Just a few silly things that irk me…

I don’t understand why people who have a handicapped parking permit, those blue things you see hanging from the rear view mirror, don’t take them off when they’re driving. Not only does it say it on the application that you fill out in order to obtain one, it states it on the actual permit…in all CAPS! “REMOVE FROM REARVIEW MIRROR WHEN DRIVING” Ok…maybe you don’t want to take it down, put it back up, take it down, put it back up, take it down put it back up. But really…how often is that happening?!? Unless you’re just driving around going from parking lot to parking lot, this doesn’t seem that difficult or that much of an inconvenience? We put ours in the little “pocket” that’s on the side of either door in our car or in the glove. Not only does it make me think you’re super lazy when you don’t remove it from your rear view mirror before getting on the road, but doesn’t it bother you that this tag is hanging down from the middle of your windshield?!? Are you not looking through your entire windshield when driving?? Come on, people! If it’s that much of an inconvenience, then just get the handicapped license plates! I have a friend who has a pet peeve of people who keep their bike helmets on when they’re not actually biking. He takes a pic and posts it on social media every time he encounters such people. Perhaps I should take a pic and post it every time I see someone driving with their handicapped permit still on their rear view mirror…though I don’t think anyone would really care but me…Hah.
Handicapped Parking Tag

My shower chair/bench. I think I may have ranted about this in a previous post, so I’ll keep it short. It’s a shower chair. It goes in the shower. It gets wet. Having the screws on it rust and then in turn causing my bathroom to smell because of it…not cool. I realize the only option are metal screws (right?), but can’t they spray something over it so it doesn’t rust?!? I read that vinegar can take the rust off…going to try it and see if it helps.

Anyone seen the Toyota Camry commercial with Dancing with the Stars veteran and paralympic snowboarder, Amy Purdy? It premiered back in February, during the Superbowl. Here’s the link for the commercial….https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PjUfygo5mzw
At the 17 second mark of the ad, you see her getting out of bed, with her legs already on…uhm…people don’t go to bed with their prosthetics on…not to my knowledge, anyway. Maybe she was just taking a nap, but the way that part of the commercial played, it looked like she was getting up to start the day. It’s not a big deal and I doubt it bothered other amputees (I just notice everything…), but you don’t just “jump” out of bed anymore. Nothing against Amy Purdy, but I thought that maybe they could have just left that part of the commercial out…

Happy 4th, everyone! Be safe!

Updates…

Biggest update to share…the car finally arrived, with hand controls and all! We ordered the car last year. It arrived at the dealer around March of this year and then I had it sent down to Tampa, FL to have the digital hand controls installed in April and now it’s finally here! I took it for a spin yesterday. The first spin was just around the block, to get the car inspected. We took it to the auto shop around the block, got it inspected, and then we were good to go! Then later on in the day, I drove to my parent’s place, with Ben in the car as well, ..for moral support…b/c it’s not as if he has a gas and brake pedal on his side, like a driver’s ed car. My folks live just 3 miles away from us, so I took all local roads. Not quite ready to venture onto the highway just yet. It was such a weird feeling to be driving again, let alone be sitting in the driver’s seat. It’s been a year and a half of being a passenger every time I get in a car..so being in the driver’s seat and doing the actual driving was pretty awesome. Pics/Video to come…
My thoughts on driving with hand controls…
There’s a lot going on. I’m doing EVERYTHING with my hands, obviously. It’s a tad overwhelming, but I’m sure I’ll adjust. Being that I was an experienced driver prior to the accident, it wasn’t the driving that I was nervous about, per se…it was driving with hand controls that I was nervous about. It wasn’t as bad as I was expecting. Obviously, I’ll have to get used to driving with my hands…but there are a couple of things that are a little tricky as a newbie to driving with hand controls. For instance, accelerating when turning is something that I’ll have to get a feel for. Since the accelerator ring is set inside the steering wheel, I have to grip the steering wheel to both steer and apply the gas, and getting the right grip and applying the right pressure to the “gas” will take a little bit of practice. The other thing I noticed is, it’s a little tricky to do things that I used to do with one foot and two hands now…it’s not like I lost a foot and gained a hand, so it’s tricky doing something I used to need 3 appendages to do, with only 2. For example, when your in tight spots or backing out of a driveway, you need to turn the wheel before you put the car into gear. “Normally”, you’d do this by, using your hands to turn the wheel, putting your foot on the brake, and then with one hand still holding onto the wheel, you’d take your right hand to put the car into gear and then take your foot off the brake to move it to the gas pedal, and then go. Still with me? But now…I have to do all that with my hands. I use both hands to turn the wheel, then take one hand off the wheel and put it on the brake. But..I still have to put the car into gear while keeping one hand on the brake and one hand on the steering wheel. Problem is, I only have 2 hands. I have to use 2 fingers of my left hand to hold the wheel and the remaining 3 to hold onto the brake and then my right and to shift the car into gear. So, driving might be a little more complicated nowadays, but I guess I’ll figure it out, just like I’ve figured everything else out…

Some other miscellaneous updates and thoughts…
Back when I was in the hospital and was trying to look on the bright side of things, I thought, well…at least I’ll be able to wear skinny jeans now with prosthetics! Apparently, I was wrong. My right prosthetic is “skinny” enough but my left prosthetic is bigger than my own, real, muscular calves were. So much for skinny jeans. So much for any jeans. Of the 20 pairs of jeans I own, I can only fit into 2 pairs of them, barely…
As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, a lot of my clothes no longer fit me. It’s one thing when clothes that I’ve owned for a while no longer fit me, it’s another when clothes that I bought less than a year ago no longer fit me properly!…What the hell?!?!…

I’ve graduated to “big girl” exercises at therapy. The post-op exercises that used to be my main exercises, are now my warm-up exercises. I’m now doing kneeling exercises, bridges, planks, kneeling push-ups off of a Bosu ball (flat platform on one side and dome ball on the other), and other fun stuff…Even though it’s much harder and challenging, I prefer them over the warm-up ones…those were kinda boring…but don’t tell my PT…And on that note…To anyone that’s planning on having their legs amputated..it pays to be in shape before-hand…it helps. =) I didn’t think I was in shape, but apparently I was in much better shape than most people. Who knew?!?

It’s been 3 months since my last operation and I’m STILL pulling stitches out of my leg…”dissolvable” stitches, my ass. My wound/scar is healed, but I develop these pimples/blisters constantly b/c the stitches are trying to work their way out of my body. Sorry for being gross….I pop the pimples/blisters, goo comes out, and then eventually a stitch gets squeezed out. Sometimes the process of a pimple/blister forming and getting popped occurs several times before the stitch actually evacuates my body. Fun times.
Again…sorry for being gross…I was sitting on the toilet recently…and had a thought…It’s the best place to do your thinking, right? Hehe. I thought, it’s a good thing my right leg is the one that got amputated above the knee and is the shorter one. Reason being….I’m a righty and therefore use my right hand to wipe my butt. So…that means, I lean over to my left side and lean on my left leg, to lift the right side of my butt up in order to use my right hand to wipe it. (Sorry again…just keeping it real…) But, if my left leg was the one that was amputated above the knee and shorter, then I’d have to lean over to the right and use my left hand to wipe my butt. I mean…I guess I would’ve “learned” to use my left hand to wipe my butt and eventually gotten the hang of it. But, I’m glad that’s one thing I didn’t have to learn.

Update – Since I started drafting this post, I’ve driven on the highway. We drove, I drove…to my in-laws to surprise them and show them our new car. My in-laws live in Westchester and we live in Queens, so I had to drive over the Whitestone Bridge and take a couple of different highways. I was hesitant at first and thought Ben should do the driving, but I bit the bullet and went for it. We figured, worst case, if I was feeling uncomfortable, we could pull over somewhere and he could take over. But, I made it…safe and sound!
I think I want to create a bumper sticker that says, “Person W/O legs driving…DON’T honk!”…or something along those lines. Hehe. I’m taking suggestions. =)

Next post – pics and video of car and me driving!!!

It finally happened…

…I fell. I’m OK.
Luckily, it happened at home and I wasn’t alone.
I was walking down the hallway (prosthesis on and with one crutch in hand) from the bathroom, heading towards the living room, when I slipped…I think. I’m not quite sure what happened b/c once I started going down I was more concerned with trying to hold myself up and figuring out how I could fall by causing myself the least amount of injury, that I wasn’t exactly paying attention to how I was falling. But..I think my right foot (AK) slipped and then I wasn’t able to regain my balance so all of me started going down. After my right foot slipped, I reached for the wall with my right hand to try and catch myself, but no luck. Then I dropped the crutch that was in my left hand and tried grab the wall with that hand, failed yet again. Now I knew I was going down…
Since this was my first time falling, it was obviously scary, but I’ve never been scared of the actual falling, per se..I mean…once it’s happening, it’s happening and gravity is going to do its job. I knew the first fall would be the worst, simply b/c it’s the first time, but I’ve always been more worried about the where and how. And of course, how badly it would hurt. Since I don’t have full flexion on my knee (BK), the pain would be dependent on what position my left leg would be in when I fell. Since the last operation, I have much more flexion in the knee, but the knee is still stiff and generally when I’m bending it, it’s in a slow motion. So…with the being said, this fall hurt like a MOFO. Once I started going down, my right leg gave out and then my left leg followed. (My right leg is the AK, so it’s mostly the prosthetic. My left leg is the BK so the prosthetic starts right below my knee.) My left leg bent to 90 degrees (not in slow motion) and then my knee cap hit the hardwood floor. Fuuuuck. So, first I fell forward onto my knee first and then I fell backward onto my bum, both screaming and crying in pain. Then I just sprawled myself out on the floor…balling. It felt like something along my knee had snapped inside and of course the impact of my knee cap hitting the floor wasn’t pleasant. When anyone hits their knee on a hard surface, it’s not pleasant, but I have very thin skin graft over my knee cap so it makes it so much more unpleasant.
Ben was sitting in the living room and heard the “crash” and the screaming so he came running. I was already down by the time he got to me, so I had him take my left prosthesis off b/c the weight of it was causing me more pain. After he took it off, I just lay there for a few minutes. After the pain subsided a little, I tried to move my knee and it seemed to be moving which meant I didn’t break anything. I had him help me up so I could sit down. Once seated (I only have one leg on at this point), I moved the knee/leg around a little more. It was definitely sore, but I was able to move it. I decided to put the prosthetic back on and see if it was painful to stand in it…seemed ok. Then I took a couple of steps…still seemed ok. Ben thought I should take the legs off and just take it easy the rest of the day but I didn’t want the fall to keep me home and sulking since I didn’t seem to have any major injuries. I didn’t do a lot of walking the rest of the day, but I put the leg back on and left the house like we were planning on doing. It was sore for the rest of the day and I iced it later that night, but it hasn’t swelled up (knock on wood) so that’s good. This happened on Sunday and it’s now Tuesday night. It’s still sore, but as expected. And I think the snap I felt was probably scar tissue. So…on the bright side, the fall may have broken up some of my extensive scar tissue..which is a plus! I’ll have the physical therapist take a look at it during my appointment tomorrow and hopefully everything is all good.
Sometimes, even people with 2 good legs fall. It was bound to happen sooner or later. Gotta just get back up and carry on…

Spring Time!

It’s been 7 weeks since my operation and once I was no longer breaking out in hives or rashes, I was doing ok. I’ve just been pulling out my stitches on my own for the last week or so…you know, in my spare time. Last week, I pulled out 2 really long stitches (each about the length of a Q-Tip). Actually, I think it was 1 really long stitch, but I wasn’t able to get it fully out in one shot. I pulled half of it and then had to cut it and then later on during the day I was able to pull out the other half. Apparently, dissolvable stitches don’t always dissolve and when my body doesn’t want something in there, it’ll constantly let me know until I finally take it out. Good times.
I’ve been back up in my prosthesis and walking, slowly and not full time just yet, but steadily working on it. Only problem is, I’m still in my old socket. Post surgery, my prosthetist made me a revised socket, because the size and shape of my leg changed, but I’ve still been using my old socket b/c insurance has yet to approve it. Come on, insurance!!! Give me a break! Yet again, battling with insurance.
Some good news…I saw my orthopedist last week and I don’t have to go back into the hospital for another procedure. He was happy with the progress I’ve made so far on bending my knee so he told me that I don’t have to back into the OR so that he can “manually manipulate” my knee. Woohoo! Good thing b/c I was told that it’s very painful. Manual manipulation is basically me being sedated and then the doctor just going to town forcing my knee to bend as much as it can…it’s like forcing someone that’s not flexible to do something flexible. Ouch.
Our new car is now down in Tampa, Florida. It’s down there at the factory of the company that’s installing my digital hand controls. It was transported down there last week. They told me installation should take about 2-3 weeks and then it will be transported back to me. That means….I’ll be driving on my own by next month! Eek! Exciting and scary!! Of course, I’ll have to learn how to use the hand-controls and become comfortable driving with them, but this will be a huge step towards more independence. I’m getting digital hand-controls, as opposed to manual hand-controls. See below for the visual difference of manual, old-school hand controls and digital hand-controls.
manual hand-controls
digital hand controls
If you look at the 1st photo, there are rods that go from the pedals up to the steering wheel and the entire contraption looks very cumbersome and looks like a… contraption. If you look at the 2nd photo, you can barely tell that there are hand-controls installed in the car. The small ring inside the steering wheel, that’s the gas pedal, and the little knob to the right of the steering wheel that looks like a mini gear shift, that’s the brake pedal. The brake is still manual but it’s hidden unlike in the set-up of the first photo and the steering wheel is tied into the car’s computer. Neither system is cheap, but the digital controls are definitely much pricier…about 3 times more than the manual controls!…but it looks like it belongs and is part of the car and from everything I’ve heard, much easier and more natural to use, as well. It’s expensive…but in the long run I think it’ll be worth it. If it makes me feel more comfortable and is more natural, in both appearance and use, it’s worth the cost. I can only assume it’s more expensive b/c it’s not the “standard” in hand-controls, but with everything else in the world being digital, it’s a wonder why this isn’t one of them. Make sure to be on the look out for when I start blogging about the driving experience…yikes! Maybe, I’ll have to enlist my brother to rig the entire car with cameras and film my learning process along with the first time passengers. Volunteers, anyone?!? Hah!
I might be working on a little, mini crusade for an issue/cause that is now relevant to me since I am “handicapped” but I’m going to be a little hush hush about it until I have a “plan”. Stay tuned.
I’m started to research for a therapist/psychologist. I’ve waited this long b/c I wanted to wait until I’d be able to drive myself to appointments. I didn’t want to tack on, yet another thing, that I’d have to rely on someone else to drive me to. Clearly, it’s b/c I have a problem talking about my “issues”…obviously. I’m just in the beginning stages of the process, researching for people that have experience dealing with people who have been through trauma, preferably someone that accepts my insurance, located in a good location, etc. Clearly, I’m not going to want someone that will baby me…that’s for sure. I have a vision of what this therapist will look like and even the type of person he/she will be…male, 50s or so, tough guy who’s actually a sweetheart…haha. I’ve made a list of a few from my criteria (the experience with trauma and takes my insurance criteria, not the nonsense criteria!) and have emailed a few requesting for phone consultations. I’ve had 2 get back to me, one male and one female. I had a quick consultation with the guy and I have my consultation with the woman tomorrow, but she and I did speak briefly. In my email, I mention that I was in a traumatic accident about a year and a half ago. Both psychologists made the assumption that I was in a car accident. When I told them no, not a car accident but a subway accident, the results were kind of funny to me. The first person said, oh..I assume you were on the subway. My response, in typical Teena fashion (sorry for the 3rd person reference…), “Actually, I was under the subway.” What?!?..Yes..I was hit by the subway. And then she had a kind of an excited reaction. It’s like doctors when they get an “interesting” case. Do you guys know what I mean? She tried to check herself, but I could tell she had this moment of, oooh, I’ve never had a patient/case like this before! She confirmed this for me when upon setting a time for our phone consultation tomorrow and right before we got off the phone, she said, I’d love to work with you (in that excited tone again). Maybe it was just my imagination..we’ll see. The other guy..same thing, assumed I was in a car accident. His reaction wasn’t of excitement, but it was a little funny/odd too. After he said to me, traumatic accident..car? I said, no..I was hit by the subway. His response..the subway?!…you’re kidding?!?
Uhm…that’s what you come up with?? I appreciate that it was a genuine reaction and that he was surprised, but it was a little awkward. I mean..maybe if I had said I was struck by lightning…
Let’s see how the rest of them react…I have a feeling they will all have a similar reaction.

The Incredible Hulk or Hulk Hogan?

Happy Passover and hope everyone had a nice Easter!
So…apparently I’m turning into the Incredible Hulk or Hulk Hogan. Upon taking off my PJ shirt this morning, I noticed that the seam by my shoulder and armpit had ripped…on both sleeves. GREAT. This is the problem I tend to have now, my shirts are too small for me, particularly in the arm or shoulder area. This is not cool. Yes, yes…I know it’s b/c my upper body is jacked now from constantly using it and it’s all muscle…blah, blah, blah. Knowing why, doesn’t make it suck any less. Not being able to fit into my clothing, which I happen to like, is just not cool. It would be one thing if all I wore prior to the accident were sweats and now I had to get bigger sweats, but that’s not the case..I’m not at the point of needing to buy an entire new wardrobe just yet, but it may have to come to that point, at some point. In addition to needing to eventually figuring out what pants will “look nice” over my prosthetics (when I stop shrinking/changing in size), I’ll also need to figure what now works with my new upper body frame. So, I need to figure what will fit and look nice over my line-backer shoulders and arms, my half real/half prosthetic left leg, and my prosthetic right leg. Yup. Well…at least I have spring and summer coming up. Warmer weather is easier to dress for…dresses, tank-tops (no sleeves means no ripping), shorts, etc…#Thesearmsaretoobig How do I go back to being petite?…Being half the size b/c I no longer have my legs doesn’t count…
It’s been just over 2 weeks since the surgery and except for a couple of bumps in the road, healing has been going OK. The hives are all gone and I’m not scratching myself like a flea infested dog anymore. I still get a random itch and there, which gets me a little freaked out, but I think I’m clear of the hives. All of my incision sites are starting to scab up, which is a good sign of healing. I’m still a little swollen in certain areas of my leg, but the swelling has definitely gone done a lot over the past couple of weeks. Once all the scabs clear and the swelling goes down some more, that will probably be the time I’ll need to start kicking it into high gear at therapy. Excited to get “back on my feet” again but not looking forward to the torturous workouts…
So, currently, I’m only wearing my right prosthetic. Seems odd to just wear my right prosthetic, right? My prosthetist doesn’t want me losing my shape or size so I wear it even though I can’t walk with just having the one on. But…I do walk with just the one on when I’m at therapy. I do this walk/hop thing in the parallel bars or with a pair of forearm crutches when I’m outside of the parallel bars (with someone standing behind me and holding my waist as I go…otherwise I’d fall on my face..). It’s freaking hard. It’s not so much the walking/hopping, as it is the trying to regain my balance and then use all of my upper body strength and my right side to stay balanced after taking a step. When I have both prosthetics on, it takes me, if I remember correctly, about 5 times more energy than an able-bodied person, to just walk…just walk. So with just the one, it felt like it took 20 times more energy… Obviously, when I had my legs it didn’t take me any energy to walk, because I didn’t think about it, I just did it. So is 5 times more energy accurate?…who knows…I’m been doing stretching exercises at home as well, exercises given to me by my prosthetist, that I’m supposed to do 10,000 times a day! I’ve been doing them. Also painful – but the good kind…sort of. It’s still early, so I can’t quite tell just yet, but I think I’ve started to get a little bit more bend out of it. It’s hard to tell. It’s all very strange.
I have a post-op follow-up with my orthopedist this Friday. I’ll see how that goes…I’ll have to apologize to him for my “nerdy” behavior when he came to see me in recovery, after the operation. Apparently, in my post-op, loopy state, I told him he did a good job and high-fived him. Wow. 12 surgeries under by belt prior to this one, all sedated, and this was my first time experiencing a “high” upon waking up from the anesthesia. Much nicer to wake up happy and loopy then groggy and exhausted.
That’s all for now…until next time.
As always, thanks for reading and keeping up with the goings on of me…

Enough is Enough…(EDIT)

Ok…let’s recap…
-December 26,2013 – Fall onto the subway tracks at Grand Central. Get hit by the 7 train. Lose both of my legs.
Right there sounds like it should be enough already, right? Not quite…
-December 26, 2013-February 18, 2014 – 2 months in the hospital, most of it spent in the ICU. 12 trips to the OR. A week and a half of it spent on the floor from hell. Close to 2 weeks without washing my hair…after having been on a NYC subway track. Surgeries, countless drugs, painful trips to get X-rays, poked too many times, the “death” of my veins from being poked too many times.
-February 18, 2014-March 5, 2014 – 2 weeks in Rehab. It’s been over 2 months since I’ve had an actual shower. For the most part, these 2 weeks actually weren’t too bad, compared to what I had already been through. One of the most uncomfortable parts of this stay was probably the fact that my room was so hot, to me, anyway, that I had to pretty much sleep naked surrounded by 4-6 ice packs every single night and I’d still wake up sweaty every morning. Lovely.
-The rest of the year went OK. Nothing too major to be down and out about. I completely fell out of my wheelchair once (on a street corner in Westchester) and almost went flying out of my wheelchair another time (on the corner of Hollywood Blvd. in LA), both instances were horrifying and extremely unpleasant. I had some pain issues here and there, but mostly from learning how to use the prosthetics, so expected.
-Fast forward to March 20, 2015-present day – Surgery #13. I’m told from the Orthopedist and the Plastic Surgeon that surgery went well. However, I’m told, they did pull out a piece of plastic from my leg which had been buried in there pretty deep..just what I wanted to hear. But other than that…surgery went well. OK. The plastic surgeon also revised a scar line. Bonus! (I guess…). Then…the following night (Saturday) I’m told that I have an infection. The tissue swab that they took from me while I was in the OR tested for gram positive bacteria, which meant I had an infection, had to be moved to a private room (private room for free..woohoo!), and would be seen by an Infectious Disease doc. None of this sounded good, but I was assured that I had nothing to worry about, this was just protocol and I should be fine. Sunday – my leg starts to itch. I mention it to the residents and nurses and they tell me, itchy is good, it means you’re healing, which I knew from my past operations. However, as the day progressed, I felt it was getting much itchier and I couldn’t be healing THAT fast. I mean, I’ve been told I heal quickly, but it had only been 2 days..there’s no way I’m healing that fast. I thought about mentioning it to the residents, but I knew they’d tell me it’s nothing and that it’s not good to expose my wounds too much (they had just changed my dressings earlier that day). I was supposed to be discharged the following day and I knew they’d change my dressings before being discharged so I just sucked it up. Come Monday morning when the Plastic Surgery residents come to see me. They take off my dressings, and what do you know…I’ve had a bad reaction to what they were using to hold the dressings in place. Hundreds of blisters all along my 12+ inches long scar line. It just keeps getting better. I get discharged, sent home with a prescription for antibiotics (for the infection), and then I’m home. The first couple of days home went off pretty smoothly. I had some minor pain, but nothing I was dying over. The blisters were slowly popping and the itchiness they caused were slowly subsiding. Then comes Thursday night, I start getting itchy in other places on my body, areas of my leg that hadn’t been operated on, my stomach, my hip, and my hand. Ok, I thought, this has got to just be psychological. I’m not really itchy in all these places. It’s like when one spot on your back itches and then all of a sudden your entire back itches. And then Friday night came around, it gets worse. I’m itchy in those same places, plus new spots, and the itchiness has intensified. I take some Benadryl, which I had been taking the last couple of nights right before going to bed, but it didn’t seem to quite cut it this time around. I try to just fall asleep and ignore it. I wake up today (Saturday) and the second I sit up, I start scratching myself all over, like I had fleas. This was not pleasant. My back, my arms, my ears, all areas of my legs, etc. I go to the bathroom to brush my teeth and after I’m done, I roll up my sleeves so I can wash my face, and then I see them….spots/blotches/hives (?) ALL over my forearm. I let out a little scream and tell Ben to come and look. WHAT IS THIS?!? WHAT IS HAPPENING?!? I then proceed to lift up my shirt. It’s ALL over my stomach. I lift up my shirt again and ask Ben to see if it’s on my back too. Yup. ALL over. I email my surgeons and tell them what’s happening and send them pics. I call and leave a message for the Infectious Disease doc. The answering service asks me if it’s a life threatening emergency, I contemplate saying yes for a second, but then decide against it. But I do tell him that it’s bad. I call up my primary care doc to get his advice. As I sit and wait for one of them to get back to me, Ben and I think it could be an allergic reaction to the antibiotics. That’s the only new/different thing. Everything else that I was taking was over the counter (vitamins or Aspirin) or I had taken at some other time. But, I had already been taking the antibiotics for 5 days, why am I having a reaction now?!?…I still have 8 more days of taking it…ID doc is the first to call me back. I explain to him what’s going on. He agrees, it’s probably a reaction to the antibiotics, which he had told me could be a possibility, back when I was in the hospital(I forgot). He tells me to stop taking it for 2 days and see what happens and then call him in 2 days. But the infection, is it OK to not take it for 2 days? He says it’s fine and if it’s giving me such a bad reaction then I’ll have to stop it anyway. I tell him that I’m coming to the hospital on Monday to see the Plastic Surgeon, can I come by to see him? He says that would be perfect. We’ll figure out a plan when I see him on Monday. If the hives/breakout goes away then we’ll know that it’s the antibiotics and we’ll have to come up with a new plan. If they don’t go away, then we’ll have to examine me to figure out what it is and I’ll go back to taking the antibiotics. The catch – the only other antibiotic that fights the infection/bacteria I got, is in IV form. So, does that mean I have to go back to the hospital? How do I go about getting an IV drip everyday for 30 min if I don’t go to the hospital? All these questions… The doc says, lets just wait until Monday and see what happens. OK…So, I didn’t take the antibiotic today. The hives are still all over me, they’ve basically taken over my body as the day progressed. I’m trying to not itch. It’s very hard. (Sorry if I’m making all of you think you’re itchy just from reading this post…now you feel a bit of my pain.) I’d rather be in pain that be itchy. Being itchy, is its own form of pain. It’s torture. Hopefully when I wake up tomorrow some of it subsides. One itch went away, only to be replaced by a different, more intense, and wider spread itch. I will spare all of you pictures that I’ve taken…
-I’ve learned over this past year and a half…I’m pretty in tune with my body and when I think something is off or going wrong, I’m usually pretty on point about it…unfortunately. But moving forward, if I feel something is off, I’m going to email or call the doc ASAP. I’m by no means a hypochondriac, but I am a VERY detail-oriented person and I notice everything…so if I think something is off with my body, I should trust my gut. Worst thing that could happen?…I’m wrong and that could only be good.
-But really, I’ve had enough. It’s not enough that I lose my legs to the 7 train and have 12 operations in the span of 2 months, but just when I thought my latest operation went well, something has to come up…Just because I can take it, doesn’t mean I want it given to me!!! It just never ends…Whoever is in charge out there…listen up….ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!

**EDIT – I googled “reactions to Levaquin” (the antibiotic) and I click on this site, rxlist.com, and it says…”Stop using and call your doctor at once if you have a serious side effect such as…” And one of them says, “the first sign of skin rash, no matter how mild…” Wonderful.

Successful Surgery

Surgery is the easy part. Recovery is the hard part.
According to the docs, surgery was successful. As for myself, I won’t know until my leg is all healed up and I can get back to using it. Right now, it’s still very swollen and scar lines haven’t fully healed yet so I’m limited in what I can do. Surgery was on Friday, 3/20, so I’m on day 5 of recovery.
A lot happened over the weekend while I was in the hospital, so I’ll bullet point the things that I thought were memorable.
-During the check-in process at the hospital, I asked the gentlemen helping me if there were private rooms (just curious as to how the Hospital for Special Surgery does things). He replied, yes, but they’re an out-of-pocket cost. Figured that much. Naturally, my follow-up question is, how much?..at NYU Rusk it was $399/night, I think…I tell him. He replies with, “You don’t have a heart condition, do you?” No…He then hands me a piece of paper with the different private room options, a menu of sorts. The private rooms go for $1,100, $1,200, $1,300 or $1,400 PER NIGHT. Woah. The higher the nightly rate, the bigger the room size, the better the view, and the more in-room amenities (i.e sofa). Ridiculous. I end up getting a private room for free…you’ll learn why a little further into this post.
-While in the “holding room” all the nurses and residents came to ask me all the usual questions. I’m still unsure as to how I’m supposed to answer, “What’s your height?” and “How much do you weigh?” Well, I know my height and weight in my prosthetics but not when I’m not in them. I can estimate my weight, but how is height measured when my remaining limbs aren’t the same length? Do you go by the longer one?, the shorter one?, the average of both?….And each nurse or resident asks, so what are we having done today? Uhm, should you know? But I guess it’s some sort of check system…I hope.
-I left the “holding room” and left for the OR at around 12N. A few minutes after getting into the OR, they hooked the anesthesia up to my IV and I was out in about 30 seconds. Before fully being put out I had one request for the team. I asked that they please put me back into the bed right side up because at Bellevue, after one of my surgeries, they had transferred me back onto my bed upside down, with my head at the foot of the bed and my legs at the head….
-It was about 3:30/4P when I woke up in the recovery room. Surgery had taken about 3.5 hours. Doc had estimate 3-5 hours, so it was on the shorter end of the estimate. This was the first time I had woken up loopy after surgery. Of the 12 times I had surgery at Bellevue, I had never woken up loopy. Groggy? Yes. Tired? Yes. So, I had woken up and both Ben and the Ortho doc were at my bedside. Based on what I remembered and what Ben told me, this is how it went down. Doc said that the surgery went well. Great. I asked if I had to have a skin graft. No. Awesome. The doctor is telling Ben that they think they’ve increased my range of motion to 100 degrees (it was about 50-55 prior). They manually bent it in the OR and were able to get about that mush flexion. Then the doc picked up my leg and bent it right then and there. I had received a spinal epidural so the lower half of me was still numb so I didn’t feel a thing, but I remember him picking up my leg and bending it. Then the next thing I did…so embarrassing. I happily said, “GOOD JOB DOC! HIGH FIVE!” And proceeded to put my hand up in the air. WOW. NERD ALERT. Sorry, doc. It’s the meds. Don’t judge. =) The doc also told Ben that when the plastic surgeon was working on me, he took out a “chunk” of plastic that was in my leg. Uh….what?!? Yup, you heard correctly..a piece of plastic. Lovely.
-I spent about 5 hours in the recovery room. They couldn’t transfer me into a room until the numbness went away. It took about 4 hours for the numbness to go away and then I had to wait about another hour for a room b/c even though I was ready to go at around 7P, that’s the time of shift change, so I had to wait until everyone was situated. My nurse in the recovery room told me that she told them to make sure I got a good room. =) I was moved to the 6th floor, the window side of the room that had an amazing view of the river and the 59th Street Bridge. Nice. I got settled in and my nurse came to take my vitals and give me my meds..the usual. About an hour after being in my room, I started to feel nauseous. It came and went. But when it came back the 3rd time…uh oh…it wasn’t looking good. I thought, oh crap…do I puke to the left of my bed or the right of my bed? If I puke to the right, it’s too close to my neighbor. If I puke to the left, I don’t know if I’d make it b/c I couldn’t really lean over to my left side just yet. Puke on myself?…Ugh. Then I saw the little puke tray that was on my tray table. Saw it and grabbed it just in time. Strawberry jello and some chicken soup broth. At least it came up easy….I called for my nurse and when he came in I was sitting there holding my tray and thinking…uhm, can you take this, please??….
-Saturday went ok. I had the plastic surgery residents and the orthopedic resident check up on me. They basically told me that everything went well…blah, blah, blah…and that they’d check on me on Sunday. I was on a liquid diet Saturday morning, a soft diet by the afternoon, and a regular diet by the evening. I had a lot of visitors on Saturday. Thanks to everyone that came by on Saturday. XOXO. I was worried that I’d be disturbing my neighbor, Yoko, a lovely 78-year old Japanese woman, who was very happy to tell me that she’s married to a younger man, a 65-year old. Way to go, Yoko! She was very nice and told me I wasn’t bothering her..thank goodness.
-Saturday night came around and 2 minutes after Ben left to go home, a doc walks into the room and comes to my bedside and just starts spewing out info. Wait, hold on. Who are you? What are you talking about? “Oh, sorry”, he says. I’m from the ortho team and the tissue sample we took from you while you were in the OR tested positive for bacteria in the lab. You have gram positive bacteria. Don’t be alarmed. You’re stable and not showing any symptoms, like a fever, so don’t worry. But, as a precaution and hospital protocol, we’re going to need to transfer you to a private room. And then tomorrow or Monday, a doctor from the infectious disease department will come and speak to you? Uh, what? Infectious disease?!?! Don’t worry, they’re just the guys that handle the lab work and will have more details/info on this. Ooookay. I immediately call Ben and ask him to come back b/c I was freaking out for a hot second. It was already past visiting hours and he was worried that he wouldn’t be let back up. I said tell them to just call the charge nurse and they’ll tell security it’s ok. Upon coming back up, Ben tells me that the front desk had a message for me..tell your wife, she doesn’t get to say it’s ok if you can go back up or not. Teehee. =) So, we gathered my stuff and off I went into my private, corner room. This room was much bigger. It had a chair that pulled out into a bed, a mini fridge in the corner of the room, a little sink with counter space, and more windows.
-I texted a few people and told them I had been transferred into a private room. The response from all…Great! My reply, yea…it wasn’t b/c of anything good though. Oh, what happened? I may have an infection. Oh no…did you lose the view? Haha…I just told you that the reason I got a private room is b/c I may potentially have an infection and the first thing you ask is if I lost the view…I did lose the view. My view was now of the hospital building. Oh well, you gain some, you lose some. I think I had the $1,100/night room. And apparently at $1,100/night the TV is not included, still $10/day…crazy. I wasn’t being quarantined. I could still leave the room and have visitors. Whew. The nurse started me on IV antibiotics and then I got settled in and turned in for the night.
-Sunday morning – The ortho residents came to see me and just asked if everything was ok and that it looked like I was ok to go home on Monday if the infectious disease doc cleared me. Then the plastics residents came to see me and change my dressings. They walk in and one of them says to me, you have a nice big room all to yourself now. I said yea, but not b/c of anything good. Oh, what happened? Well, the ortho resident came to see me last night and said I might have an infection. About a nanosecond after I said the word infection, the two of them turned around and started to walk towards the door and said, we’ll be right back. Don’t worry, we’re not avoiding you. Really…?…isn’t that exactly what you’re doing?!? They came back with gloves on (why they didn’t in the first place, I don’t know) and the full-length, long sleeve gowns on top of their scrubs. He says to me, I’m sure you’ll be fine, but we’re just being careful. Yup, ok. Idiot. They change my dressings and then I ask them, will I be seeing the doc tomorrow, before/if I get discharged? Do you want to see him? Uh, yes…that would be nice. Ok, we’ll let him know. Thanks. Please tell him to not treat me like a one night stand. A physical therapist came in a little later after that. He told me that I was already cleared by PT on Saturday so if you want to just rest, that’s ok, but if you want to do some exercises, we can do that, too..whatever you want. As long as I’m not in pain, I’m always down to do some exercises, so I asked him…ok, what kind of exercises. His reply…We can go for a walk. I don’t say anything for a second and then I say, Uhm…how would we do that?…He puts his hand to his forehead, looks at his piece of paper, and then says to me, “Oh, right…sorry…” I said, it’s ok…don’t worry. He seemed embarrassed enough. But then he proceeds to ask me, do you have your prosthetics? I have prosthetics, but they’re not here. They’re at home. Oh, but you have them. Yes, I have them but even if they were here I wouldn’t be able to put them on now. Oh, right..b/c of the surgery. This guy is just digging a deeper and deeper hole for himself. Then he finally ends with, well, we can do some transfer exercises or you can transfer in your chair and we can go for a stroll. Eh..I think I’m good for now..thanks.
-Thanks to all that came to visit me on Sunday!
-Sunday night – my friend Klara brought dinner and dessert (donuts from this new place). I had my mom, my brother, and Klara in my room until about 9:30P. Before they went home, the 4 of us split the glazed donut. My mom then put the box of donuts on top of the mini-fridge, along with a bag filled with a pretzel on top of that. (You’ll see why I bring this up in a sec). Before my mom left, I had her go with me to the pantry, down the hall from my room and fill up my water bottle. While we were at the pantry, the charge nurse from the other night sees me and comes over to say hello. I ask him if he’s heard about my latest drama and he said he had, but that at least I got a free, private room out of it. He asked me if they had told me what bacteria they found in me. I said no. He said he had it written down on my chart and if I wanted to know. Yes! I had waited all day for the ID (Infectious Disease) doc and he was a no show. I was told I was “infected”, moved to a private room, and then never told what was wrong with me. He gave me the name of the bacteria and then it was off to google. Turns out it’s a very common bacteria, one that’s in the outside world and you can get almost anywhere, but most commonly in hospitals. While I was in the recovery room, the nurse said to me, 12 surgeries before this one and not one single infection. That’s amazing. Oh, the irony. Googling the name of the bacteria could’ve gone very badly. But knowing that it’s a common bacteria, eased my mind a little bit.
-Monday morning – Still waiting to get word on if I’d be going home. I got up, brushed my teeth in the bathroom and that’s when the construction started. It sounded like the ceiling was going to collapse on me. My breakfast arrived at around 7:30A, but I don’t usually start eating it until around 8:30A or so and by then the coffee is cold. So, I got in my wheelchair and grabbed the cup of coffee, and by alternating hands, got myself down the hall to the pantry. Once down the hall, I had to ask for help, since I couldn’t reach the microwave. I don’t like buzzing the nurses for stuff like that..I knew I had to ask for help once I was there but I knew I didn’t need help getting there, so why bother them? They always seem so impressed when I do something on my own. Anyway, the ortho residents came to see me, said I was good to go home on their end. Then the plastics team came to see me. They started to take off my old dressings and there it was. Hundreds of blisters. My skin had a bad reaction to something they used to secure the gauze on my scar line. That’s why my leg was so itchy that I wanted to scratch my skin off. It was gross. As they were on their way out, one of the residents said, I told the doc you wanted to see him, he’ll be here to see you in a bit. A little bit later, he showed up. Looked me over, gave me the details of what was done in the OR, gave me wound care instructions for when I get home, and then told me to make an appointment with him for next week. Upon exiting my room, he says to me, “And btw, I was never treating you like a one-night stand. That’s not my style..maybe 20 years ago..” Love it. A short while after that, the ID doc came in. He said, you can go home. Tell the nurses that I told you you could go home and that I wasn’t the one holding things up. Hah. We talked about the bacteria, that I could’ve had it living in me for a while, and that I’ll need to be on antibiotics for 2, maybe 4 weeks. Ok, not too bad. After his visit, I was waiting on paperwork, my prescriptions, the official discharge and a visit from PT (to get in a quick session since I was waiting). While the the ID doc was in my room, Ben arrived and after the ID doc finished talking with me, Ben and I went for a stroll around the floor. I went to visit Yoko and then we did a loop around the floor before returning to the room. When we got back to the room, I decided to try one of the other donuts that was leftover from Sunday night. I open the box and there were only 2 donuts…..uhm, what happened? I asked my mom and my friend Klara if they took any to go. They didn’t. Uhm…I’ve been robbed. Obviously I wasn’t upset that I was short a donut (although the thief did take the Nutella one) or even that it was “stolen”…but it was just so odd. When did it happen? I went to bed at around 1A. The nurse’s aid came in at around 3:30A to take my vitals and then my nurse came in at 5A and again at 6A and I woke up each time they entered the room b/c of the sound of the door opening, the light from the hallway, and the sounds from the hallway. I’d awake before they even got to my bed. So, how did someone come in in the middle of the night, walk all the way into my room, to the corner, remove the pretzel bag on top of the box, open the box, and then take the donut??? What is going on?!? Soooo odd. After thinking about it, I think it was taken when Ben and I went for stroll around the floor and not in the middle of the night. Whoever stole it, could’ve just asked…maybe I wouldn’t have given up the Nutella one, but I wouldn’t given you a donut..jeez.
-After waiting for a half hour and no show from PT, my nurse came in and said, we’re getting you out of here. The construction, which was happening right above me on the 7th floor had intensified (jack hammering, drilling, etc.) and it was getting ridiculous. She brought in the paperwork, the prescriptions, and once we went over everything and I signed everything, I was good to go. My nurse told me she was sad to see me go b/c she and all the other nurses and aids said I was such a pleasant patient. =) I’ve had some experience as a patient. You can be grumpy and angry on your own, but not to the nurses and the aids that are caring for you. Ben brought the car around and by 1:30ish we were on our way home.
-I’ve been home for about 2 1/2 days and it’s been nice to be home, but I have been so uncomfortable. SUPER Swollen, SUPER itchy, covered in blisters, and bleeding/oozing. Luckily, pain is minimal…so at least, I’ve got that going for me. So, on my agenda…just resting, taking my meds, and trying not to scratch myself to death.

Gone too soon…

A few weeks ago, Ben and I went to the movies. The theater rooms at this theater are on the 2nd floor. We bought our tickets and took the elevator to the 2nd floor. I haven’t taken an escalator yet b/c they move too fast for me and since my pace is still not up to “normal” speed, it’s very scary, to say the least. When the movie was over, we exited the theater and made our way over to the escalator. It was a little slow when we took it up, but after about 5 minutes of waiting and not hearing any sounds of movement, I told Ben that I thought the elevator was either broken or had been turned off. Ben went to look for someone to help us. We had seen one of the last showings so the staff was a little light. He found a concessions guy and he went to check to see if it had been stuck on the third floor. Fast forward – he checked, a security guard checked, and it was concluded that I wouldn’t be able to take the elevator. We still weren’t sure why, but no matter. OK…well, now what. So…the security guard asks me..Can we help you get on the escalator? I said…mmm…I don’t know. We can help you..it’ll be ok. Well, I’m not so sure about that. I have prosthetics, so I don’t know… I think up until that point they were just thinking…Can’t this girl with crutches just step onto the escalator and then ride it down? It would only be 2 steps that she would have to take. Why does she HAVE to take the elevator?!? But then once I lifted my pants, it was a game changer. Now I’ve got 3 people helping me and making sure I was ok. Yea, ok…thanks. Like I’ve said before…different levels of handicappedness (I don’t think it’s a real word…) garner different levels of help and sympathy. What they ended up doing was turning off the escalator so that I could step onto it, turning it back on once I stepped onto it, and then turning it back off so that I could step off once we reached the bottom. There is a big jolt once the escalator is turned back on and both myself and Ben were unprepared for it. I didn’t fall or anything, but I did grab on and let out a little woah! To which point the manager, who was standing on the step behind me, felt the need to grab the waistband of my sweats and proceed to pull my pants and underwear all the way up into my ass. Um, thanks. She also felt the need to hold onto them during the entire ride down and until I stepped off the escalator. Lovely. So, that was an experience.
About a week after that, I went prom dress shopping with my little cousin (My cousin’s (Annie) daughter – your name made it into a blog…happy? =)). We were at the last boutique for the day and there was a little bit of a wait before it was our turn to be helped. The shop had a little waiting/seating area and when the ladies that were already seated saw that I had crutches, they waved me over to sit down. I hobbled myself over and plopped myself down on the couch. There were 2 older ladies to the right of me and a mother with her 2 teenage daughters to the left of me. Right after I sat down, one of the older ladies said to me, “What happened? Did you break your leg?” I smirked to myself and for a hot second, thought about what to say to them. I didn’t want to be too harsh since there were the 2 younger girls to the left of me, but then I thought, but there really isn’t a “gentle” way to explain what happened. This was also the first time, outside of being at a doctor’s office or at A Step Ahead, that someone has asked me what happened, let alone ask if I had broken my leg. So I just came out and said, “Actually….no, I was run over by the 7 train.” Boom. Just like that. I said it very matter of factly. I think right after I said it all of their eyes popped out of their heads, both shocked and unsure if I was serious. I think the lady said something along the lines of…What? The 7 train? Like the one at Grand Central? I said…Yup. That’s where it happened, actually, at Grand Central. They then proceeded to ask me a few questions, which I answered. They weren’t prying, just general “follow-up” questions, I guess. I think they felt OK asking since I sort of dropped that bit of info on them pretty openly…which was fine with me. Always better to inquire nicely, then stare rudely. Sometimes, life just sucks. A couple of weeks ago, my PT at my prosthetic facility suffered a massive stroke and then fell into a coma. He passed away this past Monday, after being in a coma for two weeks. He was an amazing man. Sweet, funny, smart, kicked my ass every time I had a session with him, and always pushed me to accomplish things that I didn’t even know I could. He’s the reason I’m able to walk on my prosthesis. This should not have happened to him. The selfish part of me is upset that he’e no longer here to help me in this journey. I was supposed to have at least 10 years with him…Although we only had a short time together, he did so much for me and was a big part of my recovery. Phil, you will be missed. Thank you for all that you did for me.
I’ve got my surgery this Friday, 3/20. Yikes. I’m not nervous for the surgery itself, per se, but scared that the surgery might not be successful and that the outcome doesn’t turn out to be what we’re expecting or hoping for. I’m also worried that I’ll need more skin grafting, which the docs won’t even know if I’ll need into I’m in the OR. I’m petrified to wake up after surgery and be in excruciating pain because I’m had yet another skin graft. Back in the Bellevue days, I was in soooo much pain the first couple of weeks, if anyone grazed my bed or made even the slightest movement around my bed, I cringed. I’m not looking forward to potentially waking up with a catheter inserted in me or a slew of other unknowns…. T-5 days…I’m also not looking forward to being fully wheelchair bound again for 4-6 weeks. I’ll be accepting visitors while I’m recovering!…both at the hospital and once I’m home. =)

February – Teena stressed out month…

Well, the rest of this winter is going to be interesting… Anytime there’s more than a dusting of snow, I’m pretty much trapped inside the apartment. Until I’m confidently on my feet and have my bearings (and probably even after I have my bearings), it’s very difficult to walk in the snow, especially when it’s a mixture of snow and ice. I know, even when I had my legs, that I was SUPER careful when walking when the streets were as icy as they were last week. So, if able people are slipping and sliding as they walk…
I FINALLY have a date for this surgery. Hallelujah! This was the most inefficient process ever. Let me recap (Sorry for the repeat..just venting here)…
I contacted the surgical coordinator for the first time, emailing her my phone # and asking her to call me, over 2 weeks ago. Three days later she calls me, telling me that she’s calling because I asked her to. Well, obviously. I told her that I wasn’t familiar with this process so she explained to me that she was waiting for the doctor to give her the coding for the procedures, then she would call insurance, then check the schedules of the doctors, and then call me back to discuss dates. Ok. And as we all know, as per my last post, that I called all week but wasn’t able to get in touch with her. Then this past Monday, she called me and apologized for not getting back to me…the office had been closed b/c of the snow….EVERY day? Fine, whatever. She told me that the doctor had given her the codes and that she would reach out to the other doctor’s office to check his schedule and would get back to me later in the week. When Thursday came and she hadn’t reached out to me, I called, naturally. And what do you know?!?!? She had an out of office message on her machine. But, wait…it didn’t snow on Thursday…so I’m confused. She must have so many vacation days!…what a nice work schedule she has.
Ok, now it’s Friday. Time to start the calling… First call was at 11:30ish in the morning. I get the out of office message, the same one from the day before. Is she still out or has she not removed the message yet? 12:30ish I call again. No more message this time, but no answer either. Hang up. Did I call every hour? Nope. Every half hour. It’s Friday and I thought there might be a change they leave early…maybe 3P, maybe 4P. So, I proceeded to call every half hour. Finally, on the 3P call, I actually have her on the phone. She says…let me call the other doctor’s office now and I’ll call you back in a few minutes. I say ok and then hang up. I regretted it the second I hung up. Crap..I should have told her that I’d hold and stay on the line while she made that call. Luckily, at about 3:30, she called me back. She tells me that it was difficult to find a date b/c, we’ll call him Dr. A, is going to be out 1 week in February and then another in March and that, we’ll call him Dr. B, is also out one week, so the earliest we can do is March 20th. Fine, let’s put that in the books. But, if something earlier opens up I’d like to move the up the date. She makes a note of it. Then I ask her what the next steps are. She tells me…I’ll email you next week with the codes and payment information and then you’ll have to call up your insurance company and ask them what they’ll cover for the procedures (using the codes to reference the procedures) since Dr. A is out of network. Oh…I thought you did that. No, I’m going to call them up to get authorization for the surgery but you’ll have to call to get the coverage information. Ok…so based on what I can gather from the limited communication that I’ve had with this woman, it’s taken her over 2 weeks to get codes from Dr. A, review Dr. A’s calendar, and reach out to Dr. B’s office to coordinate a date of March 20th. Does that sound about right? Are you F***ing kidding me?!?! Oh, and it seems like she only just called up Dr. B’s office today to coordinate a date…when I finally got in touch with her and she said she’d call me back in a few minutes after calling Dr. B’s office. Had I know she was this inefficient (I need a stronger word…inefficient doesn’t even cut it for me), I would’ve emailed Dr. A myself, asked him for the codes, then called up his secretary and asked her what dates he’s available to operate, then called up Dr. B’s secretary to get his availability, and then emailed the surgical coordinator with my options. Oh, and then call up my insurance company to find out about my coverage for this operation. And it wouldn’t have taken me over 2 weeks!!! Holy crap…
Now that I’m done venting, here’s the deal about the surgery. Friday, March 20th…happens to be the first day of Spring. I’ll have to stay in the hospital for 3 nights, with a discharge date of Monday, March 23rd. Sucks. I thought I’d only have to stay over 1 night, if at all. This is going to lead to so many more questions…Oy. I’ll have to go to the hospital 1-2 weeks prior to the day of surgery to get all the necessary pre-op tests run to make sure I’m cleared for surgery. And a few days prior to the surgery, I’ll have to go to the doctor’s office. I’ll speak to the doc on the specifics of the surgery when I see him then. Of course, I’ll also have to call him the insurance company and figure out the costs of everything and what I’m going to be responsible for…2 out of network doctors and 3 nights in the hospital…this could be VERY costly. Is there a possibility that I’ll have to find an in network doctor if it’s too much? Potentially. But, I figured I’d at least have something scheduled with this doc. If it turns out to be too costly, that’s really going to put a delay on things. As it is, I’m at somewhat of a standstill in my progress until I have this operation. So, searching for a new doc means getting referrals for an in-network doc, or potentially several, until I find one I like and am comfortable with and has experience working with amputees, visiting these doc(s), possibly getting more X-rays/tests, and then taking however long it will take to schedule surgery. I’ve been trying to schedule this March 20th date since January, so by the time all is said and done, I may not have this surgery until the end of the year if I have to look for a new doctor. And lets not forget, the 4-6 weeks of recovery time after the surgery of which I won’t be able to put on my prosthesis and be tied to my wheelchair.
I started this post last Friday. I spoke to my insurance company today (Monday). I still need the surgical codes so that I can speak to the billing departing of the doctor’s office and hospital but I called up my insurance company so I could get the breakdown of my out-of-network benefits. And I don’t know how much everything will cost (surgery, consultations after surgery, hospital stay, etc.), but it sounds like if I stick with these out-of-networks docs…a lot of finagling or creativity is going to be necessary. My insurance contact is going to work with me and try and do everything she can to help me, since this is a “unique” situation. But let me tell you about the example she gave me about someone who got back surgery with an out-of-network doctor (Mind you, I didn’t have specifics about the surgery or his condition, obviously)…Surgeon’s claim – $28K, insurance paid $2K. Hospital’s claim – $98K (I don’t know how long his stay was or what it was for), insurance paid $7K. That’s $117K that he was responsible for. Seriously?!? What’s the point of even having insurance? Great. Fun times. Am I going to have to start some web site directed at people with amputee fetishes and charge for “peep shows”?!?! I kid, obviously. Ick. But, I mean…come on…
Next steps – get procedure codes and speak to billing department of doctor/hospital. Speak to A Step Ahead and see if they have “back-up” docs that are in-network for me….
I liked it better when a doctor would just come into my room and tell me we would be going into the OR in a couple of days and then on that day someone would come and wheel me into the OR. This is going to be surgery #13, but only my first time having to deal with all that goes with scheduling surgery. As if having surgery #13 isn’t stressful enough…

To Stalk or Not to Stalk?…

Hope everyone is doing OK after the “storm”. It wasn’t bad here in Queens, but I know it was worse further out East. I was trapped inside the apartment for a few days, literally. I know there was a ban on public transportation and being out on the roads, but I couldn’t step foot outside of the apartment. Technically, I could…but if I didn’t want to risk falling on my ass the second I stepped on the snow, then it was best to just stay indoors until some of the snow melted away. Aside from slipping and falling on my ass because I can’t feel the ground, I can’t ‘march” in the snow (the way you walk when the snow is higher than your ankles), so I sort of shuffle through the snow…which is kind of a pain…at least when my shoes get soaking wet, I don’t feel the wetness or the cold…. Hopefully, it won’t be too bad this year…
Ok…so I’ve been trying to schedule this surgery and it’s becoming increasingly frustrating as I’ve made no progress and haven’t been given any information. This is not good for me. I need to know what’s going on. I need updates. I’m in the dark and I don’t know what’s happening. It’s killing me. I’m a control freak and the fact that I can’t do anything to speed this up or not getting my emails or phone calls returned is stressing me out!!! AHHHH. In my last email correspondence with the doc, he CC’ed his secretary and surgical coordinator, and said, “ok lets book her at HSS” (Hospital for Special Surgery). I then replied to the surgical coordinator with my phone # so that she could give me a call and we could discuss the next steps. I’ve never had any surgery prior to my accident so I didn’t know what would be involved in scheduling one’s own surgery or the protocol. Like I said in previous posts, I’m just used to a doctor coming into my hospital room and telling me when we’re having surgery and then being wheeled into the OR a few days later. Ok, so I emailed her and didn’t get a call. Two days later, I called and left her a voicemail. She called me back three days after I sent that email. I explained to her that I’d never scheduled surgery before and didn’t know the process, blah blah blah, so I just wanted to be in the loop. She told me that she was waiting on the doc to give her the procedure code and then she would call up the insurance company and speak to them. This doc isn’t an in network doc so she needed to call them up in order to get pre-authorization and then find out what they would cover and what I need to cover…blah blah blah. Basically, $$$. I realize three days isn’t that long to wait for a return call…but it was for me!!…control freak, remember?.. I think this was a Wednesday and she said hopefully she’d have some info by Friday. Naturally, when Friday afternoon came around I called her…got the machine. This was last Friday, I believe. So, this past Tuesday I called to follow up. Machine…again. I left a voicemail just asking for the latest update, if there was one. Thursday rolls around and nothing. I call back. Machine…Aaaagain. I send an email asking for an update and that I’d really like to get the surgery on the books and that if there’s anything I can do on my end to please let me know. Now it’s today, Friday…no email response or call back. I know everyone is busy, but if you sit in front of the computer all day…it takes 2 minutes to email me back!! Just saying! So, I call. I get the machine…yet again…staying that she’s out of the office. I think this was the 2nd or 3rd time this week she was out of the office. Hopefully, everything is ok..otherwise I look like a big asshole here. But if there was something going on that caused her to be out of the office, you’d think someone would be covering…no? When I spoke to her in that first phone call and asked her what she thought would be a likely time frame for the surgery she said that they were booking for March now. Ok…so here’s my concern. This was over a week and a half ago and she told me March. We are now at the end of January and I don’t want March to become April. I know that without getting the authorization from insurance and all that other necessary info, she can’t actually schedule me (so annoying), but I’m worried that because all this paperwork stuff is taking so long, my potential March time frame will get pushed to April. I’m not in a rush to get into an OR again, by any means, but if the surgery is going to put me out of commission for a few weeks then I’d rather get it out of the way ASAP. Also, if this surgery is going to potentially help me walk better, the sooner the better! Am I being overly persistent here? Have I gone into stalker mode too quickly? Do I need to tone it down and take a breath?…OR do I need to call and email more and kick the stalker mode into high gear?!?!?