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*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘surgery recovery

Survival Tactics

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After two weeks of recovering from knee replacement surgery, Cyndie returned to be seen by the surgeon’s assistant and have the bandage removed from the incision. Now able to walk with only a cane for support, she let me wait in the car and navigated her way to the appointment unassisted.

The prognosis was excellent and the incision looks fantastic. Apparently, all my tender loving care is doing wonders for her. That, and the fact she has been downright heroic about balancing exercise and rest.

I was saved from needing to do the grocery shopping because Cyndie shopped online and we were able to pick up the order from the store on our way home from the doctor’s appointment. She is reclaiming some of the meal prep roles which eases some of my caregiving stress. There is nothing more challenging for me and my limited kitchen prowess than becoming responsible for feeding the head chef at a time when healthy meals are more important than ever.

And Cyndie even prepared and froze many meals in advance of her surgery to help me out during her convalescence. The master of reheating faced new complications in dishing up servings for a person other than just himself. In real estate, it’s “location, location, location.” In the kitchen, it’s “timing, timing, timing.” Heating more than a single portion of a single item threw a wrench into my old solo living survival tactics.

After getting groceries put away and laundry dried and folded and lunch dishes cleaned up, I snuck in another version of a test ride on my new bicycle. New shoes tested very well. New pedals needed tension adjusted on the clips. The seat needed to come up another fraction. The new computer sensor is working for speed and cadence. I’m starting to get the hang of brake lever shifting.

Only one problem remains. Something in the drivetrain is making a noise when I put pressure on the pedals and I have yet to figure out what it is. I can’t even say for sure whether the creaking sound is coming from the crank or bottom bracket or further back by the rear derailleur. A return visit to the bike shop is planned.

All this activity culminated in a brief rest when I returned to the house. I just wanted to sit down for a moment and check messages on my phone, maybe play a few rounds against my frenemies in “Words with Friends.”

That didn’t last very long. I conked out. Cyndie thought it looked cute that Delilah and I were napping together.

My nap seemed to energize Cyndie because after Delilah and I got up, she walked downstairs for the first time in over two weeks, went for a walk outside in the sunshine down to the shop, and later cooked dinner on the grill out on the deck. She then proceeded to recline with her leg raised and cooled by the fancy rented machine to control swelling after all that exercise.

She’s like the perfect patient wielding her own excellent survival tactics.

I’d like to know what she did with my wife.

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Written by johnwhays

May 4, 2022 at 6:00 am

Double Shifts

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It’s only been four days since Cyndie’s knee surgery and I’m already longing for the day she can lose the walker, get off narcotics, and become even fractionally more self-sufficient. Between responding to her needs for assistance, becoming the (previously prepared by Cyndie) head food-reheater and server at mealtimes, and covering all of the animal care jobs myself, I’m getting dizzy.

Every time I find myself cast in the role of needing to feed Cyndie, I am reminded why I never looked for work waiting tables in a restaurant. My poor brain doesn’t like trying to remember multiple requests delivered all at once. And thinking about those words, “all at once,” how in the heck do people get the timing down to prepare a meal with all the food ready at the same time?

I find myself repeatedly choosing to feed us one at a time. Assemble a plate for Cyndie and then come back and do it a second time for me.

Cyndie is very patient and understanding, so most of the frustrating pressure I’m feeling is self-induced. I know that. But knowing that doesn’t do much to calm my stress in the critical moment of assembling a meal on the plate for serving. When the stress is magnified by a last-minute request to watch an episode of “Ted Lasso” on the tv monitor brought out to the coffee table by the couch while she eats, my circuits start to overheat a bit.

You see, the computer-to-tv cabling had yet to be worked out so I needed to hunt down an HDMI cable, get the necessary power cables, and then search through on-screen menus to figure out how to mirror the laptop screen to the tv. I could always deal with the audio later.

As it was, I begged to deal with it all later and resorted to simply watching it on her laptop for the time being. …After she had already finished her dinner and before I had started mine.

Last-minute timing is not my strong suit.

I will work on mastering the temporary computer-to-tv setup in the living room later today, once I’ve got all the animals fed and Cyndie’s coffee and breakfast served.

Onward. Double-time.

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Written by johnwhays

April 22, 2022 at 6:00 am

Mostly Waiting

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Most of my day yesterday was spent waiting. Cyndie did almost the same amount of waiting, but she was anesthetized for part of it and in a pain-management-induced stupor for others. I had the easier job, despite the tedium.

Prepped and waiting, I snapped a shot of Cyndie looking her best in a very fashionable hair net and hospital gown. The procedure was a knee replacement, her second. We filled some of the wait time by chatting with her surgeon and later the anesthetist, who described a very interesting path to choosing his career. He served time on military mobile medical units and also was assigned to rapid response teams that travel to foreign cities where U.S. Presidents fly, providing “in case needed” precautions.

The woman who performed the surgery came highly recommended and lived up to a comment from one of the nurses that she works fast. For all the waiting before and after, the portion of actual replacement surgery took a little under an hour. The doctor came out to report everything went smoothly and suggested I get some lunch while Cyndie sleeps off the residual anesthesia effects. She said it would be at least an hour.

It was closer to two. When they finally called me back to see Cyndie again after she woke up, leg pain was her biggest complaint. Still, they had her up and walking moments later. After more waiting, during which they monitored vital signs and increased her pain meds, the medical transport team showed up to whisk her away to a hotel for overnight monitoring.

The view out her third-floor window:

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Maybe the new knee will turn her into an athlete. Maybe it won’t. At least they were able to make her more comfortable.

Does it show?

They had her hooked up to a machine that ran chilled water around the knee to control swelling and pain. I was allowed to end my waiting and head home to take care of animals and sleep through the night in my own bed. Nurses will be checking on Cyndie all night, something I am very happy the are doing instead of me.

I’ll pick Cyndie up this morning and take over primary care. It’s nice to have had the first night worry-free and know she was under the watchful eyes of trained professionals.

It’s one of the greatest honors of my life to be allowed to play the role of Cyndie’s closest supporter in times of extra need. The waiting part is over now. Let the healing begin!

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Written by johnwhays

April 19, 2022 at 6:00 am

Baking Therapy

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After surgery, most people opt for physical therapy to aid in healing and recovery. This weekend Cyndie appeared to be working on reclaiming her former knee strength by way of baking Christmas cookies of almost every variety. With the COVID-19 pandemic decimating innumerable facets of what we consider normalcy this year, I am awestruck over Cyndie’s motivation to carry on her massive holiday baking tradition without the usual support staff of friends or extended family.

To do it all alone is wildly impressive. To do it alone on a painful wounded knee is rather beyond the call of duty if I do say so myself.

The sum total of my assistance involved taking full responsibility for animal chores, which I was doing anyway so she wouldn’t have to walk more than she already does around the house.

I couldn’t even maintain my reputation as a taste-tester. The batches were coming out of the oven too fast to keep up. I think I exceeded my self-inflicted strict ration of ingested sugar simply by breathing in the smell of fresh warm cookies all day long.

I just didn’t have the gastrointestinal stamina to pound that many test tastes in such a short span of time.

I am curious to find out how the baking therapy worked out for her knee on the day after. She has a follow-up appointment today with the surgeon to check on progress. I wonder if he might suggest eating fresh-baked holiday cookies to help her deal with the residual pain of the excavated bone behind her knee.

It would, at the very least, be easier than working upright in the kitchen all day…

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Written by johnwhays

December 14, 2020 at 7:00 am