Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Good morning

I made it!
Yesterday is behind me, finally.
I woke up during the surgery and was insisting that they stop the procedure until I was under again. They had to resort to general anesthetic for a brief while so they could complete the task at hand.
Suffice to say, I lived to tell the tale.
When I get home, I'll post in more detail.

Monday, January 30, 2012

This is it!

Well, here it is, 4:10am and I'm up for the day.
I know, not much different from most days for me.
Except this time, I haven't had much sleep.
I turned off the light at 11:00pm last night and tossed and turned.
This hotel room is gorgeous, indeed.
But it is not my bed.
And not my pillow.
And I just couldn't get comfortable.
I also simply couldn't turn my head off.
I did eventually fall asleep though.
Only to wake at 2:00am, at which time I drank the first of two cups of apple juice that I'm allowed to have between midnight and 4:30am.   I am right now drinking the second cup of that allotted allowance.
Why the 4:30am cut-off?
Because my arrival time at hospital, as I found out at 5:30pm last evening, is 6:00am today.
And my allowable "clear liquid" intake must stop 90 minutes before that scheduled arrival time.
Of course, I still have to take that second shower to disinfect my left upper leg (read:  do the surgical scrub team's job for them).
But at least with the early arrival time, we know that I have an early appointment with the surgeon.
So maybe, just maybe, by supper time I'll be in my room and my loved ones will be able to visit me.
I might not know they're visiting me, but at least their minds will be put to rest after the long day they will have put in.
With luck, I'll be able to post here tomorrow morning, even if only to say "Ouch, my incision hurts."

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Only one to go now

Well this is it folks.
Tomorrow, I go "under the knife," as the saying goes.
And I guess I'm as ready as I'm going to be.
At least, I'm as ready as I can be.
This morning, (after I've done my last bout of 60 minutes on the stationary bike), we'll have breakfast and then we're off.  It will take a bit to pack the car, there are several things to remember to bring.
We're going to spend the day in leisure mode.
First, we'll take in the movie, "War Horse."
Then, we'll check into a hotel in Ottawa so that we'll be there for hospital arrival time tomorrow (whatever time that might be).  We don't find out until 5:00pm today what time I have to be at hospital tomorrow.  Stupid system if you ask me.  But then again, nobody asked me.
I'm getting my hair cut at 4:00pm so that I'll be beautiful for the surgeon (but mostly so that I don't have to worry about my hair for the duration of my rehab).
A couple of friends (LC and RLR) are meeting us for dinner at a favourite restaurant (by which time we should know when I have to be at hospital tomorrow).  MLC, Pauple and MYSM will be there too, of course.
After dinner, we'll retire to the hotel and I will take the first of two showers that I have been instructed to take using a specially-treated sponge (purchased after my pre-admission session) to very carefully wash my left leg, from waist to knee. The second scrubbing happens tomorrow morning before I go to hospital.  (Used to be, patients were disinfected during the surgical procedure.  Cut-backs I guess!)
Then I'll try to get a good night's sleep tonight.
In a strange bed.
Trying not to think about what tomorrow will bring.
And while I will go to sleep knowing what time I have to be at hospital tomorrow, I still won't know the time for which my surgery is scheduled.  I only find that out when I arrive in the morning.  Surgery is apparently two to four hours after arrival time.
The surgery itself is two to three hours long.  I will be kept in recovery for a minimum of four hours because I (a) have a seizure disorder and (b) use a CPAP machine.  Both those conditions mean they watch me more closely and longer.  I guess that's a good thing.
Nobody can see me until I'm in my room, which could take until the wee hours of the following morning.
That makes for a very long day for John and MLC, and several other people who will be wanting to know my status.
I won't notice the time though, I'll be drugged.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Two more

Well, I guess I'm as prepared as I'm going to be for my date with the surgeon.
There's another load of laundry to do today, but that kind of thing is just run of the mill.
My packing is all but done; just last minute items to include (my check list is compiled).
I didn't meet my weight-loss goal.
Oh well.
I had been making reasonably good progress for a while.
But then Christmas hit.  And I went right back up to where I had started.
I've since lost only three of those pounds again.
Obviously, that's not good enough.
I guess my efforts will resume again after surgery.
Double sigh.
I would have liked to have lost that weight before the surgery.
In a perfect world ...
Today, I'm wearing my wrist brace because my right hand is objecting (big time) to the muscle effort that was required to assemble the tub transfer bench.  "No tool assembly" the package boasts.  Yeh right -- just herculean strength!
Last night my dreams were filled with random discussions with health care professionals about why I wasn't taking any codeine contin for my pain as I get closer to my surgery date.  I don't want to increase the risk of a negative response to the propofol that's going to be administered.  And every time I said that, the health care professional nodded, and said, "wise move."
Hmmmm.  Cause for pause. 
My dreams don't lie to me so I guess I'm on the right track with that.
I'll just stay away from those painkillers.
I'm tough.
I can do it.
What's a few more days of pain when soon I'll be without that pain?  Although I have to take a journey of different pain to get there.
It's that journey that worries me.  I am so not looking forward to that!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Three days to go

Well, we're really down to the crunch now.
This is the final stretch and I truly feel like the pressure is on.
Yesterday, my massage therapist arrived bearing gifts.  She brought a casserole for us to have on my return from hospital, to lighten John's load.  And she brought me a bag of my favourite candy to have "under my pillow" so I won't be hungry.  When she left, we had to hug!
And last evening our handy dandy handyman dropped by to wish me well.  He and his wife are heading off for a three week vacation on Monday and he wanted me to know that they'll be thinking of me.
Such thoughtful gestures.
We went yesterday to pick up my walker and the tub transfer bench.  So I now have all the special equipment I'll need for my return from hospital.
I'm officially ready to recover!
Today and tomorrow I'll take things slowly but I do have things to do, mostly laundry.  And I will ensure that I have all the right stuff packed (I've been working on that for a while now).
Sunday morning we're going to head out of here early enough to take in a movie (Warhorse).  Then I'll go get my haircut (yes, my hairdresser agreed to see me at her home on Sunday!) so that I'm beautiful for my date with the surgeon.
We're having a "last supper" gathering with my little chickadee, my striking young man, Pauple, and two good friends (RLR and LC) at a favourite restaurant before settling into a hotel for the night.
Then I'll be "away" for a while.
But not to worry.
I'll be back ... in about three days' time (hence, the "last supper").
Actually, I'll have my iPad with me at hospital and will try to post, but I don't like the formatting options I have with the iPad so any postings I make will be very brief.
I am so looking forward to the pain free results I can expect on the other side of this experience.  I'm just not looking forward to the journey I have to undertake to get there!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Four more sleeps ...

I don't know why I'm counting "sleeps" until my date with the surgeon.
Each night gets longer and longer as sleep further eludes me.
We spent a most enjoyable time celebrating our anniversary last evening.  The venue was perfect.  There were only six of us, and the restaurant wasn't very busy -- so we could actually hear the conversation.  It's such a treat to find a public establishment that offers a quiet place to enjoy dinner with friends.
I had been up from the wee hours of the morning so I was dog tired by the time I got to bed (it was well past 10:00pm).  Didn't matter though.  I tossed and turned, and tossed some more.
Couldn't get comfortable.  Sleep just wouldn't come.
After almost two hours, I removed the CPAP mask (blaming it on my inability to find comfort) and still was not asleep an hour after that.
Eventually though, I did drift off because I woke and the clock told me it was 4:00am.
But oh, my dreams had been fitful.  Had it not been for the time on the clock, I'd have sworn I had not yet been asleep!
And of course, as soon as my eyes opened, my mind kicked into gear.
There would be no going back to sleep for me.  There's simply too much to do -- too many niggly things that need my attention.
So, once again, I'm up for the day much too early.
At least there's no shortage of things to do with which to keep myself occupied!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

My, how time flies

Today, John and I celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary.
Hard to believe that we've been together 17 years already.
It was back in the summer of 1995 that we met -- on Carleton University's Freenet chat line.  John calls me his 'computer virus.'  After months of on-line exchanges, we arranged to meet in person on the afternoon of August 8th.
John told me later that when he saw me walk into the restaurant, he knew that his life was about to change forever.  I guess he was right!  By mid-September, he had offered to clear a drawer for me.  Everyone knows what that means.
Sixteen months later, on January 25, 1997, we married in a small, non-denominational ceremony in the basement of JR's Restaurant in Almonte.
I didn't want a church wedding.  I didn't even want to say the standard vows.  All that is legally required is for the officiant to ask if we want to be married, and for us to say, "yes."
That would have worked just fine for me.
But John insisted on having vows. "I take .... in sickness and in health yada yada yada" and he wanted us to promise to love, honour and (there was no way on God's green earth I was going to take a vow to OBEY!) respect each other.
So, I acquiesced and we said vows. (It was, after all, his wedding too.)
I managed to say my vows without too much incident.
But when John was saying his, he puffed up like a peacock and it just struck me as funny.
I started laughing.  Hysterically.  I was damned-near doubled over.
My little chickadee, who was my witness, was positioned behind me and she kept hitting my butt telling me to stop laughing.  Which just made me worse, of course.
Fortunately, it was a very small wedding.  And the guests knew me very well (except maybe for John's adult kids -- they might have been wondering what kind of nutjob their father had brought into their family).
The officiant commented later that he had seen lots of interesting bridal responses, but never hysterical laughter.
I just found the whole thing very amusing. And all I could say in my defence was, "I told you I didn't want any of that nonsense in my wedding ceremony!"
After the ceremony, we had a buffet meal at the restaurant with the few people who had been invited to share our day with us, and then we all came back to our home for celebratory drinks. Other friends who had been invited to drop in that evening to join us for drinks were given the news of our marriage when they arrived.
Within a year of our marriage, we were enjoying long romantic evenings through the Ice Storm of 1998. Our power was out for thirteen days and it wasn't pretty around here. We managed better than some because we have a wood stove in our living room but it was still a difficult time. I remember telling John that it was a good thing we were still in the honeymoon stage of our marriage; otherwise, we might have been looking for divorce lawyers by the time our power was restored! After thirteen days of having to live by candlelight, our nightly candlelit dinners weren't all that special any more.
Later that same year John received his diagnosis of prostate cancer and that sent us into a tailspin. Today, he is classed as one of the fortunate ones; he is a cancer survivor.
Since our marriage, our blended family has grown by the addition of one grandchild (my beautiful boy). We lost a daughter-in-law to breast cancer, and we gained a daughter-in-law who brought with her several more extended family members.
The Fowler Blended Family - December 2010
It's been an interesting fifteen years, admittedly not without challenges but we've weathered them together.
And that, my friends, is what we vowed we would do when we made the decision to get married fifteen years ago.
Tonight, John and I will toast each other with our Wedding Glasses, as we do every year on this date. And God willing, we will do the same thing again next year, and the year after that, and the year after that, and ...
Then, we will return to the scene of the crime and enjoy a quiet dinner with a few special people.
Fitting isn't it, that we should return to the same venue fifteen years later?  (I can almost fit into the same dress too!)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Six more sleeps

Again last night, my sleep was very restless.
This is NOT good. I'm supposed to be resting, building up strength -- not zapping it!
Oh well, at least the worst of the fibro flare-up has settled down. Thank God that was a short lived episode -- not like previous ones that have lasted five to six days.  Perhaps I willed it away, doing relaxation (deep breathing) exercises.
Today, I'm supposed to go into the big city for my final Ottawa physio session.  I'll certainly miss my sessions with her and will appreciate when I can get back to her, probably some time late March, early April.  My prime reason for seeing her is for fibro pain management and since I will still have fibro after my hip is fixed, I anticipate still needing her services on an on-going basis.
I'm also supposed to be meeting my sister-in-law for lunch today.  I'm looking forward to the opportunity to give her her Christmas present (yes, I have not seen her since early December -- scheduling is a problem).
Now, I'm saying "supposed to" for these two activities because I don't know what our roads are like so I don't know if I'll be able to get out of here.
You see, we had a lot of freezing rain yesterday.  We didn't have mail service, presumably because the mail carrier couldn't get in. By dinner time last evening, our road was a veritable skating rink.  Usually, when we have these weather conditions, it takes a day or so before the roads are passable.  They're really quite treacherous.
I mean, if we could get to the main road, there would be no problem -- it's getting to the main road that is the obstacle.  (Not to mention getting out of my garage!)  The roads out of here are narrow, windy, hilly and made of gravel -- and when they're covered with ice, they're quite difficult to manoeuvre.  It's not unusual for us to be iced in several times in a winter.  Already this year, we've missed three days of postal delivery!
So, if I am unable to make the trip to Ottawa today, I'll take this ice-olation as God's way of looking after me.  His way of enforcing another day of rest on me (which in the scheme of things, won't be the worst idea in the world).

Monday, January 23, 2012

Damn this cursed fibro!

Only seven more sleeps and my body picks now to go into a fibro flare-up?
As of yesterday, I'm not allowed to take Vitamin E, Omega 3, Centrum Select (it contains Vitamin E) and Glucosamine.  They all have blood thinning properties so have to be stopped one week before surgery.
Only one day off the Glucosamine and by mid-day my hands were giving me fits.  Back to the arthritis gloves for me!
But the real kicker was the unexplainable fatigue I experienced yesterday.  Took me three go-rounds to get through one of my canned TV programs -- I kept falling asleep.  In the middle of the day!
By the time John got home from the gun club (carrying a dozen yellow roses, I might add), I was all out groggy and just couldn't get my act together.
And I felt like I'd been put through the wringer.  Besides the unbelievable fatigue, every muscle in my body ached big time.  It was a supreme effort to put one foot in front of another.
Then it dawned on me.
I remember now.
This is fibro!
But I don't have time to deal with a flare-up now.  
I'm in the home stretch before my surgery and I need to be in top form for that.  Not in the depleted state I'll be in coming out of a flare-up.
Gosh, life is so unfair sometimes.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Eight more sleeps ...

As my date with the surgeon moves closer, I'm getting increasingly anxious.
My dreams are getting crazier.
I'm waking more frequently.
My AHI is climbing.
I'm feeling less rested.
My overall pain level is increasing.
I'm definitely less relaxed.
Last night I told John that I'm acutely aware of feeling the stress.
And I know that I should spend this next week being careful not to physically wear myself out.
But I also know that I will need to keep busy to keep my mind occupied.  Otherwise, the week will be too long.
When an event is approaching that you're facing with mixed emotions, you don't always want it to get here too quickly -- but you don't necessarily want it to be too drawn out either.  How to strike that balance?
Normally, I'd prefer to be a "whirling dirvish" of activity -- that's how I keep myself occupied.  But I can't do that this coming week -- because I have to take it easy physically.
John suggested that I curl up with books to read.  On the surface, that's not a bad idea.
Ideally, I should spend the days "looking for my dead people."  Nothing passes the time like that hobby!
Trouble with those ideas is they both require long periods of sitting, which I can't do for any significant length of time.
As I think about it, I suppose my week might go fast enough.
Today, I have laundry and a few chores to do around the house.
Tomorrow, we're going into Carleton Place to run a few errands, one of which is to buy/order the medical supplies I will need for my recovery.
Tuesday is my day in the city for physio (my last session with her until probably late March or early April).
Wednesday is our wedding anniversary -- can you believe it, fifteen years already? -- and we're having a quiet celebration that evening at the scene of the crime.
Thursday is my massage at home day (again, my last session with her until perhaps late February, early March).
Friday will be a day to ensure that I have everything in order for my hospital stay, including perhaps going back into Carleton Place to pick up whatever medical supplies had to be ordered on our Monday trip.
Saturday I'll take care of laundry and stuff around here in preparation for being laid up for several weeks.
And Sunday is the day before surgery.
Yikes!  Now I'm really getting anxious.
It's going to be here before I know it!

Friday, January 20, 2012

What a whirlwind week this has been!

Wow - this has been a crazy week for sure.
Let's start with exactly a week ago today, shall we?
Last Friday, we had a day from hell.  I had to attend my "prehab" session at the hospital in Ottawa.  If I don't show, my date with the surgeon is cancelled.  Now, had I cancelled due to weather conditions, surely they'd have let me reschedule.  But I wasn't taking any chances.
So we headed out of here, allowing sufficient delay time, considering the conditions. I was driving because John was still in his one-eyed Jack stage, having just had the Mohs surgery done two days earlier.
The drive to Ottawa took 75 minutes.  It would normally be a 45 minute drive. Not bad, in the scheme of things.
The information session was entertaining, if nothing else.  I left with an armload of printed material, much of which I already had in my possession, all of which could have been sent to me in the mail.  Oh well, they said I had to be there, and I was.
The drive home took 90 minutes.  It could have been worse I guess.
In any event, we were very glad to get home.
On Monday of this week, I had to go back into the city to have dental work done (he couldn't do it when I had been there the previous week).  And because I also had appointments in the city the following day, I decided to stay overnight at my little chickadee's place.
That meant I was in the big city all afternoon Monday (my dental appointment was at 10:45am) and then I had the whole of the next morning to kill (my first appointment the next day wasn't until 11:30am).
Turned out my little chickadee was off work on Monday so we "hung out."
Now, when we hang out, we do stuff.
We run errands.
Errands involve walking.
If ever I'm in doubt about needing this hip replaced, I only need to spend time with my little chickadee to bring me back to reality.  Because walking will do me in every time, and we didn't even do that much.  I truly think it's pathetic that it takes so little walking to produce so much pain!
Surprisingly though, the discomfort didn't seem to interfere (much) with my sleep that night.
By morning, we were hearing "winter storm warnings" for the Ottawa area so it became questionable as to whether or not I would be going home that day (my appointments would take me until around 2:15pm).
My little chickadee headed off to work and MSYM and I went for breakfast before I dropped him off at his school.  Then I went to visit my good friend, LC, and sat with her and enjoyed a few cups of coffee and an hour or so of chat time before going to my first appointment.
But before hitting that doctor's office, I stopped in at Walmart and picked up a few items from our to-do list.  And after the doctor's office, I went to the grocery store to finish that to-do list.  (Note all the additional walking I'm doing -- silly me!)
Then it was time for my physio appointment.  And I was ready for it!
At each stop along the way of course, I was monitoring the weather.  By the time I left the physiotherapist's office, it was just starting to "get ugly" in Ottawa.  I decided to chance it and head home.
Only took me the normal 45-50 minutes to get there.
Good decision, I think, because I had been gone long enough by then. (The threatened storm never did hit Ottawa, although it did skirt the valley.)
Would you believe on Wednesday morning, I had to make that trip into Ottawa again?  This time it was John's fault though.  He had to have his stitches taken out.  Again, the weather was ugly.  And we had to be there for 9:15am -- a horrid time of day to head into Ottawa at the best of times.
We left home at 7:45am for that 9:15am appointment.
Made really good time too -- all the way to just past Kanata.
And then we hit the parking lot from hell that is known as Ottawa's Queensway.
We finally parked the car at the Civic Campus of the Ottawa Hospital at 9:40am -- two hours after we left home.  The only saving grace in that scenario was John didn't have to wait to be taken to the treatment room -- they were waiting for him!  We actually got out of the parking lot within the hour -- bonus!!!!!!!
The drive home was uneventful and only took the prescribed 45 minutes (but we stopped at the book store en route so we made the trip longer than it needed to be).
And yesterday was my reward day -- my massage therapist came to me and worked out all those knots that had developed from doing all that extraneous driving.  We talked about how next week would be her last until we know when we could start again after my surgery.  And she actually told me she's going to miss her "Bonnie fix" every week.  Such a sweetheart!
Today is "catch-up" day.
Or, as I'm doing, "trying to catch my breath" day.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Time is closing in on me

Yikes, only eleven more sleeps to go.
And I have soooooo much to do yet.
There's bathroom equipment to buy:

A raised toilet seat with arms.  Obviously this is a must-have.

A tub transfer bench.  This will be critical for me because our tub is very deep.  Even now, before surgery, I have difficulty stepping into it.

There are care aids to buy:

A long handled reacher.  This will prove invaluable for the duration of my rehab time, I'm sure.

A sock aid.  (Not sure about this one.  I'll have John here to put my socks on for me - and once they're on, they can stay there 'til he's around to remove them!)

A long-handled sponge.  (Not sure I'll need this one -- I already have a long handled brush)

A long handled shoe horn.  (Not sure I need this either -- John can put my shoes on for me can't he?  Yet John is looking forward to having one in the house!)

I will need a walking aid too.  It's recommended that I have a two-wheeled walker available to me on my discharge from hospital.

That means it has to be purchased before I go to hospital.  But my insurance covers the cost of a walker and I need a prescription for that.  "No problem," they tell me.  Just let them know when I arrive at the hospital and they'll make sure to get a prescription from the surgeon before my discharge.
Ummmmm.  Do you see what's wrong with that logic?
I need the walker before I go into the hospital.  Therefore I need the prescription NOW!
I've left a message at the surgeon's office, asking that he fax me a prescription for said walker so I can buy it next week.  That way, it will be available to me on my discharge from hospital.
All of the above has considerable cost associated with it.
And only the walker is recoverable by insurance.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

My Dermatologist is a Keeper

It's not often you find a thoughtful, considerate specialist.
That's what I have in my dermatologist.
She is a gem to be sure.
Remember I mentioned about her being upset that I hadn't had my Mohs surgery done last week when John had his done?  And that my option was to go to Toronto because she didn't want it to waiat until she returned from maternity leave?
Well, last evening, I got a phone call.
From my dermatologist.
Turns out that there is a chance there will be a surgeon covering for her during her maternity leave (not quite confirmed yet).  It's the surgeon who was doing the Mohs procedures before she arrived on the scene (it's a highly specialized area of treatment).
Anyway, she just wanted to know if I was OK with her holding off on sending my referral to Toronto until she knew if it could be done in Ottawa, in her clinic.
Of course, I told her that was fine by me (it was more than fine by me).
She remembered that I had mentioned taking in a Blue Jays game and she didn't want to interfere with that plan.
I assured her that we would still go to Toronto for our ball games -- not to worry.
So it was agreed that she will wait until she knows if she has a replacement surgeon before she actions my referral, if it needs be referred.  A good, sensible plan.
But imagine.
A specialist who not only pays attention, she actually listens, and cares.
Now there's a doctor you don't want to lose.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Long Day Ahead

This is going to be a long day indeed.
I have to be in the big city for a 10:45am dental appointment this morning.  He needs to do some repair work and that's the only time we could find before my surgery, so I had to take it.
But it means staying overnight because tomorrow I have my ENT visit so he can vacuum my ears again and then I have my usual physio session.
That means I'll have all of this afternoon and evening and then all of tomorrow morning to kill in the city.  The ENT appointment is 11:30am -- physio follows at 1:00pm.  So I won't be getting home until between 3:00-3:30pm tomorrow afternoon!  John will surely be missing be big time!
Anyway, fortunately my little chickadee will be at home today so I get to hang out with her this afternoon.
My good friend, LC, doesn't know it yet but I'll visit her madhouse in the morning.  That will help pass the time until my ENT visit (although it will thoroughly exhaust me -- her daycare charges are a riot!).
Of course the bonus in this whole scenario is I'm staying overnight at MLC's place, so I get hugs and kisses from MSYM and tomorrow morning we'll go for breakfast.  It will be our last opportunity to share in that ritual before my surgery.
Because I only have 14 more sleeps to go ... YIKES!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Fifteen sleeps to go ...

That's all that's left until my date with the surgeon.
I must say that as the date moves closer, I'm experiencing some degree of anxiety.
I've had the pre-admission session, and the pre-hab class, both of which helped somewhat to lessen the fear because, after all -- knowledge IS power.  
But my sleep has become quite disturbed of late -- nightmares, waking up crying etc.  I can only attribute that to the anxiety over the impending surgery.
Normally, I remember my dreams vividly.  Not now though.
All I can recall in the morning is that I had wakened during the night in a state of fright.
When I wake from the dream, I'm aware of the dangerous situation that caused the fear response, but the memory is gone by morning.  Sometimes, I lay awake for quite some time before I calm down enough to go back to sleep.  Still, I can't recall the specifics of the bad dream the next morning -- only that I had a bad dream.
Perhaps that's a good thing.
My physiotherapist had warned me that I would likely go through a period of doubting the need for surgery.  Her husband had certainly gone through that phase and she assured me that most people would.  She said the doubt started shortly after getting the call confirming an actual surgery date.
She was right.  I've been having those doubts for quite some time now.  Assessing and reassessing myself every day.  Wondering if it's really necessary to go through surgery when I can do so much more now than I could six months ago.
The stationary biking has improved ME so much it's unbelievable.  The overall benefit to me has been profound indeed.
And of course the CPAP machine has also made a tremendous difference to my general well-being.
Because I'm feeling sooooooo much better overall, I often find myself wondering if I really do need this hip replaced.
Then I try to move a certain way (long stride forward, or pivot, or do the splits, or squat) and I find out that -- yes, I still have a bad hip.
I simply have much stronger leg muscles as a result of the 60 minutes I spend on the stationary bike every day.
My massage therapist has noticed the definition in my hamstring muscles.
And I just recently noticed that I've developed "bikers' calves."
All this will help me tremendously through my rehab -- and I know that.
I also know that when it's all over and done with, I'll be without the constant pain in my left hip joint.
In fact, as I understand it, I'll wake from the surgery without that familiar pain (although there will be pain associated with the surgical site).
I guess the fear comes from knowing that it's surgery.
And surgery of any kind, at any time, for any reason is a risk.
And I will have to endure the six weeks to three months (perhaps longer) rehab.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

My Name is BONNIE

It is. Really.
That's what I've been known as all my life.
And therefore, that is the name to which I respond.
However, my parents unknowingly inflicted me (and two of my seven siblings) with a major pain-in-the-ass wrinkle when they named us.
You see, for some reason they decided that we should be known by our second  given name.
Such as, my given names are Catherine Bonnie. Not a lot of people know that about me.
In fact, a couple of weeks ago I was at a very good friend's place -- someone I've known for approaching 32 years now -- and John called to say that the hospital had called to book my pre-admission appointment.  They wanted a call-back that afternoon.
I returned the call and said, "It's Catherine Fowler calling.  Someone there needed to talk to me?"  Of course, once again, the person handling my file would call me back so I left my girlfriend's number with a timeframe for how long I would be there.
I hung up the phone and my girlfriend said, "Why did you say 'It's Catherine Fowler.'?"
She apparently didn't know my full name.  For all these years, I've always just been Bonnie.
Why am I talking about this now?
Because one of the questions asked of me during an earlier telephone session was, "Do you want people who call the hospital to be given your room number and put through to you on the telephone?"
Of course, I said yes, but offered that most likely the switchboard wouldn't be able to find me because anyone calling about me would ask for "Bonnie Fowler" and I would be in their system as "Catherine Fowler."  (The health care system must use the name on your health card -- and the health card must be issued in the name on your birth certificate!)  She told me, in a not very friendly tone, that I would have to tell people who might call looking for me that I would be listed as Catherine.  And then she offered that my family and close friends would know that.
My first thought was, "How on earth would I know who might call asking about me?"  Then I thought about all the people in my life who have no idea that my first given name is Catherine.  Not to mention the number of people who are not aware of a hospital's insistence on only using the name as it is shown on the health card.
Now, I don't know why hospitals can't have an "also known as" column for the many people in this world who have been saddled with this anomaly.  Because I know I'm not alone with this irritant.
Yesterday, we had to go to the "Prehab" session at the Rehabilitation Centre.  We learned all about the things I need to do pre-surgery, and all the things I will and will not be able to do post surgery.  Of course, they kept addressing me as "Catherine," and I just went along with them.
It doesn't seem to matter how many times I tell them that my name is shown as Catherine Bonnie but I am known as Bonnie -- they just ignore me and go happily along addressing me as Catherine.
All I know is, during and immediately after the surgery, if anyone tries to talk to me to get my attention, unless they call me Bonnie (or Mrs. Fowler), I might not know they are talking to me.
Same is true once I'm in my room.  If a health care worker comes in while I'm sleeping and wants me to respond, if he/she calls me Catherine, I may or may not come out of my stupor.
Perhaps I'll make my own nameplate to put over my bed -- MY NAME IS BONNIE!

Friday, January 13, 2012

My Mohs Surgery Update

I didn't report here about the Mohs surgery fiasco that occurred earlier this month. So here goes.
The morning of Tuesday, January 3rd, was a busy one indeed.
I received a call from Heather at the Mohs Surgery Clinic giving a January 11th date for both John and me to have our procedures done (his eye, my nose).  Since John has been through the clinic twice already, they didn't need any information from him, but this would be my first visit as a patient, so they would need to complete a file for me.  Gayle would call later that morning to get my information.
But before Gayle called, Heather called again.
"Mrs. Fowler," she said, "you're having hip surgery on January 30th?"
"Yes, I am," I replied.
"What exactly are you having done?" she asked.
"Total hip replacement," I said.
"OK, that's all I needed to know," she said, "Gayle will call you shortly."
Prior to Gayle's calling me, I called my little chickadee to alert her to the January 11th booking so she could reserve the date (she would be our "babysitter" and driver for the occasion).
When Gayle called, before she gathered the information she needed to complete my file, she told me that the surgeon wanted me to get permission from my orthopedic surgeon to have the Mohs surgery done.  Apparently there is a requirement that there be 20 days between surgeries, and this would only  be 19 days.
I agreed that I would attempt to get that permission in the short timeframe available, and we proceeded to go through the questionnaire to complete my file, readying it for surgery day.
We agreed that I would fax information about my history (my list of meds etc) and I would include in it whether or not I had managed to contact my ortho surgeon.
"Oh, Mrs. Fowler," Gayle asked, "if you can't have it done on the 11th, will Mr. Fowler still have his procedure done?"
I asked John how he wanted to handle it, and he said no -- if I had to wait, he would too.
I placed a call to my ortho surgeon's office and left a message.
Then I called my little chickadee again and told her about the tentative status of the booking.  By then, she had had time to consider the situation.
"Mom," she said, "are you sure you should be doing this now?  I mean six months ago you didn't know you had it.  So what's another six months if you wait until after your hip surgery?  Do you really want to jeopardize that?  Have you MET your body?"
Of course, she was referring to my ability to experience complications from anything medical.
And she was right of course.
John and I discussed the matter and he agreed that my little chickadee was quite right.  I shouldn't have it done now.  Besides running the risk of my developing some kind of negative response, we knew that I would not be able to use the CPAP machine for at least a week (possibly longer) following the procedure.  That would be setting myself up to be sleep deprived going into the hip surgery.
So we decided that I should not have the Mohs surgery on the 11th but I convinced John that he should go ahead with his.  I didn't think he should put his health at risk since there was no compelling reason for him not to have his done now.  Eventually, he agreed.
I called Gayle and told her that I would not be having it done on the 11th -- but John would take the booking.
Let the record show that all the foregoing activity occurred before I took my shower and left the house to go into the big city for my 1:00pm physio session!
Anyway, on January 11th, John had what we hope is his final Mohs surgery.  This one required a skin graft so he has an extra wound that has to heal but he's coming along OK.  He's  having difficulty functioning with only one eye but I'm sure it will all work out in the end.
However, the doctor was not too pleased with my decision not to have mine done.  (We won't talk about the fact that I still haven't heard back from the ortho surgeon, so I don't yet have his permission ...)
I told her that I was of the impression that there was no particular urgency to having it done. Once I explained to her all the considerations that came into play, she was a little more understanding about why I wasn't one of her patients on the 11th.  But she was distressed because it means that she won't be able to do my surgery now.
She'll be on maternity leave from late March 'til October, and she doesn't want me to wait until her return from maternity leave.  I offered the option of her coming into the clinic with her baby -- I love babies -- I could hold the baby for her while she cuts up my nose -- really I could!  Somehow, she wouldn't go for that idea.
She's referring me to the Mohs Clinic in Toronto.
As long as I'm booked for a date when the Jays are playing a home series, all will be good!
She assured me that she'd include that stipulation in the requisition.
Go Jays Go!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

What is WRONG with me?

OK, now is NOT the time to be getting sick.
Really it isn't.
But for some reason, I'm doing an awful lot of sleeping today.
I mean, I had a good night last night.  (At least, as good as I ever have.)
And this morning, I kept drifting off while I was reading the newspaper.
I managed to stay awake long enough to make breakfast and take care of a few little chores around here.
Then I sat down to rest because my back was really giving me heck.
Well, rest I did!
I konked right out. Lost it for almost two hours.
Only woke up because I thought I heard the doorbell ring.
It was the delivery of my order from Staples -- paper, income tax program, and a new cordless phone.
I'll try to stay awake now to get the phone installed and, maybe, programmed.
But truth be known, I could just as easily curl up (yeh, right, I don't curl up any more, but you know what I mean) and go right back to sleep.
Sure hope I'm only sleeping because I'm tired and not because I'm coming down with something.
Because really, now is not the time to be getting sick.

Monday, January 9, 2012

My Pre-Admission Session

On Friday, I went for my Pre-admission Session at the hospital for my hip replacement surgery.
Very impressive indeed.
I had been told that the session would take at least two hours, possibly as much as four; that I would see a nurse, an anaesthesiologist, have blood work done and have x-rays taken.
We arrived about ten minutes before my appointed time and I had just enough time to make a pit stop before I was called into the inner sanctum by the nurse.
She had a myriad of questions to ask -- they leave no stone unturned.  By the time surgery day rolls around, there will be nothing they don't know about me!
I had been instructed to bring all my medications with me, which I did of course.  But I also carry in my purse a detailed list of all my medications (including all over-the-counter supplements that I take) and all hospitalizations (surgeries) I've had.  The sheet also lists my drug allergies and the fact that I use a CPAP machine.  I find it's easier to hand that to medical professionals than to try to remember the answers to questions when asked.
The nurse must have thanked me twenty times for "being so organized."
It had been John's intention to stay at the hospital the day of the surgery, so that he could see me immediately that I came out.  My little chickadee was going to be there too, as was a good friend of mine.
Not gonna happen.
Turns out that nobody, but nobody, is allowed to see me until I'm in my room after the surgery.
And because I have a seizure disorder, I will be held in recovery for longer than normal.
Oops.  I use a CPAP machine. I'll be kept in recovery longer still.
"You best go home and wait 'til the next day," the nurse said to John, "because it could easily be that long before she'll be in a room."
Once the nurse finished all her questions and had taken my weight and height, she escorted me to the blood lab where I would wait to have my blood work done.  She returned to her quarters to finish the paperwork  (normally, the patient has to sit with her while she writes everything down but she was able to send me ahead to the lab because she could refer to my written documentation to complete the forms -- saved both of us time).
I didn't wait more than five minutes at the lab.  Three vials of blood were taken.
When I finished at the lab, I returned to the nurse's quarters to meet with the anaesthesiologist.  The nurse was just finishing the paperwork, and she thanked me again for being so organized, commenting that it made her job so much easier.
I waited perhaps another two minutes before the anaesthesiologist joined us.
He too thanked me for the detailed documentation.  I guess they're not used to dealing with people who take their health care seriously.
We discussed the protocol used for "putting me under" and he asked me for details of my difficulty with anaesthetic (that was one of the questions that had been asked by the nurse).  When I told him about my two earlier incidents of breathing difficulties, he didn't at all downplay the seriousness of the implications.  "So," he says, "you're allergic to sedation."
"Is it actually an allergy?" I asked.
"Well," he replied, "if you're having an asthmatic response to sedation, yes you are allergic."
Finally, a coherent explanation for something that has frightened me for thirty years!
Oh, and I won't actually "be awake" for the surgery.  They use a drug called propofol (like I'd never heard of it before!) to keep me "under."  
"So you use the 'Michael Jackson' drug," I commented.
"That was seriously misused," he quickly countered.  "If I stop it, and tap you on the shoulder, you would respond."
"But you'll be in the room the entire time?" I asked.  "Just in case there's a problem?"
"Oh yes," he said.  "I would lose my licence otherwise."
He told me that he would give me an antihistamine as well as cortisone to prevent any allergic response, but he would also be monitoring me very closely.
He was a very reassuring, comforting gentleman.  (In fact, the surgeon doing my procedure recently did one on him and everything went very well indeed.)
Once we finished there, I was sent to the x-ray department.  Now, we took the longest possible route to get there (don't ask!) but get there we did.
At the intake desk, more paperwork was generated and I was sent down to the actual x-ray unit.  On the way there, I noticed that the form I was carrying wasn't mine.
Back I went, to get the proper paperwork (no telling which body part they might have x-rayed had I not noticed the error!).
When I got to the x-ray unit, the girls were sitting there in confusion with my paperwork (the patient ahead of me had arrived with my form) wondering where I was.  I explained the error and told them that I had noticed it and went back to get the right form (now they had two for me and none for the poor dear who had arrived ahead of me).  
The technician took me into the x-ray room, and left the receptionist to figure out the other patient's paperwork.
Two x-rays were taken, but oh that is a painful procedure.  (I mean, really, if I could assume that position, I wouldn't need to have my hip replaced!)
I had been told that when I finished in x-ray, I could go home.
We left the hospital precisely two hours after my appointment time.
Not bad.
Not bad at all.

Friday, January 6, 2012

The rash has cleared

My allergic reaction is over.
And I am no longer taking any of the supplements to build my blood prior to the surgery (iron, folic acid, Vitamin B-12).  The nurse at the Canadian Blood Services was stymied but since anyONE can react to anyTHING, she felt it was better to err on the side of caution.  She made the point that my blood was already strong (we were simply trying to optimize it) so she wasn't concerned about that.  I was to stop all three supplements immediately, seek medical assessment, and she would follow up in a day or two (that was on Wednesday).
As the morning wore on, the rash got angrier and hotter and my face started to swell  (I had taken the folic acid and the B-12).  By mid-morning my eyes were almost swollen shut.  I took a Benadryl to get the reaction under control and once it kicked in, the swelling quickly started to subside.  But the flushing of the rash remained.
We went to our local hospital (they have an excellent Emergency service).  The intake nurse immediately explained that B-vitamins are often a problem.  "We usually give aspirin for that, but we can't even do that for you," she said.
As it turned out, the doctor on call just happened to be John's family physician.  She too was stymied.
I explained that the response was not unlike what happened to me when I reacted to contrast dye many years ago -- the burning, swollen reaction, without itching.  Weird indeed.  And that time too, the reaction was only from the neck up.  Weirder.
She told me to continue doing what I was doing:  take Benadryl, apply cortisone cream to the rash, and wait for it to subside.  And don't take any more Vitamin B-12 (the assumption was that it would be the B-vitamin causing the problem, rather than either of the other two supplements).  I told her that I had already been advised to stop all three.
That night, I took another Benadryl on my way to bed.
Yesterday morning, the rash was well under control so I only applied a light coat of the cortisone cream.
By last night, there was only a tell-tale sign of the rash.
This morning, I know that I had a rash but I doubt that anyone else would be able to discern that.
I of course have not taken the supplements since Wednesday.
Now, I'll treat the ring of dry skin that I'm left with around my neck.  That swelling and burning certainly took its toll.
Today, we have to go into the city for my pre-admission session at the hospital.  I will talk to a nurse and an anaesthesiologist, have blood work done (again!), have x-rays taken, and be given all sorts of information about my stay at the hospital.
They are nothing if not thorough in getting a person ready for this surgery.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Trying to make sense of nonsense

That's what I'm trying to do alright.
On the first day of the year -- five days ago -- I developed what I thought was an allergic reaction to a Christmas present.  My little chickadee had given me a beautiful sweater (one that I had specifically requested) and I wore it to go out with John for New Year's Eve dinner.
I had the sweater on my body for about three hours, tops (it's a lovely turtle neck).
The next day, the front of my neck felt weird all day long. By that evening, when I was getting ready for bed, I examined my neck and noticed that there was almost a ring of what looked like very dry skin.  And it looked suspiciously like a response to the tightness of the turtle neck sweater I had worn the evening before.
I figured I must have reacted to something in the fabric and I just had to wash it before wearing it again.(There is nothing about the sweater that should have caused a problem for me.)  So, I washed the sweater and put it away to wait for my neck to sufficiently recover before testing it again.
Here we are three days later, I haven't had that sweater on again and my neck just keeps getting worse.
I was wakened during the night with a terrific burning sensation around the area. And now, what was a snake-skin-like band has become an angry rash.
Obviously, I'm reacting to something other than that sweater and the fact that I had worn the sweater was coincidental to the reaction developing.
So now, I'm left wondering what the heck is causing this?
The "rash" covers a much wider area than the "dry skin" portion of the phenomenon.
But it isn't itchy.
Not in the least.
It's just burning.
I feel like my neck is on fire.
One has to assume that perhaps one of the supplements I was put on back in mid-December could be the culprit (iron, Vitamin B-12, and folic acid).
My cursory research on the internet indicates that either B-12 or folic acid could in fact be the cause.
Now, I don't know why I was able to tolerate them for two weeks before deciding to react, other than the fact that I am a delayed responder.
I've put in a call to the Blood Services nurse who prescribed the regimen for me to discuss this with her.  We'll see what she has to offer.
Perhaps she'll be able to make sense of this nonsense.
In any event, Happy New Year to me!

Sunday, January 1, 2012