Landing On Your Feet: Part III–The Journey of 1000 Hops

I had rested as decently as possible after getting settled in my hospital room. It certainly didn’t hurt to be getting pain medication every two hours. While the morphine did help me to be a bit more relaxed. I must be honest. It was (thankfully) not the experience I was expecting. I did not get visions of the Moody Blues playing Knights in White Satin at the edge of my hospital bed. Actually, if they had shown up, I would have requested Gemini Dreams. I really like that song.

Although several hours has passed since I had awakened for the day, the time seemed to just fly by as I briefly conversed with my wife, Renee. I even got to see our daughter, Brianna, and my grandson, Taelor. Finally, it came to the point where I was being transported to a pre-surgical area. This, of course, lead to a bunch of people addressing me by my first name: Patrick. I prefer to be address by my middle name (Shane). Just look for a piece called Sometimes The Middle Comes First. I won’t belabor the issue here other than to say I sometimes pause when people address me as Patrick as I assume they are addressing someone else.

Once I got to the pre-surgical room, I was met by a cadre of doctors and nurses. There was concern that my IV was not wide enough for surgical purposes. I understood this dilemma (having worked in a hospital previously). However, when it took at least FOUR attempts to make this happen with an 18 gauge needle, my understanding began to waver a bit. After this, came the anesthesiologist (or as I affectionately call him, the gas passer). He would ask me several questions about allergies and had me open my mouth very wide to size me up for the tube he would jam, I mean gently administer, down my throat for surgery once I was under anesthesia.

This is when more fun and discomfort began – the nerve block. In addition to general anesthesia, they were injecting a numbing agent to numb my right leg from the knee down. Given that these injections were in the crook of my right knee, I have to say the doctor did a great job of minimizing the discomfort of such an ordeal.

The surgeon who would be performing my ankle repair introduced herself. Actually, her title is traumatologist. She got 50 points of cool on her title alone. Several people told me I was very blessed to be coming in during her rotation. Such endorsements helped ease my mind a bit.

Next, I was brought into the operating room. From my supine perspective, the room seemed huge. It was the usual team of doctor’s and nurses in scrubs, hair covers and masks. At the opposite edge of the room was a HUGE screen that displayed my x-rays from when I was in the emergency room. This also eased my mind to see such a large frame of reference of my ankle anatomy. They put some anesthesia into my IV line. I knew it was just a matter of time before I was out for the count.

I should qualify something here. The last time I had undergo a surgery under general anesthesia. I was barely two years old. As a result, I have very little memory. My wife and kids have all had several surgeries over the years. I felt like a babe in the woods. Plus, I had to put aside my fascination with surgery and just let the folks do their jobs. So I lay there in silence and only spoke if a response was needed.

It was around this time that someone put an air mask over my nose and mouth. It was the only time through the ordeal that I felt apprehensive as it felt a bit claustrophobic. I could remember saying, mentally, to myself: It’s OK. The mask needs to be there. Trust them. God’s got them and you by the hand.

I can remember slowly opening my eyes some time after the mask was put on my face. I heard a woman’s voice: “Patrick? Patrick?” Oh, yeah! She’s talking to me. Hi, I said. “Hi, Patrick. You’re in post anesthesia. Your surgery went fine.” I asked her: Does my wife know I’m OK? “Yes. She’ll be waiting for you back on the patient floor. You just need to wake up a bit more.” Thank you, Ma’am. “You’re welcome, Patrick. How do you feel?” My throat’s a bit irritated by I assume that’s from the tube that was in my throat (I was correct).

Before you know it, I was back in my room and my wife was waiting for me. The other awesome part was that the nerve block in my right leg was still quite active. This meant my entire right leg was pain free for the first time since before my fall. SWEEEEEEET!

After Renee and Brianna had gone home for the night. I was starting to get hungry. Then came the snafu. The doctor on call for my patient forgot to put me back onto a regular diet. This meant the cafeteria was not bringing me anything. The nurse heated up some vegetable soup and brought me some crackers, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and some ginger ale. In that moment, it was the best meal in the world. I even told the nurse the soup was just like the soup my Mom used to reheat. She knew me well enough to know my sense of humor.

The next morning,  I was informed by the doctor’s that I may be ready to go home. I had to get a visit from physical therapy and occupational therapy and be cleared by both. Occupational therapy went well. Physical therapy on the other hand was less stellar on my first day. I had to practice with my walker which included doing an upward step onto a ledge (like the threshold of a doorway). I did somewhat well enough with that. Unfortunately, making my way back into my room and back into my bed was a bit too awkward for the technician’s (well intended)

satisfaction. She decided to delay my discharge by a day.

The following day, I passed my PT obstacle course and prepared for discharge. I would come to find out that my journey of 1000 steps was just beginning (on only good leg).