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).

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Landing On Your Feet: Part I – Hi Froggy!

Life is nothing without having the occasional monkey wrench thrown into the works that forces you to bring your routine to a grinding halt and completely restructure your daily routine as well as any plans you might have for the near future. My life has recently faced such a mighty monkey wrench (plumber’s crack and all). However, I feel that I must back track a couple of years with a story to provide a bit more background and context.

A couple of years ago, it was a Sunday morning pretty much like any other. My wife was out running errands. My younger daughter, Brianna, was meandering around in the front yard. My grandson, Taelor, was spending the weekend with his father. Brianna was spending some time to herself before Taelor came home later that day. Given all of these factors, the house was QUIET!

I did a few routine tasks on my laptop which is located upstairs and proceeded to make my way downstairs. I got about two steps down and one of my feet slipped. In an effort to break my fall, I wound up sliding down the stairs face down, all the way to the bottom. Imagine a baseball player sliding down a ski slope into home plate and you get the idea.

First of all, let me assure you (as I know you are nervously reaching for your popcorn). I was not injured at all in this fall. Still, I made this slipping, sliding, thumping fall and no one was inside the house to be aware of it. As a matter of fact, Brianna was just outside the dining room window in the front yard. She was completely oblivious to my fall (or anything else going on inside the house). Instead, she shouted: “HI, FROGGY!” She had just seen a little baby frog outside in the front yard. The frog brought a big smile to her face.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am very grateful that I wasn’t injured that day. Still, there was a small, vain part of me that couldn’t get past the idea that I had fallen and no one was aware. There was no slip…..sliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiide…thump…thump…THUMP to be immediately followed by ANYONE saying: OMIGOSH!!!! ARE YOU OK? Instead, what I got was a slip…..sliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiide…thump…thump…THUMP…HI FROGGY! Like I said, it’s a bit vain and it actually got to be a bit of a running joke between Brianna and me since that day.

Fast forward a couple of years later, I hadn’t been feeling well so I took a nap. I told my wife and my son, Caleb, that I would be up later to help shovel the driveway as there was some small accumulation in the driveway. Several hours later, I awoke to look at my clock. I had overslept about an hour past my intended time to get up and help Caleb shovel the driveway.

I made my way to my office to text back and forth with a former colleague. I had peeked out the window to see that Caleb was already outside and shoveling the driveway on his own. I told my online colleague that I needed to step away from the computer. The last thing I typed to her was “Snow shovel beckons”.

I started to make my way down the stairs. Around the second step down, one of my feet slipped (YES, I notice a pattern too). My right foot curled underneath as I was falling and wound up being between my 300-ish pound body and the stairs upon impact. The pain upon impact was excruciating. I yelled so loudly that several production workers at the local factory mistakenly clocked out for the day.

Since my right foot was curled underneath my body, I had less friction to slow or break my fall. In the brief few seconds before I got to the bottom of the stairs, I was really worried that my momentum was going to slingshot me head first into the front door. Fortunately, such a slapstick outcome did not occur.

When I got to the bottom of the stairs, I pulled my right leg out from underneath my body. I decided to try and put just a teensy weensy amount of weight onto my right foot. NOPE! The end result of that was another scream that sounded like James Brown portraying a Klingon. Workers at the local factory were frustrated and confused by the second alarm and were now threatening to strike.

My wife was in the living room and came running into the dining room when she heard all the thumping and screaming. OMIGOSH! ARE YOU OK? (Yes, she said it). When she asked me if I hurt. I could only get out: MY ANKLE!!!!!

My wife had me hop into a nearby chair and removed the shoe and sock on my right foot. The swelling had already begun. Renee called Brianna and explained that I had fallen and needed help getting me into the car. Since, I had a mild stroke in 2015. Brianna decided it would be wiser to call an ambulance (which she did). It seemed like it was no sooner that Renee got off the phone with Brianna that Brianna was coming through the front door. All while this was happening, Caleb was outside, still shoveling the driveway and unaware that I was hurt.

Brianna came into the house and explained that she had already called an ambulance. Renee and I weren’t exactly enthused about that at the time but Brianna made the right call. There was too much risk of further injury if we tried transporting me in our Ford Focus.

Brianna walked over and tried to comfort me. I simply could not stop myself. I looked my daughter in the eyes and said: “HI, FROGGY!” It was less than a minute later (or so it seemed) that the ambulance was pulling into my driveway. Next thing you know, I am making my way onto a gurney. For the second time in less than two years, my grandson is watching ambulance doors close with me in the back.

The (mis)adventure would continue as I got to the hospital.