For most of my life, I have been healthy and am still healthier than not–so no chronic illnesses, hospital stays, or unusual restrictions (other than apathy and the don’t wannas.) When I developed osteoarthritis a few years ago, it was a minor inconvenience that gradually became an increasing instrusion into my life.
- Attitude determines a lot of what we think we can/can not do. – Stairs were something to avoid, if possible. (I still found that most of these impediments were psychological. If the weather was nice and I was chatting with friends or listening to good tunes on my iPod, the activity was no problem to accomplish.)
- The nursing staff makes medicine nicer/kinder/approachable. – I had right knee replacement surgery on Friday and had to stay in the hospital for a single night. (It was my first hopital experience as a patient.) From my first referral by my primary care physician, through the intermediate steps of PT, accupuncture, and orthopedic referral) to the actual surgery, the nurses were the ones who had the time to answer my questions, listen to my fears, help me to the bathroom, brought my medications and meals, made me feel like a person and not some speciment on which to practice medicine. (Don’t get me wrong, the doctors were nice and all were skilled practicioners, but the nurses took the time to see the person behind the patient.)
- The second night and the third day are the worst. – As my friends (who have already had joint replacement) tell me, they give you really good drugs in the hospital so pain management is a piece of cake. (One of those wonderful nurses had also told me that this period would be the worse and that each day would get better after that.) When I came home, life took about 3 hours to sledgehammer me into reality. Between 3 pm on Saturday, and about 4 pm on Sunday, my medications were not touching the pain. (In retrospect, I should have accepted the nurse’s offer for some oxycodone before I left the hospital, but I was not in pain and did not want to use oxycodone anymore than I had to because of it’s addictive qualities.) Last night was better, but I was still needed remedial training on bringing my overnight medications into the bedroom next to me rather than leaving them in the room where I had spent my waking hours.
- Use it or lose it–PT will set you free. – It’s too easy to sit in your chair with your meds and ice machine. It’s a hassle to haul your carcass and your attendant walker to the bathroom. You are stiff, cranky, and just want life to be ‘normal’. It is more likely to get back to ‘normal’ if you do your PT and make an effort to move each hour.
- Your friends, family, and support system are as an important part of your recovery process as your medical team. My husband, Bob, has been a wonderful help, bringing my meals upstairs, going to the store to fetch the medications or my favorite grande skinny iced vanilla chai. My friends have been supportive with texts, phone calls, flowers, cards, and offers to visit. Both of my sisters have offered to come stay with me for a few days, if I need them too. (As much as I truly cherish the offer, I think we are all relieved that Bob will make their offer unnecessary.)