Okay…let’s start with the headline…Operation was a success, I’ve got a new left knee!
Thursday July 11th started off for Susie and I at 5:30 when the alarm went off. We both showered, dressed, and relaxed a bit till it was time to head over to Shore Memorial Hospital. How fortunate were we, to retire to a seashore community that’s just across the 9th Street Bridge from a large, well equipped hospital? We left at 7:40, and checked into the hospital Pre-Op unit just before our assigned time of 8 AM. A little paper work, I got my hospital bracelet, and I was taken into the back to get prepped.
I was worked up by the Pre-Op Nurse, met the Anesthesiologist, and had my knee shaved and scrubbed. My IV was started, and I was hooked up to oxygen and a B/P monitor. Susie joined me about 9AM, and shortly after that, the Anesthesiologist gave me my Nerve Block and then Dr. Zabinski came in and we talked a bit about the operation. Just after 10:30, the Anesthesiologist Nurse said it was time to go. I kissed Susie goodbye and she headed to the waiting room while I headed to the Operating Room.
The OR was cold, and it seemed like there were about 7 or 8 people working there. They gave me some medication to put me in a Twilight mood, and then went to work on my Spinal Block. “Dangle your legs off the side of the Operating Table like you’re sitting on the side of a pool”, she said. “Now bend forward and extend your spine.” Luckily there was an Anesthesiology Technician in front of me to keep me from falling into the pool! Next it was time for the Lidocaine shot in my spine, “This will just be a little pinch”, she lied to me…it was not! By the time that was in, I had no memory of the last injection…the medication that put my spinal block in place! I was in Twilight..oh yes I was!
For the first couple of minutes, I kind of had a foggy sense of people talking and things happening around me, but more like I was an observer rather than a participant. Then I had the oddest sense that my Dad was in the Operating Room with me! He’s been dead since 1983, and whether this was wishful thinking or a visit from beyond, all I can say is thanks Dad for being with me! The next thing I know, I’m in the Recovery room and as soon as my eyes focus enough to be able to read the clock on the wall, I could see it was a little after 1 PM. There went 2 plus hours I’ll never see again!
The Recovery Room
My grasp of the time space continuum was still a little fuzzy, but within, what seemed like a few minutes, Susie was back at my side. She said that Dr. Zabinski had come out and talked to her about 12:05, and said that my knee was a mess and loaded with arthritis. Wonder what the right one, which I’ve always thought was worse than the left looks like!
Around 2:45, they moved me from Recovery to room 410….a private room! This would be a good time to compare going to a hospital on Long Island and in South Jersey. Simply, there is no comparison!! It’s as different as Night and Day. Black and White or Up and Down! Everything here is fast, simple and uncrowded. People are nice, they are there to help you, and you just feel so much better about the whole undertaking!
Me in and the view out of Room 410
Now here’s the part you always hear about, and even though it’s just happened to me, I still find it unbelievable! Just about 3:30, Maria from the Hospital’s Physical Therapy Department came into the room, and with the help of a walker, had me up on my brand new knee, and walking the halls!
Crazy but true, it worked, but I was also so high on drugs at that point, I probably could have just as easily flown down the hall!!
At dinnertime, not only did I get food, but they ordered Susie a dinner too (like I said, Night and Day). About 10 PM that night, before heading to bed, I took another, even longer walk around the 4th floor, with a little encouragement from my lovely wife!
Susie had decided to stay the night, and Rebecca, the Nurses Aide got her a recliner (See, Black and White). Unfortunately, it wasn’t the kind of recliner we thought it was going to be, and honestly neither of us had a very good night…even with good drugs (me, not Susie)! The next morning, at 5:30 AM, Dr. Zabinski came in to check on his work. He told us that the knee was so bad, that as soon as he opened up the knee and bent it, it dislocated. I asked him what happened to it, and he said, “It went in the garbage.” Rather an ignominious end to a knee that had been with me for 69 years, 6 months, and 9 days! Then he pulled out a drain he’d placed in my knee before closing it up. Looked to me to be about 10-12 inches…now that was fun! Happy with what he saw, he signed off on my going home that morning.
After breakfast, I saw my Medical Doctor, Dr. Raab, and he too gave me a clean bill of health and signed off on my release. Then they gave me a breathing treatment in lieu of my regular inhaler treatment, and then some more pain medication, so I’d be ready for my last sign off…from the Physical Therapist!
In answer to a question asked at the Joint Replacement Class we’d attended the week before surgery, if PT signed off on you in the morning, you’d be gone before lunch, if not, they’d keep you till after lunch, and do another session with you! I wanted to go home BEFORE lunch! My “Graduation” PT session included climbing a full flight of stairs (so I could get into our house), and walking all over the floor! Bottom line…I passed and was cleared to go home!
Did I push myself? A little bit, because I really wanted out of the hospital, and was going to do whatever I could to make that happen. But, at the same time I was pushing myself, the nerve block that they’d given me was wearing off. The bottom line, I was starting to hurt! I got “chauffeured” down to the lobby, figured out how to get into the car, and we headed home!
Our one stop was at CVS to pick up antibiotic, and not one, but two pain pill prescriptions. Even though they’d had the prescriptions since 9:30 and it was after 1, they weren’t ready. “Come back in an hour”, the Pharmacist told Susie. That was ok…still had about an hour and a half till I could take the next dose, so off we went to the house!
I had no problem climbing the 14 steps at the front of our house, but I was pooped and in a little more pain, but we were home!! I got myself in the position I’d find myself in for many hours in the upcoming days (22 out of 24 hours for the next 5 days, Dr. Zabinski said), and Susie went back to get my prescription!
It took her 45 minutes to come back because, of course, the prescription wasn’t ready! The worst 45 minutes of the whole undertaking!! I was hurting, but as soon as Susie got home, and I got my drugs, I let out a sigh of relief, and we started planning when I’d be getting the right one replaced!
We’re thinking May!
Before I leave, I have to thank one person above everyone else involved in the last couple of days, and that is the love of my life, my wife Susie! She has been there at every turn of this process, with encouragement, knowing the right questions to ask, and kicking me in the ass when I’ve needed it. Since coming home from the hospital, she has been my constant companion and care giver. Wrapping my knee, applying ice, organizing and handing out my pills, and handling my every need. You know the phrase”Helicopter Parents”? Well, Susie said to me this morning the she’s a “Helicopter Wife”! Thanks Susie for all you always do for us all, and especially me! Love you baby!!
To be continued …..