Wednesday, December 4, 2013

In which I get an Interface installed.

Went in Friday to get my port installed. Was a little miserable going in as I wasn't allowed to take any Ibuprofen after noon the day before and wasn't allowed to eat or drink after midnight. We had eaten Thanksgiving dinner a little early, or late depending on your tradition, at 4:00pm. After that, I really didn't have anything else to drink afterwards other than a sip of water to wash down my medications. Something that I would later regret.

We arrived at the hospital at 10:00am as ordered, checked in and were sent back to the surgical waiting area. After a few minutes they called us back and gave me the gown to change into. This gown fit rather oddly, even as hospital gowns go, but also had ports on it which I was told was for the nurse to attach a warm air system that I could use to regulate my comfort in the cold pre-op area. It made it feel like I had put on some kind of open-backed spacesuit or something. Strangely enough, I wasn't that cold even without apparatus though my wife said that she was freezing. I was feeling a little drowsy to boot, guessing that I hadn't quite gotten enough sleep the night before which had consisted of waking up every two hours. This did help to distract me from the discomfort in my leg from the combination of no Ibuprofen and the general discomfort I get from laying on a gurney.

As I was drifting in and out, the nurse came in to hook me up to an IV in preparation for the surgery. Failing to get an adequate stick after two tries, something that has never happened to me before, he had to call in a backup who also failed on the first try but managed to find success on her second attempt. I was told that it was due to my lack of liquid which was made worse by the fact that I hadn't really had anything since the previous day's Thanksgiving dinner. Lesson learned. The next time they tell me no food or drink after midnight, I need to make sure I drink (water) heavily all the way up until the cutoff.

Finally hooked up, it was only a short time until they wheeled me back to the OR. At this point I don't remember much beyond hearing the anesthesiologist say that he was starting the anesthesia. At some point, I remember the surgeon saying that it went really well and then they moved me back to the gurney and up to the post-op area. They brought up an X-ray machine and took a picture to make sure everything looked right, then at some point I remember being asked if I wanted morphine or fentanyl to which I replied "morphine please" and then I slept for what was apparently a couple of hours. A short time after I awoke, I was cleared to leave after they went through the litany of post-op rules with my wife which included no heavy (15lbs+) lifting and no housework for a month and no showering for 3 days.

As I awoke in the post-op, the first thing that I noticed was that my leg was not hurting, presumably due to the lingering effects of the anesthesia and morphine. Once they got me out of bed and sat me in a chair, the familiar pain returned though to a lesser degree. The degree increased somewhat as I rode the wheelchair up to the front and got into the car. The ride home was much the same as any other ride in the car, it aggravated my sciatica to the point that it was uncomfortable being in the car. I arrived home around 4:30 and I spent the rest of the day there. Surprisingly, as soon as I got out of the car, the pain in my leg was gone and stayed that way through the evening.

Some friends came over as soon as my wife notified them we were at home. Apparently they were hovering around Frederick just waiting for the signal. In a lovely gesture, they picked up dinner on their way over and we all sat around the dinner table catching up as we had not seen them in some time. Even though I warned them of the possibility that I could nod off where I sit at any time, I was still a little embarrassed when it happened, though thankfully it was after we had finished dinner. What I remember of the evening was a good time and since my leg wasn't hurting, I was able to go to bed without difficulty at a reasonable time and actually slept through the night.

The next day, Saturday, was much the same as the previous evening in that I was feeling pretty good with minimal pain in my leg outside of any time spent in a car. Some friends came over in the morning and graciously assisted in hauling away some junk that has been taking up space in our garage and out building and, in between trips to the dump to drop them off, they grabbed the rake and blower and cleaned up my yard a little.

I felt bad playing the role of the non-working supervisor, but I was under orders to take it easy so I pointed out to them what needed to be done and then rode to the dump with them to show proof of residence. My leg was surprisingly pain free through the day and I even found new strength in climbing the steps without limping though I found that since I've been limping for a few months now, I've forgotten how to walk normal. I found my self limping anyway without any pain and unable to correct it. I've joked to my wife at times that I've started to feel lop-sided. Unsurprisingly, the moment I got into the car, my leg did start aching again and every time I got out, it stopped. I did find some relief in reclining the seat angle a little, something that I don't have the luxury of doing in the family car due to the rear facing baby seat behind me. We may have to explore some alternative child arrangements to see if we can change that.

Sunday was a little more of a "normal" day for me. I did my best to relax, but my leg ache had returned and I found it to be worse when I just sat and "relaxed" than when I got up and did something. Once again however, I was able to sleep through the night pretty well which helped to prepare me for the next day's consult with the folks at NIH about the new study.

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