Sun Pony Ranch

Diary of novice (clueless) ranch owners

Monday, June 01, 2009

Surgery update - Day #5

So the facebook updates for the first few days were all that I could keep up with, then we went totally dark over the weekend as I pretty much just shunned our electronic lives. Not a bad thing every once in awhile. But, am back to the real world today and it feels like time where an actual update, with actual information in it, is due.

Dave had surgery - a diskectomy to remove the herniated portions of his L5-S1 disk - last Wednesday morning. He was out of surgery by 9:30, in recovery by 10:30 or so in a very nice, private, corner room on the fourth floor.

He arrived in his room complaining of needing to go to the bathroom. Unfortunately, his bladder sphincter, it appears, was still affected by the anesthesia and wasn't cooperating. This caused him not only a great deal of discomfort for nearly a day, but also contributed to his elevated BP on top of everything else. All this really didn't even give him a chance to start recovering from the surgery, so it was pretty clear early on we were spending the night at the hospital. They had taken him off of his BP medication for the surgery. By that evening the BP had fallen, but not far enough for the nurse's satisfaction, so she put him back on his meds.

His room came equipped with the tiniest little fold out guest bed you've ever seen - a wide chair, really. The mattress was only about 24 inches wide! LOL. It's cuteness didn't outweigh it's uncomfortableness, however. Not that either of us had a lot of opportunity to actually sleep anyways.

Thursday morning the surgeon popped his head in to check on Dave - at 6:30 am no less. WTH? So - we were up and at'em bright and early. Dave was clearly doing much better though, so was released - pending a visit from the Physical and Occupational Therapists. The nurse was all about making us feel comfortable -- "No rush to get out of here, do you want to stay for lunch?" Well, no, not really.

You think, sitting in the hospital with nothing to do for hours on end, that you have a lot of time on your hands. But then just try and put in a movie to watch. OMG - the LONGEST movies we have ever sat through with all the interruptions! We only finished one the previous night, and as we were up at that unreasonably early hour Thursday with - again nothing to DO for hours - we put in the second one.

I'd rented 21 and BOLT, movies we'd never gotten around to seeing. Bolt seemed like a great idea - cute doggie, funny movie, right? Yeah. Also about a devoted little girl who gets separated from her beloved dog. Ouch. In hind sight we probably could have made a better choice. Oh well, at least we had all those interruptions to keep us from getting too carried away with the emotions. ;-)

The PT and OT came mid morning, had him out for his first hallway excursions. He was walking quite well. Learned how to do stairs, the log roll, get into and out of chairs by leaning on their arms. Huum, we have no chairs with sturdy arms. A trip to the thrift store that afternoon fixed that. It was the OT who described to us the 3 day rule - that the first three days after surgery are the worst. I found myself clinging to that principle the next 2.5 days.

And there it was - we went home. The trip took its toll, but we got him set up in the recliner with end tables on both sides, his reading material, crossword puzzles, a huge sippy cup of juice, his phone, his phone charger, his iTouch, and all of the remotes within reach. As he started to criticize not just what I was doing, but also our property manager - whom we could see walking back and forth across the driveway apparently working on the wrong project - I threatened to close all of the blinds so that he could just worry about himself for a few hours. Seriously, I didn't know whether to rail at him or to burst out laughing when he told me I shouldn't have brought the bag of hard candy to his chair - just a candy dish. I think/hope I went the laughing route.

Night #2 was even less restful than #1. I shall not dwell on that.

Day #2 was fretful. Got up early as I was scheduled to work the kennel, taking Dave's normal shifts. At one point during the night he got over chilled, so we bundled him up under blankets. Getting up he was absolutely burning up - temperature 102! I pulled the blankets off, made him drink some, and promised to be back. Fortunately our dog numbers were low enough that our staff helper could deal with the dogs herself once the breakfasts and check ins/outs were done, and I came back in. Temperature down to 101. Called the doctor - waited hours for a call back. The assistant got the info and said she had to check with the surgeon... Who - had just left. So it would be hours more. Meanwhile, given his meds she didn't think he could/should take anything for the fever.

I didn't have any staff for the afternoon shift, so I was in the kennel mid afternoon when I finally got a call back. The surgeon wasn't overly concerned about his temperature given he didn't have any other signs of body aches or inflamed skin around his bandage. But - Motrin was ok if we wanted to administer that. And, given that this was 4:00 on Friday, if the temperature went up -- go to the ER. Great. That's real comforting.

Gave him Motrin; the fever broke overnight. Night #3, actually, was a real improvement over the first two. But Day #3, Saturday, he was plagued with a lot of pain. He pretty much hunkered down for the day in bed. I watched some DVDs by myself and did some house cleaning. Not nearly enough, mind you. But some.

The surgeon had stressed that the best rehabilitation for him was walking. Starting even Thursday we'd done some walking on the property. It's almost 1/4 mile down to the mailbox - we figured it's now his duty to go collect it. It's a bit of a push coming back up to the house, but rather conveniently we have benches set up above the riding arena which are 3/4 of the way.

Sunday, Day #4, finally, really did felt better. The nights continue to improve, and he's pretty much fully ambulatory himself now: I'm not helping him get into or out of bed, etc. That evening we took off and went to a nearby nature area for our walk. Took the dog. It was beautiful. It was really nice to explore new place we'd never been to though it's just down the street and we drive by it all the time. My sister happened to call while we were out and I was reporting that yes, Dave was feeling better. "I'm still in pain," he grumbled over my shoulder. Yeah, ok sweetie. I didn't press him to admit that it would have taken a semi-truck to get him out of bed the day before, not to mention into the car and down to the nature trail -- NOR that he only took his pain meds 3 times on Sunday instead of the prescribed 4. So THERE - grumpy.

Love you. ;-D

So, I'm back at work today and he's at home to fend for himself. He has a followup visit with the surgeon on Thursday, and a tentative Physical Therapy appointment on Friday. We're hoping that by next week he'll be feeling well enough to do the clerical tasks in the kennel. Fingers crossed!

Meanwhile, it's JUNE! Boy did that sneak up on us. June is very busy on the ranch - it's our highest kennel month (traditionally) and summer camps start. To have Dave completely laid up this week is ultra inconvenient -- which makes me chaff all the more that his surgery was delayed for 5 weeks for nothing but a bureaucratic mess up back in April. GRRRR. But I shall not dwell on that.



Blogger Phyllis Swenson said...

Sounds like you two have not been in the hospital before. No sleep, constant interuptions, and boredom are pretty standard I think. Although when I went, there were no DVD's ;-)

6/1/09, 5:39 PM  
Anonymous Rich said...

Sounds like Dave is slowly (creak, grind) recovering. Lot of little walks are good, too. Like to the kitchen, to the bathroom, to look out the window. I was in the hospital last Saturday. I went to bed at 10:30 and was awakened at 12:00, 1:00, 2:00, 4:00 and 6:00, when I finally decided I was not going to get any more sleep! Not a restful place!

6/1/09, 5:53 PM  
Blogger Paula said...

Sounds like you are both doing great! I have been through a back surgery before, so I could see both the concern and the consternation.
It only gets better from here..

6/1/09, 8:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm so happy to hear that Dave is feeling better. Give him a big hug for me. I hope he'll be running to the mailbox before long!

6/1/09, 8:51 PM  
Blogger Dean said...

I feel guilty for hugely enjoying the update.
Good to know that Dave is on the mend.


6/2/09, 3:54 PM  
Blogger Birdie said...

I'm glad Dave got through the hardest part okay. I hope that all of his back troubles are behind him. Heh. No really. Thanks for the update.

6/5/09, 8:02 AM  

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