Hello, steep motorhome steps. Hello, narrow hallway spaces. Hello, sunshine pouring in the windows. Hello, fresh fruit whenever you want it. Hello, woefully untrained nursing staff!
After two pain-free days of optimism, Odel awoke to a new reality on Wednesday morning. The drain to remove fluid from his knee had been taken out Tuesday, and his knee was swollen, tight and painful. During his morning stretching with Doug, his pain level moved towards the wrong end of the pain scale. Very unhappy face! The new reality has set in.
The hospital stay for a full knee replacement is usually 3 nights; for a partial, it can be as few as 2 – and we were determined to get him out of there. I arrived at the hospital mid-morning (with fresh pineapple and a banana) just in time to view the incision (I posted a small photo here; those of you with more interest can click on it if you’d like to see the gory details enlarged).
Once Brian was done changing the dressing, Odel had visitors (Sydney and Frank) and lunch arrived. After that, we spent most of the afternoon waiting, and bird-dogging the various staff we needed to see prior to discharge.
Doug the therapist wheeled Odel to the stairwell to practice going up and down stairs, then signed off on discharge. The medical supply rep came by with Odel’s brand new wheeled walker, provided by Medicare (no more than 1 per 5 years, so we got a long lecture on keeping it).
The hospital pharmacist came by to discuss Coumadin, the blood thinner every surgical patient takes before and after surgery, and the pain medication prescribed for Odel. And, finally, late in the afternoon, RN Mindy signed the discharge papers, we loaded Odel into the car (ouch, ouch, ouch, that hurt!) and took off for home with a stop at the pharmacy along the way.
We pictured our biggest challenge as the narrow, steep steps into the motorhome, but they weren’t much of a problem. The obvious immediate problem, once we got inside, was the uselessness of the walker in our confined space. Only the main living room/kitchen is wide enough to accommodate it easily; it cannot maneuver well in the hallway, and doesn’t fit at all in the bathroom or bedroom.
Many fulltime RV’ers have an item or two that one spouse clings to while the other questions their logic. Several years ago, I bought one of those little three-legged “seat canes” – works as a cane while walking and converts to a small seat when desired. Who knows why I bought it? The only thing I’ve ever used it for was a small cocktail table outdoors… and Odel complains periodically about carrying it around in our storage bays.
Stand back – it’s his new best friend! Because Odel is able to put a reasonable amount of weight of his injured leg, using the cane and the always-close-by counters and tabletops, he can move reasonably freely everywhere he wants to go. Problem solved; we’ll save the walker for outdoor use in a week or two.
Setting up for Odel’s homecoming required some rearranging. He needed a chair with a firm seat and back, and arms, so I brought his lawn chair inside. He can settle comfortable there or on the couch or in the bed, hobbling from place to place. After the stress we’d put on his knee, it was ready for icing, so I settled him on the bed and went to get the ice packs (aka bags of frozen peas).
I pulled back the cover, settled the peas on his knee, asked “how’s that?” and he answered “wrong knee”! Oops! Guess the bandage should have been the clue! It was our last hearty laugh of the evening, which went on to include a major puking event, an injection of another blood thinner, and other un-fun stuff. By 7 pm, he was back in bed, took his pain pills, and settled in for what he hoped was a good night’s sleep.
And it was.
As I write this, Anna, the home health nurse is here changing Odel’s dressing and drawing blood. She will arrange for the physical therapist’s visits, and will return in a few days to remove the staples in Odel’s leg. I’ve got a list of supplies to pickup to get Odel’s guts functioning again, and we’ll need a couple of days to work out our new routine. It may not be as efficient as the hospital, but it is SO GOOD to have Odel back home!