…Part II

I’ll finish up the story I left off with in the last post, re: the impromptu show-and-tell. We were at Rye Playland and I needed to take a break. We walked over to a bench so that I could sit down and rest. Ben took the opportunity to take a bathroom break. About 2 minutes after I sat down, a little girl (Chloe), maybe 6 or 7 years old, comes over to me and asks if she could ask me a question. I said, “Sure!” She then proceeds to ask what happened to me. I’ll retell our conversation below as if it were a script to a TV show or movie…
Me: I was in a train accident…
Chloe: You were ON the train??
Me: No…I was hit by the train…
Chloe: (With her eyes wide open) You were hit by the train?? Why didn’t you just run?!?
Me: I couldn’t. I fainted and then fell onto the tracks and then the train hit me…
Chloe: So, you lost your legs and now these help you (pointing to my prosthesis) walk?
Me: Yup!
Chloe: Do they hurt?
Me: Nope! But it takes a lot of work to use them so sometimes I need to sit down and take a rest, like I’m doing now.
At about now, her grandpa, 2 sisters, and cousin showed up! Her grandpa interjected and apologized for all her questions and curiosity and asked if it was ok. I said it was totally fine, better that she be curious than scared. Chloe introduces her sisters and cousin and then proceeds with her questions.
She then asked if she could touch my right prosthetic. Of course, I said yes. This was followed by the rest of the kids asking if they could touch as well. And once again, of course it was ok. I then told them that that leg has a computer in it. Their eyes lit up and they asked me where it was and if they could see and touch.
Chloe: But, you still have your feet, right?
Me: No…I don’t.
Chloe: So, what’s that then? (Pointing to the foot shell)
Me: It’s just a cover. You know how sometimes stores have the fake people, mannequins, with the clothes on in the window? My foot is kind of like that.
Chloe: Can we see?
Me: Sure!
I take my sneaker off and then my sock, so they can see the foot shell.
Chloe: Oh! It looks like my foot! Can we touch it?
Me: Sure!
Chloe and group: Ooh! It feels like a real foot!
Chloe then sits down on the grass, removes her sneaker and sock to expose her foot and says, “It looks like my foot!” To which her grandpa says, “Put that stinky foot away!” To which I say to Chloe and the kids, “That’s one thing I don’t have to worry about anymore…stinky feet!” They then ask me why the 2 prosthesis look different. I tell them it’s because one leg is shorter than the other and that the shorter one needs more help so that’s why it’s different. I pointed to show them how high the right one started. They asked if they could see. That one I said no to…didn’t think I needed to be flashing my undies to the people at Rye Playland and all. But they had a couple of more questions about that leg, so I told them that I would take the cover off so they could see. But I warned them that I had to do something with the leg so that I could take the cover off, and told them don’t be scared. They all went, “We won’t!”. So, I turned my knee/leg “upside down”…they were all wide-eyed, but not scared. Chloe sat back down on the grass and said, “Wait, I think I can do that too!”..and proceeded to try. *Adorable* They looked, touched, and then went over to the left prosthesis. I explained that the left one had a hidden button that I push so that I can take it off. They asked if I could take it off so they could see. I warned them again not to be scared…since there’s a pin/screw at the end of my liner. I took off the left prosthesis and then then put it back on. Chloe then asked if she could try to push the button and take the prosthesis off. This girl…love her. I said yes and then she “unclicked” my left prosthesis and took it off! Then she asked if she could hold it. So there she was…holding my left prosthesis by the shoe in her hands. Then the rest of the kids asked if it was heavy and if they could try holding it. And so…it got passed around. I mean….could they be any cuter?!? Then their grandma showed up and then the show-and-tell began to conclude. It was so nice to answer all their questions and show them my prosthesis. It was my pleasure to teach them about my prosthesis. I hope I was a good teacher/presenter for them and that they walked away asking more questions! I certainly didn’t start that day expecting to take off my prosthesis and having it passed around at Rye Playland…And I’m sure they didn’t think they’d be passing a prosthesis around!
Rye Playland Show and Tell_Sept 2015

No smooth segue into my next topic…I had my 14th surgery to date on Wednesday, 9/16/15. 14th surgery and 4th hospital, in less than 2 years. Fun times.
So, lets start by saying I was duped. Well, sort of, but not really. Hah. When I first scheduled this surgery and spoke to the doctor about what would be done, we had talked about anesthesia and he told me that he wouldn’t need to put me completely out. I took this to mean something along the lines of…I’d be awake, maybe not coherent, but awake, and numb in my leg and there would be a “curtain” up so I couldn’t see what was happening. Wrong. Completely out means you’re under full anesthesia and they intubate you with a breathing tube because you’re not breathing on your own. So, I wasn’t completely out because I was under full anesthesia but still breathing on my own. I guess that’s better…but I was completely unaware of the fact that in all the 13 prior surgeries, I was completely out.
With that being said, this surgery took about 2 hours. The tentative “plan” was that surgery would take 1.5-2 hours and then I’d be in recovery for 2-3 hours, and then I’d go home. Wrong again. I woke up in the recovery room and I was a little groggy..ok…to be expected. As I start to come to a little more, the nurse asks if I’m in any pain. I am. We go through the usual routine..1-10, what number is your pain? 5-6. She gave me some pain medication and then told me about the JP drain I had in my leg. Ugh…what?!?.
[A Jackson-Pratt Drain (also called a JP Drain) is a closed-suction medical device that is commonly used as a post-operative drain for collecting bodily fluids from surgical sites. The device consists of an internal drain connected to a grenade-shaped bulb via plastic tubing. The flexible bulb has a plug that can be opened to pour off collected fluid. Each time fluid is removed, the patient, caregiver or healthcare provider squeezes the air out of the bulb and replaces the plug before releasing the bulb. The resulting vacuum creates suction in the drainage tubing, which gradually draws fluid from the surgical site into the bulb. The bulb may be repeatedly opened to remove the collected fluid and squeezed again to restore suction. It is best to empty drains before they are more than half full to avoid the discomfort of the weight of the drain pulling on the internal tubing]
Luckily, I knew what it was because I had a JP drain in my left leg back when I was in Bellevue, but I wasn’t expecting to have one inserted into me after this surgery. So, knew what it was but caught off guard that I had one in me. Then Ben came in and told me the doc said that surgery went well. He said the doc said they found a 3-4 inch suture in one of the spots they operated on and removed it. Of course they did.
At this point the pain meds had kicked in and I was feeling a little better…but not for long. After coming out of surgery/anesthesia, I was REALLY thirsty and REALLY hungry, but you’re only allowed to start off with ice chips, then move to water, then jello..and only when they deem it ok, you’re allowed to start having real food. I never got to the real food…I started with the ice chips and quickly moved to drinking water. Then, my head started to hurt. It wasn’t bad at first. The nurse gave me some Tylenol. Then, I felt nauseous and started to get the thick spit in my mouth. Never a good thing. I grabbed the vomit tray and 5 seconds later…PUKE…water puke…since I hadn’t eaten anything since midnight the night before (it was about 3P now) and all I had post surgery was water. Ok, puking was not fun, but I did feel a little better afterwards. Cut to 10 minutes later…the headache was back and now it had been upgraded to full migraine status. The next few hours were torture. I just wanted to crawl into a cave. The migraine escalated to the worst migraine I ever had. For those of you that have never experienced a migraine, hope that you won’t ever experience one. This was like the worst hangover…times 10!!! The slightest sound, the dimmest light…it all was too much. I would just try and fall asleep, but even that was difficult. So for the next few hours I was just in and out. At around 6ish, I puked, again. After this 2nd puke, the nurse alerted the plastic surgery team that was on call. When the 2 docs came to see me, they asked me a few questions and told me that nausea and vomiting were normal reactions from anesthesia, but not the way I was experiencing it. “Normally,” people are nauseous for a little while and then puke. I would get nauseous right before I puked. They asked me if I normally have migraines. I don’t have them on a “regular” basis, but I do get them. So, it was decided that I wasn’t having a reaction from the anesthesia, but more likely that I just happened to get the worst migraine ever, at the worse possible time. They injected another dose of anti-nausea medicine into my IV, along with some Pepcid to coat my stomach. I dozed off for about an hour after that and when I woke up I finally started to feel a little bit of relief. By the time I felt good enough to leave and was cleared to go, it was about 10P. By the time we got into the car it was a little after 11P and by the time we arrived at home, it was midnight. I was so exhausted. I was finally able to eat something when we got home. It had been over 24 hours since the last time I had eaten anything. I was fasting for Yom Kippur a week early. Hah! I was starving and barely had enough energy to eat, but forced myself to get some toast down…then off to bed.
Cut to Saturday…I had just taken my shower and was redressing my wounds. It was the first day I was allowed to take a full shower. I had to wait at least 48 hours before I could changes the dressings or take a full shower. As I was changing my dressings, I get a call from the doc’s PA. She tells me that when they took a culture from one of my “pockets’ during surgery and took it to the lab, it tested gram positive for a staphaureas infection. Of course. She says that it’s ok since I wasn’t showing any symptoms, which I wasn’t and hadn’t. She then proceeds to tell me that that’s probably why my wounds weren’t fully closing and had been oozing all this time. No shit, Sherlock, you think? She tells me they’re going to call in a prescription for antibiotics at the local pharmacy and tell me to take all the pills. Easy enough. Luckily, these antibiotics didn’t give me a horrible rash, like the last time.
I haven’t been able to put my prosthetics on since the surgery, so I’ve been wheelchair bound for the last 10 days. Not fun. But I wasn’t really doing anything the first week, anyway. The first couple of days I just stayed home. The day I showered, we went out for a drive so I could get out of the house and get some fresh air. Although I was seated in the wheelchair, having the drain attached to me made it very inconvenient to move around. I had to constantly check that the tube wasn’t getting caught on anything or that the bulb wouldn’t fall out of my pants. Good times. I’m still wheelchair bound, but I was able to get the drain taken out this past Thursday! And stitches come out next week. It will probably be at least another week after the stitches come out until I can put the prosthetics back on. My back has been killing me from all the sitting. I can’t win. I have severe back pain All. The. Time. My back hurts from using the prosthetics and it hurts when I’m stuck in the wheelchair. Sigh…
Til next time. Thanks for reading!

I haven’t disappeared…

It’s been a while. Sorry to all for being M.I.A. on here. Apparently, it was a pretty busy summer. SO many things to cover!
Lets start with our trip to LA for the annual 2-day “team-building” gathering my company puts together. Some differences from last year’s trip and this year’s trip…When we went last year, I needed an entire “team” to travel, my mom, Ben, and my brother. This year, just Ben. Last year, I wasn’t on my prosthetics full time, nor did I have them to travel with, so I was in the wheelchair full-time. By the time the event came around this year, I was in my prosthesis full-time, so I got around solely on them. The wheelchair still came along…it will always be a travel companion since I need it to help me shower and get around prior to going to bed. Last year’s sporting event was softball and I was solely a spectator. This year, the event was bowling and I thought I’d be watching from the bench, yet again. But, I figured I’d give it a try. I do exercises with weighted balls in PT, now granted, I don’t walk with them…I usually just do sitting exercises, but at least I knew I wouldn’t have any trouble lifting an 8 pound bowling ball. So…with the crutch in my left hand, I picked up the ball with my right and walked from the ball return to the start of the lane and threw the ball…(with Ben next to me in case I lost my balance)…SIX pins down! Hmmm…not too bad. Now I was a little pumped. So, as I stood there while the pins got realigned, Ben went and got the ball back for me. I chucked the ball down the lane again to finish up my turn…FOUR pins down! SPARE!!! (Keep in mind, there was no technique or skill involved in either of these attempts. It was purely, release the ball without falling on my ass and hope to at least get it down the lane without going into the gutter.) Woohoo!!! First time bowling in ages, since the accident, and on prosthetics (not that I’d bowled in the wheelchair)! Unfortunately, because I didn’t think I’d get a spare, or any pins for that matter, we didn’t record it. UGH. I bowled a few more times, but after a couple of tries I started to get gutter balls. That killed my momentum…so I took a break. After taking a little break, I thought, we have to record me until I knock some pins down!… See video…it’s pretty dark. I wasn’t able to get a spare again, but I knocked down 9 pins in one shot!…couldn’t knock that last sucker down…

We also went back to Universal Studios while we were in LA. For those of you who forgot, when we went there last year and I tried to go on the Mummy Ride, I was told that I couldn’t go on the ride b/c you needed to have at least one full leg to go on the ride and I only had a half. Womp, womp, womp. So…Take 2. This time I was able to go on the rides and we were able to visit the Simpsons land, since it was now finished. See pics below of our ginormous Lard Lad donut and our Duff Beer!
Lard Lad Donut_Simpsons_Universal
Duff Beer
The lunch of champions! The beer wasn’t bad and we brought home the “glass” as a souvenir!

About a week or so after we got back from LA, we went to Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut, an anniversary gift from my in-laws. Thanks again Momma and Poppa Katz! There are a lot of people in wheelchairs at a casino, or at this one, anyway. You can bring your own, obviously. But you can also rent manual or electronic ones from the casino! At the casino, I played black jack at a handicapped table and at a regular table. So, when we played at the regular table, I’d pull up next to the chair, stand up, and then get into the chair. Once I was seated, Ben would park the wheelchair off to the side. When seated at the table my legs were hidden by the table top. So, when we were ready to leave, Ben would bring the wheelchair over and I would start to get up. If someone came to the table after us, they wouldn’t necessarily know about my legs. So as I’m wiggling out of the seat, they’re watching, since Ben has brought over the chair by now. And then when I finally stand up from behind the table and they see the prosthetics, it’s like this look…Oh..She doesn’t have any legs and can still play blackjack?!?…maybe you had to be there…hah.
So, ever since I got the car at the beginning of June, I’ve been driving myself all over town! My first major solo drive was to PT and/or A Step Ahead. They’re both about 25-35 minutes away from our apartment. It was scary at first, but freeing at the same time. It’s one thing to have Ben or someone else drive me somewhere if I needed help at the destination, but I would feel helpless when all I needed was to be “chauffeured”. So, to be able to drive myself to PT, a drive-thru, or anywhere where I knew I could drive myself from Point A to Point B and know that either I didn’t need help at Point B or there would be help there, if I needed it, was pretty awesome. If I drove myself to a drive-thru, I’d take one of my shoulder bags with me and put the food in the bag so that I’d be able to walk from the car into the apartment and still have my hands free. I could also drive myself to places where the terrain was familiar. After about 6+ weeks or so of solo driving, I decided I’d start trying to go into the office.
At the end of August, I decided to start some trial runs of going into the office. The plan would be to go in once a week, maybe twice, if I was up for it. I’ve gone in 3 different weeks, for a total of 4 times. I drive myself in, park the car, usually on the side street as it’s commercial parking and I have a parking permit, and then have someone meet me in case I need help getting in. Once I’m at the office, everything is pretty much smooth sailing. But the drive in…OH MY GOSH. I don’t drive in during “rush hour”…but still…geez. And let me tell you…whether you’re driving with your feet or your hands, traffic still SUCKS…big time…and it doesn’t make you more patient or less annoyed. OK…can we talk about the amount of cyclists on the road AND all the people who cross the street with their heads in their phones?!?…holy crap! Lets start with the cyclists. Now, let me just say, I have nothing against the cyclist that are fully aware that they are sharing the road with cars and obey the traffic laws. And I realize that we all need to pay attention, but to those that ride however they want and think they’re invincible…uhm…I’m in a thousand pound car. And people…look up from your freaking phone when you’re crossing the street! When I’m inching into the intersection to try and make a turn and you’re walking at the pace of a snail with your head in your phone, don’t look up from your phone just to give me the stink eye and then go back to walking like a snail with your head in your phone. F’ing PAY ATTENTION. One of these days I’m gonna get so annoyed, pull over, and say to either a biker/pedestrian…you see my prosthetics?…this is what could happen to you if you don’t pay attention…*drops mic*.
Ben and I went to the US Open about a week and a half ago. I hadn’t been since the accident and hadn’t been there in a while, even prior to the accident. It was a pretty nice day, not as humid as it had been the previous days, which was great. We talked about bringing the wheelchair and putting it in the trunk in case I needed it..but forgot. I toughed it out. We were there for about 7-8 hours, and there was more walking than sitting done within those hours. We saw good matches, did a lot of walking, and ate some extremely, overly priced food! I almost got trampled at one point, but survived..maybe uttered a few *$#@!#..but was OK otherwise. A long and tiring day, but a good one!
US Open 2015

A week after the Open, Ben and I had a wedding to attend…at Rye Playland! For those that are unfamiliar, Playland Amusement Park, a.k.a Rye Playland, is an amusement park in Rye, NY. Google it if you want more info! I was really sore for a few days after the Open, so glad that I had time to recover, since there would be a lot of walking, yet again. We rode the Dragon Coaster, their main coaster. It was my first roller coaster with prosthetics. As long as it’s a coaster where the car has a floor, I’m good to go. It was a lot of fun.
Rye Playland_Sept2015
The best part of the day though, was probably when I had an impromptu show-and-tell for a group of little kids.
Rye Playland Show and Tell_Sept 2015
I just realized what time it is..1AM…and I have to get up early for my surgery tomorrow. As much as I hate not finishing this post, I have to get ready for bed. And since I’ll be recovering for the next few days, I’ll make sure to finish it.

To be continued…

Quick Update…

Ben and I are currently flying out to LA for my company’s annual gathering. A quick update while I’m in the air…
I’ve had the car for about a month now and I’ve gotten a good amount of driving in, both accompanied and solo. It was definitely easier than I thought it would be. A lot of the apprehension was definitely me psyching myself out. It’s not quite 2nd nature just yet, but I can see myself getting there. I’ve been driving myself to therapy for the last couple of weeks, have driven myself to get dinner (drive-thru…), and even ran errands with my mom, partly to accompany me and partly in case I needed help. I even went to Starbucks and the Verizon store all on my own. I dropped Ben off at Restaurant Depot so he could get supplies for the store and while he was there, I drove to the Starbucks across the road. I parked, got out of the car and walked to the Starbucks, ordered and enjoyed my coffee and snack, and since I still had to kill more time, walked to the Verizon store that was next door. Then I got back into the car and drove back across the road to pick Ben up once he was done with his shopping. It had been quite a while since I was the one doing the dropping off and picking up, as opposed to being the one being dropped off and picked up! Next goal…driving myself into the office…eek!
My PT wants me to start walking with no crutches. Yikes. I mean, at home or indoors, where I’m familiar with the layout and floor, I can do 1 crutch or maybe none, if I’m feeling confident. I can definitely do 1 crutch at home, if I’m not being “lazy”. I put lazy in quotes b/c for me to just physically get out from bed, with or w/o prosthetics, that task alone is quite a physical one.But to walk with no crutches outside, on the streets of NYC…that’s a whole other situation… We went into SOHO the other day to run an errand and you’ve got tourists in their own world, locals shopping and running their own errands, and none of these people are paying attention to me. And in those situations, I don’t necessarily expect them too. It’s the hustle and bustle of NYC. Between tourists looking at everything but me and locals zipping by me, couple that with small sidewalks and street vendors filling up those sidewalks…this becomes much more than just “walking”. My worries are two-fold. I’m worried I’m not quite strong enough to walk without crutches (if there’s an incline/decline or major steps I definitely need at least 1 crutch, usually 2) and I’m worried that if/when I fall while walking outdoors w/o any crutches, I won’t have anything to help brace myself with…It’s funny…walking w/o crutches is one of those things where I’ll get asked…”So, when are you gonna get rid of those things?”…yet with some other things I’ll hear, “Wow, I can’t believe you’re doing that…it hasn’t even been 2 years!” It’s strange..like there’s some manual out there that contains a timeline of when you’re supposed to accomplish certain things after losing your legs in a traumatic accident. Is there?…and I just don’t know about it?!?
So, I’ve got about a month until my 14th surgery. I’m scheduled for a procedure on my right leg/stump the week after Labor Day. Hopefully this will be the last one for quite a while, or even better, ever. Doc says procedure will be same day and that I won’t have to stay overnight at the hospital and that I won’t have to be put under, just a local…which is good..I think. Does that mean I’m awake and know what’s going on but I just won’t have feeling around the area that’s being operated on?!?…Doc says I’ll have to be off the prosthetics for about 2 weeks…which isn’t too bad, but anytime off prosthetics, at this early in the game for me is a slight setback. But, I’ve gone longer, so 2 weeks isn’t too bad.
New update to be posted when we get back from our LA travels!

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!


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.