Tag Archives: Orthopedic surgery

Choosing a different Street

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Street

It has been some time since I last wrote, and much has happened in that time. I felt quite low after the dislocations in October 2015 and was waiting for some surgery to revise the failed hip and make life better again. Sadly this was not to be.

At the end of February 2016, almost a year to the day, and once my blood pressure reduced to an acceptable level, I had revision surgery on my left hip. Unfortunately the wound did not heal and 10 days later I was taken to hospital with a serious joint infection. I was in hospital almost a month with e coli mutations and on IV antibiotics through a PICC line. Low Hb meant doing further surgery was difficult.

It was April, and after a month of IV antibiotics at home and daily dressing changes for a copiously weeping wound with 4 sinuses, I went back into hospital for a Girdlestone procedure where the hip joint was removed completely. My surgeon put in a spacer to still give me a joint, but unfortunately this dislocated before I even got out of bed post x ray 48 hours later. Also, there were Gentomycin beads to try to target the infection. We looked forward to three months later when, hopefully, all would be well and a new joint put in.

In this time I kept quite optimistic and we even went as far as to book a holiday cottage which was wheelchair friendly. My bedroom had been moved downstairs to my office (The Growlery) and I had the company of my husband and mother-in-law for much of the late spring and early summer.

This also did not turn out as planned. Another sinus resurfaced and at the end of August I returned to hospital with a whole new set of infections in the joint – Klebsiela and Strep B. and another lengthy stay following surgery to remove the dislocated spacer and remaining beads – those that had not exploded all over our hall floor the night before, resulting in yet another trip in an ambulance. This time we had to cancel our holiday and I fell back into the black hole.

We hoped for three months of infection free and antibiotic free from the end of November, when the IV antibiotics finally stopped again and a promised date for surgery to put another new hip in and get mobile again. This is also not to be. I have little bone, tissue and no adductor muscle left after the many surgeries to clean out this joint. My surgeon is cautious at this stage about the increased risks of infection with no muscle protection, the difficulties of surgery and the possibilities of things going wrong at my (tender!!) age. He wants to do a biopsy to find out why fluid is yet again building up in that space, but won’t attempt a new joint again for at least another three months. This is the fourth lot of three months we are waiting.

Perhaps three months seems a sensible time for him to think we can wait. However, this time we are holding out little hope for anything being done anytime soon. Hopes being dashed so many times have left us all drained. So, with that in mind there are two choices. Go back down the same road and risk falling into the same black hole again, or choose a different road.

I think a new street, with different views is in order. Maybe it is a road I continue to take in a wheelchair. If so, then we need to find a house I can access on my own and not be confined to bedroom, living room and kitchen. I can’t even get in a shower without my husband – and that is in the downstairs guest room – and haven’t seen the upstairs of my own house since April last year. I need to live somewhere where I can get out on my own, with no steps and no need to be lifted in and out, so completely reliant again on my husband. He is at work 27 miles away full time, so a lot of time is spent alone. I have businesses I can partly run online, so will concentrate on those parts. I will try to write every day and maybe one day have the courage to write the books that I have thought of for so long. I will look for holiday cottages that have wheelchair access so we can go away together this year. It may not be Italy as we hoped and it may be booked the weekend we go – just in case! – but it is part of the plan.

So this new street has estate agent windows to look into, travel agents, books to read and research, people to talk to online and anything else that will help me lift my mood and look forward to my life as it is now.

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The black hole

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I came across this poem the other day.

Autobiography in Five Short Chapters

By Portia Nelson

I

I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk
I fall in.
I am lost … I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes me forever to find a way out.

II

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place
but, it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

III

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in … it’s a habit.
my eyes are open
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

IV

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

V

I walk down another street.

Copyright (c) 1993, by Portia Nelson from the book There’s A Hole in My Sidewalk. Reproduced with kind permission from Beyond Words Publishing, Hillsboro, Oregon.

I’ve been walking down other streets for a while now. Cheerfulness Street; Hope Street; Gratitude Street; It Is What It Is Street – always finding myself at this crossroads and choosing a different way. It’s always been there lurking though. A few days ago I suddenly found myself back here though. I would have chosen to walk around the hole perhaps, but last night I fell in. 

I’m not inexperienced – I have steps in my hole – I can climb out usually, but it feels too enticing to just stay here in the dark, and the steps to get out are slippery.

It didn’t take much to tip the balance either. A couple of weeks of not getting out at all (on top of four months of being stuck in the same house, same room, same chair day in day out), my husband away at the weekend so extra time on my own, a reminder that my weekend might have been broken up by visitors – except I don’t know anyone here and so don’t see anyone, and my husband announcing he both was going to be spending time indefinitely further away from the work site we expected and that he had to be there for an earlier meeting today. Just 1/2 hour extra time alone – but that’s all it took. The little jab that lost me my balance and pulled me in. The realisation – the truth of the situation I am in – I am housebound, alone and isolated. The only people I have are my husband at work, who could do without this, my son who I am supposed to be carer for, and the cat who only  really cares for whoever can bend down and feed her. I was even shouting at her yesterday for running in and out of the house, making me get up and open and close doors. The truth is perhaps that I was envious that she could run in and out of doors and visit different places.

It’s not a good week. On Monday I was supposed, finally four months after dislocations, to have the first of my surgery and have the hip that repeatedly dislocated revised. The metal levels in my blood, the damage to both hips seen on MRI, the repeated dislocations, all added up to getting it, then the other hip, out as soon as possible. Except my blood pressure is unexpectedly dangerously high. No amount of – but it could be the metal causing this, you could do a spinal so my BP drops – was going to sway the surgeon and the anaesthetist.

So here I still am – still waiting, still on my own, still not able to complete an entire task on my own, still on hippy rules, still waiting for that next misstep that dislocates one or other hip. Still in my black hole looking for the energy and motivation again to get out.

Or even just a friendly helping hand.

Lions and Tigers and Bears – oh my!

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Lions and Tigers and Bears on my path! I was feeling a wee bit scared yesterday. Many years ago I was persuaded by my parents to train to be a nurse. Needless to say I was useless and didn’t last long, but that’s another story. When I qualified I worked in anaesthetics in theatre – including orthopaedics. Well you can imagine, my experience of orthopaedic surgery more than 25 years ago – of course nothing is different (!!) – even though, logically (and realistically) I know of course it is.

lion 2

Hip and knee surgery …….. well actually I’m trying not to remember the noise, the smell, the frankly barbaric pulling apart of joints – ok I’m lying – but I know it’s different now. I know all those elderly people (because it wasn’t done for younger people then usually) who were in bed for a week and more, then were still in pain, were an unfortunate product of quarter of a century ago.

tiger 2

So I’ve been looking at a newsletter I was sent weeks ago and hadn’t properly looked at because knowing too much and reading too much might make it ‘real’. I’ve been thinking very much of this in the 3rd person – as though it were happening to someone else.

It’s very interesting and about people who have had the surgery by the person who invented the procedure I will be having.

http://www.mcminncentre.co.uk/pdf/spring-2013.pdf

polar_bear

It all sounds very positive! 

I also did a search for the surgeon who will be doing my procedures. He trained with the man who invented the Birmingham hip replacement, works at the same surgery and seems to be quite experienced (thousands of procedures done successfully!)

http://korhaz.drrose.hu/special-hip-prosthesis-operation-first-in-hungary?view=pdf

Then I posted what was happening on Facebook. I hadn’t wanted to tell anyone before. I suppose it felt as though it was a really big thing and I wanted to keep it to myself. I also wanted, if I was going to say anything, to be heard – and I wasn’t sure I would be and didn’t want to risk being ignored over something so important to me.

I was also aware I was in denial. It wasn’t really happening to me; it was ages away; if I buried my head in the sand it would go away …..

I wasn’t ignored, and lots of the feedback was about just how great it would be afterwards (well if I behaved myself and did my exercises anyway) and what good results people they knew had.

So my lions and tigers and bears ….

now look a bit more like this …..lion   tiger   teddy_bear

Sunshine on a rainy day

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I’ve found a website http://www.patient.co.uk/forums/discuss/browse/hip-replacement-1109There are loads of people there who have been in my position looking towards and working through their first hip replacement.

I must admit, I was a little doubtful about searching the internet for other’s stories in case I found things that were going to terrify rather than inspire. There are some stories that concern, and certainly my greatest fear just now is the new joint dislocating. There are also people talking about 12 week or more recovery rather than the 6 I’d expected, but I guess it is an ongoing thing. I am reading about major muscle being cut to do the operation, which i suppose I should have realised before, and how long it takes for that to heal. There is a lady who works with horses talking about how long it takes horses to heal after muscle, tendon and ligament damage, so I wonder why I would expect a human to take less time.

However, on the whole most experiences are very positive. Many people write about choosing resurfacing rather than replacement because of their age. The joint replacement will need to be replaced and so it is easier to replace a resurfaced hip rather than revise a replacement. It is apparently the same operation pretty much, without the head of femur as yet removed, just resized to fit a metal head and a metal cup fitted into the socket. A lot of these though have gone into surgery for resurfacing and come out with a complete replacement because, once work had begun, the bone crumbled anyway. I know I have been asked to consent to both and the decision will actually be made during surgery.

Most people say that, other than the night of surgery, they  no longer have any pain. They expect what they have had for so many years and find there is nothing. They are talking of a new lease of life, and being back and work and doing things they haven’t done in years.

So – some rays of sunshine, and that applies to today’s weather too! smiley happy