Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Falling at the Fish Fry

Three years ago, after increasing hip pain on my right side, I procured the services of a devastatingly handsome orthopedic surgeon with the soft brown eyes of a seal pup. He did a nifty hip replacement and everything went swimmingly. Two days after surgery I moved into The Woodlands, a nursing home re-hab center right by the hospital. The food was vile, but the rehab services were outstanding. I left there in two weeks, needing only a cane for getting around. Since friends and family had brought me food, I was well and healthy.

On March 12, after polishing off a meal at a Lenten fish fry down in the little town of St. Joseph, I managed to trip on something on my way out and fell like a redwood tree onto the hardwood floor, right on my left, or then unrestored, hip. Since I was in the basement of a Catholic school, words I longed to shout froze on my twisted lips. I have never experienced that kind of pain. 911 was summoned and I was borne out of the place by a group of EMTs and taken to the hospital over rough roads (it having been a tough winter here in Northeastern Ohio.) There it was determined that I had a broken hip (duh!) and I was drugged for a while.

It so happened that all of my children were here in Kent for various reasons, so they were all able to be with me. I had surgery from an equally good, but not so handsome, orthopedic surgeon whom I had my brother vet for me. He did a superb job with a partial hip replacement. Being on morphine for a good part of the time, I think I had a few visitors and actually chatted with them. Who were those people?

After two days I was trucked over to the Woodlands, where a couple of the ladies from my last time there greeted me at the front door, which I thought was a nice touch. I lucked out again and got a nice private room. I settled in, prepared for therapy and healing. The food was, once again vile, perhaps even viler. For some reason I was in a constant state of nausea and couldn't have eaten anything anyway. My family kept asking me if I would like them to bring food, friends offered goodies, but nothing appealed. I didn't find out until the day before I left that Vicodan was causing my nausea, but it was too late by that time.

The people who work there were mystified that I didn't want that lovely bright pink pie, or that great glob of macaroni with some sort of brown stuff on the side. There was one dish actually called "cheese poo." Becky, who looks like a photo by Dorothea Lange, assured me that it was quite delicious. The decor in the public rooms - the lobby and lounges - leaned to Emmett Kelly figurines and fancily dressed dolls.

The therapy was slow to start and really inadequate. At first I did get around well with the walker, - trips to the bathroom became my most strenuous exercise. The PTs were not spending much time on my hip stuff, as they had the last time. They kept giving me hand weights and telling me to do reps while they spent a lot of time with comatose patients and very little with those of us who were hoping to leave eventually. They were very different from the last time - a whole new organization. When they weren't holding mirrors up to the mouths of the comatose, they were discussing their lunch plans. I passed my feelings about this to some imp0rtant person and two days before I left, they started doing what they should have been doing. Unfortunately, by this time the nausea and not eating had made me pretty weak, but I did climb a flight of stairs twice.

When I got home, I diagnosed myself as dehydrated. The visiting nurse didn't' like the look of things and faxed my doctor, who saw me that afternoon and sent me back to the real hospital where I was hydrated for two days until I was as good as new.

All this time, my hip was doing fine, healing on its own with very little pain. While I was being hydrated, I had a room mate who was on about 25 different drugs and introduced herself to me by saying, "I have Stage IV cancer but I'm blessed." She then listed all the other conditions she had, but was blessed all the same. There were a few dubious items on her list of conditions, and she left the same day I did.

One thing about having a hip surgery is that it does slow one down. I have learned to do preemptive peeing, since it is not always easy to rush to the bathroom, especially with a walker. If I happen to walk by the bathroom, I just go in and have a seat. Saves on laundry. I have lost all dignity anyway. A woman comes by twice a week to give me a shower. She is a very large woman and she and the walker were rather a tight fit in my small bathroom. A PT lady comes and makes me do exercises and walk around and around the house (inside, of course), and a nurse comes to check my blood pressure twice a week. All this is courtesy of Medicare, that evil government health care system that interferes with my right to go broke paying for these services on my own. I am now using a cane and feeling very vulnerable - only my two feet and it to hold me up.

I have been the beneficiary of such kindness from family and friends that I will be thanking people for months to come. My two daughters who were here and cleaned the heck out of house when I was in the rehab place are coming back to help some more. My son and Kent daughter have been with me all along. John has done just about everything one could do, including cooking Easter dinner, laundry, tidying up the place, etc. Cynthia has been on hand, too. Sally took me to a store to buy a few necessities and I had the scary experience of riding in one of these courtesy carts. Not so easy as it looks, friends.

It's been a wretched experience, but I have survived. The handsome dude who did my first hip told me that eventually I would have to have the other one done. I guess I took care of that.

1 comment:

Janet Harrison said...

Oh Guenveur, I am so mad you had to go thru this. I hope you are mending quickly and feeling good now. Love, Janet

PS Remember when you danced around the May Pole in in back yard? (tether ball pole most of the time)

I hope you can resume such activity soon, albeit with dainty steps!