Being Home

Hospitals are tough places to recover. There is a whole lot of professional staff around and if you fall down someone is bound to notice, but there is a constant hustle and bustle even in the middle of the night that jangled my nerves and exhausted me. When I wasn’t making my slow and painful way to the bathroom or out of my bed for physical therapy I had little foot pumps velcroed to my feet that alternately squeezed each ankle to prevent blood clots. Fortunately my leg was far too clunky and swollen to entertain any thought of rolling over which I desperately wanted to do, so I slept in the intervals brought to me by my pain meds.

After four days my doctor felt I would be able to drag myself the three steps into my house, so Mike came and gathered me up along with my walker for the trip home. There had been a sizeable snow storm the night before, and I knew he had a considerable amount of work to do to get a path cleared so I was especially grateful. I said goodbye to the medical staff who had been taking care of me and was wheeled toward freedom.

Being outdoors for the first time seemed surreal, but all I could think of was getting home to familiar surroundings and my cat who was probably certain her mother was never returning. Using the stair navigation tricks I had learned in physical therapy I made it up the three steps to the refuge of my house and realized I was exhausted. Mike got me installed on the couch with a fresh bottle of water and went off to pick up my numerous prescriptions; a caretaker’s work is never done.

Pain management at home was a bit different since there was no white board and the meds had been reduced from three to one. My fondest hope was that I would have what I needed to navigate at home and complete the rehab sessions. It turned out that I was prescribed 5 mg. of Oxycodone every 4-6 hours, but it was up to me to figure how to make those sixty tiny pills last until until my first follow-up visit eight days away. The effort was mostly successful except for getting cocky the first night and only taking one pill with the reasoning that I would be sleeping anyway. It ended up being a huge mistake and the hour and a half wait until my next dosage was one I never wish to repeat.

There were some new tricks to managing the floor plan of my house. Reluctantly I had gotten a raised toilet seat because of the small amount of clearance my bathroom afforded for a leg that does not bend all that well and ended up being very glad. My high antique bed afforded another challenge to get into with a leg that was less than functional, and I was glad I had done so much leg strengthening before surgery; my good leg became a lever that hooked under my bad leg and hoisted it into bed. The rest of my little postwar ranch ended up being pretty well suited for a walker with the exception of the pantry. When I discovered my walker would only go through the door sideways I burst out laughing at the irony of it and knew it was the universe’s way of telling me not to overtax my new knee by gaining weight.  Message received.

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