Friday, September 14, 2007

Recovery - Week 2

Going into the second week of my time in the hospital I figured that things were going to start looking up, mostly because Tuesday the 24th was the day my hip was finally going to get put back together. The traction was to be done and I figured things would be pretty calm after the surgery, just continue on the pain medicine and life would be good.

It didn't really turn out that way. Week two was one of the toughest weeks of my life.

The surgery went pretty well. Dr. Smith, my hip surgeon, felt like he was able to put my hip back together to about 90% of the way it was originally. He put a number of stainless steel plates and 13 screws into my hip in order to get it all back together. He was also able to carry out his surgery without damaging my knee cap, which was one of the real concerns going into the surgery. I guess they need to put a pretty good bend into your knee in order to do the hip surgery. The concern being that my knee might not be able to take the bend.

Following the surgery it was back up to my home on the fourth floor. I remained in my 0 degree bend knee brace, but at least I didn't have to suffer with the traction any more. The pain following the surgery was pretty excruciating. I was normally taking 10ml of Delotted every 4 hours in order to take the edge off the pain. The night after the surgery they gave me 50ml of Delotted because I was in so much pain and that didn't even help. The bottom line for this evening was that I had to bear the pain. Nothing was able to mask how bad it felt.

A couple days later, the goal was to get me up, out of bed and onto my feet. In reality I should say foot, as one of my hip restrictions is that I'm not allowed to bear weight on my left hip until 12 weeks after surgery. My other restriction was that I wasn't allowed to bend my hip more than 60 degrees.

On the fourth floor there was a rehab guy who would stop by your room once or twice a day and try to help you get on with whatever rehab you were supposed to be doing. When he did arrive you needed to be ready to roll as this was the only chance you might have to work with him for the day.

Day 1 of getting out of bed was very, very tough. Having been on my back for a couple weeks had caused my body to stop pumping blood aggressively enough to get blood up to my head too well. The first time I sat up at the edge of the bed I nearly spewed my breakfast. That first day I was able to work my way over to the edge of the bed, get myself sat up, and get started in a walker. I walked to the door of my room and back and I was spent. Being used to riding my bike for four hours at a time, not being able to walk more than 20 feet was a pretty big let down. After I went on this tiny walk I was covered in sweat, winded and very, very light headed. The physiotherapist sat me up in a chair for 15 minutes or so (that was about all I could take) and then helped me back into bed. That's all that I was able to get done the first day of rehab.

Day 2 was a little better, but not by much. I was able to more easily get myself to the edge of the bed and get to a sitting position. We then took my walker for a trip down the hall. I probably got 40 feet down the hall and nearly passed out. I was leaning against a wall to try to hold myself up while the physio ran to go grab a chair for me to sit on. By the time he returned my eyes were rolling back in my head and the lights were starting to dim. After a 5 minute recover in the chair I got back on my walker and made it all the way back to my room. More promising, but it still left a lot to be desired.

Day 3 was a completely different day. My insurance finally agreed to pay for me to spend a week on the acute rehab floor, floor 11. So, around noon time I was moved up to the 11th floor. I was really liking the fact that I was going to get away from some of the incompetent nurses on the fourth floor; when I got up to the 11th floor however, I found out that the move came at a cost. The rooms on the 11th floor were all doubles and I now had a roommate. Secondly, there were actually less nurses on the 11th floor, so at times things could actually be worse than on the 4th floor.

On Day 3 I was able to walk a little further, something like 60 feet, but things were still pretty slow going. I'd get light headed each time I went for a walk. It was also pretty tough to sit in my wheelchair and be comfortable. Because I had to keep my hip at less than 60 degrees, I couldn't ever sit up straight. Instead I always had my leg sticking out in front of me, pulling me down towards the ground. It's pretty darn tough to relax in a chair when you're constantly fighting being pulled down like this.

One of the really nice things about the 11th floor was that each day you got at least 1 hour of occupational therapy and 2 hours of physical therapy. Because I'd arrived on Friday afternoon I got some really limited therapy sessions in. During that time they were able to teach me how to use a grabber to get my shorts on by myself and how to use a lifter to pull my leg around. So I was starting to get a little more self sufficient.

A long week of physiotherapy awaited in week 3.

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