Friday, January 12, 2007

A few screws loose...

I'm back from the hospital! Actually I got home on Friday afternoon, but I spent most of the time sleeping, so you've had to wait for your update. Wednesday was a busy day, which was a good thing, as it didn't leave me much time to worry about my surgery! I went to physio in the morning, class in the afternoon, and then out for dinner in the evening. Our Wednesday night class was finishing with a celebration dinner. We decided to go to a new restaurant in town called 3 Cats which I think has really nice atmosphere and decor. It was raining, so that made my crutching progress a little slow, and when I arrived I discovered my student had forgotten to make sure our reserved table would be on the first floor.... so I ended up having to climb up the stairs to the amusement of everyone dining on the first floor. Anyways, here's a picture of my Wednesday night students, though a couple were missing. After a lovely dinner (and a contraband latte... I figured I could drink one before having to go to the hospital and needing to be strict again for awhile), we headed straight to the hospital to check me into my room.
Things were a little confusing, but I signed and thumbprinted some papers before going to get an x-ray. When I got into the x-ray room, they asked if I could stand for the x-ray. This was strange I thought, but sure, it was possible... then they asked me to hold onto a large board in preparation for my chest x-ray. Chest x-ray? Isn't it my LEG that's broken? They explained that it's standard procedure prior to surgery.
Finally got up to my room and got settled, put some tissue in the bathroom and all those essential things. I may have mentioned before
that Taiwanese hospitals don't provide ANY extras, including towels, kleenex etc. Just bedsheets, blankets and one pillow. Actually the hospital in Hualian gave me as many pillows as I wanted, but this hospital was really adamant about their one pillow per patient policy. After my surgery I was able to get something to prop my leg up on, but I was a little bitter about not getting an extra pillow especially since the bed beside me was empty, so they obviously had at least one extra pillow in the entire hospital!! It worked out well though, I didn't spring for the single room, but I ended up being alone in my room without paying the extra cost.

I got a needle in my hand in preparation for the next day's I.V. and discovered something: it really sucks trying to use crutches with a needle in your hand!! I kind of hobbled to the bathroom mostly relying on one crutch and felt like an old woman. After a restless sleep a nurse came in and checked my blood pressure, thus waking me up. The time was 5:17. She left all the lights on when she left, I guess she wanted me to be ready in time for my 8:30 surgery.... so I was up. She came in a few times with nail polish remover (apparently you can't have nail polish on your toes during surgery) and a tiny hospital gown. Then she came in every half an hour for the next two hours reminding me to take off my pants and glasses. I was getting a little annoyed... like I KNOW I can't wear them in the operating room but it's a little chilly in here so I'd rather not be in just this hospital gown for the next hour thank you very much! Alice and Christine (my Chinese teacher) showed up respectively at 7 and 7:30 and around 8 I was wondering where the doctor was.... then a man came with a bed to wheel me down to the operating room.... something was wrong here..... I refused to go down until the anesthesiologist came up to talk with me. Isn't this STANDARD procedure? I was a little worried at this, but he did come up and talk me through it in pretty good english though a lot of it was medical terms that i didn't understand. It went something like this: "We'll put a needle in your spine and remove a tiny amount of spinal fluid and replace it with anesthetic which will freeze you from that point down." Sounds simple right??? This procedure is known in North America as an epidural and in Chinese as "ban shen ma zui" or half-body anesthetic. This is the stuff I had a not so hot experience with last time before they gave up and went to general anesthesia last time.... well this time was no better. He tried a number of times while I was on my side, and the needle DID go deeper than last time....meaning I could feel something digging around deep in my spine. It was really awful. After 3 or 4 failures he decided to try the sitting position. By this time I was almost hysterical and after one more excruciating failed attempt, I told him I didn't want anymore! I have decided that I never EVER again want to even try to get an epidural. The next option (which honestly would have been much easier to do in the first place) was to just freeze the part of my leg they were cutting and give me a sedative to put me to sleep. I readily agreed. I was aware of the doctor swabbing my leg and then nothing for awhile. When I woke up it seemed like that's what he was still doing. The doctor said "You had a little nap" and I told him I hadn't fallen asleep, then he told me I'd already slept more than 45 minutes! But it was done, in about an hour I was out of there and down to x-rays (of my leg this time). Back up to my room I quickly remembered that with such a local anesthetic, the freezing wears off VERY quickly. Fortunately, I was given some pain meds as soon as I asked for them. Actually today is the third day since surgery and the pain is already minimal. Though there is some... the incision did go all the way to the bone. So then there was just recovery. They let me keep the screws they took out of my leg, and I'm quite fascinated by them! They're my new conversation piece lol. I spent the rest of the day and the next morning sleeping in between receiving tons of visitors. I'm really touched by how many people came to see me while I was in the hospital. I also received 3 huge boxes of fruit. In Taiwan it's customary to give fruit to people who are ill or in the hospital instead of flowers. More practical, but maybe not so in the sheer amount I received. I have at least 10 Asian pears, 3 bunches of grapes, some wax apples, cherries and strawberries. It's craziness! I slept really well the second night and the next day was just waiting for the doctor to come and change the bandages and check on the incision site. He said everything was looking good, and I could go home that day if I wanted! I wasn't expecting to be out so fast, but the surgery was pretty simple (once the anesthetic ordeal was over) and the cut is actually really small, less than a third of the original scar. He cut open on the same spot, so I'll only have one scar in the future. That's nice. So here I am at home doing more of the same... resting and receiving visitors, and trying to take the next step, which is literally that: taking a step!! After three months of neurotically protecting my leg I seem to have developed a mental block when it comes to putting weight on my foot (the doctor told me to start). Maybe my friends at PT can help me with that next week!

3 comments:

  1. So glad all went well!!

    Those are some amazing screws!! I can see why you are so enamored with them!! :D

    I wanna see a picture of your fruit-stockpile!!

    Just kidding. Hope you get some good rest and recover quickly!

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  2. So glad to hear that surgery went well!!!

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  3. Wow, the possibilities! Now you can be standing and even wakling soon! Yay!!!! I'm excited for you, and I would have decided the same about the epidural. So, when you ever get pregnant, you can get other stuff to numb the pain! Not sure why I thought of that, but anyways. Good luck in your whole recovering process. You've been an sport during the entire while, and a witness too. Keep it up! Love you! Carmen

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