The List

Are you a list person? I really wasn’t/aren’t, but after almost 42 years of marriage, it’s a skill I am starting to understand, thanks to the love of my life, my Susie!

Susan Lynn Johnson D’Elia is most definitely a list person, and has been from the first day I met her way back in 1977. I don’t know if this is something that comes from her former life as a Registered Nurse, or something borne out of her slight OCD tendencies, but my wife has been a huge proponent of making lists for as long as I can remember. She loves making lists of things that need to be done, and then gets great enjoyment when she can cross completed items off that list. There are two steadfast rules, however for Susie’s lists. #1 is that nobody but she can place items on her lists (and most surely not me with my chicken scratch penmanship), and almost as important, NOBODY but Susie crosses things off one of her lists!

Over the years, there have been many, many lists. I don’t recall if I knew it at the time, but I’m pretty sure there was a list pertaining to our wedding. I’m sure she had a packing list for our honeymoon, and I know for a fact, we have long had a list for the things we were going to do when we win the lottery! Now that list has changed over the years (like we no longer have to have “Buy a House in Ocean City” on our wish list), but you best believe that there still is a list! Once the kids were able to write, she started them on Christmas Lists, which she still asks them for today!

Of course, there are the day to day lists, like our weekly meal planning, our grocery shopping lists (which Susie has organized by the aisle in our local Shoprite, so we zip through the store), jobs around the house, and that sort. There still are the long range lists too, like projects we want to do around the house, but not things we can accomplish right now. As always, she feels very accomplished when she crosses things off the “To Do” lists, and even more so when she gets to rip a completed page off her clip board, and throw it away!

Oh yes, Susie has a dedicated LIST clipboard. It’s a small 5 by 7 clipboard that is loaded with the mini size legal pads, and thanks for our Cousin Walt’s gift, always has a pen at the ready. As I write this, the lists on the clipboard include our meals list, a shopping list (two really…one for Shoprite and one for Costco), her long term to do list, and a list of various things we want to do this week, broken down by days. My wife is nothing if not organized!

But I have to agree, she is 100% right about lists. They help you stay organized, make sure you get done the things you want to get done, help you stay focused during a project, and at our age, help you remember that thing you just had on your mind, but forgot by the time you go to do it! She has even got me making lists, and I have to agree that there is a great sense of accomplishment when you can cross an item off! Sometimes, I even tell her to write a task we’ve completed on a list, that wasn’t on the list, so we can have the pleasure of crossing it off the list!!

This whole discussion of lists was started because on September 14th I am having my second knee replaced. Two years ago, my left knee was replaced, and in September it will be my right knee’s turn. I mentioned to Susie the other day, that I felt much more organized two years ago, and that I didn’t feel that I had as good a handle on the tasks I must accomplish before the surgery this time around. Her answer, “Make a list of the tasks, put them in order, and cross them off when you’ve taken care of them.” She was right! Sitting down, going through the paperwork from Dr Zabinski, writing tasks down, and putting them in order was the perfect way to wrap my head around the tasks. Lists are a great way to get organized and to really feel like you are prepared, and now on the fridge is a nicely printed out list with 13 things that MUST be done before September 14th! I feel organized now, have a handle on what I have to do when, and even have 4 items checked off already!

Thanks Susie for your lists! They do work…

Bees Knees #2

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.

img_0871-1I 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.

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Getting a breathing treatment

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!

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Dressed 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!

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In the car

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!

img_1616Before 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 …..