Some months means more to others and for myself, that month for me is March. On 1 March 2011 I let a man I barely knew break my pelvis, the most blood nutrient bone in the body, to fix hip dysplasia that I didn’t even know I had 6 months earlier. A year later in March 2012, I trusted him again to break the other half of my pelvis to fix the dysplasia on that side. He could have f***ed me up for life. I’ve heard stories since of people who ended up with life-threatening bone infections and other complications after similar surgeries. Oddly enough, I never trusted his talent and went into it blindly trusting him with my physical health. He’ll take care of me. I never doubted his talent or care for me. His mentor helped Dr. Ganz develop the periacetabular osteotomy and he himself was a hip and pelvis reconstruction specialist. Even 7 years later I still don’t know much about him except that he’s damn good at his job and I owe my entire outlook on life to him. Not only did he save my hip joints, he gave my life a whole new meaning. I could never repay him. Not only did he save my hip joints, he gave me a whole new appreciation for my mobility that I’d always taken for granted up until that fateful day in October 2010 when I started literally losing it overnight. I remember that first tinge of pain I felt as I was going to bed that night. I remember the next morning when I couldn’t lift my right leg anymore. I remember how scared I was that I was in so much pain and had no idea why I was feeling it.
Not a day goes by where I don’t think about the 4 screws in my pelvis. Even though they serve no function anymore, back in 2011 and 2012, they were holding fragments of my pelvis together for the biological wonder that they’d fuse back to the pelvic bone and make me physically whole again. Even with my marathon swims, these surgeries were the hardest for me to recover from both mentally and spiritually. Quitting wasn’t an option as I laid in bed for weeks and months on end waiting for my pelvic bone to heal. Perhaps that’s why the thought of quitting doesn’t occur to me during my marathon swims because all I’m thinking about is where I am at that moment and not even the feed before or the feed after where I am in the water right there and then. Those screws helped make me mentally and spiritually whole again also.
Sometimes I wonder if I make too big of a deal of it. It’s still hard for me sometimes to come to terms with what I went through. Having never even broken a bone growing up, I woke up the evening of 1st March 2011 completely numb and feeling very alone. I knew my then-boyfriend was in the waiting room and there was a nurse next to my gurney but I still felt isolated. Above everything else I remember how I felt after the surgery team woke me up and I laid there in the recovery room not being able to feel anything or even talk. I remember my throat dry and I got some water but I couldn’t even say that I wanted more. I just looked longingly at that cup somehow wishing that the nurse could sense my desire that I wanted more or to at least engage with me while she sat there looking at the monitor. It was then that I finally realized the magnitude of what I’d accepted to be done and remember wanting to just cry. I really had no idea that it was only the beginning. I’ve reprinted my few notes here collectively for the first time. Even though it’s only four of them, I’m glad that I have them as it’s better than nothing from back then. I’ll never forget the feelings of loneliness, frustration, loss, and impairment. I know I came out a different person though which I believe I needed to go through that in order to become the person I am today. I wouldn’t do it any other way as I love where I am right now in my life and all that that experience has given me.
I still feel pain sometimes too. I felt sharp pain twice a few weeks ago in my right hip just before Duncan’s Rowing class when it was 46F outside. I just try to rotate my joint a little and pray it goes away. I’m not sure why I still feel pain sometimes and have just accepted it as a rare occurrence. It’s too hard to tell Dr. Bellino about without being able to reproduce it in front of him and it’s not often enough for me to be concerned about it. I take it as my body reminding me what I’ve gone through, just in case my mind has forgotten. I realized recently that I subconsciously still help bend my legs up onto benches or couches today because I got used to it back then. I’m sure there are other similar movements I still do related to my adaptations back then that I don’t even realize.
I wish I’d written more back then of what I was feeling as I was going through my recovery from my first surgery. I never wrote anything after the second surgery a year later. Perhaps because it wasn’t as scary since I’d already gone through everything before the year prior. I didn’t have a blog back then but also I remember that it took me days and months to respond to text messages and phone calls. I felt bad about it but I also was lucky if I could stay awake for an hour. I was on 100 mg of Percocet and Oxycotin each day. I slept at least 12 hours every night and woke up with a strange combination of a hangover, paralyzed, and extremely in pain. Hours turned into days that turned into months. I understood what my Great Aunt Marge had told me years before about how “the golden years” weren’t what she was experiencing at the time but when you’re younger and have the ability to move. She was leashed to an oxygen tank at the time. Now I understood what she meant.
Looking at Facebook’s “On This Day” recaps, I look at the notes and Facebook statuses, and wall posts that people left for me back in 2011 and 2012. I enjoy seeing them as it’s almost through a third person’s eyes now. I lived through it but now I think I can appreciate it more. I always said that I don’t want to forget what I went through so I can appreciate what I have today and it helps.
I only wrote 4 notes back then which is all the actual documentation I have really from back then unless you track down my friend Gale Beach who, bless her heart, would write me cards and letters during my recovery process and I’d write letters back. She calls herself old and old-fashioned but f*** it, I’m like that also. I didn’t realize that I never wrote anything for the second surgery in 2012 and wish I had. I remember how I only showered once a week which was the only day I felt remotely human. It was so difficult to move me. The blood thinner injections into my belly hurt so much I’d cry. I had a box under my bed to use as an intermediary step for my foot because I couldn’t swing my leg up from the floor to the bed in a single motion with the “hip kit” from Stanford Hospital. I went 9 whole days once without even leaving the bedroom. I threw up a lot from the medications. It was a trying two years of my life but ones that helped change the fundamental of my being.
Post-op update (March 4, 2011)
Epidural is out, blood pressure is finally back to normal after hanging around 80/40, and my heart rate seems to be sticking around 100 – 110 bbm. The morphine made me nauseous so I refused to use that “happy button” after the 3rd puking episode on Tuesday night.
Thursday I woke up feeling like death rolled over as the pain my head hurt worse than the pain my hip. The doctors gave me midrin (which I use normally for tension headaches), which seemed to help somewhat, but not completely. I got Nurse Julie at 4 PM and finally found out why I was feeling so crappy all day. My red blood cell count was only 18% (normal is 40%) on Thursday, which after trying to alter my epidural meds and pumping extra fluid thorugh my system, the doctors gave up and decided to use my designated donor blood for the transfusion. I had minimal bleeding during the surgery so they didn’t need the 2 pints of blood that my dad donated at the time. They also gave me an oxygen mask, which I decided to keep and currently have on right now. I felt better on Thursday within half an hour of the transfusion starting.
Still battling a fever (O2 is probably helping me not feel as crappy about that as I should be) and the most I’ve been able to walk is 3 very painful steps with a walker. My surgeon was hoping to send me home tomorrow, but we’re going to talk to him since I’m not exactly ready to go yet. A condition of my release was that I can make it around in/out of bed and around (namely to the bathroom) by myself. Right now I can’t do either of those (also means that I still have the urinary catheter in!). As the epidural’s drugs wear off too, my hip has been in a lot more post-op pain. I’m currently waiting for my next dose of Percocet at midnight so I can ask for a larger dose to help me make it through the night.
If Nurse Ken wasn’t around to take care of me, I’d probably have already gone insane. ❤ He’s been a real champ, even insisting on staying in my private room (the cot length reminds him of the Navy beds) even though the longest uninterrupted sleep we get is 3 hours. At about 3:30 AM, the nurses start coming in every hour to check vitals and at 6 AM, the doctors start making their rounds.
Thank you everyone who has sent well wishes, flowers/gifts, visited, and called! You guys are the best, and I will continue calling people back this weekend. I’ll know more if I’m still going to be in the hospital for the entire weekend after we talk to the surgeons tomorrow.
Post-op: Weekend from hell (March 6, 2011)
My health has taken a nosedive since the last update. The additional painkiller that a resident prescribed for me on Friday night was dilaudid, completely ignoring the fact that I really don’t react well to morphine. My surgeon wasn’t too pleased when he came in on Saturday morning and found out one of his residents had completely ignored my chart when assigning a pain medication. He wants the oxycodone to be bumped up instead (duh).
The Dilaudid left me with a horrible migraine in its wake. To make matters worse, the midrin I was prescribed came with a dosage of 1 every 4 hours. I even gave them what my actually prescription from my GP was (2 initially and then 1 every hour until the headache is gone, not to exceed 5 pills in 12 hours). On top of that, we found out that someone had canceled the midrin prescription all together! Nurse Ken apparently unleashed his furry at the nursing station to get that corrected ASAP. My recovery process completely lost Saturday.
I had a really great nurse last night who was concerned about my fever for the last 5 days. She pushed the doctors to get a blood test done to find out if the fever is related to something else as they don’t usually last this long. She was also concerned that the percocet has been masking the true temperature a lot of the time (as it’s bounced between 100F and 102F). When she took my temperature at 4:30 AM today (before my next percocet dose at the time), my fever was at 103.3 F.
I’ve chased away the physical therapists all weekend as between the high fever and the migraine, I haven’t even wanted to get up to use the komode (unnecessary evil with the urinary catheter out).
Right now I’m trying to get some rest, drink lots of fluids, and will hopefully feel better tomorrow to resume physical therapy.
Sorry I haven’t returned anyone’s phone calls. My phone has been off since the migraine yesterday morning. The phone in the room is unplugged also so it doesn’t wake me up when I’m napping (not that I can reach it anyway).
Post op Update : Motivations to get the hell home (March 8, 2011)
Entered in last Tuesday (March 1st) for the procedure. Why am I still here? Ugh. Hoping for physical therapy to release me today so I can go home. The things I’m looking forward to the most at home:
- Mau (sometimes I feel some pressure on a leg and it feels just like one of her little paws).
- Not being woken up by a nursing assistant to take my vitals.
- Not being woken up by a bright light and surrounded by 4 residents asking me how I’m doing.
- Not having to lift myself onto a King of England height bed that should really have a step-stool.
- Getting rid of the IV leash so I can actually use my left hand without pain.
- Going back to my landline phone that has the ringer turned off.
- Being able to see a hallway.
- Being able to watch television without commercials.
- Being able to administer my own medications.
- Being able to eat meals at non-senior citizen hours without having to warm up the food again.
Post-op Update : First follow-up doctor’s appointment (April 3, 2011)
I had my first post-surgery follow-up appointment last Friday with Dr. Bellino. The bone is healing nicely and I actually only have 2 screws instead of 3. He’s given me permission to start bending my right leg a little, but said to not go crazy with that. Not sure how I could do that since it’s an effort to bend it at all, and I’m very limited in how far it’ll bend without causing a great deal of pain. I still have to limit the weight on the leg to 30 pounds, but I’m trying to use it in more of a walking motion now to help prepare me for when I can actually start putting more weight on it.
Physical therapy is due to start on 27 April and will be 3 times a week. I also found out that I won’t be able to start driving again until towards the end of May so Ken is still going to be cauffering me around. He’s been absolutely amazing this entire time with providing 24/7 care and dealing with my OCD tendencies.
We’ve been out a handful of times, which has been great for my mood! Nice that the weather is starting to get better also.
I’ve been released to start working again from home, which I started on Friday afternoon with downloading 3000+ emails. My employer is fine with me having to work from home longer than planned and said that my health and recovery is the most important thing right now (which is always nice to be reassured from one’s workplace).
I’ve truly appreciated all the cards, gifts, visits, and phone calls from friends and family. It’s helped brighten my days even when it was raining outside!