Sunday, October 21, 2007

Medical Tourism Guide

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Total Knee Replacement

Supper was a huge surprise. Cream of chicken soup, but I was hard pressed to identify the tiny granules floating in the liquid as pieces of chicken. Now the nurses are talking about the importance of having a bowel movement before I go home. So far I haven’t had enough solid food to make up a quarter of a bowel movement. Well tomorrow I start with the roughage apparently.

I just got a good example of what can happen if you push too hard. Jeffrey has been tossing and turning for hours. First sweats, then chills all evening. Earlier on he was in great pain. Seems as though, in addition to pushing too hard with his exercises, he also cut way back on his pain medication. They took him off the self medicated device and IV in the morning, and he also refused several percosets.

It all came tumbling down starting about 7 PM. His shoulders were really giving him grief. Using a walker is not easy when one of your legs is virtually useless. It is the functional equivalent of doing dips. Anyone contemplating getting knee replacement surgery would do well to start practicing some modified form of doing dips at home before the event. Jeffrey wound up with ice packs for his shoulders. Then the pain in his knee. Then the sweats and chills. Of course, he immediately was worried that he was suffering from an infection.

Turns out it’s a false alarm. His body temperature remains stable over several hours. But he iss now convinced he won’t be getting out maybe even until Monday. The disappointment is obvious.

The room temperature is something else. I swear they have it hooked up to a yoyo powered thermostat. The temperature outside the building has a pretty high impact on the temperature inside. So it is normally warm by evening and then gets cooler as the night goes on, but the variance feels like more than that. Of course, I’m just 32 hours removed from major surgery, so maybe my body is acting funny.

Overall, Friday feels way better than Thursday. I feel a lot more awake. I was able to dig into the pile of books I had brought with me and got a lot of reading done and a lot of writing on my projects. The one thing I didn’t spend much time with was my iPod. I have several audio books loaded up, but just never seem in the mood for them. With all the coming a going, it’s a lot easier to just put a book down to speak to someone, then pick it up again, skim back a few paragraphs to pick up the train of thought, and carry on with a book. Maybe I’m just not as used to the iPod.

My memories of hospitals from days gone by and the medications nurse coming around are all fantasy now. There is a completely new process in place I am told. They have this machine, like a big vending machine. You punch in a patients name and it dispenses the required medication for that patient, if it is time for the medication. The nurse must deliver that medication and come back and indicate that it is delivered before that nurse can get another delivery. It slows the whole process down of course. I guess it also makes it far less likely to deliver the wrong meds to somebody. Progress is a wonderful thing.

So are self medicating pain control devices. They can really take the edge off when your meds are wearing out. As a matter of fact, when your meds are wearing out is the time you are most likely to give yourself a couple of shots in short order. Of course, it almost goes without saying that just about the time you finish delivering the second shot is when the pain pills arrive. You can’t say, “Oh thanks nurse, I’ll just put these little devils away until later.” No, you must take them right there and then. You wind up with a nice little glow. For a while. I guess I should have included a wrist watch in my list of things to take to the hospital.

There was no clock up on the wall in the room. Time takes on a really fluid quality when you start judging it using meal deliveries, pain intensity, visitor arrivals and increasing or decreasing sunlight outside.

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