Office Makeover

I really should have taken a picture of the office before we started rearranging things. It was packed FULL of stuff. Boxes everywhere. All kinds of stuff crammed onto shelves. Couldn’t hardly see the floor except for a small path through the room. A total disaster.

I packed stuff up and Jonathan helped me carry it out. We took everything out but the computer table and a couple of bookshelves. We put them on one side of the room while Jonathan shampooed the carpet on the other side, then he moved the furniture to the clean side, and shampooed the carpet that was still dirty.

Then he put my computer back together. He did a really neat job with bundling the wires up so they weren’t a mess of spaghetti everywhere.

And that's the status my office has been since before Jess had his knee surgery.

This is what you see when you first walk into the room. There's a built-in closet to the left not shown in the picture. The black metal strips up against the couch are the tracks for the new bookshelves.

This is the end of the office, the wall "facing" the back yard. That's the parrot's play door by the windows. She was always walking in to see what I was doing and getting into trouble because there was no where for her to perch and play. Jess told the old door from the bathroom - we put up a new one when we remodeled it - and made this play center. Cool, huh?

And here's the computer desk area. The door is in front of it, along the same wall, and the white directly in front are the doors to the built-in closet.

I’ve been trying to decide if I like this arrangement. Well, actually, I didn’t. I hated it. It just seems a long walk around to finally get to sit down at the desk. It's not as simple to just walk in a few steps and check my email as it was before.

However, I’ve tried and tried to rearrange the furnishings on the graph I made of the room, and there is no way to change the arrangement and keep everything in there that is now in the room. So I’m just going to have to learn to like it.

That being the case, the next step is to get some shelves on the wall over top of the couch. We bought the tracks and brackets at Lowe’s yesterday, but still have to buy the boards. I also need to fix the 2 free-standing bookshelves along the back wall.

Then I need to start bringing stuff back in. That’s going to be much more difficult than it was taking it out - and that took 2 or 3 days - because I need to arrange it in some semblance of order as I put it back. Neatly.

This is going to take a while.

Definitely NOT Cheaper By The Dozen

Now I know women are stereotyped as compulsive shoppers who love to hit the malls at every opportunity and shop till they drop. Well, it’s probably no surprise to anyone who knows me well, but I don’t fit this stereotype. Not even close. If I’ve got to shop, let me get on the internet and window shop there until I find what I’m looking for at the best possible price.

However, sometimes it becomes a necessity to shop at a “brick and mortar” store. Since Jess is still pretty much a homebody except for trips to get Physical Therapy or to see the doctor, it was left to Jonathan and me to do the shopping. We ended up visiting a dozen places, and as you know, these days shopping isn’t cheap, so it sure wasn’t cheaper by the dozen!

Here’s today’s itinerary:

Stop #1: Post office
I needed to mail 3 packages, plus get a new roll of stamps and check our mailbox. No waiting in lines, so a quick in and out.

Stop #2: Gas Station
Jonathan has been chauffeuring us around a lot, so his car needed tanked up again. (I wish gas would stay down at $1.46 a gallon. Much cheaper to fill the tank!)

Stop #3: A Trip Down Nostalgia Lane (aka as Arrow Lands Trail)
Yesterday after dropping Jess off for physical therapy and going to the feed store, Jonathan and I stopped to check out a new little store and got some ice cream cones. Not the soft serve stuff, but the real deal. They were scrumptious, and Jonathan remarked that he couldn’t remember when the last time was he had an ice cream cone; it was almost like a nostalgic item.

So in keeping with the nostalgic theme, we got the idea to drive by our previous house located in Meridianville this morning, just to see how things looked. We haven’t been there in 10 years I guess, and it was totally surreal. There were new businesses and stuff along the road there, and it didn’t look the least bit familiar. The house itself looked pretty much the same, with the only obvious difference being different colored shutters. But cruise to the end of the street and WOW! The neighborhood exploded! There were all kinds of HUGE new houses, and on past that even more houses of a more modest sort. It was another outing themed, “You can’t go home again.” You might revisit the location, but it sure isn’t the same place you left!

Stop #4: Lowe’s
I got a coupon in the mail for a $10 discount at Lowe’s. It expired 12/31/2008, so I needed to use it pronto. There’s never any problem of thinking of something to buy at Lowe’s. It’s more a matter of trimming down the list to meet the budget. Today’s winners were:
  • plastic for insulating windows
  • tracks & brackets to put a set of shelves on the wall in the office
  • Rope to make a network down one side of the parrot’s play-door in my office, plus a dowel stick to make a couple of perches
Stop #5: Foods For Life
It’s a little health food store we like to visit from time to time, especially when we are running low on stevia to sweeten our iced tea. We were also looking for some Vitamin E cream, as both at the hospital and at rehab now, they keep telling Jess he needs some to rub on his incision scars.

Stop #6: Toys R Us
Jonathan went in and picked up his last check. Thank goodness for the vacation and earned time off giving him another decent paycheck!

Stop #7: C-Bank
Both Jonathan and I had deposits to make, and I wanted to take the money Jess’s Sunday School class donated for Ellie’s fund, and turn a stack of $1 bills into $100 bills.

Stop #8: Babies R Us
We drove past Madison Square Mall which I honestly can not tell you the last time I was in there, and went to Babies R Us. Dangerous territory. I saw some cute little outfits, and one little BAMA cheerleader outfit if they’d had the right size would have been bought… but I resisted temptation and we kept looking until we found the door corner protectors we wanted. Also found some Vitamin E cream for Jesse to use on his knees – never mind it’s made for pregnant ladies and their stretch marks!

Stop #9: Lowe’s
Yeah, I know. We already went there, but guess who forgot to use their nifty little $10 discount card? Fortunately, the lady at customer service was very nice and took it off my receipt and gave me a refund. I would have been really bummed if I hadn’t used it after making a point of getting down there before the card expired!

Stop #10: R-Bank
Another stop for banking business!

Stop #11: Pharmacy
Jess called in a refill yesterday for one of his heart medications. It wasn’t ready. After much searching on the computer, the pharmacist finally came up with why. Seems like although there were more refills left on the prescription, it was over a year old, so they called Jess’s cardiologist to get a new one and he hadn’t sent it yet. Fortunately, she lent us enough pills to get Jess through 3 days. Unfortunately, that isn’t enough to get him through to the day Jonathan and I would usually be back down there to go grocery shopping at Publix, so we’ll have to make an extra trip.

Stop #12: Taco Bell
What can I say? We were hungry; Jess has been craving Mexican food. We got some “to go” and headed home.

So, there ya go, my shop till ya drop day.

Why Hospitals Aren't Restful Places

While Jess was in the hospital, I was reminded just how little rest a person gets while they’re in there. There’s people running in and out all day, and off and on during the night, too. One day I decided I’d just write down every time someone came in the room. I included phone calls because although technically no one came to the room in person, it’s still an interruption to getting any rest. So here’s the list:

4:00am Lab tech draws blood
5:00am Tech in to take vital signs
5:30am Tech - Bath Time
7:00am Tech in to take vital signs
7:05am Food service brings breakfast
8:00am Nurse
8:10am Cleaning lady
8:15am Respiratory Therapy
8:20am Nurse in with pain pills
8:25am Visitor #1
8:30am Doctor (Ortho Surgeon)
8:40am Doctor (Internist)
8:45am Food service picks up tray
9:00am To Physical Therapy
9:30am Back From Therapy
9:45am Tech in to Change Sheets
10:00am Phone Call #1 - from friend
10:15am Nurse in with morning meds
10:30am Nurse in to change dressing
10:50am Visitor #2
11:00am Food service brings lunch
11:15am Lab tech draws blood
11:50am Food service brings menu
12:00pm Tech in to take vital signs
12:30pm Visitor #3
12:35pm Phone call #2 – insurance
12:45pm Phone call #3 - from friend
12:50pm Food service picks up tray
1:10pm Visitor #4
2:00pm Visitor #5
2:30pm Representative from Health South
3:00pm To Physical Therapy
3:30pm Back from Therapy
4:00pm Nurse in with meds
4:16pm Nurses in to start blood
4:20pm Visitor #6
4:30pm Visitors #7 and #8
4:35pm Physical Therapist
4:40pm Tech in to take vital signs
4:45pm Food service brings supper
5:11pm Nurse brings meds
5:15pm Phone call #4 – from friend
5:25pm Visitor # 9
5:45pm Phone call #5 – from friend
6:02pm Phone call #6 – from friend
6:05pm Volunteer delivers flowers
6:10pm Nurse
6:14pm Phone call #7 – from friend
6:30pm Tech in to take vital signs
6:33pm Nurse in with more blood
6:35pm Food service in to pick up tray
7:00pm Nurse
7:15pm Nurse brings meds
7:25pm Nurse
10:00pm Nurse
10:15pm Nurse
10:30pm Nurse

The thing is, I’m sure I missed writing down a few times people were in, like checking on the blood running in or other stuff. But even at that, look at these totals for one day:

Times In/Person
2 Doctors
2 Lab Tech
7 Tech for Patient Care
7 Food Service
7 Miscellaneous People
7 Phone Calls
9 Visitors
15 Nurses

Like I said, I’m sure the nurses were in there more times than I wrote down, and probably the techs, too. But add it up, and that’s 56 times there was someone who came in the room in person or by phone. If you average out the busiest times between 7am and 7pm, it's about one person every 15 minutes!!! And there was another day when he had even more than 9 visitors, so you can imagine!

No wonder you can’t get any rest in a hospital!

Merry Christmas!

Hope everyone has had a nice Christmas.

Ours was pretty quiet, but had a couple of “first time in a long time” happenings.

First off, for the first time in a long time Toby and I went for a walk in the woods. I guess it's been something like 3 weeks or so since we last went. I put pictures up on Rural Ramblings from our little trek.

Then today was also the first time in a long time Jess got to take a full-fledged shower. He had to wait for the staples to come out of his incisions before he could get them wet, so it's been well over two weeks.

Before he could get in the tub, we had to put a couple of hand bars up. We bought two Safe-er-Grip Bathtub & Shower Handles to help him navigate safely. Those things are pretty neat. They've got a big suction cup on each end with release latches to tighten or release the suction. They're super easy to put up, and it's convenient to be able to move them around when needed. And once those rascals are up, wow! It feels like we'd tear a piece of the tub surround out before they'd let loose.

We also put a sturdy folding chair in the tub for Jess to sit on. He managed fine, though he was pretty well tuckered out by the time he finished. He's still a bit on the puny side. It's going to take a while before he builds back up his stamina after such major surgery, reaction to anesthesia, and blood loss.

Also today, Richard called and we had a nice long chat. And for the first time I got to hear Ellie say, "I love you Sussern Mama!" Well, you can imagine that bought a tear (or two or three...) to my eyes!

We also got a call from Deb today and got the latest on happenings with the other grandkids and what they were doing this Christmas Day.

It's been a nice day, even if we didn't do much celebrating.

Today’s News on a Knee-d To Know Basis

All you need to know is the day was all about knees.

The day started bright and early since we needed to go to Patrick Rehab for Jess to have outpatient therapy on his knees. Since it was his first time there, he needed to fill out a lot of paperwork for their records.

We didn’t need to wait long before a therapist came out and got Jess. She was a very nice young lady, and seemed to know her stuff. She gave Jess’s knees quite a work-out! We were there about two hours between paperwork and therapy.

She also gave Jess some new exercises he needs to do to get his knees working better. He’s bending them really well, but has more trouble getting his knees totally straight which is really important.

We got a couple of hours at home before we needed to turn around and go the opposite direction to The Orthopedic Center. Jess got his knees x-rayed, then went back to the waiting room to wait on the doctor.

The doctor came in and looked at the x-rays of Jess’s knees first thing. Wow! Those new knees sure show up bright and shiny in the x-rays! You could also see a row of staples in front of each knee, seemingly hanging out there in mid-air.

After checking out how well Jess can move his knees, the doctor declared Jess is doing better than anyone he’s seen and ought to be running circles around everyone by the next appointment. He did mention the same thing everyone else has, however, that being Jess needs to work most on getting his knees to straighten out totally.

Last up for the day was getting the staples out. It took the nurse a while to pick them all out, clean the scar line, then put a row of steri-strips on each knee.

They're supposed to stay on 5-7 days, then once they're off, he can start massaging the scars on his knees with some kind of vitamin E cream.

On the way home we needed to stop at the pharmacy to pick up some new pain medicine and sleeping pills for Jess. They were super busy. I guess maybe everyone is getting their prescriptions refilled before Christmas.

It was a busy day, with too much we needed to do. It was almost dark by the time we got home. Jonathan was finishing up the outside chores as we drove up, which was a nice plus so I didn’t have to worry about it. Jess was pretty well tuckered out and took a much needed nap.

And that’s all the news on knees for the day.

Whine Alert!

It’s Scrooge again. I know, I know, “Tis the season to be jolly.” Well, I may be fat, but I’m not Santa Claus; I’m not even Mrs. Claus. And it’s a sure bet I’m not jolly. As a matter of fact, I’m decidedly UNjolly. Depressed even. Seems like there’s more hassle than happiness this December. So here’s my top seven whines, in no particular order of their ability to induce the blues:

1. Cold Weather. Okay, northern neighbors can ignore this. I know the Canadian contingent, for example, is snowed under with below zero temps. But us southern folk don’t take well to even double digit freezing temperatures. It’s supposed to be warm in the south, thank you very much! My fibromyalgia and other chronic pain doesn’t like being chilled to the bone, so somebody turn up the heat! (P.S. I reserve the right to whine about it being TOO hot come summer.)

2. Early Medical Appointments. Who makes appointments for therapy at 7:45am? That’s fine for early birds who actually LIKE to get up early, but for those of us that prefer to greet the day a little later, it stinks. But be that as it may, tomorrow morning we’ll be up early to take Jess to his first outpatient physical therapy session.

3. Housework. If you do it, nobody notices. If it doesn’t get done, everyone notices. Especially the dirty dishes and dirty clothes and cooking meals parts. A never ending, thankless task. Cleaning is mindless work, but meal prep is mind boggling with always trying to think up something to fix. Day after day, what to fix to eat!?!

4. My Office. Jonathan and I rearranged the furniture before Jess had surgery. We thought and thought about the possible arrangements, and thought we chose the best one. And maybe we did, but I don’t like it. In fact, when I walk around to my computer I’m thinking, “I hate this.” Trouble is, I can’t think of a better way to do it. With 2 windows, a closet, vent, and door to work around, the options are limited.

5. When doing something nice turns into an obligation. Ever have this happen? You do something for someone on a fairly regular basis, not because you have to, but just because you’re trying to do something nice, and somehow, it ends up becoming an expected obligation. Then it doesn’t matter how busy you are or what you might have going on in your life, you’re expected to continue with whatever it was.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy doing things for other people. But sometimes it gets rather depressing when everyone else is expecting you to do for them, and almost nobody ever volunteers to do something for YOU, especially when you've got some heavy duty stuff going on. What’s with that? (I could write a really lengthy post on this one, but for now, ‘nuff said.)

6. Creeping Bills. Bet you’ve got some of these. Bills like the phone bill and cable bill and other stuff that is supposed to be the same price, but somehow they keep finding things to tack onto the bills so they slowly creep up and get more and more expensive. Then of course, there’s the utilities and groceries and other bills that are also creeping up in cost, so you’re paying more and more for the same thing. As the saying goes, "Just when I think I can make ends meet, somebody moves the ends!"

7. Health Insurance. A creeping bill in a class by itself. Sure, we have Medicare. But it's not like Medicare is free. It's just a government funded insurance, and they take a chunk out of your social security every month to pay for it. And since Medicare doesn’t begin to cover everything, you also need to get supplemental insurance. And of course, the better the insurance, the more it costs, so somewhere along the line you have to make a decision of how much you can afford to pay every month versus what kind of coverage you’re going to get.

Obviously, unless you’re really well-off, you’re not going to have insurance that pays for everything. For instance, for Jess's knee surgery there was a hefty co-pay up front for the hospital, and the same again for the rehab center. What worries me is what other bills they'll send us.

For example, Jess was checking our insurance manual today to see how much they pay for blood transfusions. Well, guess what? They don’t pay ANYTHING until you’ve already had THREE units of blood. That’s right, until you get to unit 4, you’re on your own. So we pay for three units, the insurance pays for only one unit. Not much you can do about it, right? Who’s going to say, "Oh well, guess I’ll just bleed to death, cause I sure can’t afford to pay for blood."

Fortunately, we're not forced to choose between paying for health care or paying for utilities or buying food. I’m sure we’re better off than a lot of people, but there must be a way to make health care more affordable.

And there you have it, my top seven whines of the moment. I could think of several minor irritations, but enough is enough! And yes, I know I'm blessed and lots of people have it worse than me, but that doesn't change the fact that right now, I've got the blues.

Home Sweet Home

Yesterday we were ready to leave by 6am. The doctor came in by 7am. But it took until about 10:30am before the nurse and Case Manager got the paperwork done and we could actually think about leaving. I finally took matters into my own hands, literally, and wheeled Jess out myself while the nurse was taking another patient down. MY patience was gone!

By the time we stopped at the pharmacy to get the injections and pain pills Jess needed, it was almost noon by the time we got home.

Jonathan helped Jess get up the steps and into the house. We've got most of Jess's pathways figured out, but need to do more with his recliner. It's too low and he can't get up out of on his own.

Today I went to the store and got some stuff Jess needs like rails to put in the tubs, a mat for our shower, cold wrap for his leg that swells due to inflammation, and various other stuff. Being in Walmart the Saturday before Christmas is a BAD idea.

Not that I've been thinking much about Christmas. Who has the time, energy and other necessary stuff? No decorations this year. No exchanging gifts. No big meal. I feel like Scrooge this year, but there it is.

At any rate, we're glad to be home. It's a lot of work, but it's better than the hospital by any stretch of the imagination!

One Last Message from Huntsville Hospital Lobby

I hope this is the last message I write and post from the dining area close to the gift shop of Huntsville Hospital. I've been walking across the street to get here, sitting on a bench near a wall outlet, plugging in my laptop and hooking into their free wi-fi. It's not a comfortable place by a long shot, but at least I've been able to pop in and check my email now and then, and make some posts here to tell how things are going.

The electric has been out twice today, and we were switched fairly quickly to generator power. However, not everything works when using the generators, including being able to move the beds up and down, or the head of the bed. Also, the tvs do not work.

Jess checked on the expensive injectible meds he's going to need. The pharmacist gave him an estimate that is WAY better than the $500 a shot they talked about here. That was a major hurdle overcome. The rest is just getting the house workable for him to get around, taking him to get the staples out Monday, and to outpatient therapy.

We're so ready to go home. I've already started packing stuff up and carrying things to the car. When they cut Jess loose tomorrow, we'll be out of here so fast their head will spin!

Merry Christmas to us... we get to go HOME!

Last Day At Rehab Hospital

The Brothers Anderson (Doctor and PA-C) came in this morning and Jess asked them when they were going to discharge him. They said, "Monday."

The resulting explosion changed their minds.

As he told them, nothing much happens over the weekend, so why keep him? Their answer:
  1. The insurance would pay for it.
  2. He's got to have injections of Lovenox for 14 days, so he'd have to do some at home.
  3. He needs the staples out Monday.
  4. He'd miss a day and a half of therapy.

His reply:

  1. He wants to go HOME.
  2. He or his wife can give those easy little shots.
  3. He'd ride down Monday to the doctor to get the staples out.
  4. And he said he'd do outpatient therapy.

The reality is there is really only ONE of the therapy sessions that he needs these days. The group physical therapy and Occupational Therapy is easy for him. The one-on-one therapy is tougher, but he can do a lot of that at home, and he can go to outpatient therapy.

So they agreed to cut him loose, admitting "you can go home anytime you want to." Well, he wants to! We'd love to have gone home today, but can stand for ONE more day, but the idea of waiting until Monday morning to go home -- NO WAY!

Yeah, I know home is going to be tough, but we should be able to get more rest, and we should certainly be able to get better food that we know we like, and have more peace and quiet.


No New Knee News

Jess had easy therapy early this morning, then time off while the staff had a meeting. Later in the afternoon he had a group physical therapy session, then the one-on-one. That’s when things get intense, and Jess dreads those sessions. He can walk pretty well, but when they want him to do the exercises to flex that leg back I guess it gets pretty ouchy.

And I don’t know if it’s the food or his appetite, but Jess still isn’t eating a lot. It’s to the point nothing sounds good to either one of us. For Jess, I think the fact the food leaves a lot to be desired is compounded by the fact he’s laying around in bed so much. Over at the “regular” hospital there was a recliner he could get in, but here it’s the bed or a wheelchair.

We were hopeful we’d hear today what his discharge date is since they had their big staff meeting, but no such luck. I suppose since we didn’t it’s not likely we’ll get to go home tomorrow, but we’re definitely ready to escape purgatory.

There is no rest, no peace in this place. Noise! People! Just a constant grating on the nerves. It’s even getting to Jess, and he’s much more sociable than I am. It’s like an anthill that’s been stirred with a stick around here. Just constantly boiling over with activity.

There is nowhere to go to escape. With medical personnel, cleaning staff, food service workers, maintenance workers and who knows what else – somebody is doing something no matter where you go. You can’t even hide in a restroom without someone wanting to come in and clean it!

So where I want to go is home. I told Jess if they don’t let him go home by Friday I may have a psychotic episode and it won’t be pretty. You can’t get any rest here. No home cooking. He can do the same sort of exercises they do in occupational therapy and group therapy at home. The one thing he gets here he can’t get at home is the one-on-one therapy session, but he can get that on an out-patient basis within 10 miles of home.

Home. It’s time to go home.

Family Education At Rehab

Today was Family Education Day at the Rehab Center. Of course, there was just one family member being educated today, and that person was me.

First Jess and I met in the room with the Occupational Therapist, and he showed us all different ways and gadgets for Jess to use to help with bathing and dressing. Then we went down to the physical therapy room and he had Jess do a bunch of exercises for upper body strength.

He also gave him a big strip of stretchy latex to use for more upper body exercises, and showed him how to do them all.

After that, it was back to the room for a session with the nurse about all the different medications Jess is on. Some of them are meds he’s been on a long time. The only thing really different is the pain pills (Lorcet), sleeping pill (Resteril), and the shot of Lovenox sub-q in his stomach to control blood clots. Since I already know how to give sub-q shots that didn’t amount to much. (But you should have seen the face Jess was making when the nurse said HE could learn to do the shots!)

Then back down to meet with the Physical Therapist. She also had a list of exercises for Jess to do at home and checked him out again on how well he could do them. A couple of them really test his ‘intestinal fortitude’ when it’s time for some major knee bending.

Our last session was with a Case Manager. She mostly double checked we had the equipment needed, and where Jess wanted to go for his physical therapy on an outpatient basis after he is discharged from Health South Rehab.

Jess also had his first “Stair Master” session today, practicing going up and down steps.

And he’s getting more adept at getting himself around in a wheelchair too.

Of course, here he's just resting in-between bouts of stomping up and down the stairs.

By the time we got through all the “education sessions”, we had quite a stack of paperwork. Between the rehab papers and the paperwork from the Joint Camp with before and after surgery do’s and don’ts, it’s a pretty fat folder of papers!

The staff has a meeting tomorrow with all the doctors, nurses, therapists, and case managers involved, and along with double checking what the insurance allows, after that we should know exactly when his discharge date will be.

We’re hoping no later than Friday. That will be a week here, and to stay 10 days would mean over the weekend. They only do a little therapy Saturday morning, and absolutely none on Sunday, so it would be pretty much a waste of time to keep him over the weekend then send him home on Monday, just to say he’s been here 10 days instead of 7 or 8 days (depending on how they’re counting).

And we are soooooo ready to go home.

But we look around at some of the other people here with strokes, amputations, spinal cord injuries, etc., and we think a lot about kids like Ellie who are doing therapy on a long term basis, and realize as hard as this is for Jess, we’re still pretty blessed. There’s a whole lot of people that have it a whole lot worse. Barring major disaster, his knees should pretty steadily improve from here on out.

And that's pretty good news.

About Email

Don’t be surprised if you don’t hear from me via email.

My time is at a premium, so I’ll updating my blog to get out information on what’s happening, and that’s about all I have time for.

I have to go across the street to the main hospital to be able to hook into wi-fi and get this sent out. So please bear with me! I can’t answer a bunch of email or check in on many blogs. Hopefully we’ll be home by the weekend and work towards returning to normal.

New Knee Saga - Day 1 of Week 2

Jess had therapy this morning. He thought it was going to be terrible, but turns out it was fairly easy, concentrating more on upper body strength. Piece of cake.

Then he had a couple more hours of therapy this afternoon. NOT a piece of cake. The last hour was one-on-one with a physical therapist, and she put him through the wringer. Bend your knee and move your knee as far back as you can 10 times, then she “assisted” him to move it back even further 10 more times.

As Jess put it, “Here’s where things get serious.” Playtime is over, the real work – and pain – begins.

While he’s concentrating on that, I’m still helping with the more mundane tasks. He needs help making it into the bathroom, getting his bath, encouraged to eat and to drink plenty of fluids, and other stuff. Especially at night he needs someone to help him move in bed, go to the bathroom, and keep a fresh icepack under the inflamed leg. The nurses dole out the drugs, the physical therapist works on getting the knee functioning, and I do everything else.

I’ve also been known to upgrade his bandages. I fail to see the rationale of putting sterile pads over just part of the incision. Why leave part of it open to air? Seems to me it should be all or nothing, and for now, I vote for ALL of it.

The side of Jess's left leg - colorful, huh?

He hasn’t got much of an appetite, but the hospital food leaves something to be desired. Tough meat. Overcooked veggies. Strange seasonings. It’s not home cooking. For now I offer to go buy burgers or pizza or subs, and tempt him with snacks that while they aren’t exactly health food, at least get some calories in him.

In the meantime the assistant is getting tired. By the time I get him fixed up in the evening, for instance, with supper and bath or whatever, sometimes the food court is closed. And I, too, am sick of food from the cafeteria.

And while he takes naps off and on all day, I don’t have that luxury. I can’t nap in this chair.

We’re hoping he does well enough to go home by Friday. He’s ready for home. Some things will be more work at home, like cooking again, and helping with his therapy, but other things will be much better, like getting more rest (I hope).

I’m tired of being stuck in a hospital. Then I think of people here with serious diseases like cancer, not sure if they’re going to make it. I’m just helping out a dude with a repair job. I figure I’ve got it pretty easy compared to many others.

But I still want to go home.

The Latest Knee News

Tomorrow Jess has his first day of LOTS of therapy (about 3 hours). It's going to be tough, because he's having a lot of pain in his left calf. The ultrasound they did yesterday didn't show any problem, but his leg is swollen and hot. We've been putting ice packs on it.

The back of his legs are almost a solid mass of bruises. Did you notice the one on the side of his knee in the picture below? Well, it looks like that all over the back of his legs. I guess once they pulled the tube out of his knee, the rest of the blood leaking out just seeped into the tissue there. It looks pretty awful!

Since Jess didn't have any therapy today and is able to do more for himself, I took some time today to go home and do some laundry and take a shower and get some stuff from the grocery store. Jonathan is doing a great job looking after the house and farm animals, which makes all this a lot easier. Guess that's the silver lining in the cloud of no more Toys R Us job. I don't know how I would have mananged otherwise.

While I looked through the mail, I didn't have time to get online and do some stuff. I need to place a couple more orders for Christmas stuff, but I just didn't get it done and I won't do it from the hospital over unsecure wi-fi. I don't know how in the world I can be ready for Christmas. With all the trips we made, then Jess having surgery, I just haven't been able to keep up, let alone do the extra stuff needed to get ready for Christmas.

We'd already decided to cut way back this Christmas, and aren't buying big presents for each other. I did get Jess a couple of pecan trees, but those were for his birthday. Christmas is going to be Scrooge-like this year, and presents just aren't happening.

Well, I guess Jess got a new pair of knees for Christmas, how's that? And we went to visit family, so there we are, Merry Christmas!

From Hospital To Rehab

Jess is still recovering from knee surgery, but we’re in a different building now, and although it is connected by enclosed walkways to the main hospital, it’s actually a separate entity. Unfortunately, one of the differences is NO wi-fi in the rooms here. However, I’m going to try to write something up, then walk over to the main building and see if I can connect to the wi-fi there and send this. I really miss not being connected!

Yesterday was pretty depressing for a while. Patients are supposed to check into this Rehab Center between 10am and noon. They hurried as along at the hospital to be ready, and Jess didn’t even have his morning therapy before they got us gathered up and brought us over here, supposedly to room 209.

At first we were tickled because he got a private room, as they’d told us it would probably be 2 or 3 days before we got out of a semi-private and into a private room. However, when we arrived his room had been changed to 203. Fortunately, it was still a private room. Unfortunately, it was also still occupied. Discharges are supposed to leave by 9am, but it was late afternoon before we finally go in the room.

All that waiting took a real toll on Jess as he was sitting upright in a wheelchair for a long time, and wasn’t used to it. Eventually they put him in a bed in a semi-private room which helped matters considerably. I was extremely thankful we were not staying in that particular room however! I don’t think it would have been a congenial fit of roommates, to put it mildly.

Once Jess was finally in his room the procession began as several people needed to evaluate him. He saw a P.A.-C (Physician’s Assistant – Certified), a lady from Physical Therapy, a Case Manager, two doctors, and I can’t remember who all else there was.

Today he had Occupational Therapy, which for him, is simply making sure he can do tasks like dressing himself, doing personal hygiene, etc. He complained of pain in his calf, so when the doctor and PA-C came in, the Occupational Therapist mentioned the problem, and they immediately sent him for ultrasound of his legs to be sure there weren’t any blood clots.

Thankfully, the ultrasound didn’t show any problems. He was able to go to a session of physical therapy this morning. While he was at therapy, I took the opportunity to go to the cafeteria and get something to eat for the first time since he’s had surgery. Not that I haven’t eaten obviously, but I’ve just been snatching stuff here and there from vending machines, snacks I brought with me, and some stuff from Jess’s trays as he hasn’t been eating much.

He did eat better today, at least for breakfast and lunch. Not a lot, but more than he’s done since he’s been here. Unfortunately, by supper he’d overdone it sitting in a wheelchair and moving around, and was kind of under the weather.

Tomorrow there are no therapy sessions, but come Monday, they’ll work his butt off with at least three hours of therapy a day.

Wednesday they have a staff meeting with all the different people taking care of him, and will decide how long he needs to be in here. As far as using his knees, he’s doing pretty well with that. At first they thought they’d use a “bender” for him, which is a machine that straps to your leg and bends your knee, pushing you leg up and down. The physical therapist took it back after she evaluated him, saying he was doing too well to bother using it.

We’re rather hoping he’ll get to go home by Friday. I know we’ll both be fed up with hospital living by then. (Okay, we’re already fed up with hospital living!) Since he’s doing some better, I’m planning on going home for a while tomorrow for a nice shower, doing some laundry and a little grocery shopping. He needs me close by more at night, when he sometimes needs to go to the bathroom RIGHT NOW, or have his feet moved, etc.

He’s making progress. Once we’re sure there’s not complications, it will be nice to get him home and let him do his exercises there.

Jess's Knee Pics

The nurse was in to change Jess's dressing. Right knee first...

And then, obviously, the left knee!
Altogether now.... OUCH!

Moving to Rehab Soon!

Getting ready to move to rehab soon! They have free wi-fi in the rooms at the hospital, but I don't know if I'll have internet access in the Rehab facility so this maybe the last post for a while.

Jess will be in Room 209. We got lucky and didn't have to wait 2 or 3 days for a private room. The nurse here says the rooms there are much smaller however, so I've already taken a lot of stuff to the car. But wouldn't you know, I'll probably have to get some of the stuff back since I moved all my clothes, thinking I would have to go home tonight instead of staying with Jesse. And I'll probably have to move the car.

We've been getting mixed messages about this place, so I'm a little apprehensive as to the care, but everyone agrees it is better than going to a nursing home, or directly home and just going 2 or 3 times a week to rehab. We were told yesterday they do 3-hours of rehab a day in this facility, as opposed to maybe 45 minutes in a nursing home.

The Internal Medicine Doc was in this morning, and Jess's hematocrit is up to almost normal levels again, after having 4 units of blood, so that's a really good thing!

His ortho surgeon was also in, and says everything is looking good and he thinks Jess will do real well.

Jess also ate a fair amount of his breakfast this morning, which is the first time he's eaten much food at all.

He's getting better!

Part II About Day II

Jess has the second unit of blood running in. The dressings on his knees have been changed. If you’re squeamish, skip the chatter between the ***


He has about 24 staples in each leg, starting a couple of inches above the middle of the knee, and ending a couple inches below the knee. The wound is nice and clean; no redness.

There was a drain in the side of each leg/knee. What’s funky is they just stab something in there – I swear it looks like they poked an ice pick in the side of each knee – then jammed a tube in through the hole to reach somewhere into the middle of the knee joint.

The drainage hoses connected to suction pumps to help pull any excess fluid out. I don’t know how much they emptied out today, but Monday there was 210cc, and yesterday 300cc of bloody drainage. To give you a comparison, each unit of blood has 350cc. No wonder he got so puny.

When the nurse changed the dressings today, she yanked those drains out before putting on the new bandages. They leaked a little, but stopped quickly.


His knees aren’t so restricted now since the bulky bandages and ace wraps are gone. He has a couple of gauze pads over each knee, and a kind of gauzy-knit stocking pulled over the knees to keep the bandages in place.

Jess had high hopes for supper, thinking he was really hungry, but he didn’t eat more than a few bites before he declared that was it. I’ll try to feed him some ice cream later. He’s been subsisting on Popsicles and water and a few bites of solid food, but he does eat a tiny bit more each time.

For myself, I’ve been subsisting on his leftovers. I figure we’re paying for that food, and if he can’t eat it, why should I go to the cafeteria and pay to eat the same thing? I also figure when he gets to where he can eat his meals, he’s better enough I don’t need to feel bad about leaving him to go find something for me to eat. For now, he really needs someone close by. The nurses are busy, and it sometimes takes a LONG time before they make it here. (We waited over an hour today before the nurse showed up to hang his second unit of blood.)

One great blessing is how well I’ve done in captivity. These 'pull-out-the-chair-to-make-a-bed’ deals aren’t the most luxurious sleeping accommodations, and last night we had over 5-inches of rain. I’m usually down for the count in that kind of weather, but I’ve been able to keep going and looking after Jess.

All things considered, we’re doing pretty well.

The Second Day After Surgery

Here we are, the second day after Jess’s surgery on Monday to replace his knees. Thankfully, it’s a better day. With the low blood pressure, dizziness, nausea and whatnot, he was in pretty bad shape yesterday.

As the internist predicted would happen, Jess’s hematocrit was in the toilet this morning. In other words, the dipstick for those little red blood cells is showing a dramatic shortage. For probably the first time in his life, the lab techs were having trouble finding veins to draw blood samples. Because of all that, he’s already had one unit of blood, and the nurse is supposed to be bringing back a second unit. (In fact she should have been here some time ago…)

He also made it to group physical therapy/rehab twice, before and after the first unit of blood, and is doing really well there. He’s eating a little bit today, after two days of sucking on ice cubes and sipping water. His color has improved, and he just all around seems to be doing better. I suspect after the second unit of blood, he’ll improve even more. He just didn’t have enough blood circulating to do the job!

After giving us such a scare yesterday, it’s good to see him making forward progress today.

Update on Jesse's Surgery

The actual surgery yesterday on both of Jess's knees went well. He was under anesthesia for almost 4-hours however, and his body has had a hard time shaking it off. It was okay yesterday since all he did was sleep most of the day after surgery, and the after effects of the anesthesia kept him from having pain.

By the middle of the night, however, it was quite a different story, and he was pushing the button on his IV for more morphine frequently.

Unfortunately, his body didn't seem any keener on morphine than it was on the anesthesia, and he was nauseated and threw up. More than once.

This morning they sat him up on the side of the bed, gave him a bath, and were in the process of getting his clothes on (Joint Camp attire - a polo shirt and shorts), to get him ready to walk over to his chair. That was pretty much a disaster. He almost passed out, only remaining upright because 2 nurses were hanging on to him for dear life. They jerked up his shorts and swung him over in the recliner and laid it back pronto.

The surgeon happened to come in soon after, and Jess was white as the proverbial sheet, his blood pressure was still in the toilet, and his pulse was racing. The doctor ordered lab work to type and cross match for a couple units of blood, and was going to have Jess's cardiologist come in to check on him.

However, the internist who looks after all the joint replacement patients was on the floor. He sees them all to keep them on a special blood thinner that is given by shots in the stomach, making sure there's no problems with blood clots forming.

His assessment was Jess will probably need blood within the next couple of days, but wants to wait until his hematocrit bottoms out, then give it to him. Long explanation. (Ever have a doctor spend 5-10 minutes explaining just ONE of his decisions to you? He was quite patient and personable, and seemed to have a good grasp of the situation, and didn't mind explaining his reasoning for the various things he decided did or did not need done. & I must have understood or talked a little too much med-speak, because at one point he paused, then asked what medical field I was in and where I worked.)

They put off calling in the cardiologist, thinking this was stuff they could handle and not a necessity to have a specialist. They switched to a saline IV to help get his blood volume up, and held off on the Coreg Jess usually takes for his heart, and his anti-hypertensive drugs. His blood pressure was way too LOW for a change!

With all this going on, Jess didn't go to either of the two group physical therapy sessions he was supposed to attend today. Instead, the therapist came in here and worked personally with Jess a couple of times. The last time he did get him to stand up briefly, but Jess got pale and nauseated again, so no walking today.

He obviously has a lot of pain, and is having a hard time getting comfortable. He has progressed to eating popsicles and drinking a little coke, so he is getting better. The dizziness and nausea needs to subside before he can really make good progress on physical therapy.

Getting much sleep is a problem, too. At least, getting some uninterrupted sleep for any length of time. It's like an airport terminal in here with people constantly coming and going. Off the top of my head I remember the surgeon, internist, a couple of caseworkers, 2 or 3 different nurses, cleaning lady, meal delivery, dietician, lab technicians, Senior Horizons rep, and I'm sure many more, plus visitors and phone calls.

We knew this would be difficult, but the nausea and low blood pressure were unforeseen complications. Hopefully as the last of the anesthesia washes out of his system and he's also able to drink more, he'll start feeling better. He is taking oral medications for pain now, and they don't seem to be making him quite as sick. Of course, they don't zap the pain as well either!

One thing is sure and certain, he needs someone in the room with him about all the time. The nurses can't come running into a room every 5 minutes to help him change position, or give him ice chips, or any of the other myriad things needing done.

Fortunately, Jonathan is able to look after the farm, and today I called him with a list of things we needed (including my laptap, since there is free wi-fi here), and he brought those down for us . It's really a blessing he's available to do this stuff right now. (Silver lining in every cloud!)

Jess had us all a little shook this morning, including the doctors, but hopefully these complications will get worked out soon, and he can concentrate on getting those knees working!

Heading to the Hospital

Okay, I'm shutting down my computer after a quick check of email, and we're headed to the hospital for Jess to have his surgery. I did NOT sleep well, and it's going to be a very long day. At least Jess gets to sleep through a big part of it, ha, ha. (Surgery is supposed to take about 4 hours.)

Keep us in your prayers please!

Workplace Warfare

On the subject of plans gone awry…

Jonathan had planned to work through December at Toys R Us, when they’re really busy and he always got a lot of hours. Then in January he wanted to get his dental work finished while he still had insurance through Toys R Us, but work hours were really cut back. At the same time, he planned to start looking for a better job during his off hours.

As plans go, it was a pretty good one. But they went sadly awry when he got a new boss.

This boss worked at a different company before he came here. The company he worked for has been cutting back and closing lots of their stores. That retail store certainly didn’t see near the volume of business around Christmas that Toys R Us gets.

Once they got into the Christmas selling season in November, one of the first things that happened is this new boss wrote everyone up in Jonathan’s department for not “producing” enough.

Several other things happened, but the end game came when the Friday after Thanksgiving Jonathan was sick and unable to go to work. That’s not allowed. You can’t be sick. Automatic “write-up.”

After a meeting with boss and his cohorts, the bottom line was, “Resign and keep your vacation time and a good reference, or stay and we’ll watch for the slightest problem, and fire you. Vacation time gone, comp time gone, bad reference.”

Never mind he worked there for two years and got nothing but good evaluations, at least until this latest boss came on board. All that went down the toilet.

Not much a person can do in those circumstances but what Jonathan did… resign. Sometimes you just can't win in workplace warfare.

I'm praying he finds a new job he can enjoy and do a good job for his employers, so it's a win-win situation! He's got one resume in to a place in California, but who knows how many others do also. Please keep him in your prayers as he searches for a new job!

The Best Laid Plans

To adapt a line from a Robert Burns poem, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” That certainly seems to be the case around here lately. Yesterday could have been a case study in things gone awry!

Example #1 – I went to a twice deferred appointment with my doctor to FINALLY get my bloodwork and a couple of spots burned off my skin. I’m not sure we got all the right bloodwork ordered because my regular doctor is on bedrest due to pregnancy complications and I saw someone filling in for her. Trouble is, she didn’t leave explicit instructions on my chart, so not sure what all bloodwork was supposed to get done. As for the skin problems, I’ve got to have a biopsy on one, and I have to go to a dermatologist to do it. Obviously, that appointment didn’t turn out as planned!

Example #2 – I got the bright idea to switch the thyroid med I’ve been taking prescribed by the Fibro Clinic and have my regular doctor prescribe an equivalent. I take two different kinds and the one I’ve been getting at the pharmacy here is only $4 so figured it would be cheaper to get the second kind there also. Well, I figured WAY wrong. Turns out even though this is an “old” drug, no one makes a generic and the insurance won’t pay for brand names.

Example #3 – I stopped to buy the pecan trees for Jess yesterday. We looked at them on his birthday but weren’t sure which to buy. When I stopped to get them, the nursery had got a new shipment in, and they cost on the average of $5-$25 more than the old ones. Oh well!

Example #4 – Jonathan and I have been working on my office. Despite the fact I made a graph of the room, then little to-scale blocks for each piece of furniture going in there, when we started putting stuff in there, it didn’t work out quite like it did on paper for various reasons. We had to make several adjustments!

Example #5 – And do you know what happens when you work on a bigger home project? The rest of the house goes to Hades in a hand basket as stuff gets moved out of the room you’re working on, and you’re spending all your time on that one project and no time to do everything else. ARGH!

However, even though many plans had to be adapted, it isn’t all bad. I don’t have to go to the dermatologist for about 3 months, which will give me time to get through Jess having his knee surgery and rehabilitation.

And the office, wow! I’m really started to get excited about it. Anyone who’s ever been to our house is NOT going to recognize it by the time we’re done. I wish I’d thought to take a picture before we started. It was a catch all room, with piles of stuff everywhere. It’s really starting to shape up, and by the time we get finished, it’s going to be a great place to work.

I’m really eager to get back to work, too, but probably won’t make it for another week. Jess has surgery Monday, so that day is obviously full. Not surprisingly, he’s pretty anxious about this surgery to replace both knees, to the point his “nerves” are causing lesions on his hands. It will be good to get through the surgery, and start the rehabilitation part. I know that won’t be easy, but at least he’ll know he should be getting better every day after that.

Hopefully, plans will shape up for a while without so many glitches!