seat, raised toilet seat, crutches (two kinds), walker, and a wheelchair I bought.  I am mostly using the wheelchair in the house as it's faster than trying to get around with the walker.

For now, I am not supposed to put more than 50% weight on my left leg. That is not easy. I fear I have cheated more than once. (The doctor's assistant kind of said it was OK...the doctor is rather more cautious.)  At any rate, I am being REALLY careful, honest.

The pain is minimal, actually. Certainly, the stapled area is sore, and when I flex the muscle, that hurts, but to be honest, considering how much the darn hardware hurt at times, this really isn't a whole lot worse.  Tylenol takes the edge off just fine, so no heavy duty painkiller needed.

All told, it will be a full six weeks before I am officially recovered, but it might be longer before I can ride again.

I start PT on Monday and this time, I am going to make sure we include exercises to stretch my legs so I will be able to sit astride a horse without pain. You bet.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

OK, So Here's the Deal

Planning Ahead

I am going to get same day surgery to remove the pins and possibly the rods from my left hip on September 14, if all goes as planned.

Apparently, I will be very limited as to what I can do for several weeks after, with a projected six week healing time.  The bones will need to fill in where the metalwork is removed.

For the recovery, I have purchased one of those rolling walker thing with a seat.  I am planning on using my crutches too, and there's always the wheelchair if I need it.  I am not 100% sure of what I will and will not be able to do during the early weeks.

I have put in a call to my horse sitter and hope she will be able to come over to take care of the Boys for me.

In the meantime, I am trying to set things up in the house--which includes a major cleaning, long overdue--and several shopping trips to stock up on supplies I may need.

The tricky part is anticipating things. Just how much cat food and litter do I need to stock up on? What about hay and grain?  Will I be able to go out shopping if I need some basics?

I figure a nice pot of beef barley soup make the day or so before surgery will keep me happy for a while. Should I get some TV dinners? Maybe a few easy cook meals? Some lunch meat and a nice loaf of pumpernickel?

Carrots for the Boys to hide Toby's pills in are on the list. And I will need to, at some point, get his prescription for Prascend filled.

I should be able to drive as it's my left leg, and I don't want to be on any narcotic painkiller if I can avoid it.

Plan ahead.  Words of the day.