Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Progress . . . One week along

I am surrounded by flowers.  These were all gifts from family.  Thank you Jason, Karen and Joan.  Color helps me heal, I think.  The surgery is literally one week past.   And with the help of my physical therapists, Laura and Sally, I am functioning well.  I use a walker whenever I move from place to place.  I'm able to do all of the essential things on my own now.  It's all slow and considered.  I can even manage stairs . . . carefully.  And, today, thanks to an invitation from our dear basketball seat mates, Gary and Carmen, I went out to lunch!  I was able to get down to the car and then go to Sam's Chowder House for a nice meal.  

Ron has been so kind in doing a thousand things I normally do: the laundry, all of the cleanup, making tea and bringing it, carrying objects like this laptop from room to room as needed.  He is my rock in taking care of physical things.  This morning he changed the bed linens and refreshed the room.  I am grateful.  Tomorrow I see my Doctor's assistant and have my first post op checkup.  Here is a photo of Ron putting a heating pad on my ankle in the shape of a teddybear.  

Friday, June 26, 2015

Day Five: Lots of Blessings

Marriage Equality Ruling
My own recovery is not what is on my mind today.  This is an historic day when the Supreme Court did the right thing in affirming people's right to marry.  Rainbows are everywhere and there is so much happiness that at last some force in our government is doing the right thing.  I've changed my Facebook cover page to use a rainbow heart card I made a while back.  In addition to this momentous announcement I watched our President, Barak Obama give the eulogy at the Church in South Carolina.  At the end he sang Amazing Grace.  This is one fine moment in American history.  Quite a day.

I've promised updates on how I'm doing with my rehabilitation from total replacement hip surgery.  Yesterday had some challenges, and as Susan Landor reminded me "recovery is not a straight line."  The question I wanted answered by those who had gone before me was "how much pain is there?'  
Well, I'd like to speak about that for a moment.  Pain is a funny thing.  It comes in many colors and from different directions.  Anyone who knows me knows that I'm an eternal optimist.  But this journey does have some pain.  Of course.  I'm not trying to be brave or anything, but I'm trying to chose to use the strong meds responsibly so that I don't bring on the complications that arise from all the narcotic use.  I have a pile of pills that I can take "as needed" for pain, for nausea, for itching, for constipation, etc.   And, pain isn't necessarily acute physical anguish . . . it's more likely to be nagging, tired, weak and sore body parts.  I am moving around the house doing ordinary things.  But it is really hard.  Really slow.  I despair of when I'll be able to move with less drag, pain and such.  While it is something of a miracle to be functioning fully, albeit at snail pace just four days from surgery, it is still tough sometimes.  

Some of these first few days have been scary and discouraging.  While I have everything I need, I fall into fears about some of the serious complications that can come up.  All of the mountains of information that the hospital sends me home with is full of disclaimers about things that can go wrong after surgery.  So, the slightest symptom and it's easy for my mind to go there.  Post surgery is full of anxiety producing moments and generic fear of the unknown.  And, another hard thing is that I have to ask Ron to do so much.  I can't lift anything and I even need his help getting in and out of bed.  He is so willing to help.  I just have to learn how to accept it gracefully.

Today was a big milestone.   I was able today to wash my hair.  Woo hoo!  After nearly a week of hospital ickiness and sweaty neck, etc my hair felt really greasy and unpleasant.  I'm not allowed to take a shower until Sunday, I think it is, but today I realized that I could stand over my kitchen sink and using the hose wash my hair.  Voila!  Fluffy hair.  Divine.

Life's little pleasures.  

I am especially thankful for some good advice for an old and dear Stanford student, Akin S.  He reminded me:  "But often we are so busy convincing everyone around us that we're fine that we circumvent the necessary journey. So this is a gentle reminder that its okay & WONDERFUL to experience your recovery as a human & not worry about putting on a brave face."
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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Day four HOME!

Well, this whole experience has been remarkable.  As I type this now on Thursday morning, 10:30am I am at home.  I am dressed.  I have had breakfast.  I am sitting at my computer in the office.  I walked myself into this room and sat myself down with the aide of a walker.  My pain level is low and I'm not right now on the strong pain meds, but have them if needed.

So, I would say my condition is stable and good.  I am fragile and a bit weak and everything is very slow.  My meds list reads like a full pharmacy.  I have a total of 22 meds.  I need a spread sheet to keep count of what and when I take all of these.  Many of them are "as needed" in case I start to itch or become nauseous or something else unpleasant or if the pain gets worse.

The real job now is the retraining of my body and musculature to use the alignment of the new bionic hip.  They say it has a lovely ceramic ball joint, a plastic piece and then a titanium spike of some sort.  What happens is that the bones somehow accept this and grow around it if all goes well.  What is important in the next months is to always be mindful so that I don't fall or extend the leg in someway that disjoints it.  This will be a good exercise in focus, attention, slowing down and doing things deliberately rather than automatically.

I've got wonderful help.  Ron is a champion caregiver and was up twice last night.  I still need help getting in or out of bed.  My right leg isn't strong enough to lift it easily.

I begin Physical Therapy at home today with someone named Laura who is coming to the house to begin my training.  I've had two days of PT in the hospital with great therapists.  Thanks Lisa and Jauiming!

Overall its a positive picture, but I'd be lying if I said it's trivial.  I'm not going to innumerate the problems, but it does seem they are under control right now.  My plan is to do a post daily to give some details.

Frankly this may not be a thrilling blog to read, but I'm doing it both for my own records and for anyone who wants the nitty gritty of how it is going.  It might be helpful to someone else who has this surgery in the future.  Whenever I've told someone "I'm having a hip replacement . . . they know of at least two other people who are also having it done or have had it."  Seems like a rite of passage when you get old enough.

I am very grateful to the nurses, aides, room cleaners, pharmacists and doctors and their assistants who are watching out for me.  And thanks to all my friends who have been sending cheering messages.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Second day June 22nd

It's going really well. Surgery was by the numbers. Dr Hartford said it was all good. No problems. I was euphoric when I awoke in recovery likely due to all the medications. I I actually got a good nights sleep albeit in between the every two hour nurses intervention.  Over all it's just great.  I have stood up and taken two steps last night.  Today the physical therapist hopefully gets me walking.

Well my only challenge for the present is managing lightheadednes and potential for fainting.  I seem to be strong enough to walk with the walker but my dizziness prevents me from doing very much.  It's likely caused by my strong pain medicine. They are now assessing the"cocktail ."  Hopefully we can get beyond this glitch with consciousness. .  I may need to be here for four days.  We will see.  

Overall it has been a smooth journey.  I am grateful for the the 30 different people who have entered my room with the purpose of helping me and the hundreds more backstage who serve.
Hospital is great I have a huge room with a view.  Really have not had much pain to deal with.

I'm amazed at how easy it's been so far.  I seem to be in highly competent hands.  It's all good.  I'll have a road to face as I learn to walk with the new hip. I'm motivated to do the work. It's been great having so much love and support. Hip hip hooray for a new hip. 
It will be a while but I'll get there.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Surgery day

Surgery Day Hooray.  Hip hip hooray!!!

We were up at 4:00am to meet our 5:30am date to check in the hospital. And by the time we arrived at Sequoia the sun was giving the world a lovely morning glow.  

Everything has gone perfectly. Being the first case of the day all were fresh, on their mark and doing thoughtful work.  So,far there has been 15 different people who have been taking care of me. I've got their names. 

The post-op experience was ethereal.  I felt elated as I emerged from the anesthesia.  I was soon tranferred to my attractive corner suite in the Hip ward.  Room 3112.  They even gave me a "gift bag with lip balm, toothbrush eyeshades, lotion and lots of fun stuff. 

The anesthesia is wearing off now.  I had a liquid lunch and then my Physical therapist came to do exercises.  I was able to sit on the side of the bed and stand using the walker. I did take two steps but then I got lightheaded and a bit nauseous.  So we didn't yet take that walk down the hall. 

A very neat thing was that they have a line draining any internal blood that may have been lost.  Once they collected a bagful they added it to my IV and gave me back my own blood.  Amazing. 

Now I'm doing well. The challenge will be balancing the pain and side effects in order to begin to walk.  I know you are all cheering me on.  I remember "The path is made by walking." That will be my job.  But likely not till tomorrow.  
 The Internet is buggy so I may not be able to post as often as I would like 
Love to everyone and a big shout out and thanks to Ron. 
Hip hip Hooray. 

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Surgery time scheduled

In my pre-op meeting with the hospital on Friday I've been informed that I'm number one on the surgery dancecard on Monday morning.  This means a 7:30am start for the operation and I'm to be at the hospital to check in at 5:30am. I'm pleased about this as I won't have a lot of time to hang around to worry.  Almost before I'm awake that day they will have me asleep to be ready for the surgery. 

 For those of you reading who know something about this I'm scheduled to have an anterior hip procedure.   Rumor has it that this is less invasive and that healing can go faster since some muscles don't get cut. I've spent part of the weekend getting ready making etegami thank you cards to give to nurses and folks who help.  
I am grateful in advance for all the years of medical knowledge that accompanies me on my adventure.  Thanks to those who studied such procedures and those who know about pain and infection and what to do to combat these.  What a world we live in.  

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Facing a new adventure

On Monday, June 22, 2015 at Sequoia Hospital in Redwood City, CA I will be beginning an adventure.  I am having major surgery:  a total right hip replacement.  My doctor is Dr. James M Hartford, the handsome and (I'm counting on) gifted surgeon who will perform the operation.  I've been struggling with nagging osteoarthritis for half a decade.   What this has meant is that I've slowed down considerably because walking long distances or hiking has become difficult.  The handwriting has been on the wall that unless I do something this pattern of physical diminution will continue. So finally this winter I decided to go forward with the surgery that I am hoping will give me a new lease on life.  I have been encouraged by the well wishes of friends some of whom have had the operation and for whom it has made a big positive difference.  (Kathy Rowland, you are my role model!)

I've always been mobile and active.  While I'm not a runner or a distance walker I've moved around the planet at a healthy speed.  I like being in motion, going places and doing things.  Increasingly as my hip has become less reliable I've become more cautious and conservative about doing much of anything that requires lots of walking or movement.  I'm all for slowing down, but I just don't want to throw in the towel for traveling and having adventures. My friends know that my husband Ron is a serious runner and very active guy.  I'd like to be able to keep up with him as the years go forward.  So, I'm about to step into a new world of surgery and hospitals and rehab and all that.  It appears to have a lot of unknowns.

While I have a lot of confidence in our medical system I'd be lying if I didn't mention that I'm a little scared about it all.  I've already been to a class that explains all the things I won't be able to do for quite some time after the surgery.  Chief among these is bending over to pick up something.  I know this sounds crazy, but I'm having trouble imagining a life without picking things off the floor.  I do have two of the "picker-upper" thingies to carry around with me.  I've been counting and on the average I bend over to pick something up two to three times an hour.  Perhaps this will be a time to learn how to drop fewer things.

I also don't know how I'm going to handle pain.  I've been blessed that I've not had much physical pain in my life.  And, I know that I will be given whatever pain medications are  prescribed for this sort of thing.  It's something of a mystery to me how my body/mind is going to react. I imagine scenarios, but the truth is I'll just have to wait and see.  I don't think of myself as "tough" when it comes to handling pain and discomfort, but reality is not the same as imagining.  I will just have to discover what comes next.

On the very big plus side I have wonderful Ron who is promising to take care of me when I come home from the hospital to rehabilitate here. He has such a kind and gentle nature and seems willing to take on a lot.  I gather there will also be Physical Therapists who will come to the house to help teach me how to exercise and get the body to heal and become strong.  I'll have a walker and cane and all manner of aides to assist me.

I also know that I have lots of loving family and friends who are cheering me on and sending good vibes and prayers and food!  (Thanks Cheryl who sent literally 40 pounds of dinner meals for the coming month.  I am thrilled to have three freezers full of healthy food. An awesome, creative gift.)

I am considering writing this blog as a record of what's going on during the month or so that I am recovering. I'll try to post as often as I can.  Writing is a good way to process an experience.  And, since I won't be out and about perhaps having a daily writing assignment will be a good thing.

So, if any of you are interested in how it's going check this blog page from time to time.  It's likely I'll do an occasional update on Facebook, but I don't want to turn social media into a pity party.  Most of you know that I'm eternally optimistic.  I'll be hoping this mental trait serves me as I take this new journey.  And, I plan to do art and writing to keep me out of trouble.

Here are some recent painting on silk I've done. Color always makes me happy.