The Aftermath Part 12:
Ready to Heal
Glad this long ordeal will soon be over. That was what I thought as I deeply inhaled the now, all too familiar, scent of anesthesia, while I drifted off to sleep.
Nine hours later, I floated in and out of consciousness as the anesthesia began to wear off. I was surprised there was less pain than I had imagined at the fracture/surgical site. Mostly, I felt numb, which was a relief from the continuous pain I had been living with. That seemed like a positive sign to me.
After a short stay in recovery, I was wheeled up to a regular hospital room, where I requested something to eat. The staff seemed surprised I felt like eating. They called the surgeon to make sure it was alright, as they generally waited until the morning after surgery to start solid food. He approved, and soon I was eating dinner. As I ate, I thought about recovery and wondered what it would feel like to be ‘normal’ again, whatever that was.
Later that evening, the surgeon stopped in my room and apologized for not being able to effectively treat the osteomyelitis. He was truly a caring and gentle man. We were the same age. As he spoke, I saw him try to blink away tears. Empathy is rare in doctors, but he certainly had it.
After twenty-four hours, the spinal block was removed, and the pain began to return. Fortunately, they were quite generous with the pain medications. The next three days were spent in a maze of recovery, dressing changes, and physical therapy.
Everyone there thought I should stay in the hospital until after Christmas, or at least go to a nursing home. But, I was determined to go home on the fifth day, the day before Christmas Eve.
That afternoon, the transportation department loaded me on a stretcher and put me in the back of a station wagon facing backwards for the two hour ride.
I had never been so glad to be home. I could start putting my life back together and go on. This time, a nurse, nurse’s aide and physical therapist were ordered to treat me at home.
That night, I started to feel an intense pain, a terrible burning feeling which kept me from sleeping. After an amputation, the nerves remain, so it continues to feel is if the limb is still there. My whole leg hurt, hip to toe, even the part that was no longer there.
Christmas Eve, my friend brought Zoey home. My beagle and I spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day together, cuddling, and recovering.
I was not prepared for the type and severity the of pain I experienced. There were times it hurt so bad I couldn’t hold still, but I was too tired to move. I was on a large dose of pain medication but was still very uncomfortable.
I wasn’t prepared for a lot of things, For example, I had trouble sitting up straight. My center of balance had changed, since one side of me was heavier than the other. Gradually, as my muscles strengthened, I learned how to cope with the changes in my body.
I was still confined to my living and dining rooms.
My next appointment scheduled with the surgeon was one week away when my home health nurse noted an area of redness along the incision. She marked the area to determine if it was getting better or worse. It was worse the next day. She informed the surgeon, and he wanted to see me.
To be continued