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.
Surgery is the easy part. Recovery is the hard part.