Monthly Archives: December 2016

On being in hospital

I’ve been looking back nearly seven years, to compare then with now.  This was the post I wrote about the original operation and it was much the same, as you’d expect.  Wanting not to have sedation seems to be less unusual now and the anaesthetist told me about a woman who was having a replacement knee and he didn’t notice her pulling the screen down so that she could see what the surgeon was doing.  The surgeon was not at all pleased and, later, told him he did not appreciate an unauthorised audience.

I didn’t have a catheter fitted this time and there was no drain either.  I don’t know why there wasn’t anything to drain from the wound, but that was the case, half a litre was in the bag from the drain last time, though I suppose it might have seeped into the bed – the sheet was certainly damp and … hey, I’d been thinking I wet the bed, but I couldn’t understand how I might have done so without being aware of it.  Dammit, it was from the wound all along!  Well, really me.  I was so embarrassed and apologetic.  The operation itself was uneventful – no, clearly I don’t mean that.  It was routine.  I heard the saw and smelled the burning and felt the hammering.  Last time, the new joint was not cemented in place but now, the surgeon tells me, they do it as routine. It doesn’t cause a problem and gives a little extra security.

LT waited in my room the whole time – I was out for about two and a half hours.  About an hour for the operation, another for recovery – I was awake but they wait until you can move your legs – and the rest was the travelling and preparation.  The anaesthetist told me that he was using the least possible anaesthetic and they turned me on my left side so that it would concentrate on the leg to be operated.  Both were numbed, of course, but it was noticeable afterwards that the right leg recovered first.  I was aware of feeling returning and being able to twitch my right thigh muscles, then movement gradually spread downwards: ditto on the other side a little while later.  When they were happy – and happy they all were, a jolly friendly bunch who all introduced themselves to me by name, so I made a point of remembering and calling them by name too – I was wheeled back and greeted by the Lovely Tim, who looked relieved.

I’d been asked by the cook what I would like to eat – last time, I had a very good chicken sandwich on wholemeal bread but, although I’d enjoyed it, I brought it up later, as I did everything I ate the next day.  So I chose tuna on white bread, as being more easily digested.  I also asked for a croissant, orange juice and plain yoghurt for breakfast.

I would have liked an earlyish night but it wasn’t until after 11 that I was invited to stand and I walked a few steps to a commode – good thing, not that it was far to the bathroom but I was feeling dizzy by the time I got into bed again.

I didn’t get given the elastic stockings this time, they’d got sort of air bags around my legs with rubber tubes that pumped air every few moments – this is to help with circulation, of course.  A nurse had to disconnect them every time I got out of bed.  The last night, the nurse decided I was all right without, which meant I could go to the bathroom without calling for anyone.

Whether it was having less anaesthetic, having more easily digested food or what else I don’t know, but I wasn’t sick and, though I felt dizzy on several occasions, I recovered quicker, to the extent that I came out a day earlier than expected rather than a day later as last time.  My leg feels more mobile too and I’m going to have to remember to be careful.  I’m not supposed to bend to less than a right angle (i’ll write a bit about tricks of managing this, tomorrow) but I feel as if I could easily.  When tired, though, I needed help lifting my leg into the bed – it doesn’t help that I’m having to get in the wrong side, i.e. my operated leg first.  But I’ve been all right all day today and I can feel that I’m getting more agile already.  But no chances are being taken.

Lay Z

I had, of necessity, rather overdone it on Sunday, so I didn’t do much yesterday  – dozed in the morning and only got out of bed if I needed to.  I felt fine, until I got up and then I had no energy and was actually rather keen to lie supine again.  Al and co came over in the afternoon, and young Pugsley played his guitar – very well, he works hard at it and he’s really good.  He’s not the chattiest of ten-year-olds, but he’s quite self-possessed.

I’m mostly stiff because of the massive bruise on my thigh, which only came out after a couple of days.  Being an idiot, I thought I’d got away without bruising, to start with.  Ho ho, not at all.  But it’s already started to go from black to dark purple, so it’s healing already.  Sometimes I can walk quite easily and sometimes I need to lean hard on my sticks, but it’s fine.  I’m way better already and, though I might take a couple of paracetamol before bed tonight, I may not.  I was sent home with a cocktail of codeine, ibuprofen and paracetamol and I haven’t needed much of them.  I’ll stick ’em in a drawer and use them up eventually, I suppose, though I’ll probably hand back the codeine, I can’t think why I’d want it.  If I’d had an op because of an accident, maybe I’d be more aware of pain but I’m already used to arthritis and it’s no worse.

I’ve almost finished Christmas shopping – all from the internet, I’m afraid, but I had no realistic choice.  I didn’t have the time or the mobility to go out and about, though I would have bought all I could in Yagnub, if the chance had arisen.

Last time, I made my bed blissfully comfortable with lots of pillows, but it’s taken me a couple of days to get it just right this time.  I’ve now – or rather, LT has under my direction – added an extra duvet to lie on, for added softness, so I hope I’ll be more rested when I’ve been in bed, therefore needing to spend less time there. I haven’t even got dressed yet, which is very lazy.  Not that it bothers me in the least.  I see nothing at all wrong with being lazy.

Home again, home again jiggety-jog.

It must be said, the food was jolly good. I had a Sunday lunch – roast beef and potatoes, broccoli and carrots, followed by steamed jam sponge pudding, that was better than I’ve had in some restaurants. And everyone was perfectly lovely there.

I suggested to Ro and Dora that, if they wanted to visit, they should make it before lunch rather than after and I put Weeza and family off altogether. They had spent the weekend with Phil’s family and coming over here to the house would make too long a day for the children, who have school tomorrow. I dressed quite early, practised walking, had X-rays taken and spent an hour with Ro, Dora and Rufus (who is now six months old), then LT came to fetch me home. Since then, I’ve stayed in bed. I am very tired, though I feel perfectly well, and I will rest tomorrow, I expect. Of course I’ll get up and potter about a bit but there’s nothing I must do unless I feel like it.

Eloise cat was so pleased to see me. She lay on me, purring, for most of the afternoon.

Z is faint-hearted. But not for long.

I was able to walk steadily last night, using a frame, but spent most of the night awake.  At about 3 o’clock, I switched the light on to read and, soon after, a nurse put her head round the door to check I was all right and suggested making me a cup of hot chocolate. I don’t normally have milky drinks, but this was jolly nice, made from fresh milk not a packet.  I fell asleep eventually and managed two or three hours, I suppose.  But I suspect a lack of sleep was the reason I suddenly keeled over, when the nurse was taking my heart rate and blood pressure.  “I feel faint, I’d better lie down.” She couldn’t get a bp reading and was alarmed and, within seconds and rather to my embarrassment, three nurses were in the room putting an oxygen mask on me and setting up a saline drip.  “Speak to me, Zoë,” she said every few moments – actually, I’d have preferred to be quiet and shut my eyes for a minute, but I politely smiled and said I was all right.  And it didn’t last long, I soon got over it.  I said that it doesn’t take much to make me feel faint and made a funny story of the time I keeled over outside the bank and had to lie on the manager’s floor for an hour.

anyway, late, in the course of the day, I had three walks, the first on the frame and then they decided I could bypass the crutch stage and just use walking sticks.  The third time, they had me walking up and down steps.  Each time, when I got back into bed, I lay flat for a few minutes to make sure I was all right, and later, with a nurse standing by, I went to the bathroom by myself.

I’m due to go home on Monday but it’s all going so well that, assuming I don’t faint tomorrow, I may well be able to leave in the afternoon.  They’ll evaluate it and consult my surgeon in the morning.  They can see that I can be relied on to know how to walk and am sensible, having had the operation before.  So fingers crossed!

Reassembled Z

It’s all done and was as successful as expected. A few differences from last time, I’ll try to jot them down when I’m not blogging on the phone.

While I was having the operation, I pondered about paralysis. The spinal injection makes you lose all sensation of pain, heat and cold, and you can’t feel someone touching you, but you have an awareness of what is happening and can feel you’re being touched though you can’t feel the touch itself. And, of course, you’re paralysed from the waist down. And for a while, my thoughts were all about those who suffer that permanently. I was aware of my heavy legs but unable to do a thing with them, but it didn’t matter and was temporary. My heart went out to them, I mourned for them, for what that’s worth.

I’ve eaten a sandwich and drunk quite a lot of tea, coffee and water and it’ll be imperative that I use the loo before I go to sleep tonight. So let’s hope the legs work when I get up in a little while.

What I am mostly is happy and grateful. And sympathetic to LT, who sat waiting in my room for something like two and a half hours, while I was away.

Z is cleaner than ever before

Think of me tomorrow, darlings, when I’m taken apart and put together again.  I’ve been reading  my blog posts from the time of my first hip replacement and it really didn’t take long for me to be up and about again.  The work and anxiety is all for lovely Tim, of course.  Roses will look after the chickens and outside cats and he’ll look after me.  And Eloise cat and Natasha tortoise, who I planned to have hibernate in January, but now my operation has been brought forward and I haven’t had a chance to slow her down gradually, I’m not sure if it’ll happen at all this year.

I spent quite some time wrapping presents this evening.  Not all of them, I ran out of enthusiasm after an hour or so.  I can’t remember the last time I was so organised for Christmas.

One good thing is that I don’t have to worry about the chickens, with the advice (requirement for poultry farmers but it’s less strict for people with a few backyard poultry) to keep them indoors and away from wild birds, because of the serious illness of poultry in parts of France.  Since I had that bantam turn up on 1st February with a clutch of 11 chicks. I have kept them all indoors.  But that actually means their good-sized henhouse with a tunnel through to the 40 foot greenhouse, which has a number of missing panes covered with nailed-on netting, so they are under cover but not confined.  They are perfectly happy in there and never try to get out.  Rose is going to put her four in my other greenhouse (three ten foot ones, end to end, though she will probably keep feed in the first one and keep them in the other two).  At this time of year, it will be no hardship for them.  Fingers crossed that the outbreak of bird flu doesn’t spread to this country.

I’m going to have a bath, wash in Hibiscrub and get into bed with its clean sheets.  And tomorrow I’ll get up early, because I’m not allowed to eat after 7.30, and then shower and scrub again.

And soon it’ll all be done and I’ll be back bothering you again.  Toodle-pip!

and it’s a long, long way…

We’re back down south for a couple of days, leaving Rose to hold the fort back in East Angular.  LT has an appointment and we’d invited friends for dinner on Wednesday – Tim’s in-laws, in fact, who have kept him as part of their family.  We had to cancel most of our engagements between now and the new year, but we thought we could keep the ones up to the date of my op.  Luckily, the three hospital appointments fitted in nicely, one of them being today, which we went to on our way here.  There was freezing fog, so we went on the main roads instead of nifty short cuts, which don’t really save more than a minute or two anyway.

There was a road sign as we left Yagnub, giving “advanced warning” of roadworks on the way to Norwich next year.  We were so busy making humorous remarks about A Level warnings and beginner’s warnings that we didn’t really take in what the notice was about, but I sort of took in delays from May to the Autumn.  We may have to take another route to Norwich altogether, if that’s the case.  The days grow short when you reach September, after all.

With rare powers of organisation, I’ve made the bed I’ll sleep in when I come home from hospital.  In fact, I’ll sleep in it on Thursday night, which will be a sensible thing in more than one way – if there is anything I can do to make it more comfortable, better to find out while I can go and do so.  And they are, wisely, very anxious to keep the hospital as hygienic as possible.  I’ve been given a bottle of Hibiscrub and instructed to wash with it for five days before the op (which seems a bit ott, but no matter) to sleep in fresh sheets the night before and, on the morning, to wash myself especially thoroughly, all over including between my toes, leave it a minute before rinsing, then repeat, including my hair; then dress in completely clean clothes.  So the post-op bed is an easy way of getting that bit right.  Oh, and I’ve also packed my suitcase.   Anyone might think I’m really looking forward to this op.  And they’d be right.

Yesterday, we had a visit to our solicitor – still sorting out legal things together as well as my own stuff, which hasn’t yet been finished.  I said apologetically to her, as we were leaving, that things were going a bit slowly in regard to changing my name.  I told her about the aborted attempt with the letting agents and that they wanted to check all my details as if I were a new client.  She rolled her eyes and said that they were being absurd, there is no legal requirement for it.  And the only small bother, if I’ve changed some things and not others, would be a few extra bits and pieces of paperwork if I were to die.  She sounded pretty relaxed about it.  We get on very well.

Z’s anecdotage

I went to visit my friend Jan today – she’s been in a local nursing home for some weeks, having broken her upper arm in a fall.  She couldn’t manage at home, being in her mid-eighties, living alone and none too steady on her feet and, though her arm is mending, she hasn’t been able to walk yet as she needs a frame and can’t yet use one.  The home is in Yagnub, so I call on her quite often.  She’s feeling despondent as she hardly can think she’s got a chance of being home for Christmas and isn’t at all sure if she’ll be able to manage at all.  Since she’s always been very fit and well, it’s a depressing thought.  She’s still interested in the outside world (which is not always the case when someone is in hospital long-term) and has lots of visitors, which is one good thing.

My good blog friend Pat were talking on Facebook recently about the need to not fall over as one gets old.  It’s the most vital thing for keeping ones independence.  It reminded me of a marvellous interview I listened to on the radio a few months ago, between Alistair Cooke, the Letter from America chap and I can’t remember who, from quite some years ago.  He was quite old at the time, though his manner never seemed to age – anyway, he was being asked about being recognised.  “When I get the ‘should I know who you are?’ line, I always say I’m Bob Hope,’ he chuckled.  And told a story about one day in New York, when he saw an elegant, elderly lady walking out of (I think) the Plaza Hotel, walking in that careful way that meant she knew how imperative it was that she kept her balance.  And she looked at him and recognised his face, and asked who he was.  “I’m Bob Hope,” he said helpfully.  “What a coincidence,’ she said.  “I’m Mrs Bob Hope.”  And she was!

Alistair Cooke never reached his anecdotage, I don’t think, but maybe I have, and it’s not even my anecdote.

I’ve booked my car in for a service, bought sensible slippers (good for the Factory Shop, better at half the price – in this instance – than the other places I tried) and dealt with some vital paperwork by passing it on to someone else.  I know!  And he offered, so I don’t feel at all guilty about it.

Z is equipped

The spam getting past the filter seems to have settled down after 39 comments – thousands are caught and I don’t see them until I go to delete them.  So I’ll leave it for now.

I had another hospital appointment this afternoon, as a result of which we came home with a chair for the shower and a frightful loo seat that looks more like a commode.  I still have my raised seat from last time and that’s the one I’m likely to use.  I’m glad of the shower seat though, I dislike showers at the best of times and, as ours is spacious and doesn’t have any rails to grab, I was going to feel very unsafe.  We will have a rail put in, I think, when we next see the plumber – who has some trim to fit and has yet to present his bill.

We went to Norwich to buy me a new phone – after four years, the battery is getting a bit unreliable.  I don’t mind that the charge doesn’t hold for long, but it swings wildly – the worst was the day it showed 91% charge, I opened an app and it shut off with zero battery.  Yet sometimes it still works with under 10%.  Anyway, I’m keeping it as a back-up for now.

This was dealt with swiftly (I didn’t need to have a new contract as I bought the phone and just switched the SIM card) and then we went in search of nightdresses, which I’ll need for hospital.  I’ve one suitable but wanted a couple more.  House of Fraser only had pyjamas.  M&S were little better.  I finally found one acceptable one but no slippers.  The better looking ones were backless and they’re not safe for me to wear.  I’ll rootle through drawers and find ancient nighties that will do – it’s fair enough in a way, the last time I bought one was when I was going to be in hospital seven years ago, I think, but you’d think the ones they do have wouldn’t be ugly.  Or Christmas themed.

By the time I got home, I could hardly walk, though the milder weather had been much easier on my hip.  But overdoing it shows how badly it’s deteriorating.  It was only about six weeks ago we parked in the same Norwich car park and walked to a restaurant in the same shopping mall and I had no trouble walking back again then.  But it’s not a bad thing to be reminded I’m not making a fuss about not much.

LT is cooking dinner.  Guinea fowl.