I got the comfortable “cart” before the hi-tech “horse”!

I finally downloaded the photos from my camera yesterday.  As I was looking through them I realized that I probably should have started the posts about my surgery with … well, my surgery!

Warning:  Photos of the incisions on my knees follow. So, if you are squeamish about seeing that sort of thing, you should stop here … have a nice day … and come back tomorrow for a less graphic post.

My bi-lateral knee surgery was done at a new, very state-of-the-art hospital.  All of the rooms are private.  But I don’t know if they are all as private as mine. Mine was on a short hall off of the main hall, so it was very cocoon-like.  I never heard any sounds of activity outside my room.  So for the three days I was there, post surgery, many people entered my room, all with a goal to do something to me, tell me something to do or ask me something.  For those three days I was the center of my own little universe.  I had to make very few decisions.  I just had to lay there.  It was exactly what I needed for those three days, but if I had felt better, it would have been pretty boring.

The computer in the left hand corner was used by everyone who cared for me to log everything they did.  Every time I was given a pill, the nurse asked me my whole name and date of birth, and then the pill, dose and time were logged into the computer.

One of those many machines surrounding me was monitoring my breathing and it told us all loud and clear whenever I would doze off that I wasn’t getting enough air, so the nurse would come in and make me do deep breathing, and cough.  Luckily, that went away pretty quickly, because it really got old when it would happen every time I would just begin to doze off for a little cat nap.

Do you see the tube with blood in it hanging above me?  There were drains in the sides of both of my knees and the blood that was drained was collected in reservoirs hanging on the foot of the bed.  When there were about five (some measurement — pints I guess) of blood in the two reservoirs, they gave me a transfusion and put that blood back into me!  No one said that I was anemic and really needed a transfusion.  So the impression I got is that that return of some of the blood lost, is routine.  I thought that was a very clever idea.  They were draining the blood to keep down the swelling of my knees, and then returning it to me.  But after that transfusion, they continued to do the drain.  So the next day I asked a male nurse, who was looking at the reservoirs, if they were full again, and would they be returning the blood again.  He held one up and showed me that the blood now looked different and he said that was because the cells after this long (about a day, I think) are dead and no longer good, so can no longer be returned.

They definitely don’t let you lay around for long.  The next day after the surgery, the exercising began.

(I warned you!)  This machine was sort of a mechanical trough that my leg laid in.  As you can see, the foot is strapped in, and the device has been adjusted so that the bending part is right at my knee.

Then they turn it on, and it slowly bends the knee.

I know it seems like this should hurt, but the machine does it so gradually that it really didn’t.  (Of course, it also helped that I was on alot of pain medication!)

And then it would return the leg to the starting position.  And begin all over again!

Beginning the day after surgery, they would put each of my legs in this machine for a couple hours, twice a day.  It was a nice way to exercise.  I didn’t have to do anything.  In fact, it was so gentle, that I could fall asleep while it was doing its job!

But, of course, they weren’t satisfied with just passive exercise for my young knees for long, so that is when Barb came into my life.  She was my physical therapist.

Barb would help me from the bed into this very comfortable recliner (the stuff laying all over it are parts of the ice machine that was applied to my knees regularly) .  And then, because it was not only a recliner but also a wheelchair, Barb would push me in it down the hall to a therapy room where there would be about a half dozen other patients all doing exercises (most of which could be done while sitting in the chair).  For these therapy sessions, you had to have a “coach” whose main responsibility was to keep count for you of the repetitions of each exercise, and to offer encouragement.  Hubby had planned on being my coach, but when DD surprised us by showing up the day after my surgery, she gladly took on that task.  And let me just say that Gunny may have been our child who was a Marine, but DD has some real “drill sergeant” mentality.  But she also tempered that with her trademark humor, so she would have the whole room full of therapists, patients and their coaches laughing.

Besides the recliner/wheelchair, another thing I had never seen before was the sofa that was in the room.

Okay, some explanation is required here.  First of all, yes, this picture is very blurry, but remember it was taken by a woman who had just had major surgery and was on lots of medication, so let’s cut her some slack, okay?  Also, even though blurry, it’s obvious that I had a really big suitcase full of lots of clothes, considering I was only going to be there three days.  So I kept reminding people (when I would see them looking at my overflowing suitcase) that I had packed all that stuff because I was going directly to a rehab center for a week or two.  It all did actually start out neatly folded but as I would ask Hubby, or DD or one of the staff to get something for me out of it, it got just a little disorganized along the way.  But, hey, I’m not complaining, since I certainly couldn’t look through it myself.  I was just glad for the help.

Anyway, I assume the sofa is part of the decor so that if a family member wanted to stay all night they would have a place to sleep.  I think that is a really great idea.  Many years ago when my father was really sick and one of us would stay with him all the time, I can remember sitting in his hospital room sometimes in just a straight-back chair, WISHING there was somewhere I could lie down for just a little while.

Finally the day arrived when I would be moving to the rehab center, and I got to take one of my first steps back to “normal”.

This is Kate my very favorite nurse.  Don’t get me wrong … there were lots of nice nurses.  But the reason Kate was my very favorite was because very early on the morning that I was to leave, I asked her when I would be able to take a shower, and her answer was “How about now?”.  Music to my ears.  So, that’s the reason Kate will always hold a special place in my heart.  Nothing says normal more than an honest-to-goodness shower and hair washing.

In my next post I’ll tell you a little about the “culture shock” of moving from this cocoon environment to the totally different environment at the rehab center.  Both served their purpose perfectly, but their purposes were just very different.

12 Responses to I got the comfortable “cart” before the hi-tech “horse”!

  1. Hilary says:

    Oh Sandra, I winced when I saw your knee. That looks so nasty but I’ll take your word for it that the exerciser at least was not. Your post title made me smile. Your bloggy snowfall, however makes me think I’m about to have a migraine! ;)

  2. Chrissy Witt says:

    Sounds like your doing well and that DD has done her job as a prefect daughter! Sounds like you had a good experience in the hospital! However, if it were bad or you had a bad couple of nurses, I wouldn’t expect you to tell! Glad to know your surgery is continuing to go as planned! Thinking and praying about you daily!

  3. C. Beth says:

    This is very interesting! Looking forward to hearing more about how the therapy went.

  4. Linda says:

    I missed this part of your surgery and recovery because we were on vacation. But it doesn’t look as if you needed any company during those first three days. Things must have been hopping in that room during that initial phase of your recovery. Sure sorry I missed being there to see DD in action, though.

  5. Sandra says:

    Hilary — Are you sure it’s the snow fall that makes you feel a migraine coming on, and not seeing my incision? :)

    For the last couple years, I’ve opted for the “snowfall option” on my blog when it became available at the beginning of December. But this year, it just appeared! So I guess wordpress feel they at least sometimes know what I like without asking! It doesn’t quite feel like a good fit for this particular post does it. Oh, well. It may help if we think of it as the fuzz from all that surgical cotton they use in the hospital. ;)

  6. Sandra says:

    Chrissy — You are right that I like to emphasize the positive in people. But I have to say I felt like the staff at the hospital was first class — no real clinkers. :)

    Beth — Thank you. When I write about something like this, the thought is always in the back of my mind, “Is anyone really going to be interested in this stuff?”

    Linda — So sorry you had to miss the hospital “fun”, but you made up for it in spades with all your runs to the rehab center. :)

  7. Suldog says:

    Sandra:

    After me posting grody photos from my dental surgery, least I could do is look at your incisions :-)

    Amazing the things they can do today. Utterly amazing.

  8. Sandra says:

    Suldog — Does this mean I owe you then? Because you looked at my grisly photos, does it now mean I have to go back and look at your dental work again? This could get ugly for both of us :)

  9. Katharine says:

    Fascinating! Are you going to show us what the replacement joints look like, Sandra? Wow — it really is amazing what they can do. Thank you for sharing this experience with us!

  10. Sandra says:

    What a great idea, Katherine, and perfectly timed. I have my follow-up appointment with the surgeon next Tuesday. I’ll see if I can get a picture of what the new joint looks like. :)

  11. Cheryl says:

    I just love that first picture….not because you are in the hospital with all that “stuff” around you but your expression…just a hint of smile and thumbs up!!
    I know you were on those GOOD meds at the time and I can relate!!! Hope all is going well for you and be careful in this winter weather!!! :)

  12. Sandra says:

    Thanks, Cheryl. Only a realllly good friend could like that pathetic picture! :)

    Have your people call my people; we’ll do a little lunch (maybe in the tropical fish section of Mejiers?). :)

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