Monday, August 30, 2010

Day 46 August 30, 2010

Went to see the surgeon today. Got X-rays first. Then saw Dr. Mitchell. He asked me how I was doing. I started telling him my problems and when I was done he turned to Diane and asked her how I was doing! It seems that my bones are fusing. So much so he started me on physical therapy tomorrow! 3 times a week for 4 weeks. I guess I am doing better than I think.

Still have the same pain in my back when I stand too long, he seems a little concerned about that. If it keeps hurting he will send me back to the pain management doctor for injections. I got the surgery to stop getting injections. If that doesn't work he told me he can do more surgery!!!!!!!!!!

Oh well!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Friday August 20, 2010

Saw my family doctor yesterday about my chest. I took a picture with me of how it looked right after surgery. He thought it looked like a staff infection and loaded me up with anti-biotics, predisone and a Rx cream.

I also weighed myself and I have lost 20 more pounds since surgery. That is a total of 52 pounds since November.


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Wednesday August 18, 2010

Was visited by a friend today. He said that he hadn't seen anything on my blog for a while and was wondering how I was doing. My apologies for not keeping current!

Things are going pretty well. Nurse and therapist come at least once a week. I am going stir crazy. Can't wait to go to the surgeon so maybe I can get permission to drive!

Visiting nurse is happy with my progress. She is concerned about my chest. So I am going to my family doctor to have him look at it tomorrow.

Monday August 9, 2010

Physical Therapist came at 8 AM! We went for a walk and I made it all the way around the block. Sweating my ass off. Therapist told me to talk to the surgeon about changing from my walker to a cane.

Diane took a 1/2 day and took me to the surgeon for a check-up. He was pleased with my progress. He reminded me that I have had major surgery and that with all the repairs that they made, it will be a slow recovery.

He took my off the oxycontin and I am to use the percocet as needed for pain. I told him about the therapist wanting to transition from the walker to a cane and he agreed. Hey no more walker!

Chest irritation still comes and goes. Doctor looked at it and said that the "burn" was healed and I should stop using the burn cream. He said it might be a fungal infection. I am to use Gold Bond power and an anti-fungal cream.

I go back to surgeon on August 30th and I will get x-rays to see how the fusion is going.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Friday August 6, 2010

Day 22
Very bad night. Since doctor said that I could sleep in any position I wanted, I slept on my right side without the wedge that the hospital gave me. It felt good sleeping on my right side. I remember rolling over to my left side about 1AM. I woke at 2:30 in a lot of pain! I took 15 minutes for me get onto my back and the I got up and went to the bathroom (without waking Diane!) I put the wedge back on the bed and slept on my back again. Woke up at 6Am in terrible pain. Took a while to get up. Went to the bathroom and took my medicine. Was going to go back to bed but couldn't bend enough to lay down without a lot of pain. Finally gave up and went downstairs. Had to wait for the Oxycontin to kick in because doctor want me to stop the percocet.

Spent most of the day in my recliner . I did take a walk outside with Diane, that was nice. I need to get moving more often!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Thursday August 5, 2010

Day 21

Saw Dr. Mitchell, my surgeon today.Told me I can sleep in any position I want, yea! I hate sleeping on my back. He doubled my Neurotin for the pain in my legs.

He wants me to stop taking the Percocet. When I see him  this Monday he wants to stop the Oxycontin and use just Percocet for pain. He said I can start walking outside.

Physical Therapist finally called, she is coming this afternoon to get started. She did an evaluation and we went for a short walk outside.

Wednesday August 4, 2010

Day 20 (My posts will be less often now, because less is going on)

Getting out of bed is the worst part of my day. Otherwise it's been a good week. Nurse came on Tuesday and checked bandage on incision. Have appointment with surgeon tomorrow. Showering is pretty easy with shower chair and hand held shower head.

Saturday July 31, 2010

Day 16
Woke up at 5:30AM, had to pee. Got out of bed by myself and my wife nearly had a heart attack. She says I have to wake her when I want to get up.

Pain in the ass going up and down the steps to the second floor. Thank God I have a bathroom on the first floor. So I only need to go up and down once.

I have all my meds straightened out (see picture).

Home nurse called to make appointment to visit me at 11AM today. She came out and checked my vitals and checked my 'weeping" incision. She will be out 1-2 times a week to check on me.

Surgical pain is still around, but I am moving better everyday.

Friday July 30, 2010

Day 15
ESCAPE day! Going home this afternoon.

Up at 5:30 AM, very sore today. Probably because PT and OT did a lot yesterday.

Today is the 2 week anniversary of my surgery. The pain I had before surgery is almost gone. Numbness in feet and right calf is still there but doctors say that is due to the nerves being compressed for so long. They should heal over time. Right thigh is still dead numb, that was due to the 10 hour surgery. It's so numb that the therapist warned me to be careful because if I lean into something hot, I won't feel it but will get burned.

Got home around 2PM. My dogs were very happy to see me. My wife has set up a very "walker" friendly house. My buddy Gary installed new handrails for the upstairs steps, that Gary!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Thursday July 29, 2010

Day 14
They came in and woke up my room mate at 5:30 AM, so I'm up too!

They are still scanning my bladder to see if I am emptying my bladder.

I am very sore and stiff today. They have reduced my oxycontin from 40mg twice a day to 20mg twice a day.

The burns on my chest that seemed to be almost gone yesterday have gotten bigger and hurt more. They have been putting Silver Sulfadiazine cream on it, but today have put and anti-fungal powder. Nurse is going to get doctor to look at it today.

PT a 10:30 AM today. I got me new walker today. Works better than the loaner that I was using.

THEY FORGOT MY LUNCH! It got to be 1 PM and I asked about lunch and just got a blank stare. Finally got something around 1:30.

Well yes, I am going home Friday. They have ordered all the equipment that I will need at home. They gave me copies of exercises to do at home. I should have a Home Nurse and a Home Physical Therapist when I go home.
Diane will pick me up around 1 PM . The therapists want to show her some stuff to deal with me at home.

Wednesday July 28, 2010

Day 13
Well, I still have the urine urgency problem, even though I had a rather large BM last night.

Nose seems to have survived the CPAP mask last night.

Dr. Mitchell, my surgeon stopped by to check on my draining incision. Said it was still draining, but not as much. I need to stay on the anti-biotic until it stops draining. I also need to see him weekly until it stops draining.

Hospital case worker came in and said it looks like I am going home on Friday, according to the insurance company. But, both of my therapists said that I would still be here next week. We will have to see how that works out.

Small world - a different urologist came to see me to follow up. Turns out I graduated high school with him. He said my urgency problem could be a nerve in spasm and should go away.

Had 1 1/2hous of PT this morning, same stuff. I talked to them about going home Friday. They told me that there is a meeting about me on Thursday. They think that I might be ready by Tuesday and they will say say the meeting.

My doctor came to see me this afternoon to tell me that there was no medical reason to keep me past Friday, so I guess I am going home on Friday.

Diane, daughter Sara and brother Jim visit tonight. Lots of fun and laughter.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Tuesday July 27, 2010

Day 12
Not a good sleeping night. My new roommate is a night owl. Up at 6 AM.

Urologist came to see me. He asks me if I can stand up. I stood up and he "pants" me and the next thing I know I am getting a prostate exam! WOW, that was uncomfortable! Prostate "slightly"enlarged but no lumps or bumps. At least it was good news. He thinks that the urgency issue may be attributed to to my BM problem.

PT & OT today. Nothing new, just working on the same stuff.

Started to get frustrated again and took some time to talk to my physical therapist, Anna. I asked how long I would need to use the walker, her guess was 3 months. Was hoping it wouldn't be that long. I need to start making realistic goals for myself so I can get where I need to be emotionally.

My Pastor, daughter and wife came to visit.

Had another BM today, so I hope that problem is rectified! They did another ultra sound of my bladder.

I have a CPAP (Continuous Positive Air Pressure) machine for my sleep apnea. This includes a full face mask. Over the last few days the mask has been irritating my nose. Even though I had no problem with the mask at home. They gave me strips of mole skin to put on my nose where the masks contacts.

My right thigh that has been numb since surgery has now started to hurt. Doctors say it's the nerves starting to "reconnect". It feels like hot stabbing needles. they have started giving me Neurotin.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Monday July 26, 2010

Day 11
Incision still draining and they are going to contact my surgeon. Had 1 1/2 hours of OT and 1 1/2 hours of PT. PT was more training with my walker and excercises at "the bar", heel lifts, marching in place etc. Also worked on climbing stairs.

OT included getting in and out of bed without twisting. They also showed me how to get in and out of the bathtub using a bshower chair. I also got my grabber to helppicking up things without bending over. M

My surgeon came to see me and said that my incision was not infected. He starts me on an anti=biotic and wants it covered at all times.

I still have the urgency problem when I nedd to pee. THe doctor wants a uriolgist to examine me. He alsosaid that the urgency problem could be associated with the no bowel movement problem. They also ordered an ultra sound of my bladder.

They order a suppository to help with my BM problem. At 8PM they "gave" it to me. By 8:30 PM I wason the throne! TA DA!

Sunday July 25, 2010

Day 10

Had a blow out on one of my incisions. It's been draining a little blood and they have put a blow out patch on it.

Sunday's are no therapy days! Whoo hoo!

More visitors today, family and friends.

I had a small "breakdown" emotionally, today. While I was prepared the work and the pain, I am totally frustrated at how long everthing takes towards my recovery. Diane was here when it happens (thank God) and calmed me down and told me about all the good things that I have been doing and how far I have progressed. Great woman, my wife.

Day 10, no bowel movement.

Saturday July 24, 2010

Day 9

Just light PT & OT today. Lots of visitors!

I have developed an urgency when I need to urinate. When I have to go, I have to go now. Now they are going to be running all kinds of tests for that! Yipee!!

Day 9 of no bowel movement. Doctor starting to add more drugs to get me to poop! I guess dynamite is next. :)

Friday July 23, 2010

Day 8
Wake up and get my first real shower in 8 days. Oh the wonder of life's simple pleasures.

I was taken to Physical Therapy (PT) and Occupational Therapy (OT), where they started showing me how to get in and out of bed,how to use a walker and how to manage stairs. It was interesting, and exhausting.

Day 8, no bowel movement. Doctor starting to get "concerned". Starts me on stoll softner and Milk of Magnesia, yum!

Thursday July 22, 2010

Day 7
Wake up at 5:45 AM.Doctors still trying to figure out if I have an infection or not. Temp back to normal. They have scheduled a CAT scan to see if there is any infection in my back. CAT scan was a real thrill!

I get a call from my union president. He tells me that he called the insurance company and they told him that the problem was that my doctor was not specific enough when he tried to send me to an acute care rehab facility. I told him that my doctor was sharp enough to be able to write orders  told him about my doctor appealing the first denial and that I had also appealed the insurance companies decision. He said that the insurance company had not told him about the appeals and that he wanted to look into it further. During the day people from my union and the case manager from the hospital were guarantee working together to get more information. They found a 2 page memo from my doctor to the insurance company listing all the reasons that I needed to go to an acute care facility. So now my union has caught the insurance company lying to them about my doctor not making a strong enough argument for the acute care facility. The shit hits the fan and I get a call from my union president telling me that I am going to the acute care facility. He is not happy with the insurance company lying to him. And that the union guarantee payment to Marlton Rehab Hospital until Blue Cross approves it in the morning.

Within 2 hours I am transferred to the acute care facility, nice place.

Day 7, no bowel movement!

Wednesday July 21, 2010

Day 6

Wake up at 8 AM and realize that it wasn't a nightmare, I really was back at the hospital. I am felling pretty good. Nurse comes in to get my vitals, etc, everything is good. Diane calls me at 8:15 AM to see how I was doing. I guess that all of the emotions from the night before "bubbled up" and I lost it emotionally while I was on the phone with her. She kept asking me what was wrong & I just couldn't get myself together. Next thing II know she tells me she is on her way and hangs up. After I hang up nurse "Ratched" came into the room and asked why I couldn't get a hold of myself. I told her that Tuesday was a really bad day and I was just drained emotionally. Her response was that "you're a grown man and you need to keep yourself under control." Great bedside manner.

Wednesday was more testing to try to find the source of the reason for my increased temp. Blood cultures and urine cultures, etc.

My brother Jim calls me for an update. I bring him up to date and he tells me he has contacted our union president to see if the union will intervene with the insurance company about an acute care rehab facility.

More drugs and off to bed.

Day 6, no bowel movement.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Tuesday July 20, 2010

Day 5

The day from hell starts as any other.
Out of bed and waiting for 9:30 AM to come for the insurance appeal hearing. I do get a call: to notify me that the hearing has been postponed until 10:30. Mean time nurse is having trouble controlling my pain.

Hearing starts at 11:15 AM with Diane (my wife), my doctor, myself and the insurance company all on the conference call. It lasted 25 minutes and with my doctor making numerous points about why acute care for at least 2 weeks was the best placement for me. I spoke a little and that was it. Insurance company said they would go over the information and get back to me by 1 PM. Got a call around noon and, shock, the insurance has denied my appeal.

Since I wasn't going to an acute care facility, transportation from the hospital to the sub-acute center would not be covered by my insurance. What am I supposed to do, call a cab?

The hospital tells me they can arrange an ambulance for $85. The ambulance comes at 2:30 PM to take me to the"sub-acute" facility. Ambulance ride was brutal with all of the bumps. I get to the sub-acute facility and the first thing I notice is that it smells like old people and other than the staff no one is under 80 years old. One good thing is that I got a private room.

While moving me from the strecher to my bed they forgot to put the side rail down and rolled my back across the siderail, that was fun! I start to get situated and the nurse says she will be right back toget my vitals,etc. She comes back and starts with blood pressure, pulse and then my temperature. Well my temp is 100.8 degrees and she tells me that "that's a problem and I need toreport this to the director right away". The facility director comes into my room about 30 minutes later and tells me that I am being sent back to the hospital because they don't deal with elevated temps. O goody, another ambulance ride.

They take me back to the hospital ER. My pain level is now at a 10 + and they start an IV and give me dilaudid. Pain starts to get better, about a 7. ER starts all kind of tests to see why I have an elevated temp. All of the sudden I hear a nurse say "I'm just going to lower you head" I was still on a strecher and I responded Please do it slowly. Well, the strecher slipped and she dropped my head about 12 inches and oh my God, the pain was incredible. I'm screaming, Diane is screaming and my son Matt is looking to kill somebody. I am in so much pain I can't even breath. The nurse that dropped me had the guts to say " I need some cooperation from you now". I lost it and stated screaming that I have done everything that has been asked of me but now you people are trying to fucking kill me". With that the nurse left the room. They had to give me more drugs to try and reduce the pain level.

Then they did an ultra sound of my legs to check for blood clots. Results were negative. They also took urine and blood for more tests.

Oh, by the way it is now day 5 without a bowel movement!

Monday July 19, 2010

 Day 4

Out of bed and walked, with walker, out of my room and down the hall a little. It wasn't hard on my back, but arms are really weak.

Dr. Mitchell starts talking about getting me out of hospital and into the rehab hospital, I'm excited!

Dr. Mitchell wants me in an "acute care" facility for 2 to 4 weeks. Insurance company denies the acute care facility and will only approve 7 days in an sub-acute facility. Dr. Mitchell appeals insurance decision. He is denied. I appealed the insurance company's decision. An appeal hearing will be held on Tuesday and I will be involved via conference call. My doctor will also be involved.

Dr. Mitchell tries to explain to me the difference between "acute" and "sub-acute" care. An acute care facility is one that only deals with patients that are recovering from major injuries or surgeries. Sub-acute facilities is usually a nursing home that has a wing that they call sub acute. It is still a glorified nursing home.

Sunday July 18, 2010

5 incisions.
Day 3

First time out of bed. Rough start, very wobbly. Only moved from the bed to the chair using a walker. It was nice to be out of bed and into a chair for a couple of hours.

Have noticed that my right thigh is dead numb.

After 3 hours in the chair it was back to bed.

Saturday July 17, 2010

Drug filled night. Oxycontin, percocet and who knows what else.

Woke up about 5AM with a pain level of 6+.I was told I would be getting pain medicine "right away". 2 1/2 hours later and now my pain level is about 12+. Nurse comes in and says it took so long because they had an emergency in another room. Diane arrived and saw how much pain I was in and complained to the head nurse. They tried a number of combinations of drugs but nothing was doing the job. I was starting to lose my mind, that God that Diane was there for me. They finally called my surgeon and he told them to give me dilaudid. The dilaudid was given via IV and worked within 10 minutes. What a great drug.

Surgery Day July 16th 2010

Woke up, yes I was surprised I slept, at 4:45 AM for arrival at hospital at 6AM. Registered and was sent to pre-op where they asked me what seemed like 100's of questions, talked to the anesthesiologist, got my IV in. My surgeon, Dr. Mitchell came in and talked to my wife, Diane and I about the the surgery.

Surgery started at 9 AM. At 2 PM they notified Diane that the hardware was going in. At 5 PM the told her that there was about 20% left. The surgery was over at 7 PM. 10 hours!!

I was moved to recovery and woke up around 8:30 PM. I have contact burns on my chest, hips and knees due to the 10 hours of face down surgery.

I was taken to my room about 10:30 PM.

Monday, August 2, 2010

My Spinal Fusion Surgery

After almost two years of back pain, leg numbness, epidural injections, and a truckload of narcotics I decided to get a spinal fusion.

Surgery was scheduled for July 16th.

This is my story....