I finally downloaded the photos from my camera yesterday. As I was looking through them I realized that I probably should have started the posts about my surgery with … well, my surgery!
Warning: Photos of the incisions on my knees follow. So, if you are squeamish about seeing that sort of thing, you should stop here … have a nice day … and come back tomorrow for a less graphic post.
My bi-lateral knee surgery was done at a new, very state-of-the-art hospital. All of the rooms are private. But I don’t know if they are all as private as mine. Mine was on a short hall off of the main hall, so it was very cocoon-like. I never heard any sounds of activity outside my room. So for the three days I was there, post surgery, many people entered my room, all with a goal to do something to me, tell me something to do or ask me something. For those three days I was the center of my own little universe. I had to make very few decisions. I just had to lay there. It was exactly what I needed for those three days, but if I had felt better, it would have been pretty boring.
The computer in the left hand corner was used by everyone who cared for me to log everything they did. Every time I was given a pill, the nurse asked me my whole name and date of birth, and then the pill, dose and time were logged into the computer.
One of those many machines surrounding me was monitoring my breathing and it told us all loud and clear whenever I would doze off that I wasn’t getting enough air, so the nurse would come in and make me do deep breathing, and cough. Luckily, that went away pretty quickly, because it really got old when it would happen every time I would just begin to doze off for a little cat nap.
Do you see the tube with blood in it hanging above me? There were drains in the sides of both of my knees and the blood that was drained was collected in reservoirs hanging on the foot of the bed. When there were about five (some measurement — pints I guess) of blood in the two reservoirs, they gave me a transfusion and put that blood back into me! No one said that I was anemic and really needed a transfusion. So the impression I got is that that return of some of the blood lost, is routine. I thought that was a very clever idea. They were draining the blood to keep down the swelling of my knees, and then returning it to me. But after that transfusion, they continued to do the drain. So the next day I asked a male nurse, who was looking at the reservoirs, if they were full again, and would they be returning the blood again. He held one up and showed me that the blood now looked different and he said that was because the cells after this long (about a day, I think) are dead and no longer good, so can no longer be returned.
They definitely don’t let you lay around for long. The next day after the surgery, the exercising began.
(I warned you!) This machine was sort of a mechanical trough that my leg laid in. As you can see, the foot is strapped in, and the device has been adjusted so that the bending part is right at my knee.
Then they turn it on, and it slowly bends the knee.
I know it seems like this should hurt, but the machine does it so gradually that it really didn’t. (Of course, it also helped that I was on alot of pain medication!)
And then it would return the leg to the starting position. And begin all over again!
Beginning the day after surgery, they would put each of my legs in this machine for a couple hours, twice a day. It was a nice way to exercise. I didn’t have to do anything. In fact, it was so gentle, that I could fall asleep while it was doing its job!
But, of course, they weren’t satisfied with just passive exercise for my young knees for long, so that is when Barb came into my life. She was my physical therapist.
Barb would help me from the bed into this very comfortable recliner (the stuff laying all over it are parts of the ice machine that was applied to my knees regularly) . And then, because it was not only a recliner but also a wheelchair, Barb would push me in it down the hall to a therapy room where there would be about a half dozen other patients all doing exercises (most of which could be done while sitting in the chair). For these therapy sessions, you had to have a “coach” whose main responsibility was to keep count for you of the repetitions of each exercise, and to offer encouragement. Hubby had planned on being my coach, but when DD surprised us by showing up the day after my surgery, she gladly took on that task. And let me just say that Gunny may have been our child who was a Marine, but DD has some real “drill sergeant” mentality. But she also tempered that with her trademark humor, so she would have the whole room full of therapists, patients and their coaches laughing.
Besides the recliner/wheelchair, another thing I had never seen before was the sofa that was in the room.
Okay, some explanation is required here. First of all, yes, this picture is very blurry, but remember it was taken by a woman who had just had major surgery and was on lots of medication, so let’s cut her some slack, okay? Also, even though blurry, it’s obvious that I had a really big suitcase full of lots of clothes, considering I was only going to be there three days. So I kept reminding people (when I would see them looking at my overflowing suitcase) that I had packed all that stuff because I was going directly to a rehab center for a week or two. It all did actually start out neatly folded but as I would ask Hubby, or DD or one of the staff to get something for me out of it, it got just a little disorganized along the way. But, hey, I’m not complaining, since I certainly couldn’t look through it myself. I was just glad for the help.
Anyway, I assume the sofa is part of the decor so that if a family member wanted to stay all night they would have a place to sleep. I think that is a really great idea. Many years ago when my father was really sick and one of us would stay with him all the time, I can remember sitting in his hospital room sometimes in just a straight-back chair, WISHING there was somewhere I could lie down for just a little while.
Finally the day arrived when I would be moving to the rehab center, and I got to take one of my first steps back to “normal”.
This is Kate my very favorite nurse. Don’t get me wrong … there were lots of nice nurses. But the reason Kate was my very favorite was because very early on the morning that I was to leave, I asked her when I would be able to take a shower, and her answer was “How about now?”. Music to my ears. So, that’s the reason Kate will always hold a special place in my heart. Nothing says normal more than an honest-to-goodness shower and hair washing.
In my next post I’ll tell you a little about the “culture shock” of moving from this cocoon environment to the totally different environment at the rehab center. Both served their purpose perfectly, but their purposes were just very different.