Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Total Knee Replacement - Surgery Plus Four Days

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Total Knee Replacement

Morning, last day. The nurse gives me the option of showering here or getting one at home. No contest. I’ll do my last “warm paper clothe” wipe down here and then luxuriate in a nice shower at home.

The knee feels a lot better. I am amazed at what progress is made. Five days after a total knee replacement and it can take a fair bit of weight, if I am careful.

I’m all packed, ready to go. And in comes my baby, about 10:30. Sweet. Lynn grabs my bag and heads off to fill my prescription for blood thinner and pain pills and the nurse calls for a steward to assist me getting to the check out. This old guy shows up to take me down in a wheelchair. It’s his birthday today I find out. He’s 90 years old. He started volunteering at 80 for something to do. Incredible. He’s made my day.

My walker was supposed to be delivered this morning to my house. Good thing Lynn called, because they scheduled delivery for tomorrow. So we stop at the health services supply depot on the way home. One walker, check. One potty chair with high rise hand assist handles, check. How can I have surgery scheduled for a month and a half and then have them arrange to deliver the walker a day late? Lynn explains to me that they don’t actually maintain a file on me all that time. Apparently after the need for a walker is determined, they close the file. Then, once the hospital decides when I am going to be discharged they call the extension service and my file gets re-opened. And then they schedule delivery. I bet this is because the hospital(or regional health care unit) jobs all this stuff out, on contract, and they would have to pay some kind of ongoing charge to keep my file open.

That would also explain the little talk I had with the extension service rep. She explained that, though I was told I would be having the staples removed at home by a nurse, now I am on a waiting list and should make arrangements to go in to see my family doctor and have the job done. Why am I taking up a doctors time, having my wife leave work early, travel into and out of town, instead of having a nurse come to my home? I have worked too long for a crown corporation to not smell “budget” issue.

We get home after a short drive. My knee feels like it’s swelling up already. Just 30 minutes with my heel resting on the floor of the car, instead of up on the seat, level with my butt, the way it’s been for the last five days, is enough to get fluids collecting around the incision site.

Lynn and I live in the country, and though we’ve never had internal problems (gastrointestinal) with our water, we’ve sometimes come up with low quality when we sent the water in for testing. Concern for infections and the possibility of visitors not having our tolerance for the well water encouraged us to pursue a UV treatment system for the water supply. It’s been slow coming, but the guy arrives today, shortly after I get home. My luxurious shower will have to wait a bit.

I was encouraged to get myself a cane, since they are not supplied by the extension service, like the walker was. So this slight delay just means that Lynn can go shopping for groceries and pick me up a cane while I practice using the walker and wait for the UV system to get installed.

“Well, it’s all done, but we can’t use it,” Lynn explains to me. The installer, ever careful and solicitous of our health, has dumped a couple containers of bleach down the well, to wipe out any harmful bacteria, and now Lynn has to run around the house, opening taps for fifteen minute flushes, to make sure there is nothing in the pipes. Then, later on this evening, she has to run the outside taps for a couple of hours to help eliminate chlorine from the well.

Apparently we don’t want to shower or bathe in that stuff. A little sponge bath later tonight will be okay. Too bad. Well. I am used to sponge baths. Tomorrow is another day.

On the positive side, I am home, Lynn and I are together, and the meals are not delivered from some off-site catering service. Count your blessings as they say.

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