Knee Blog, part deux: In the hospital

Sat. 6/23

Night melts into day with Bobby at my bedside--he arrived late last. night--and a rather insipid breakfast: since I did okay on ice chips last night, I get two jellos and an apple juice. No sooner do I wolf this down and wash up when the PT arrives to put me through my first paces: booties removed, immobilizer applied, and I am sat up to writhe into my shorts, tee and over-large New Balance gym shoes. I am provided with an arsenal of tools to help me lift my leg off the bed and wince into my shoes (mercifully, the nurse ties the laces for me).  I am presented with a walker, strapped to the PT's hand, and agonizingly shuffled over to the lounge chair bedside. I know my hair, full of sweat and then dry again, resembles Medusa's. I am told to try to alternately raise my leg and bend my knee. Owwwww......I am asked if I'd like to hobble to the bathroom, and instead I request a bedside commode chair. Baby steps.  A huge floral arrangement arrives--from my sister Rona in VA. Gorgeous--and the roses and hydrangeas smell exquisite. Lunch appears--a grilled cheese sandwich, orange juice, milk and decaf. I pick at most of it, though the sandwich isn't bad.  I get visitors in & out most of the day: Bob & Kathy arrive with more flowers (and a hilarious card) as Bobby & Gordy return. Carrie is off for the weekend to care for her husband Skip, who is going through much more hell during his radiation treatments for prostate cancer.

I look like hell and am in pain, but am still flying on the Norco (2 #2s every 4 hrs) they started me on this morning. So great to have B&K here--they stay at least 2 hours and we talk and laugh. The sciatic block has worn off and I am feeling some behind-the-knee soreness (which would have been excruciating without the block) to go with the squeezing throbbing burning in the front of my knee--not unexpected because of all those staples and all the stuff that had to be done in surgery.  This despite still having the femoral block--oddly, I can't feel my foot or calf but I can sure feel that thigh and knee.  After they leave and I get some eggs for dinner, I am shuffled back to my bed for another night of interrupted sleep. I manage to get 3 hours in between finger-sticks, BP cuffs, thermometers in my ear and the whoosh of the booties' pump.  And I call the nurse, who helps me hobble to the commode. 

Sun. 6/24

Out comes the catheter. Can't get to that commode fast enough. Another breakfast, wash-around, and visit from the PT, who today walks me to the threshhold of the room and back.  Using a regular-width non-wheeled walker, which is okay for walking but not quite roomy enough to dress standing up or access certain areas of my anatomy when arising from the toilet (by now I have braved the actual bathroom).  Gordy & Bobby are my only visitors today--just as well, as I am obsessing over trying to watch my mandatory CLE videos (25 hrs left to go by June 30 to keep my law license). Despite wi-fi and a presumably strong Verizon signal, I can't get them to play on my iPad without stopping, buffering and crashing.  Only a little better result listening on my iPhone as podcasts. And it's a real PITA doing anything with my hands--have that IV in my right hand and the spare hep-lock in the left.  My veins in my elbows are black and blue--they have to alternate arms.  The morphine pump is pulled and I am beginning to be weaned off the femoral catheter. By tomorrow I will be on Norcos alone. I am relieved to find out that due to my pain, the fact that there are stairs up to my front door, and there won't be someone home 24/7 to help me in & out of bed (still can't lift my right leg without boosting it from behind with my left foot, or have a nurse lift it for me--and I can feel my calf but not my toes yet), I will be going to rehab instead of straight home.

Mon. 6/25

Today the PT makes me shuffle all the way out into the hallway, 6 more feet and then back to bed.  If she weren't so amiable I'd call her Nurse Ratched. (She motivates me by warning me that if I don't loosen up, I might need "manipulation under anesthesia." I don't wanna know). And alternating between bed and lounge chair (which is really a big armchair, not a lounger).  Carrie arrives.  Discharge planner arrives to inform me that I have improved enough to leave the hospital itself (translation: no insurer will pay for more than 3 nights absent dire complications), and which rehab facilities are covered by my insurer. Dang--RIC and Bowman are not among them. All the Aldens and Manor Cares are (Bobby's on staff at Oak Lawn Manor Care, but nobody else'd be able to visit me), as well as the Carlton (the posh home where Pete spent his last days), Swedish Covenant and Imperial of Lincoln Park (right next to my old health club, Lake Shore).  Ideally, Alden Estates of Skokie is where Dr. W. suggests I go--they were built exclusively for joint replacement rehab--but they require a 3-MONTH advance reservation!!! (Who knew 3 months ago I'd need rehab, much less would have my surgery delayed 10 days)? Carlton turns out to be for custodial care, not rehab. Swedish is booked up. (duh). Whitehall of Northbrook is available, with a dedicated joint-replacement pavilion, but at a hefty co-pay; and it's so far north Bobby wouldn't be able to visit me. So it looks like it's the Imperial. From what I recall, it's a "continuing care facility:" everything from independent living apartments to assisted living to rehab to full-on nursing home & hospice.  The medi-car is called and Carrie begins to pack. The Director of Patient Services (a gracious and elegant gentleman) comes in to wish me well.  Finally, the medi-car arrives, I am wheeled in and Carrie follows us.

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