Friday, September 13, 2013

Two Thumbs up; Two Thumbs Down



Not exactly a reference for a still life painting--more of a reference for a life on hold till further notice. My couch has become home. It's where I sit, I eat, I exercise, I conduct business, I sleep.  My daily walks have been reduced to the eighteen steps I take through the living room, the foyer, down the hall to the powder room and back.  I pass the piano. I pass the kitchen.  I pass the giant floor mirror where sometimes I pause to wave to the lame woman who waves back.  Once I stopped at the piano, lowered myself to the bench, swiveled slowly, carefully, into a comfortable position at the keyboard and played Beethoven's Pathetique, the piece I've been working on since last December.  The anesthetics and the narcotic pain killers hadn't reduced my brain to mush. Pleased, I went home, back to the couch, back to my life.  And Ellis'.



His couch is across the room from mine, closer to the kitchen where he prepares all our meals. Last night, Saturday night, break-the-fast Yom Kippur night, he prepared baked rainbow trout with  Port wine mushrooms and petit pois au beurre, a superb meal. My man is such a treasure!



Reprogramming my knee to bend to an angle of a hundred and ten degrees takes up a major portion of the day either thinking about doing it, getting ready to do it, or actually doing it.   Being that brutal to a wounded limb would never have occurred to me, so that's why the doc had the automatic knee bending machine dropped off. I simply have to get it up on the couch, plug it in, get my leg into the apparatus, strap my leg in, flip a switch and let the device take it from there. Three two hour sessions was prescribed, but the doc didn't give the script to a sadistic Captain of hisTorture Chamber; he gave it to me, the warm body to whom the knee is attached. Being a much kinder soul, two one hour sessions seems to be enough stretching and flexing a day-- each session to be followed with three hours of soothing, icy relief from the electrical icing device.

 I'm not a masochist or an Olympian, just a woman who wants to stroll around Tiananmen Square--or the new mall on the corner--and stand in front of an easel for longer than an hour.




To ice, you remove  the fifty pound knee bending machine from the couch and simply fasten the icing knee brace,which is hooked up to a compressor on the floor next to the couch. The switch to turn it on is cleverly placed in the back of the compressor, while the switch to activate it is on the front. The designer me thinks there was no design put into this machine at all. No engineer considered that the patient's hand couldn't reach the power switch from the head of the bed. Another person is needed to do the heavy lifting and initiate the icing session.

At day's tiring end, a last stroll to the powder room, then bed full of anticipation of taking my first shower first thing next morning. Sounds doable, but there's those fourteen steps on the stairway to deal with. Exhausted, I figured Ellis and I would figure it out.

No one professional involved tells you outright all the help you will really need to get back on your feet. They leave out or play down quite a lot--like having quite a few prepared meals on hand. (My survival instincts made me think of that myself). They leave out the assistance you need really learning how to operate the walker properly to protect your other joints, defrosting, preparing and serving pre-made foods, taking the medications, getting the medications, the clothing to have on hand, bathing, grooming, handling the horrible constipation from the narcotics used in and after surgery--the  multitude of tasks able bodied folks can perform for themselves--the concerns we have over medications, their side effects and that scary trail of  little blood droplets across the ecru carpeting that sent EMR running around the house looking for gauze pads and surgical tape at five in the morning while i wondered if we had any in the house. They don't talk about life after surgery beyond sending over the machines, recommending an in-home care agency who sends over a nurse whose main concern is having you sign her visiting sheet so she'll get paid by the insurance company. 

 When  I said Ellis is a treasure, I meant it.  My couches comfortably sleeping two are to be treasured also.  Like Joe's luggage in JOE AND THE VOLCANO, I never want to be without my Honey or my sofas. 


TWO THUMBS UP FOR ELLIS AND MY SOFAS. TWO THUMBS DOWN FOR PRE KNEE SURGERY PERSONAL PREPARATION.

15 comments:

  1. Remain optimistic Ellis all in due time give yourself the chance to heal much strength hugs Danielle

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    1. I have no other choice; I'm in it now as they say--and glad to be here. My knee is doing fine. It looks like hell, but it bends pretty good, to 90 degrees, and both legs are strong from previous biking and leg strengthening exercises. Everyday a little more improvement. What I think needs discussing is the lack of pre surgery discussion about handling post op recuperation. This is the doctor's responsibility. His/her practice should have a competent, knowledgeable person in charge of more than setting up the procedure and the pre surgery tests that need to be done. Post op life needs to be discussed. The patient needs to be educated so they can make the right choice between in home nursing services or going to a rehab facility. I also think that the post op point net should be with the doctor who performed the surgery, not his PA. It's just not friendly. Thanks Danille for your comment and the opportunity to voice other opinions I've arrived at through this experience.

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  2. Love your great attitude. After the true understanding I am feeling for what you are going through I also want you to know your enormous painting on the wall is beyond FABULOUS! WOW! What a lovely environment you and Ellis share.

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    1. Thanks Julie. Stiff upper lip as far as the knee goes. As far as that painting goes, I did it years ago. It was the one that taught me I couldn't abandon realism. The process was a constant fight between abstraction and realism. The expression is about conflicting desires. As with many women of my generation, the home front won.

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  3. Wow, what an ordeal. I appreciate the two thumbs up - your attitude is good. Just the fact that you are posting so regularly and writing so beautifully tells me a lot about you, and Ellis.

    Bravo! I say (because that's what artists say, don't they?)

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    1. Who knew? I suspected, but now I know for certain knee surgery is no walk in in the park. :-)) I was thinking this morning that there should be a club for parts replacement survivors. They could meet every month to tell their stories. Thanks for the bravo, but as someone said in some movie, I'm in it now--maybe is was Gregory Peck?

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  4. I'm so happy,now,looking at your smile!

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    1. Rita, you should know I was "hamming" for the camera. That was the smile of the day. I'd rather it had been a drawing. So far I haven't felt like it. I'm in a state of waiting--waiting for the ache to subside. My knee is very upset with me. :-))

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  5. I think you're doing great Linda! You're well equipped with everything you need plus a good man to look after you. That's support and love all right! Time will do the rest. I know you're not the patient type and I can feel your brain working 200 miles an hour. But you're so positive. Keep it up!

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    1. I have no choice Helen. It's positive or nothing. Nothing has never been an option.

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  6. Good for you--and thank goodness for Ellis and your foresight in preparing.

    I agree, surgeons tend to disappear/ignore the post-op realities and struggles.

    Heal well.

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    1. Thanks Jean. You said it so much better than I did.

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  7. Love the thumbs up too, I'm so glad the surgery went well, but I never imagined the 'torture chamber' you would be in afterwards. How easy it is to take stuff for granted. I do wish you a speedy recovery but I know your spirit and Ellis will ensure that.

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  8. Your world became very small and full of obstacles, but thank God for Ellis and your sofas! Wish you a speedy recovery!

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  9. One day you'll look back on all this and be so glad to have it behind you! Meanwhile, blogging about it is so cool---so that you have a reference point to compare to and also...it's just cool to share with us...your blogging friends. I have a surgery coming up also. It is quite minor next to yours...but surgery is a huge deal. Looks to me like you were (are) VERY prepared ...more so than most people..and yet, even someone as organized as you can come up surprised by what they didn't think to plan for. In the old days they would have just left you in the hospital for a week or more instead of letting you drip blood at your house. But, it IS definitely nicer to be at home and since you have your favorite nurse (Ellis) you will recover at a nice steady pace. I love the photo of you with the thumbs up. You were BRAVE to go down this road and I salute you! I know you'll be thanking everyone (except the worthless home care nurse) when you can stand and walk with comfort and ease. Hugs to you and Ellis. What a guy! This was a good decision. You could have hobbled around for years. Come back to this post in a couple of months and pat yourself on the back. We have to do everything we can for ourselves--to stay in the game! I'm proud of you. :)

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