Tomorrow, next step on the way back to "normal". I go back to work...
I'm excited and scared about that. Excited because I've sat on my ass for the last 6 weeks. I can't sit on my ass no more.
I know the meaning of the word "laid up" and I don't wanna do it again.
I'm a bit scared, to be honest. After being in the house, and not leaving the house on my own... I'm going to drive to work, get out of the car, and scoot my knee walker, crutches, and a back pack full of lunch into the Library and work for as many hours as I can take (maybe 4 to 6 the first day, we'll see).
I have a bigger appreciation for the travails of what a handicapped person goes through, because at this point, I am really quite handicapped. I still can't walk. I'm a hoppin' fool. I've been away as long as I can take, and probably as long as work can take. The rough edges are showing and ripping up things.
And you know what? I'm not 100%. No. I'm not even 80%. I'm maybe 65% right now. I'm on one leg and...
You read that right. As of now, you can and should consider me to be completely deaf. My latest hearing test results, if they are to be believed, were the worst ever. I'm suffering ringing that may or may not be full blown tinnitus in both ears, but I suspect are hyperacusis based (required sound to ring, which is the opposite of normal tinnitus.)
So, 5/25 I had an appointment with an ENT (Dr. Hoff of MOSA ENT). This Dr. was recommended by my family Dr.
They give me a hearing test... then have me come back, in which I see not the ENT doctor I was supposed to see, but his Physicians Assistant. Who summarily blows me off. At least that's what it felt like. "Oh, you're WAY too deaf! Go somewhere else, deaf boy!"
I'm "far too deaf" for them to help me, and they suggest cochlear implants. I have no business wearing hearing aids, they say. And these folks? They do not do cochlear implants.
Thusly, the dumb twinkers give me a PHONE NUMBER TO CALL for an appointment with someone else. Well... that was a total waste of my time, and if you're ever assigned to MOSA ENT... refuse, cause they probably don't care much. Pass the buck along, don't talk to the deaf guy and see if you can do anything, just take one tiny, abbreviated test that was cut short for no reason and say "screw you deaf guy" and send me out the door with a PHONE NUMBER!
Phone numbers are, of course, COMPLETELY WORTHLESS... especially according to their results.
What a fine mess I am. I'm THAT close to being the six Million Dollar man... fake leg. Fake ear. I just need nuclear powered limbs, and I'm all set... Lee Majors got NOTHIN' on me.
(Addendum on 6/25/2012)
I did a follow up appointment with my audiologist. I've dealt with them for years, and they hold the record of my last official hearing test in 2008.
So what were the results, you may ask?
NO CHANGE. There is NO CHANGE in my hearing between now and 2008. None.
Begging your damn pardon, but how is that possible?
Simple: My hearing is so awful, that upon learning of the results of a hearing test, an otherwise logical, perhaps excellent doctor will choose to steer me away from their practice. Why? maybe it's "too hard". My audiologist is "not a doctor", but she surmises that it's possibly, if not likely, that my recent tinnitus issues can be traced to all the pain drugs I was given in the hospital. Which would mean this issue is directly tied to the broken leg.
My ears were ringing so bad today, I was throwing up. I'm afraid to find another ENT, because, well shit, maybe they'll throw me out of their office too. I wish I knew a lawyer, so I could find out if it's malpractice...
What do you do if the barbarian in in the gate? He's walked right through the gate, and you let him in. He's inside.
You can't let him out, because circumstances require someone to take up that space... how do you deal with it?
Proactively. Will the barbarian, marked as spoiled, choose to continue to enter the gates? Walk amongst us, like a monster amongst men? Pretend nothing is wrong? Or will he stay home, run away from his crimes, and force us to bring... shall we say... more extensive legal forms of persuasion to force?
How do you remain professional, calm and collected when someone has so completely violated your trust? Do you learn from it? become paranoid from it? How do you treat that person? with disgust? pity? hatred?
From my personal viewpoint... "you asshole." and the rest is too disgusting to publish in any form or fashion except for the part which states "you are a quantum probability of zero." What a shame.
From my professional viewpoint... "you asshole. get out of here. Don't come back. ever."
I'm not sure that's the correct answer, but that's where I am now.
There's a saying out there. Maybe it's out of the Bible or some other biblical level text. It more or less states that God will never give you more than you can handle. God will ALLOW trials and tribulations to come unto you.
Well, the good Lord must think I'm some kind of freaking bad ass...
So... in addition to my recently snapped leg and ankle... I've started to have issues with my right ear.
The issues I'm experiencing with my right ear are exactly the same as the issues I had with my left ear in 2008. My first post on that subject was October 5, 2008.
When I wear my hearing aid, my right ear now whistles, whooshes, hoot and hollers... depending on the level of incoming sound, the volume of this ranges from annoying (like right now when all I can hear is the clicking of keys) and when I speak... my own voice... makes my right ear bellow like a tornado siren.
I have an appointment with an ENT on the 25th of May. I expect this is the point where I have to say "is it time for Cochlear implants? Maybe BAHA?" because I must assume that the cillia in my ears are no longer functional as proper sound conduits at all... and a cochlear implant would allow me to hear again.
So... slap my ass and call me a ninny. Put me in the hospital AGAIN this year for some major operation. Cause I'm like a pinata. Keep whacking at me till all the candy comes tumbling out. Whatever it is that needs be done.
I'm more prepared for it this time. I'm prepared for them to say (or write) "I'm sorry, but cochlear won't work." and tell me I'm doomed to listen to this whistling if I want to hear, and then I'm doomed to having to learn sign language. That I'm doomed to have my life irretrievably altered... it won't affect me so much, you know? I mean, I've spent all my life nearly deaf. It's just that fine line, a towering great wall of comprehension, will come tumbling down... and I'll be isolated even more because it will affect my friends and family more than it will affect me.
Will you still be my friend if you have to write down everything? Will you still like me as your nephew if you can't tell me anything without a pen/paper or a computer? Will you still love me if half the time, you can't get my attention unless you wave your arms at me?
I may walk again, but I'll limp. I'll play golf again, but my drive won't go so far. I'll take pitches in the batting cage again, but I'll strike out more often. I'll walk through the valley with you, but it will take that much longer... just more time with you.
I will talk again, but maybe one day, I won't be able to control my voice. My pitch will be all over the place. But I'll still speak to you, maybe even sing or croon. I'll still tell you, my friends and family, that I love you all and treasure you.
God allowed my mother to pass on. Now he's testing my health and sanity.
I was not really very happy with the inpatient rehab. It felt horribly restrictive, and part of the issue is that sometimes, people don't get that I cannot hear them.
At one point, they attached a "nanny" to the wheelchair I was in. (it clips to the chair, and the back of my shirt) This was not comfortable nor explained. I demanded it be removed and that they explain WHY it was placed. It was to "make sure I didn't get up when I wasn't supposed to.". Well, no one EXPLAINED THAT to me. Why punish me like a 5 year old because I'm a high functioning deaf person?
Same issue cropped up this morning. I had to buzz a nurse, so someone was with me for everything. going to the bathroom, getting up, etc. I understood that this morning. Except a nurse comes in, follows me to the bathroom, and wraps a belt around me and straps me to the toilet. I was just pissed.
Communication is not very good. I made clear that morning I wanted to discuss my discharge for Saturday morning. First thing in the morning after this. like 8am.They didn't follow up with it until almost 3:45pm.
So I have one person from the Hospital telling me "you're all set to be released Saturday" (name was Lynn) and another lady (Dr, did not get her name because I was fuming) comes in saying "oh, you aren't set. If you leave early, your insurance will likely not cover anything." I'm thinking "What? That makes no sense. If I leave on Saturday instead of Monday, my insurance saves thousands of dollars. " They're trying to make me stay over money? They backtracked and said "no, it's about care." but they'd already dropped the money bomb first. I was livid, really.
So anyhow, shortly thereafter, the original person ("paperwork and social services for discharge", Lynn) comes back and clarifies what the others were saying: The insurance may not cover 100% either way. There's no guarantee. I could get some big ass bills either way this goes, and if I stay thru Monday.. .it’s just more money gambled (i.e. over $1,000/day and this ain’t no fancy hotel and I won’t get a free jacuzzi suite if I spin 23 red.). She did feel comfortable saying she didn’t think billing would be affected either way, but she couldn’t give me a 100% answer either. She said if I want to go home, then I should.
Long story short, I would be going home Saturday morning, 6 days after surgery, after my Dad and I goto "Family Therapy", whereby they demonstrate safely supporting me up and down stairs and then we do a few things with my getting up and down the stairs on crutches.
The hospital, until now, has been great. the inpatient rehab wouldn't have done anything on Sunday anyhow...
Compounding all: The person who suggested I try the inpatient rehab clearly told me: You'll be there a few days, and home by weekend. Your insurance is 100% for up to 5 days. THEY SAID THIS TO ME. CLEARLY.They didn’t say “you’ll have to stay there for 5 days, regardless of how you feel.”. No, she told me “a few days, if you feel great, you’ll be home for the weekend” (which was never discussed on this floor at all). If they had told me ‘you’re going to be here for 5 days, and released on Monday” when they ‘sold’ me on this inpatient rehab, I may well have agreed to it, but with a better/more realistic outlook in hand. Instead, I was sold on the “few short days”. I feel great. So that’s what I’m demanding from them. I felt as if I’d been snookered by a salesperson. alas.
Hospital communication is a freaking nightmare. I can't imagine working in this. The nurses upstairs (5th floor) were all wonderful. You could tell they communicated. They passed messages, and followed them. They wrote down that morphine was making me sick, and that I needed some crackers to take the pills. I’m sending them a card and flowers if I can.
Down here on the 3rd floor, it feels like the nurses (some, not all!) are here just for the payday. I feel like they’re annoyed with me, and I’m treated like a liability. That’s the process, maybe not them. Down here, it almost feels like they were going to hold me against my will (even after stating they wanted to make sure I would be safe.. .well... what difference would 2 half days make? Really? they couldn't quantify it). I just don’t feel comfortable. That’s not gonna help me heal.
Anthony and Kyle (PCA’s) are two of the nurses here who’s been fairly cool. Anthony’s a football fan too, and with the draft, I’ve been keeping him updated on the Lions picks. Kyle seems to think I’m pretty funny.
The OT and PT people are fantastic tho, but it was woefully under done for me, I mean, they said “3 hrs a day” but they’re way over coddling.... I would go up some stairs, or lift my leg a few times, then “rest rest rest”. OMG. I’m 40!!! I broke my leg, not my heart.
They DO care, and express it. The OT person (Laura) had no issue with me heading home and even set up delivery of a knee walker and bathtub seat (which delivered at 5pm Friday), and the PT person (Heike) just wants to make sure I can get up and down the stairs safely (which we’ll go over with my dad tomorrow morning around 9am). But the general rules... are not for a 40 year old single guy. I’m more convinced than ever I’ll be just fine having been here. this is designed for 80-90 year olds with broken hips, not a 40 year old, intelligent man with no strength loss. They convinced me in very short time that I’m ready to go home with their rules (which they explained were for liability... if I fell, they’re responsible. Okay, so why didn’t you say that at the get go?!?!? CO-MUN-I-CA-TION. Try it. it works.)
When I come home, I was told that I would have to give myself shots as well. Thursday afternoon (with no real notification, again likely communication failure on their behalf) I was placed on a blood thinner that has to be administered via shots. This was only just explained to me the following day. They planned to demo that Saturday as well before I get released. I'll have to give myself a shot tomorrow in the belly (didn't hurt when they did it). Lynn checked to ensure my insurance covers it, and all is good. I understand that now (because they communicated it) but just not in timely manner.
They ended up NOT sending me home with the belly injctions. Apparently, I move around "too well" to need to injections. why would I have needed the injections? If I stayed and had to spend every freaking minute of that weekend in an uncomfortable chair doing nothing at all except calling the nurses when i had to take a dump or piss. What a waste of a weekend that would be for all involved. First they want me NOT to leave... but then I'm doing so well, I don't need the shots? I'm disappointed in the communication...
A home nursing visit will be arranged as well (to ensure I'm doing okay). Follow up appointments with Dr. Molli and Dr. Paul are being worked on as well. No more than 2 weeks from surgery date for Dr. Molli, as a ton of staples need be removed (I’m sure THAT will be fun). May 7th, perhaps. (ended up being on May 8th).
I just feel 100% sure I'll be safe at home with my dad, and I want nothing more than to be home. I'm fatigued of the hospital, and dreaming of my mom way too much being in here. With all the issues she had with the hospital. I'm not dreaming about my ankle being broken or anything like that. I KNOW it will be okay, because the hospital MADE me okay. I’m dreaming of running around. That’s telling.
Maybe I'm projecting this wrong to them. It's possible. I just know I'm not happy here and want to go home, and the last I was told, all paperwork, etc for my release tomorrow will be arranged and "if you change your mind, you can stay longer". Meh. No.
Bottom Line: YOUR health care has YOU as the boss, and this boss said “I’m ready to go”. They vaciliated massively with poor communication on the third floor, included baseless threats about money, and then tried sugar coated it. They sold me on a rehab plan with false promises, and I should have just been a smarter boss. I learned. It won’t happen again. The plan they have here is NOT for me over long term. Some rotten apples, but they’re not all in the pie. The hospital HAS done me good. I am utterly amazed that I have very little if any pain right now. Mere discomfort. With what has happened to me, this is miraculous thus far. I slept damn near perfect last night. Extra pillow at my leg, and I was good to go. With all of this, I know the next step in healing is at home.
So, let’s talk about the surgery. The big one.
I went in to St. Mary’s about 7am on 4/23 for surgery. Spent only about 20 minutes in the waiting room, then they took me into the back. Settled me into a small waiting area, pretty much by myself. My surgeon comes back, and marks my left leg (so we work on the right one
They asked me to leave my hearing aid on.. except while we were waiting, my hearing aid battery DIED. Alas. But my hearing aid was left on (and didn’t work). They wanted me to hear instructions when I woke up. An anthesiologist comes in the waiting area and says they’re going to do a nerve block on my left leg. He inserts a needle into my left thigh. He explains this is more for AFTER the surgery, so I do not feel a single thing. I’m asked if I want to be awake or not. I stated “I have no desire to be awake for any part of the surgery” so he says they will be knocking me out cold.
Shortly thereafter, I’m taken into the back... my last memory is a room with big lights. I can count 6 people from my memory in the room when they rolled me in. My last memory is a man giving me an injection into the port they put in my wrist, and I read his lips and he said “this may make you a little sleep/dizzy”. Like 20 second later I said something like “oh yeah, that made me a little dizzy, but...”
Next thing I know, I’m in a recovery room. I open my eyes, and feel terrible. The surgery is done. I’m laying there, alone. Wondering where my Dad is, or where anyone is. I see a guy across from me, screaming in pain (but I can’t hear him).
I don’t wait long. Or at least, it doesn’t feel like long. I’m wheeled out. I ask if I’m going home today. They say “no, we’re going to a room.”
My dad appears. We take the elevator up to the 5th floor, where they put me in a room.
Now, the rest of this is growing hazy on me already. I should have written more about this, but I didn’t. The 5th floor was 3 days/3 nights of hell. i was in just incredible pain.
i would have shooting pain, like someone was jabbing a tons of electric needles into my leg and electricuting me repeatedly. My lower leg was entirely NUMB, but I could still feel this pain. I could not move my toes or foot at all. They did not react to my minds command.
With the pain I was feeling, I was worried. I mean, what was this going to feel like if I have a nerve block to PREVENT FEELING PAIN... when that block wore off?
The block wore off at 2am that morning, and I was in incredible pain. I was woken up because my big toe started twitching, and it felt like I was being bashed in the foot with a sledgehammer. A nurse came in, and gave me a shot of something. I have no idea what it was, but I went to sleep again...
I can’t remember who was in the room with me that day or evening, really. I was given a whole crap load of drugs... I remember being given Morphine (knocked my ass out). I remember being given multiple shots, but having no clue what was given to me.
I could not pee. I could not poop. I would try to pee, but nothing happened. It was terrifying... I
One night, when my friend visited (I think Tuesday night), I had simply had too many pain drugs... and I freaked out. I felt like a total waste of humanity, and a drag on everyone I loved. I felt like the rest of my life, I would be a painful wart that couldn’t be removed properly. I started to cry uncontrollably. I could not stop myself. i was an emotional sprinkler.
They gave me a shot of morphine and a sleep pill. I felt the morphine take effect immediately, and I watched and waved as my Dad and friend left for the evening.
I was then woken up... I felt like I’d been asleep for-freaking-ever. I thought I slept for 24 hours or slipped into a coma. I was bathed in sweat when they woke me... and told me “it’s 10:30”. I’m like, wait, 10:30am? What?” and the nurse said “no, it’s only 10:30pm. You’ve been asleep for a few hours. Do you want an ambien now?”
I said yes. I took the ambien. WHAT A MISTAKE. Even on ambien, I could not fall asleep. I became terribly nauseous and began dry heaving into a bucket. That went on for over 2 hours, then I fell asleep and passed out cold.
I entered a realm of just terrible, awful dreams. I was emotionally blasted already, then ambien just amplified it. The dreams... I dunno. Like the worst shit imaginable. body parts flying, usingbloody severed limbs to play golf with severed cat and dog heads, marching, dead hitler molesting gerbils, the wall, pink floyd, terminators, all my loved ones as corpses, animated by breeze, hanging from trees, bits and pieces falling off... vivid beyond vivid... and total loss of control. I am a natural lucid dreamer. I can control my dreams... but under ambien, I couldn’t control ANYTHING, including my own mind.
When I woke up, I was still seriously nauseous, about 6:30am. I had to reach for a pan, which I started dry heaving into. I started throwing up small bits, but mostly just dry heaving. for the better part of an hour. Then I started to feel better.
I finally stopped, then they served me some breakfast (powdered eggs, sausage, orange juice, flavorless stuff that was supposed to be oatmeal, but tasted like wet newspaper). I ate that... then 30 minutes later, started getting nauseous again. Blew my breakfast out. Continued dry heaving for another hour after that.
Realized it had to be the durgs. My body just doesn't handle these pain drugs well at all. Any pills, anything they give me... I need food in my stomach to handle it. Shots or pills, if you give that to me without food, I'm gonna have a bad day.
Well, sometime later.. a strange nurse with a weird nervous tic starts telling me they want to move me into the in-house rehab. Well, I’d been there for 2 days. Why not? Will it be better? I ask for details. I’m told “you’ll be out by this weekend.” I say “as long as my insurance is on board, it sounds like a good idea.”
Anyhow, I get another repeat day... just sitting in a bed, unable to see the TV well because there’s a huge bar above me (so I can pull myself up). I still can’t pee. Can’t poop... until later that evening. They get me up with a walker, and I’m allowed to jump around a bit. MOvement should help get my bowels moving again...
Okay, this episode gets gross here, but my goal is to honestly capture what I went through. You’re warned right here. if you don’t want to read about this part... SKIP A FEW PARAGRAPHS...
I could not pee. They had to bring in an ultrasound machine to measure how full my bladder was. the first time, they said “you have 600cc’s of urine”. and told me to pee. (note: after the fact, I lookedthis up. The average male bladder holds 350 to 400cc's of urine... I was so screwed up from pain drugs, I could not control my own bladder, and did not notice it until my bladder was distended twice the normal size.) When I could not pee at all by myself, they ordered a catheterization. You asked “what is that?” It means, a nurses uses an iodine based lube on a rubber tube, which is inserted into the penis until it reaches your bladder. Then your bladder empties out like draining gas from the tank with a tube. My friend watched this... and remarked “you’re like a race horse.” They emptied 880 cc’s of urine from me. The next time, 600ccs... the next time... 1100ccs. They did this about 5 times (with an average around 800 cc's) until I was able to pee on the toilet. I was able to get up using a walker, and sit on a toilet, which was natural to me. It allowed me to pee normally again. So part of it was drugs, but part of it was me: I just can't pee unless I'm on the toilet, in the shower, or standing over a toilet. I can barely pee in the woods, man.
All of this frightened me so very much. I mean, my mom joked once “I can’t believe my life is beholden to how much I can pee.” in the hospital. <sigh> I miss my mom so very much.
So, last in the day, I’m told “you’re approved to move to inpatient rehab”. I’m told it will mean I will be getting up, they will be helping me get my bowel movements back, and bladder emptied, and learn how to get around safely. I guessed this was good, but I had no idea when I would be moved.
I got moved about 11:30am that day, and was in a new room by 12. It was a curious move... I’m in a wheel chair, and we’re going down 2 floors. We’re heading to an elevator... when out of the corner of my eye, I see what looks like a guy trip and fall down carrying a large box.
The next thing I know, another guy runs into the elevator and dodges past me (jumping over my precariously healing leg) and then 4 big burly guys run in the elevator and haul him away. I find out post-tense that the guy escaped from the mental ward, and the 4 guys placed themselves between the escapee and us. Whatever was wrong with that guy, he had the decency to jump over me and not hit me. He's lucky. Even in a state of broken leg, had he hit me, i likely would have beaten him to a pulp.