Thursday, April 16, 2009

April 16 - The incredible shrinking man

Today was a little less intense than yesterday but I'm still taking those baby steps forward.

I slept much better last night which I needed so I could be an active participant with the staff instead of a dumb fence post. First baby step was using a walker to hobble down the hallway and back. It was a little humbling but a journey of a thousand miles...begins with a single hop. My therapist was very encouraging and I felt like I had my own cheering section as I breasted the tape in world record rabbit time.

My bandage was changed by my dedicated prosthetist Larry Wiley. He also brought me some goodies including a DVD entitled "The Biomechanics of Lower Limb Amputee Running" and several magazines. In short order my nurse Kari dressed my incision and Larry rolled a size 5 shrinker over it. He was very happy with the length of the residual limb and the precision work of Dr. Ohlson. Larry took a pic that I will update this post with when I receive it. Oh yes I will!

Just before Larry arrived I started having more pain in the stump and I got my oral meds and a shot of morphine. I hadn't had any percocet since the wee hours of the morning. It's a bit of a compromise to have pain relief or less cloudy thinking, right now I side on pain relief but over the next 10 days or so it will start to subside. Most discomfort is from the swelling and pressure when the limb is lowered just like my prior surgery.

I spoke with Barbara Hiott, my case manager, and I found I was approved for inpatient rehab. I am going to stay two more days for that and hopefully/likely go home on Sunday. Can't wait to plop myself on a shower stool and wash my hair.

By the way, if you are ever lonely I suggest buying a urinal bottle. The moment you decide you can't wait another second to employ it, a knock at your door will announce some genuinely helpful individual wanting to give you a sweet painkiller or deliver the morning meal. Yes they knock but in your haste to try to arrange the props so as to prevent deep belly guffawing on the guest's part, all sorts of memorable accidents ensue that hopefully you can keep secret. A friend in a friend who really has to pee!

I feel the need to again praise the hospital staff here at Roper, truly I can't do this enough. My younger, somewhat smellier brother Mark was born here, the only native Charlestonian in the family. In the late 50s (yeah, I knew dirt when it was clean) I was trying to catch a bullfrog in a pipe in Melrose subdivision. I slipped on the ditch bank and deeply cut my right big toe on a broken bottle. My dad was a pharmaceutical rep and was packing his car as I came whimpering across the Bevin's yard leaving a trail of blood in the morning dew. He didn't hear me and my mom came to the door and took care of business, informing my dad his son was bleeding to death and off we went to the Roper ER. Later when I got the stitches out they bought me a portable/standup swimming pool and it was one of the happiest days in my life up to that time. I distinctly remember saying "I love you dad" and "I love you mom" and "Thank you thank you thank you" all the way home.

So what I wanted to say is I have a history with this hospital. The staff that take care of me are deeply caring, compassionate, good people. They often see the best and worst in patients, but I gather it is those successes large and small that give them the fortitude to handle the challenges. I'll write more on this later...but for now: thank you thank you thank you. Making a real difference in people's lives is where these heroes go about their quiet work.

My wife Jennifer came by in the evening after a not-so-short detour to the house to walk Baxter. She works at MUSC down the street from Roper. We sit side by side and watch teevee and polish off the incredible chocolate cookies friend Betsy made for me. The drugs have enhanced my space cadet standing so she is cutting me some extra slack...for now. I am finding some disturbing advantages to hospital life, and I cannot be blamed for chaining myself to the comfy chair on discharge day.

Well I know I am rambling a bit, I'll be getting some more pills soon from nurse Katie and then it's off to a night of good dreams. I am very comfortable and peaceful here, strange and not strange. Here I will begin again, and I feel a fundamental change in my life, a changing of the light.

No, but I saw how everything had changed
Later, just as the light had; and at night
I saw that from dream to dream everything changed.

(From Presences by Donald Justice)


  1. Richard,
    Sounds like things are going well for you and you are in good spirits. Carol and I are interested in watching how you fair in all this. There seems to be lots of information around results right after surgery, but little long term info, especially for runners.

  2. Hi Tim,

    I have been in touch with a couple of runners/athletes and have read a number of stories here:

    Carol and everyone else I talked to said socket fit is very important right after surgeon selection. I think both, in the end, are about equal as you must have a solid stump foundation for the prosthesis.

    I hate to see anyone having to go through such complications as Carol, so I would give the same physician advice she gave me about the prosthetist: if he isn't getting the job done find another. Don't let the doctor/patient relationship supercede the patient's full recovery. With all due respect, just because he is a decendent of Janos doesn't mean another doctor might not be able to treat Carol better.

    I know there are issues about insurance and such, but if Carol isn't settled down this time I can pass along some names I researched that might be worth a look.

    I hope my blog will be helpful over time to anyone in our condition as a record of what this runner was able to accomplish.

    Good luck and let me know if I can help. I don't mean to sound like a know-it-all; I truly would like for you guys to get on with living life and not visiting the surgeon over and over unless it's for dinner without surgery involved!