So the intramedullary rodding, or IM rod, surgery that took place on Wednesday morning is complete. I decided I would stay in the hospital for a few days to see how the pain and discomfort went, but things were going well enough on Thursday for me to set up my transportation from the hospital and I called my insurance company to arrange my flight home. Friday morning came and I rested until the very last minute, just up to the discharge time from the hospital at 11AM.
I was given a travel boot to wear whenever I was going to be out and about. The goal is to use the crutches, and when I stop, put weight on the leg and let it settle into the boot. I was dressed, boot on, ready to go, but a problem arose when the wheelchair service never showed up to take me downstairs. The nurse’s aid who had been taking care of me all morning was nice enough to volunteer to grab a wheelchair and take me down to my scheduled ride to the airport. Queen’s Medical Center has a terrific complimentary van that will take you to and from the airport, so I finagled my way into the back seat and endured the ride, gritting my teeth the whole way. Honolulu needs some love on their roadways.
When I arrived at the airport I went immediately to the Hawaiian Airlines counter to ask for a bulkhead seat, or even better an empty seat next to me so that I might be able to elevated me leg somewhat. The lady was nice and said I was already assigned a bulkhead aisle seat (so my leg would stick out into the aisle, not great), but that the staff at the gate might be able to accommodate me better. She found me a wheelchair and had to go looking all over for someone to push me to the gate. As she was searching, I began fading. I started to sweat a lot, my eyes were getting heavy and I realized my breathing was getting heavier (normally this would be a typical Friday night story, but without the wheelchair…wink). I was able to relax a little bit during the ten minutes the nice lady was gone and I felt better when the porter came to push me. Security was busy, but I know the routine so well that I tell them what needs to be done at this point. The male TSA agent assigned to pat me down was more concerned with finishing his conversation with another passenger than focusing on what he was doing at the time. I got to the gate, talked to the lady in charge and she assigned me a different seat with an empty one next to me. It was such a safe and comfortable way to fly a dozed on and off for the 30 minute flight.
As I was the last one off the plane, they had a wheelchair and porter waiting for me at Maui. The sidewalk and wheelchair combination was a lot rougher than I imagined it to be and it was tough not to just jump out of the wheelchair and crutch my way curbside. My friend Deb picked me up and took me to my place. As soon as I got through the front door I immediately began to lay down and unwrap my leg to see how the leg had faired during the journey home.
I only took a quick glance at my leg when they changed the dressing of my wounds Thursday in the hospital, so I was curious what kind of shape I was in. As I unwrapped my leg I was surprised that it is was as beaten up as it looked. My knee and ankle were so swollen the traditional outlines and shapes did not exist. Where the bone graft was done was still as red and swollen as it appeared on Thursday when I had looked at it briefly.
I counted 25 staples from 5 different incisions, with the bone graft being the one with the most staples keeping it closed. I know they had to do a lot of work to me and I’m sure there was a good amount of soft tissue damage during the surgery, but I found a bruise on the underpart of my thigh that I cannot figure out how it got there. I’m glad I was under anesthesia when all of this destruction was taking place.
I can go in a few days to have the staples removed and once the incisions are healed I can begin to get back into the pool and swim…using all my limbs. I go back in a month to Dr. Harpstrite over on O’ahu to follow up with some x-rays. He said we won’t really know the extent of the healing until about the 2 month mark, as that is when the bone graft should have taken hold and grown by then.
For now the pain is intense at times, but mostly I am just sore and tired. I have to lie on my back with my leg elevated, so when I have to get up for any reason the blood rushing down to the foot forces some crazy internal pressures against my skin. The staples along my knee are the most sore due to the fact that the skin there is usually so pliable and loose, but for a bit longer it will be swollen and tight which makes bending the knee a painful, but necessary chore. With the black boot on I will be putting more and more pressure on my leg and eventually ween myself off two crutches, down to one, then to a cane.
The biggest shocker out of the entire ordeal was the bone marrow they had taken from my hip. I was warned this was going to be more painful than any other part of the procedure and I looked up the information online as well to confirm it was a living hell. To my pleasant surprise I had forgotten about it until I scratched my hip and ran my fingers over a clear plastic adhesive patch about 1″ x 2″ in size. I looked down, saw dried blood and realized this was were they extracted the marrow from my hip. If this was hell, give me more of this and less of the pain I feel near my knee.
Thanks for all the well wishes and positive thoughts. I hope this will be the beginning of the end, for me and my leg but we’ll have to take it one day at a time.