Wednesday, January 27, 2010

E- The sun will come out tomorrow.

It's been two weeks since the surgery, I have been home for one, I have all 40 staples
out and seem to be healing well. My apologies for the
picture but I don't have anything like the usual shots of the kids
playing in the sunshine at this time. In fact, there hasn't been
anything sunny for me as of late......just lots of sitting around
waiting for time to do its course of healing.

I shouldn't complain because I have been well taken care of by my
lovely wife and the kids have been really trying to help out too.
However, staying in bed and barely moving for two weeks is a new
challenging experience for me. I have been physically active my whole
life and have always taken a lot of pleasure and identity from that,
so it's not really a big surprise that I miss being able to exercise.
What I wouldn't have guessed is how much complete physical inactivity
seeps into the colouring of my world at a subconcsious level that I
can't control. Consciously everything is great. I have more than
enough to keep me mentally stimulated and have no reason to be
anything other than happy. However my lethargic body seems to set a
tone that my emotional centre really can't disassociate from, no
matter what my brain says. I can only imagine the mental and emotional adjustment
that quadriplegics have to make after an accident.

I caAn't even blame things on the pain. The joint itself feels way
better than the old hip (or left one) already. In fact there isn't any
pain there, just lots of swelling and tightness. The real pain seems
to be in my hamstring and quad. Imagine you were given the worst
Charlie Horse of your life up the entire front of your thigh while at
the same time you tore your hamstring from your butt to the back of
your knee and you get a pretty good idea of what this feels like.
It's definitely tolerable but not a lot of fun. However as the leg
drains of blood and fluids the muscles are slowing returning to
normal. I am able to bare more weight now but will probably still be
using crutches for a few more days. I am looking forward to getting

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Build a Bear confidence

Molly had a birthday party today at Build-a-Bear.

Eleven little girls trooped through the store, choosing their animals and stuffing them with fluff. At the end, the store guide brought out a huge bin of ribbons that the girls could put all over their new toys. As I chatted with the other moms, one of Molly's friends brought by her puppy, adorned head to toe with bows. There were matching pairs on the ears, wrists and ankles of the dog. A little gaudy, but cute.

Molly came running over with her bear, packed up inside a box. She opened up her "cub condo" (yes, seriously) and pulled out her...totally plain bear. I was a bit surprised. I thought maybe in the scrum of girls, Molly had given up on the ribbons. I asked her about it. Her answer caught my breath. She told me that she thought her bear looked best "exactly the way he is, just by himself."

She snuggled him tightly and tucked him back in his "condo" (!). She was happy. So was I.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

E-Extended vacation

Les brought the kids out to visit again today and we had a pizza
dinner together. It is starting to feel like I have been here at the
hospital and in a bed a long time, so it was nice to have a change of
pace. Les has been great about coming out to visit but it has been a
really tough week for her do this and also get the finishing touches
on her latest chapter due and take care of all the kids needs. She
handles it incredibly well but I know it isn't easy and that it must
be stressing her.

My only job has been to take it easy in bed and protect my operated
leg while I get healthy. As simple as it sounds, I actually haven't
done a great job of it. After my blood transfusion on Wednesday and
subsequent hemoglobin test that showed rising levels on Thursday, I
was given the go ahead to start supervised physiotherapy. On Friday
morning I managed to walk pretty well with crutches and to demonstrate
most of the home exercises necessary to be discharged. The one last
check was to have someone demonstrate the proper method for getting in
and out of the tub. Unfortunately that someone happened to be the one
staff member we met who wasn't great....okay to be honest.....was one
of the least competent people either Les or I have ever come across
anywhere during our lives. (Get Les to tell you the stories) However,
I hardly figured this occupational therapist's incompetence was going
to be an issue during a two minute demonstration.

However as this person, let's call her Pat (not her real name and not
nearly as "on the ball" as SNL's Pat...but let's go with it)
demonstrated how to sit on a bench and pivot, I started to feel light
headed. I told her I wasn't feeling too well and needed to rest. She
just kept talking, perhaps not quite catching on to what I was saying.
Because there was no where for me to sit, other than Pat's bench which
I would have needed help down to anyways, I leaned back against the
counter of the bathroom sink. As I started to lose even more colour
and feel more light headed, I told Pat I needed to sit down. She then
left the room and walked down to physiotherapy. She came back a
minute later and told me that someone was coming with a wheelchair.
At this point I was fighting really hard to stay awake (a little bit
like you can get when driving on a long trip and have to really fight
to keep your eyes open), still winning the battle but knowing I
wouldn't be for long. When I told Pat I wasn't going to make it, I
figured she would either grab the kitchen chair six feet away or help
me to the ground. Instead she just left. The next thing I remember was
waking up, on my back under the counter with a big lump on the back of
my head and surrounded by a group of concerned hospital workers.

I have to admit to being a little bit panicked. Like I said, my only
real job is to protect the leg while it heals and here I had fallen
uncontrolled from my feet to the floor. The welt on my head let me
know it wasn't a soft fall. My hip was still so swollen and the leg
filled with so much fluid it was impossible to tell if I had directly
fallen on the right hip. I was also a pissed because, while I had
folded like a cheap suit, I knew that if anybody else had been there
other than Pat, this would not have happened.

The rest of the day was spent getting more x-rays, being confined to my
bed and getting another couple of units of blood. For some reason my
hemoglobin had dropped to 69, which when combined with standing still
for a five minute Pat tub transfer demonstration, is a rather
intolerable combination.

It appears like I didn't do any further damage to the new hip and
there won't be any consequences beyond having to extend my stay here a
couple of extra days. Overall the hospital has been excellent, so I
guess I just have to think of it as an extended vacation really. I
just feel a bit bad for Lester, who, instead of going on vacation, has
turned into a regular White Rock commuter.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Ummmm, okay...?

Molly was describing a classmate today. She said he was a "Yo Boy". Huh?

"Well, what am I supposed to call him? I don't know...he's one of those boys who will wear his pants really low on his bum when he's big..."

Sometimes I is pretty old

I took the kids and a picnic dinner from White Spot out to visit Eric in the hospital this evening. They hadn't seen him in a few days and he was a bit more active today, so out we trooped. Luckily, Eric got moved to a private room yesterday, so we weren't liable to disturb anyone (too much).

The kids were varied in their responses. Finny was cautious and FULL of questions about every single piece of equipment and medical paraphernalia visible in the room. Lucas was rolling with the whole scenario until he thought he nudged Eric's bad hip. Then he collapsed into a heap of tears and ragged breathing. It took a bit of convincing to get him to go back anywhere near the bed. Then he was back to his chipper and cheerful self very quickly. All three were pleased when Eric walked us to the elevator.

We got in the car to drive back home and Molly erupted with a long monologue about how scared she'd been to go. She was relieved, she said, that it was "actually all pretty okay". She told me that she was worried that she'd see him lying in a bed hooked up to machines, with his blankets up to his neck (inwardly, I thought it was a good thing she didn't go the last two days). She was happy that he was still him.

I thought about it. I sometimes forget what a big girl she is becoming...she was thinking about the whole thing from a more cognizant perspective than I might have guessed. I knew the kids were feeling stressed, but it strikes me that Molly's concerns are pretty spot on...they were the same worries I had. I told her exactly that. I wasn't sure what I would see when I meet Eric on the way out of the recovery room on Tuesday. I was scared too.

We talked for a little while about how our worries build up sometimes into proportions out of whack with reality. We decided that often, bravery is rewarded. She felt better than she would have had she decided to stay home (she told me she was thinking about it...).

It turns out there is nothing like a Triple O burger shared with your daddy (or husband) to set your fears to rest. He still loves his strawberry milkshake. He still eats his fries in the same (slightly annoying but lovable) way. He's still the same guy.


E-Long nights with friendly people

The staff at Peace Arch hospital have been fantastic. I haven't yet come across a nurse that isn't helpful and friendly and seemingly very competent at their job. The only exception to this is the hospice society in charge of putting TVs and phones in patients' rooms. I am still without any service on Day three of my stay. The upside however is lots of time to reflect and get some long overdue reading done.

However the nights can seem pretty long. I never realized how much I moved in my sleep until now when I have been pretty much limited to being on my back with my legs out in a straight line. Sleeping, or more acurately trying to sleep at night can be much more difficult and uncomfortable than I could have imagined. However it is a good thing that I am able to complain of positioning discomfort and not brutal hip pain at this stage of the game, so I will count my blessings.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Birmingham Hip Resurfacing Surgery- Vijay Bose_Part 1

Sent from my iPhone

Chop chop Birmingham awaits

We got an early start on the day yesterday and I was on the surgical
table by 8 am. Because the doctor decidedng to go with an epidural and
sedative combination, I wasn't completely out during the proceedure. I
have a strong memory of waking up to loud banging as the prosthesis
was being hammered in. The Dr later told us that I had the hardest
femur he ever had to drive the cap and spike into, which helps to
explain why the banging was loud enough to wake me out of my stupor.
Although this may sound horrible, between the effects of sedation and
spinal freezing I was quite indifferent about what was being done to
me at that point. And as a bonus, coming out of surgery I was without
nausea, dizziness or that strong feeling of disorientation that seems
to come with a general anaesthetic.

In fact I felt great at first. Howver before long I started to get
really tired and heavy. Beause of blood loss during the surgery and
the wound continuing to bleed afterwards, my blood pressure (66/35)
and hemoglobin (73) were really low which created a surreal experience
a bit like being in one of those dreams where you just can't seem to
move or do anything other than in slow motion. It also felt a bit like
being drunk in that I don't think I processed my memories in a normal
way. It is all a bit of a blur today.

However the one thing I can clearly remember is how supportive Les was
through the whole process and how much it meant to have her with me
the whole time. Having those you love arond you in a time like this
makes such a difference and I am really grateful to her and all of
those who offerred their support.

I am already feeling much better today. I was given permission to full
weight bear, meaning the surgeon is happy with how the surgery went.
There is still lots of swelling and tightness however, making it quite
difficult for me to assess what my new hip actually feels like. I
managed to walk with a walker to the end of the hall and go to the
toilet on my own......all of a sudden big achievements in my world.
As I am feeling better I am hopeful and a little bit nervous that
everything is on track for a full recovery

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The patient...


Update: checked my jeans pocket for change to get mediocre hospital
coffee...found not money, but a piece of Lego, strange small gray
thing that I suspect broke off a toy firetruck, and a teeny, tiny
bootie meant for a Polly Pocket puppy. I strongly suspect that coffee
machine will not accept orphaned toy detritus in payment...probably
for the best as my stomach is already churning.

Sent from my iPhone

I just left Eric in the surgical area and I suppose it shouldn't
surprise me, but I found it hard. Now I am sitting on a bank of
waiting room chairs, bolstered by coffee and a snack. It seems so
stereotypical: the emotional wife sniffing into her starbucks cup. I
have led a life that has been blessedly limited in its hospital
visits. In fact, Eric and I were laughing because the only time spent
in these types of situations have been initiated by labour.
Pretty different circumstances and a far more adorable outcome.
Somehow, birthing a baby seems like a far more natural life occurance
than a new hip at 35. Is it just me?

The truth is that I find it incredibly tough to see the strongest man
I know lying in a bed, hooked up to an IV. He's a tough customer, our
Eric. He is determined, tenacious and steely-minded. But in a hospital
gown with half a lorazepam in his sytem, he is as vulnerable as kid.
In fact, he just told me that if I wanted to head home, he'd be
fine...yeah, that's why I got up at 5:30 to drive to White Rock. Maybe
I'll come back to pick him up in a few kind of reminds me of
the time I got drunk and told him to leave me in Stanley Park. I told
him I'd be fine, too. I'm glad he didn't listen then and I think he'll
be happy I stayed today.

This new hip is welcome in our lives. It will allow my favourite
person in the world to get back to doing his favourite things. In the
meantime, this is nurse Lesley clocking in for my six week (at least)

It's almost 8 o'clock, which is surgery time...wish the bionic man luck.

Sent from my iPhone

E-Decision-"to cut oneself off from all other possibilities or courses of action"

I feel nervous but excited.  My hip has gotten to the point where it is difficult to get through a lot of basic daily activities, let alone playing sports or any kind of impact activity.  Because of my baseline strength and youth I can still do my job, but that won't be the case for too much longer without an intervention. This experience has certainly given me an early advanced view on what aging can feel like.  Four and a half years ago I was playing professional basketball, usually training twice a day, and now I can’t do anything requiring bending at the waist without looking and feeling like a 90 year old.  
There’s little doubt in my mind that the time has come.  The only doubt at all comes from the fact that pretty much everyone I talk to in the medical community seems to have a different opinion and there is no one clear course of action.  Therefore I have had to spend hours of time researching information from as many reliable sources as possible to come to my own decision.  
Basically I have 2 options left.  The first is to do nothing.  Continue to manage the pain as best as possible, severely limit the use of my hip, really try to avoid injuries that are easy to sustain when compensating for such poor range of motion and hope that I can hold out long enough that better technologies become available and also delay the start of an irreversible treatment path.  
To a certain extent that is what I have already been doing.  For months now the pain has been bad and I feel like I have really been deteriorating physically.  However I know that with strong enough painkillers I can continue enduring this for longer. I may not be the most pleasant to live with, but I can get through it.  What really scares me though is injuring myself in other areas, most likely my back, because it has become physically impossible to use the proper biomechanics for so many things.  Apparently I am a very rare patient to have such advanced degradation of the joint and not be experiencing back pain.  Because I am only 35, delaying the start of the treatment path a few years hardly seems to be a huge benefit worth enduring pain and risks for.  The one thing that each surgeon I have met with seems to agree on is that there isn’t likely to be any major breakthroughs in technology in the next 5 years that will totally replace the current ones.  
The other option is surgery.  Although there have been doctors recommending I do a hip replacement, I feel quite strongly that it would be wrong not to try resurfacing.  Every patient I have met who has done resurfacing told me they were very happy with the operation and just wished they had done it earlier.  They are all back to playing sports with few limitations other than the self imposed ones made to limit the overall wear and tear on the artificial joint.  Although it is a more difficult surgery, I think it would be crazy not to try it given that it is possible to go from a resurfacing to a replacement but the reverse is not true.  Here's hoping I can look back at this time in my lfe and the decisions I have made without any regrets or "what it's".

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Lucky boy...

Friday I had work to do, but I also had an extra Lucas...

Molly and Finny were skiing with Eric's mom and her friend Catherine (thanks to some hard work by Jane, the girls are becoming good skiers), so they were out of the house. But a talkative three year old and a phone interview for work don't mix. I called in help.

My dad offered to take Lukey out for the morning. On an adventure. What would most appeal to a little guy and his grandad? Planes, trains and automobiles. The boys took the new Canada Line out to the airport to watch planes take off and land.

I conducted my interview in peace. Lukey had a ball with his granddad's undivided attention. My dad got to see the airport through fresh, little eyes. It was success all around.

Doesn't this kid look happy?

Monday, January 4, 2010

Our dinner conversation

Lucas: Skating today, my leg hurt.

Me: Really? Why?

Lucas: Don't know.

Eric: But, it was okay. Right, Lukey?

Lucas: No. It hurt. Right here.

Eric: Yeah, you were a bit wussy about it.

Finny: Wussy, wussy, wussy. (in sing-song voice)

Eric: Finny! We don't say things like that!

Me: (a little whispery) Uh, you said it first...

Eric: Yeah, but I didn't say it MULTIPLE times.

Sunday, January 3, 2010