Friday, February 15, 2013

My post surgery life...

Mornings are the best, but by the time noon rolls around, I am wiped out. My leg either hurts me or is extremely uncomfortable.  I am quite helpless.  I cannot stand or walk on my own and must use a walker.  This means I cannot carry a damn thing.  We considered putting a basket on my walker but that did not work because my walker does not fit through the doors to any of the bathrooms unless I go sideways and even then it is a "just fit" with no room for a basket on the walker!!

In the kitchen I can manage a little bit -- I can get food from the cabinets or fridge and place them on the counter which is close. I can even prepare some food.  I can slide my prepared food over to the part of counter close to the table and I can sit down, reach over the get the food and sit down and eat.  But I cannot carry anything over to my "office" -- which has now been moved to a corner of my living room as I cannot get down the stairs to where it normally is.

I can do stairs, albeit with humongous difficulty but there must be at least one railing for me to hold onto.  There are NO railings on the half flight of steps at the end of the hall which leads to my office.  The only way in and out of my home is to go down or up a flight of stone steps.  There is a railing, but only one one side of the very wide staircase.  I use the railing with a crutch to make my way up or down.  Up is excruciatingly difficult. Down is less so.

I have exercises I am supposed to do daily.  I finally got smart and started doing them first thing in the morning rather than heading straight for my corner with the computer and cup of coffee.  So, now that I am doing them I hope it will help to strengthen the leg so I can start putting more and more weight on it and less on my hands, arms, and pectoral muscles.  Speaking of my pectoral muscles -- they HURT -- from using them!  It makes moving around ever that much more difficult.  OY!

I am taking drugs aplenty.  Targin, Optalgin, Percocet, Cephalex, Vitamins C, D and Calcium, a drug to prevent blood clots (injected into my abdomen daily), Xanax (prescribed as a muscle relaxant when the calf muscles of my right leg were cramping -- but Xanax is also helpful at reducing my anxiety a bit and helping me sleep, nice side effects).  I am taking Arnica (sublingually) to help my bone and muscle tissue to heal, eating a banana a day for the cramping.  

I do not have much of an appetite, but I eat.  Yogurt and granola for breakfast, soup or pasta for lunch, or maybe a sandwich.  Dinner is whatever my daughter decides to make.  Could be chicken, or meat, or soup or something.  I miss cooking.

I am keeping my leg elevated much of the time but I alternate and sometimes sit normally with my leg down.  My PT told me I should vary my position a lot and I should get up and walk a bit.  Hard to do with the upper muscles in pain!

Everything I do takes SO MUCH longer to do. I have to plan ahead because if I forget something it means another long painful walk to get it (esp if no on else is home or if my daughter is pre-occupied with caring for the kids).   I was recently invited to spend a Shabbat at the home of a friend who is getting married, for her Shabbat Kallah.  The plan was to make the "party" time of the Shabbat Kallah at her neighbor's house. I told them that I cannot do that kind of walk and their response was, "it is only one house over".  They have NO IDEA that "only one house over"  FEELS like a hundred houses over for me.  It is too much for me yet.   The plan was changed, however, when they learned that the forecast is for rain.  Now it will take place in my friends home where I will be anyway.

Taking a shower.  Now there's an experience!  The shower in my private bathroom is a small stall with a very narrow aperture through which to access it.  So, I cannot use that.  That means I have to use the shower/tub in the main bathroom. As I mentioned above. access to the bathroom is sideways, the only way I and my walker will fit through the door.  Once in, I shut the door and then:  I place a large towel on the floor.  Then there is a folding chair I open on top of that, and I place the chair so it is facing the tub, up against the side wall of the tub.  (Bear in mind, I am doing this standing on one good leg and one bad leg with my walker next to me in case i need to grab it.)  I get undressed (I actually get undressed in my bedroom, and I have to remove all the surgical dressings from the pin sites before I shower,  I put on a bathrobe and hobble out to the bathroom.)  I drape my bathrobe over the walker (where I have two towels waiting for me there as well).  I sit on the folding chair, and then very carefully lift up my legs and bring them down over the tub wall and into the tub.  Then I shift my body forward until I am sitting on the tub edge.  The folding chair remains in place behind my butt.  I turn on the water and using the hose and shower attachment I get myself wet and then soapy and then rinse and then shampoo my hair and rinse that.  Then, I carefully go back onto the folding chair and move my legs out of the tub.  I cannot use a shower chair in the tub -- it is too narrow for any tub chair to fit. (no matter which way we face it).  I cannot use a tub bench -- the tub edge next to the wall is far too narrow for that to be secure.  I do not OWN the place so I cannot invest in adding accessible fixtures to the tub.  So, this is what I am stuck with.  It works. I get clean.  It is just a bit more work than ideal.

I am back to work already, which has its good points and bad.  Good in that it forces me up and about and out of the house and up and down those stairs. Bad for the same reasons and it both tires and stresses me out.  No choice for me really, as I need the moolah, even if it is really a pittance.  I get home about 2 PM from work and I am exhausted. I eat lunch and then I either take a cat nap or a shower, depending on the day and how I feel and what else is planned.  If the PT or OT is coming that is a consideration.

I have at times been so exhausted that all I could do is cry - not the tears of emotional overwroughtness, but tears that stem from a physical organic source that I cannot stop even if I wanted to.  Similar to the post partum tears I shed after I gave birth to my daughter Chloe.  But there IS some emotional fallout for me.  I am so independent and am trying to be so strong, wanting to be strong and not to fall apart -- it is at times overwhelming for me to feel this way.  It is a new way of being for me and I am NOT used to it.  My surgeon tells me, he is glad I am so independent. He likes that I am being so strong.  And, I want to tell him, "but I am not. I am weak. I am feeling totally dependent."  And I want to cry about that -- that I may not be living up to his perception of me as a strong person, someone who is so independent.  Because I do not feel strong. I do not feel independent at this moment.

This is my life -- for now.  I know it is temporary. I know it will change -- for the better. I know I have to go through this.   And I am blessed -- I was given the opportunity to do this, to have this surgery, and in the process I am learning so much more about myself and what I can tolerate and what I can do, and what I cannot do.  The hardest part for me is to forgive myself when I feel I am being weak and scared and stupid.  It is hard to allow myself that.

1 comment:

  1. Rachel, my daughter would definitely be able to relate to what you are going through. She cannot stand. She maneuvers herself from her wheelchair to a chair or stool placed in the shower stall, if it is accessible at all (no threshold or the like). You might be interested in reading her story. Here is her blog: