Sunday, August 16, 2009

Life - Starting The Recovery

First off, thank you everyone who's sent me well wishes. I haven't been able to respond to everyone, and I'm trying to figure out how to get in touch with some, but the support, even just in font, helps a lot. I really appreciate everyone's thoughts, and I thank you for them.

As far as what's happened here so far...

Things have been moving along on the health front. I realized that I had to get some relatively routine exams done so that the doc could say, "You need some more tests". I'm still jumping through hoops, with an MRI scheduled for Monday. The orthopedist, one that's gotten good reviews from a couple patients I know, said that surgery may be possible for the shoulder.

During this process I thought of my mom frequently, when she visited me in to the US in 2000, complaining of severe abdominal pain. A close family friend, a surgeon, actually met us at the hospital that evening, after he learned my mom had landed (she'd let him know of her discomfort before she flew here).

It was Friday, Labor Day weekend. He said that my mom would be undergoing a number of tests, later admitting that they had to do all the tests so that the insurance company would cover the expenses.

He meant to start right then and there.

He must have called in a few decades worth of favors because by the end of the holiday weekend, I'd made something like a half dozen trips to various doctors. A couple times my mom would get some lab samples drawn and we'd literally drive to the next appointment to wait for the results to come in.

Even lunkhead me was starting to realize that the ultimate goal was surgery, and within a few days my mom was cleared for an operation. The doc knew all along what was wrong, but for insurance to cover the costs, he had to take all the intermediary steps. You can't skip to Step 6, you have to do Steps 1-5 first. Unfortunately he was correct in his initial assessment - my mom was in the most advanced stages of colon cancer.

I appreciate how much effort our family friend surgeon put into my mom's care because my doctor, as great as she is, had to wait a weekend to be able to schedule an MRI. In fact, it'll be six days since the crash.

To be fair she scheduled x-rays for "right now" on Thursday afternoon, meaning we drove from her office to the beautiful radiology building (it resembled our honeymoon hotel in its trappings, very nice place). Once they took the x-rays, the tech said that she was having someone read them "stat" (the first time I've heard that word uttered in this whole escapade - it's not bandied about like on TV, to my great disappointment), and about ten minutes later they told us my pelvis had two breaks.

After the shocking news, a couple calls to frantic relatives, the missus took us on a whirlwind tour or the area, picking up food, a wheelchair (with footrests, $30 extra), tegaderm (the large patches cost $130 for 20, and I used two of them at one time for a while), and some miscellaneous supplies.

I got to sit in the car the whole time, avoiding the painful process of getting in and out of the car. (Note to self - wheelchair ramps and elevators are not just things to take advantage of insurance - they are necessary for many people.)

We had some food, started getting used to some of the routines, and rested. It's exhausting being injured. And more so to take care of an injured person.

A couple days after the x-ray, I feel like my pelvis is making good progress. Well, that or all the pain medications are masking the moderate pain. If I lift just right, it no longer feels like someone is slowly ripping my right leg off, one tendon at a time. Instead it just feels like someone is tugging mighty hard, but the tendons aren't snapping, just stretching.

Big improvement, right?

(If I move the leg wrong, though, it's game over while I try not to cry out in pain - it's like Jaws is ripping my leg off.)

The kind doc wrote a prescription for a cane, which I may be able to get today, if not, tomorrow. Okay, I'm not getting it, the missus is, but you get the gist. I immediately thought that it would be uber-cool to have a cane with a sword in it, but I figure folks like the TSA would have something to say about that. I'll settle for a carbon fiber... okay, maybe a titanium... well, fine, I think an aluminum cane would be fine.

With a hollowcore shaft that doubles as a blowgun?


Whatever my cane, I hope to be hobbling around in the next week - I can technically hobble now but it's so painful and slow that the missus would rather have me sit in the wheelchair and push me around.

My shoulder is becoming more of a concern. It's extremely painful if I, say, cough. Or sneeze. Or lean over. Or do virtually any movement you think has nothing to do with your right shoulder (but it really does).

Any flex at all and the pain, totally un-phased by my phalanx of pain meds, ricochets through my body, paralyzing me like I just stuck my finger in an electric socket. I've learned to keep my shoulder relaxed as possible, even if, say, my legs are trembling with effort. I'm even continuing with my allergy medicine to avoid sneezing or coughing.

Friday SOC and Mrs SOC made a long trip up with the intent on helping the missus deal with some heavy lifting stuff. For example, a couple of our heavier pieces of furniture sat close to the wheelchair's path, so they helped move them away. They took down the bathroom door since the wheels kept getting hung up on the edges. They ate dinner with us.

And SOC installed a grab bar (good for up to 300 pounds) so I can lift myself off the toilet.

You know, it's those little things in life that count.

We also looked at my bike. SOC assembled it gingerly under my watchful eye (Note to self - I don't know how Sir Frank Williams runs his F1 team from a wheelchair). The bike looked relative unscathed, with the obvious damage to the hoods, a nick in the downtube, and a couple minor scrapes on protruding edges (saddle, derailleur). But overall it seemed okay (pictures to follow at some point).

As they say, "Flesh heals, Campy doesn't."

Saturday I tried to explore some limits. The missus had to go run errands so I had the house to myself for maybe an hour, maybe a bit more. I used this unsupervised time to make a solo foray to the bathroom (from the kitchen table - probably 50-60 feet each way).

I prepped like I was going on a trip - and I was, because I had no idea how long it'd take. So I packed a home phone and my cellphone in my sling (note to self: chair needs pockets for things like that), retrieved my temporary cane (a broomstick), and started on the long trip.

When I started moving the chair, all the cats scattered like the doorbell just rang. (Note to self - need pocket with cat treats so cats will approach me in wheelchair.)

The deep rug presented the first challenge since the wheelchair didn't roll too well through the mud-like surface (note to self - tank treads would work better, right?). I briefly contemplated trying to walk, but the excruciating pain (and a tottering close call) quickly convinced me to stick to the chair.

I finally managed to get out of the rug quagmire by pushing with my toes and using the broomstick like a Venice boat pole. And grabbing solid furniture with my one good limb, my left arm.

Once on the hardwood floor (note to self - hardwood is good when in wheelchair), things went a lot quicker.

I had a hard time negotiating the hall by the top of the basement stairs due to some tight corners. And, of course, whenever I look down the stairs while sitting in the wheelchair, I think of the movie Naked Gun, OJ in a wheelchair barreling down the stadium steps and over the edge.

And I have to smile.

I couldn't roll into the bathroom (one arm pushing didn't get me over the lip) so I abandoned the chair (phones still in sling, just in case) and hobbled to the toilet using the broomstick cane. I managed to stand, aim, fire.


Bonus: the phones in the sling didn't drop into the toilet.


Since I was already there, I also brushed my teeth, thanking myself for just having recharged the batteries for the whirly-gig toothbrush I use (note to self - whirly-gig toothbrushes are much easier to use than a manual one, especially if only one hand works).

Rinsed with mouthwash.


Then I had to get back. I made the trip back to the kitchen table in time to catch my breath and settle down before the missus came back.

I proudly told her I went pee by myself. Felt like a two year old. Grinned.

She said some appropriate like, "You did? That's great!"

And grinned back.


Hida Yanra said...

Keep your attitude up, You'll come through it in time.

You certainly have my thoughts & prayers.

Anonymous said...

The cane should obviously be put to use in someone's wheel. :)