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Saturday, April 30, 2016

Ahem, The Dog Ate My Homework.

     It has been brought to my attention that it has been two weeks since I posted a blog. I'm sure you can appreciate the lack of original material when the highlight of the week is a visit from an ex-collegiate wrestler, now physical therapist. A few days ago I thought I was going to have a "R.I.P., Baxter" blog, but the old son- of-a-gun made a liar out of us again. At the moment he is waiting for breakfast!

     He had a few seizures a couple of weeks ago, and the prescribed phenobarbital has diminished his coordination. It is very difficult for him to stand, especially when he is lying on tile or hardwood floors. You should see Durelle arranging a small rug under him so he can get some traction. There have been a couple of bedtimes when it appeared for a long time that he was just not going to be able to stand and go outside. I, of course, am forbidden to BEND or LIFT so I cannot help Durelle.
     I'm doing better than he is. I still can't take a step without using a walker, and I have added an opiod painkiller to my twice a day smorgasbord of pills, but, unless I stress or tire my lower back, I am reasonably comfortable. For the first two weeks the only PT was walking. Now I've added some squats to the list. With the aid of a good kitchen stool I have been able to resume some of my cooking duties. Yesterday Durelle asked me to find a use for some boneless chicken thighs she had bought, so I made some fried chicken. During mutterings of, "Never again!", she spent longer cleaning up than I did in preparation.
     I visit the surgeon again for another checkup in two weeks. At that time, with fresh X-rays, he said that he would be willing to talk about driving again if only for short trips. On that note I must confess (He doesn't have my blog address.) that this week I drove the old Corvette...sorta. A neighbor has been taking it for weekly spins to keep fluids circulating and the battery charged. Unfortunately, he hasn't been parking it as precisely as is necessary in our garage. Durelle has a hard time squeezing by with a couple of sacks of groceries! So, I decided to fix it! I climbed in, started it, backed it out into the driveway, straightened it out, re-parked it and climbed out. What was remarkable about that chain of events was how utterly normal each step seemed. It remains to be seen how soon and how relevant that will be to driving the bus. Our departure date for Maine is still unknown.
     I cannot end this brief dispatch without pointing out the obvious. My recovery is totally dependent upon Durelle's willingness to do both of our usual chores around the house. Plus, she handles a large assortment of "fetching" tasks that I am only beginning to do for myself.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Two Weeks Post-Op

     It is now two weeks since Dr. Stovall chiseled away a few pounds of bone spurs and realigned and stabilized some of my lumbar vertebrae. I guess that's as good a milepost as any to assess and report progress. Although I could, with the help of a walker, walk almost from the start, it has taken this long to get my legs, particularly my quads, to go along with the program. They have been tight and sore and have made it difficult until recently to stand up straight. I'm looking forward to walking more and easing the stiffness in my back.
     We have settled into a routine. For the first week I slept in the recliner. Then I returned to our big Tempur-Pedic mattress, sleeping on my back with a pillow behind my knees. Sleeping on my back meant mouth breathing and snoring, so Durelle used the guest bedroom. Given her role in this process, she needs a good night's sleep more than I do. Every other day I take a shower using a shower chair. Yesterday I went out to the street to get the mail and made another trip to the garage to hook up the battery charger to the Corvette which hasn't been driven since before the surgery. 

     I still can't stand without having my hands on something, but progress is happening. The physical therapist rolls his eyes when I talk about driving out of here in two months. We'll see. I am just beginning to help out with the cooking again.

     I've got a new definition for Wikipedia...Predicament:

     The state of affairs at 0400 when you are balancing on one hip while simultaneously protecting a tender spine as well as a half-full urinal and you get hammered by a hamstring cramp.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Post-op Report

          This is a test of whether or not I can put together a blog on this tablet instead of my usual computer. I reported in to the hospital at 0530 on Tuesday morning. The actual time in surgery was about eight hours! I didn't see Durelle and Cindy until 1000 Wednesday morning. I was in the ICU for Wednesday night (space issue) and then to a room on the sixth floor for the rest of the time. I came home on Saturday afternoon. Here's a couple of shots of my view.

     The fact is that I could not complete the job with the tablet. I'm sure that, with additional practice, I could get it done, but I really need a full-size keyboard. It's now Monday, but I have a couple of tales from the hospital stay.
     I showed up at 0530 Tuesday for 0730 surgery which lasted about eight hours! There were large amounts of bone spurs to remove, squashed and bulging cartilage to extract, two adjacent vertebrae to realign, and three vertebrae ( lumbar 3, 4, and 5 ) to be fused. Obviously, I was lying on my stomach for the surgery. Almost as obviously, I was not lying on s comfortable mattress. I was lying on a padded framework for stability and registration. The resting places included my collar bones, the ends of my rib cage, my shoulders and the side of my face. As the anesthetic wore off, I felt as if my front had been hammered more than my back. Good News I : the surgery had been a real necessity. Good News II: everything was accomplished according to plan and without drama.
     During my recovery time on the sixth floor, the staff in toto was competent, compassionate, and congenial. There just weren't enough of them, which segues into my second tale. A major post-op task is to get the plumbing working again. At one point I went to call for assistance in getting to the pot, and I could not find the call button. I looked up at the white board ( visible in the picture ). There was a number for the kitchen because you could order from a menu...sorta. So I called a helpful lady in the kitchen and asked her to call the Nurse's Station for the sixth floor. She did, and eventually someone helped me out. I spent an uncomfortable hour on that pot until I called for help in getting back in bed. Wouldn't you know? Twenty minutes later I needed a urinal. There was no urinal in sight and the call button was up behind the head of the bed where it had been placed on the previous visit to get me into bed. Guess what? I called the kitchen again asked the same nice lady if she would be my secretary for the day. She laughed and made the call.
     I've been home two days and am up walking around and typing. The back's uncomfortable. Durelle is being a great caregiver, and I'm still sleeping in the Lazy Boy. By the way, Durelle is also taking care of a 15-16 year old dog and Cindy's 22 (!) year old cat. Baxter has had a couple of seizures in the past week.
     So, if Durelle stays healthy, we are all going to make it.