I’m starting to get emails asking how Lea is doing, which points out that I’ve been remiss in keeping the blog up to date. Since we came home last Tuesday afternoon, we have dealt mostly with pain control. I have been pretty diligent about getting her medicine doses to her on time every time, and it has evened out her pain levels quite a bit. I would have to say that today her pain control is pretty good, although we continue to experiment with over-the-counter drugs that seem to work better than the Vicoden.
Lea was experiencing severe pain for about an hour out of each three hours when we first came home. The pain would start about thirty minutes before a dose was due and would last twenty or thirty minutes until the dose took full effect. She also was experiencing a lot of mild nausea and resulting loss of appetite. We finally determined that the nausea consistently followed the Vicoden dose, so we switched those doses to over-the-counter medicines that don’t upset her stomach.
Unfortunately, it takes a couple of days to figure those things out, and she went through quite a bit of discomfort. She was able, however, to keep up with her exercises, and, I would have to say, surprised me with how much she pushed herself to get them done. She has already reached the 105 degree level of bend in her knee. The goal is 110 degrees, and we were told some people never get that high after surgery. So, we are pleased with that.
She still is not able to get her knee straight, however, which is another goal she is struggling to reach. That one is hard for her since she hasn’t had it straight for many years. The hip surgeon last November got it straight during the surgery, and the knee surgeon got it straight during knee replacement, but she can’t do it on her own. She has muscles and tendons that she has to get strong enough to be able to do that.
A part of her problem in straightening the knee, is that it still wobbles from side to side. You may recall that her leg was badly curved in at the knee because of degeneration. That is causing problems now because on the inside of her leg the muscles and tendons are loose, and on the outside of the knee they are too short for her to get the leg straight easily. All of that means that she is pretty unstable on that leg.
She progressed over the weekend from the fold-up walker to the rolling walker Link bought her in Hawaii, and then a couple of days later to her four-legged cane. In the last couple of days I have seen her take a few short steps without the cane, so she continues to try to make herself improve.
I have had her out of the house only once during this period. Saturday she woke up feeling well enough that she wanted to go to the outdoor Farmer’s Market, a Saturday morning activity next door to the hospital in Noblesville. I put her in her wheelchair and pushed her around the lot going from vendor stand to vendor stand, letting her purchase veggies and fruits. I take plastic shopping bags with me when we go there so I can hang whatever we buy on the handlebars of the wheelchair until we get it back to the truck.
We bought quite a bit to stock up for when she feels better and wants to return to the kitchen. We bought a large bag of green beans, which she enjoys snapping and cooking with ham and chopped onions. I have a large ham bone with a good portion of ham still on it in the freezer, and will get it out in the next day or two to cook up the beans. We also got sweet corn, large onions, tomatoes, cantaloupe, peppers and other garnishes to last us through the week.
I took her out to an early lunch, since we were already out of the house. We went to a favorite restaurant where we shared an appetizer and an entree. We always enjoy being together, and I particularly enjoy seeing her interact with others. That bright, bubbly, personality comes out, and I get to see a glimpse of my long time girlfriend again. The activity wore her out, however, and we had to cancel our plans to go to church the next day. In fact, she spent all day Sunday in pretty significant pain.
I’ve enjoyed cooking for her this past week or so, and have made some pretty good meals, but honestly, look forward to when she feels well enough to get back in the kitchen. She loves to cook, and I’m certain her return to the kitchen will be the first indication that she is getting back to herself. We enjoy cooking together, and have a running good-humored competition between her wonderful home cooking, and my desire to serve dishes with attractive presentation.
Meanwhile, we keep plenty busy, with her sleeping most of the time and needing nursing when she’s awake, and trying to take care of all the other chores whenever I can. I have not been comfortable leaving her here by herself, so I took advantage of our friend Joe’s visit with us last week to have him sit with her while I made a trip to the pharmacy for some of her medications, and made a quick stop at a grocery to pick up some needed staples to get us through the next several days. I’m not comfortable leaving her unattended, at all.
Today, for example, I had her set up on the sofa in the living room so I could go into an adjoining room I use as an office to teach an on line class. She had her leg in the CPM machine, and was comfortably watching television. A little over an hour later when the class was finished, I came out to find that she had fallen asleep, the CPM machine had worked its way off the couch, and she was laying there with one leg on the couch, one in the machine which was dangling down to the floor on the foot end, and it was still exercising her knee! I can’t say it has been dull! 🙂
We continue to monitor her blood sugar levels, and don’t see any improvement in that as of yet. We watch it very closely right now, of course, because high levels of sugar slow the healing process. The doctor upped her daily intake of calcium, zinc and vitamin C to help strengthen her bones, and she was directed to put off starting physical therapy until the staples are removed from the operated area next Thursday afternoon.
We have had many ups-and-downs during this recovery, mostly related to pain control, but we also see progress happening ever so slowly. I just continue to pray that the operation was successful and that she will be able to walk normally again. What a blessing that will be!