Life is weird. Sometimes things seem like they’re smooth, like a ride in a luxury car. And other times like you can’t get your timing right on the clutch and the gas and everything is herky-jerky and makes your world upset, uneasy.
There is no way in a hundred years I would have thought a simple hip replacement would have warranted months and months of treatment. In fact, had everything gone correctly with my right hip, I’d hoped to have scheduled my left hip replacement in late May/early June so I could be brand new and extra bionic before my 40th birthday. Well, we all know the quote ‘the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry’. That should be the story of my life!
Let’s see…getting caught up. About 3 weeks ago my best guy friend showed up at my place to take care of me! Honestly, this has proven to me how lucky I am to have the friends I have. My dad took a lot of time from work to take care of me just after my hip was replaced, did all my things. Cleaned, did laundry, shopped, cooked, everything. Then as I was being released from the hospital after my eternity like long stay, my best friend stayed with me for a week and did my wound bandaging, cleaning, cooking, care taking. After she left, my other best friend came and stayed almost a week and picked up where my other best friend left off. Then I was alone for a week or two and then my best guy friend shows up! He and my dad were in cahoots…forcing me to eat (yea, 30 pounds lost since my initial hip replacement, although I’ve gained back 10 more according to the scale today). Reminding me to take meds, telling me not to be a martyr about pain medication. He cooked, he cleaned, he shopped, he spent way too much money on stuff for me (thus making me feel awful). Hell, when I got home from work yesterday I was like ‘hmmm the place smells sooooo clean’. Well, in my absence while I was work he scrubbed the spots off the carpet (let’s say I’m clumsy when walking with a cup of coffee), he’d grocery shopped for things he knew I would eat and were high in protein (and a liberal supply of post-surgery junk food). He’d done all the laundry. He hung a tension rod up in my master bathroom to make showering a little less messy (long story).
I joked I’d had a wife for the last 3 weeks. My doctors, nurses, all of them who have seen different people with me at appointments or that have asked about my caretakers have raved about the quality of my friends. Have to agree. I’m a lucky woman. I’m damn sure going to miss Gilberto. Living alone and then having someone around all the time, you’d think it would be difficult but it was an easy transition. Plus he even gave me a pedicure and took me to buy some new pants …and belt since my damn pants are falling off. I’d never drag a man I was dating out shopping but he claimed he didn’t mind and I needed an objective opinion.
So my new surgeon who is the wound care surgeon (is a plastic surgeon…and a really good one apparently…turns out one of my doctors and her niece both has plastic surgery with him!) Seems like good people. I appreciated his bedside manner and also that he is not a gynecologist because his damn hands look like baseball mitts. He definitely picked a better medical specialty. Also, my surgeons are all really good looking. Not sure that has anything to do with anything but any man who will see me naked and drugged unconscious, I appreciate that if he’s attractive.
As I posted in the last blog, they’re going to do exactly what the other doctor presumed. Cut the outside edges of the wound, cut out the deep down dead tissue, and put in a wound vac. Making the wound larger will trick theoretically my body into Initially, I thought ‘vac’ mean vacuum but it doesn’t. Vac stands for Vacuum Assisted Closure which creates NPWT – Negative Pressure Wound Therapy.
In short, once they’ve re- cut and cleaned out everything, they will cut this special black foam so it fits firmly inside the wound then cover it with a plastic that adheres to the skin. (BTW bandage changes daily are part of the worst part of my day. Removing the tape, just the act of doing the bandage change makes me feel ill thinking of it. And no matter what you try, the tape just rips and tugs and hurts so much. Anyway the actual VAC canister sits on top of that with a tube that does leach out some drainage but the overall point is that the VAC stimulates blood flow and therefore quicker wound healing. So basically, I’ll have a machine hooked to my hip for at least a month, maybe longer. Really not looking forward that. But on the plus side with my recent weight loss, it won’t be an issue with my pants fitting! Lol
Of course the downside is, mostly dresses comprise my summer wardrobe so I won’t be able to wear them for a while with the big long tube thingy. I picked up the wound vac today (after it was mis-delivered which reminds me I need to write a scathing e-mail to UPS). In the hospital I had a VAC for 3 days and it was huge, this one is obviously made for home use and it much smaller, portable and not heavy.
Initially surgery was scheduled for yesterday (Thursday) at Fair Oaks but they moved it to Monday back at Mount Vernon. I’m not entirely sure why but I have a sneaking suspicion that they moved it there so my Orthopedic surgeon can sit in and examine my hip prosthesis and make sure it hasn’t been compromised since the depth of dead tissue is pretty deep. Anyway 8 am surgery, slated for an hour and a half, plus another 2 hours to come out of recovery and then I can go home.
Let’s see. In other news, I’ve been having PICC line issues. I’d assumed I was to be on it for 6 weeks, turns out it was 8. I’ve started noticing some swelling and discharge at the site. Saw my infectious Disease doctor this week (who, by the way is one of the top ID docs in the DC area). She was positively appalled by what was going on with my PICC line…like to the point of irate. Didn’t help matters that my home health nurse had it situated into a point where it was practically jammed into my arm, thus causing the tenderness and oozing. (BTW my doctor called my insurance health nurse case manager who reamed out the home health agency, threatened to move their business to another agency and caused quite a stink…I’ve heard about that incident from several people; that nurse case manager means no joke!
Complicating matters, my doctor showed me that my blood numbers (I forget the official name for the test they call it) which had steadily decreased with each weeks blood tests had tripled in the last week. Yes, I said TRIPLED. WTF? Needless to say I was not the only one surprised. She didn’t know what the cause could be but since I’m already on a boatload of antibiotics with my IV she wanted to hold off until after surgery Monday, hoping that the spike was due to the extent of the bacteria tunneling deep into my wound.
Guess we’ll see after that.
This whole thing makes me feel sort of bipolar. I’m not, for the record. I vacillate between feeling perky, happy, and cheerful – the Pam everyone expects and the overwhelmed, exhausted physically, mentally, emotional Pam. I’ll suddenly think of how my body is fighting so hard and how I want my body to keep up the good fight but really there is not much one can do to control the pace of healing. Supplements, lots of protein in my diet. Getting exercise, doing my Physical Therapy exercises, and then resting as much as I can. These are the things I can do to help but ultimately it is the decision of my body.
During a lengthy call with my insurance nurse case manager today she told me that with the 3 infections I’m fighting she expected another 3 months of feeling like I do, of having to ‘take it easy and slow’ before I healed significantly. She said in 35 years of nursing she hadn’t seen something progress so fast as my case had…that’s kind of scary considering my age and the fact I don’t have any actual systemic illnesses.
And at the end of the day I‘m plagued by the loneliness being sick leaves you. Chronic pain, illness is so personal. I’ve said it before. My friends and family have supported me so deeply (clearly-coming from out of state, putting their own lives on hold for extended periods of time) but you know, at the end of the day I want to go to bed with someone who can just look at me and know. Someone I don’t have to say a word to but knows I need a kiss, a hug and to just be. It’s my own fault for not having that. There are men who care for me- even love me and are concerned deeply about me. I just can’t bring myself to even consider committing to any of them feeling so broken. That’s one of the most stupid things I’ve ever said. Of course, all my male-female relationships are broken or horribly dysfunctional. I’ve said before, I’ve used my bad hips as a reason to keep them at a distance. Eventually I’ll have to be normal. Or try.
Perhaps writing this blog on a Friday night wasn’t a good idea. I’m lonely, I’m tired. Been a tough week and a stressful one emotionally. Just too much…so I think an early bedtime is a good idea.
Tomorrow I’ll take my niece to her dance lessons, and she’s been begging me to watch Hotel Transylvania and cuddle so that’s going to be my Saturday afternoon, come hell or high water. Those few precious hours with her will be the highlight of my week. Sunday is Mother’s day, so I’ll be hanging out with mom and then will do what I can to go watch my niece’s LaCrosse game. I have missed all her practices and games because with my hip replacement and subsequent wound it just hasn’t been terribly comfortable to even imagine trekking across uneven dirt terrain and sit on metal bleachers in the cool weather. I’m a terrible aunt that way. Hopefully she’ll forgive me by me being around this weekend to watch her kick some LAX butt.
In the meantime, until Monday I’ll do as my nurse directed…keep my mind occupied (I’ll split the time with my niece, letting my mother guilt me in honor of Mother’s day and then men drama) and Monday morning will be here before I know it and I’ll be relaxed, calm, and ready to move forward.