Friday, February 5, 2010

one week later

Sorry I haven't been blogging, but that's a reflection of how difficult this recovery has been. Too much has happened since I last wrote, but thought I'd provide some of the more interesting and noteworthy developments.

I seem to have set the record for fastest discharge post hip replacement. The surgery was last Friday and I got clearance to leave the hospital by Sunday (vs what was anticipated -- Monday probable but even Tuesday likely)

There was quite a set-to in the hospital on my second night. I spent the first night in recovery only because there were no rooms, which was puzzling. I asked why -- it isn't like HSS has tons of emergencies and therefore unexpected admissions -- and the staff agreed, but nothing could be done.

I finally got to my room the next morning, and had a difficult roommate: either she was awake and complaining, or asleep and snoring. This did nothing to ease my anxiety or improve my mood.

The night staff on my second night was the worst. I was stressed and anxious, desperately in need of sleep but no sleep aid was forthcoming (for reasonable reasons including my drop in blood pressure and hemoglobin levels.) But the communication was poor, and slow. The nurses were condescending and remote. The whole process is an infantilizing and depersonalizing one.

My set-to really kicked in when the nurse started telling me about the power of positive thinking and about how she was a disciple of some positive-thinking guru. I responded that I was a disciple of Barbara Ehrenreich whose new book "Bright Sided" used data to make the argument that not only was positive thinking of questionable benefit but could actually be harmful.

She wasn't unhappy to see me leave.

Since I've been home it's been mostly a blur. I can't do stairs so I'm a prisoner of my upstairs bedroom and the painkillers sap my strength and energy. All I can do is rest and sleep and read and watch TV. I'm not bored (yet) -- until the pain begins to ebb and my energy returns I'm not frustrated by my inability to do anything. That'll come once I start to feel better, but for now boredom isn't really an issue.

I've been reading Game Change, which is my kind of gossip book, and that's helping.

Nick's been great -- of course -- and this places myriad demands on him, but he never complains.

I'm walking (to the degree that I'm walking at all) with a walker. The device I thought would be my bete noir has actually turned out to be my best friend. So much for preconceived notions.

Physical therapy began this week; I've had two sessions with a Russian therapist who I quite like. I can't do that much but she's quite reasonable about expectations and my (shocking, to me) limitations. I'm trying to do the couple of exercises she assigned me, and find myself exhausted by just these few simple movements. But she assures me that this is normal and to be expected.

We upped my pain meds yesterday, which helps. I tried (to soon) to elongate the period between doses but that turned out (as many things have) to be a misbegotten idea.

And then this just happened: I didn't realize til last night that we were running low on the pain meds, and I just called the doc's office. Apparently they don't call in prescriptions -- "didn't you read that in the pre-surgical information?" They mail them. Mail them! I'll be out of these by today and may get the new scrip in the mail Monday.

But they don't really give a damn -- and that call actually well characterizes this entire experience. We have backups, fortunately, though the dosages are different.

My chief learnings from this experience, to date, include:

  • HSS is no better than anywhere else, for all the hype
  • Everything depends on the quality of staff (which was why Sunday was better than Saturday)
  • The system works to suit the providers, not the patients
  • real info about recovery and what to expect is sketchy, notwithstanding the pre-surgery class -- attendance mandatory -- which turned out to be pretty much useless
So now I'll return to my regular day: icing my leg, reading, TV and resting. I'm sure things will start to improve over the next few days, according to all reports. And at least I have enough energy back to do this, answer emails, etc.

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