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Gas Pains

Tom grew up in Milwaukee, bartended in Wauwatosa in the '70s and moved here in 1984.

Commentary, observations and musings about the outdoors, life in general and maybe Tosa politics and personalities will be the order of the day. He savors a lively debate as much as terrific cooking.

Pain In The Ass

Artificial Joints, Femoroacetabular Impingment, Health Care, Hip Replacement Surgery, Hospital Food, Pain In The Ass

Earlier in October of this year I spoke plainly about my gradually deteriorating medical condition as it related to my hip.

I showed-up for my total hip replacement procedure on Monday - early AM. They had me on my feet by Tuesday.  Walking and doing stairs on Wednesday.  And today  - after I demonstrated my proficiency in being left to myself  to navigate simple matters of transferring, toileting, bathing, dressing, grooming and feeding - I was sprung loose late morning.

Man, is it good to be home.

I've had more than a few occasions to spend any significant time in the hospital and while this wasn't one of them I couldn't help but come-away impressed.  The single most memorable stay was a month-long hiatus accompanied by three surgical procedures and something on the order of a year off of work or working only a few hours a day.  I remember thinking to myself back then at the tender age of 35 - this is what old age is all about.  Adaptive devices like grabbers, reachers, hooks, pinchers, elevated toilet seats and the like.  The stuff of old folks.  Almost 22 years after the fact - whammo!  The medical establishment strikes back.  All the more reason to not invite bad Ju-Ju by talking smack about adaptive devices.

You're probably asking yourself why this man is smiling.

He's smiling because he has a very sharp rasp in his hands.  He's also smiling because of his enviable collection of power tools - like the big reciprocating saw and a power drill underneath the surgical drapes to his immediate right.

What's a rasp?  What do you do with it?

Just like the rasp used for wood and metal working this one has sharp teeth all around it.  After the femoral head and neck have been removed that tool is used to make room for the new stem of the hip device.

Here's the remains of the old femoral head...

Note the absence of cartilage.  That was one bad hip.  It was so bad they wouldn't even let me keep it.  The other debris is from that big, rasp with all the sharp teeth.  I had no interest in that though.

So, here's the final result...

A fully-installed Stryker MDM Mobile Bearing Acetabular System.  Isn't that the cat's meow.

Guess what - no hip pain.  Sure, I have some pain from the incision and the bruising and damage to the muscles and all but I can walk around the house and put weight on my hip without the stabbing pain that used to accompany that effort.

A few words about hospitals and healthcare.

One of the changes I noticed with this hospital stay is that everything is scanned.  Enter the OR?  They scan you like a grocery item.  Get a pill?  Your wrist band gets scanned.  Lab work?  Scan the code.

A word of advice.  Never go to a hospital if you need, require or seek uninterrupted sleep.  My first night following surgery was accompanied by an IV device that made this sound:

tic, tic, tic, tic, tic, tic, WURK, tic, tic, tic, tic, tic, tic, WURK, tic, tic, tic, tic, tic, tic, WURK.  On and on at six second intervals it maintained its steady mantra.  The offending IV monitor was finally banished.  Night sleep was also interrupted at regular intervals by someone always interested in taking your vital signs and asking if you have been diligently using the incentive spirometer.

Of course not.  I'm trying to sleep.

It gets no easier during the day. Try to take a nap and just about the time you doze comfortably into la la land someone shows-up.  Housekeeping, the patient service coordinator, the chaplain, the resident and a student or two, the pain doctor, the anesthesiologist, the surgeon, The OT specialist, the PT specialist and someone who wants to take your vitals. 

Then there was the guy across the hall who would periodically break into song.  (Actually a pretty good vocalist if you ask me).  When he wasn't singing he would quote scripture.

Listen, I'm not complaining, I'm just saying don't go to hospital expecting an uninterrupted stretch of refreshing sleep.

One additional change - food service is now called room service and you can order ala carte breakfast, lunch or dinner whenever.  Since I like breakfasts I had my breakfast at dinner time.

Lest you think I speak-ill of these edifices to modern technology and medical progress I consider hospitals a necessary fixture in life - same for healthcare in general.  I've paid for my own health insurance, or a good share of it, most of my working life.  In our family it was very cool to schedule this procedure during a time when hunting had passed and during the doldrums of the day job.  Also because we had filled the annual deductible on our high deductible health insurance with Jill's broken leg earlier this year.  Flexibility and consumer choice has been a hallmark of medical care in this country for as long as I can remember.  That fella from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario that I mentioned back in the October post is still waiting for his hip replacement.  As near as I can figure it he's down to 4 months if he travels to Toronto or 16 months otherwise.  You see - life is full of choices.

One closing thought.  As I laid down on my own couch Jill brought me a steaming cuppa joe and a cheesy venison tortilla roll-up for lunch.

You can call hospital food room service but it's still hospital food.

It's good to be home and my first night of completely uninterrupted sleep.

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