Saturday, March 17, 2012

Clean Bill of Health

After spending a month in the hospital, a week at home on IV Antibiotics, I received a Clean Bill of Health today so I am now ready to dip my toes in the ocean again. I live close to a beach so once the weather gets warmer, that's where I'm going.

I will continue from the previous post on falling.

As the scab continued to separate from the healthy tissue, it began to smell like old blood. I tried to keep it clean and dressed but it became too overwhelming so I made the decision I should have done a week earlier. I had gone to a Walk-In Clinic and was told by the MD that it looked fine and to go home and put heat on it. In retrospect, what an incompetent doctor and advice. He should have sent me immediate to the ER. I finally did.

As soon as the ER MD looked at my wound, he expressed an immediate concern and was very blunt with me in terms of potential long term consequences and treatment. The black scab was Necrotic tissue with potential infection that could lead to my having to have my knee replacement removed, a spanner put in place and then another knee replacement. All this would involve months of treatment but all dependent upon whether the bacteria and infection had spread to my bone. I was sent to see a Plastic surgeon the following day. He expressed the same concerns and booked me for surgery two days later. The speed with which all this happened was an indication of just how serious a problem I had. Had I waited any longer, I could possible have developed Gangrene and we all know the ramifications of that. I have had hematomas in the past and they always healed on their own and none ever formed this type of a scab. I inquired what it was and it is called a Pressure Hematoma. The blood that pooled in the tissues had no way of escape since there was no cut and so the old blood clots and prevents healthy tissue from being oxygenated and therefore it dies (necrotic).

I expected to go in for Day Surgery so didn't bring anything with me for an extended stay or make any preparations. As I was given a choice re Anesthetics, I opted for a Spinal since I don't experience any nausea. I could hear everything going on and it didn't seem to last too long. Once done, the surgeon gave me a two thumbs up because the ?infection? hadn't reached my bones. That was a huge blessing. Saved me from months of more surgeries etc. Who knows what I would have had to endure. That procedure is called a 'debridement'. Not only was the entire top of my knee removed but tunneling was done to remove any other pockets of old blood.

That wound healed remarkably quickly and looked so healthy. Just a big area of pink muscle. I was supposed to have a skin graft after 10 days but then was put on hold three days in a row. Nothing by mouth until 5 pm. That would have been terrible had it not been for the disgusting hospital food that I rarely ate. No doubt I lost weight, I don't have a scale but the mirror reflects. So it was another 6 days until I received the skin graft. Had to be transferred to another Hospital in Eagle Ridge. I chose to have another Spinal and could hear whatever machine they use to shave off skin. Like a drill. Then back to RCH to recover. I was told by both doctors and nurses what a fantastic healer I am and I am grateful. They must know by how my sites looked as compared to what they had expected.

I could write much around the details of my stay but am really tired from barely having slept for a month. The hospital bed was unbelievably uncomfortable and created so much pain in my shoulders that I had to take pain meds. and have warm blankets wrapped around them at night. A very pleasant treat. They use a new type of elasticized sheet that doesn't allow for gliding when shifting one's position in bed. That meant I had to use an overhead pulley every time I need to move. It was so unbearably painful on my shoulders. As anyone who has spent any time in hosp. knows, one can only sleep in increments due to nursing and medicinal schedules.

I was in a 4 bed ward so over the month must have had over 40 roommates of both sexes and ages. With very different histories and I found that quite fascinating. What a change for someone who has lived in isolation and alone in my bedroom for 17 years. Most people snore and I expect I do as well but there is no one to tell me. The nursing staff were fantastic and I developed some close connections.

I discovered early on how much I enjoyed all the stimulation and how un-alone I felt. Since I have been home, I really miss all the interactions, chats and laughs I have enjoyed. It will take a little time to adjust.

I came home with a pump for IV antibiotics and pills to take for the next 2 weeks. I had go to the lab twice a week to check on any dosage changes required. A home care nurse came in several times a week for wound dressing changes. I had an appt. with the Infectious Disease Dr. on this Monday who gave me a clean bill of health and discontinued my antibiotics. Thank God since they were making me sick to my stomach and the pump was so heavy and cumbersome. Now after 6 weeks, I can finally have a shower. I see the Plastic Surgeon on the 3rd of Apr. Hopefully that will be the end of it.

I have permission to bend my knee so can drive again and can see both donor and graft sites and they look absolutely amazing. I am so impressed by the power of the body to heal.

It's been a mind boggling unexpected experience but I have learnt so much. I am grateful on so many levels. It's been totally enlightening.

Spring is just around the corner and I hope to regain all the strength I lost lying in bed for a month. It's amazing how quickly we can loose it. I am walking daily but surprised by how weak I have become and how tired I am. The body doesn't recover quite as quickly as we get older. I can nap every time I lie down on the couch for a change of position. Probably trying to catch up on all the hours I lost when in the hospital and slept in 2 hour increments. The future looks bright and I feel very hopeful.

I am so grateful for all the letters of support and prayers I have received from my subscribers to and to my personal friends who drove me here and there for appts. etc. at ungodly hours of the morning and came to visit. As depressed as I often am, I am fully aware of how many blessings I receive from kind, empathic and caring beings. They are my Angels.

~ Tutte ~