My new knee finally arrived from the U.S and my operation rescheduled for Thursday 20th August
The big day arrived and as per strict instructions I checked into Alvor hospital at 7.30 am with nothing but what I was wearing, a writing pad, pens, iPad, phone, kindle and crutches. Thanks to COVID the hospital provided everything else – even knickers and toiletries.
The nurse collected me from reception and as I got into the lift and waved hubby goodbye panic welled within me. Unlike my previous operation, thanks to COVID, I would have no further physical support until he collected me six days later. So a belated thank you to all my friends and family for their virtual support.
As I’d not been advised the of the time of my operation I decided to think of Buddha and go with the flow.
Once on the ward and settled in my room with my meager possessions unpacked I was given a surgical gown and instructed to shower. The first cannula/vein thingy inserted I asked the time of my operation. The nurse looked at me surprised.
‘What! I must ring my husband before you stick further needles in me’ It was 8.30am.
At the eleventh hour, I opted for the epidural rather than anesthetic, providing I was given strong sedatives. Mentally I would not cope with the sound effects of drilling and sawing plus any potential visual horrors of having my knee removed. Okay, I am a self-confessed wimp.
Before being wheeled down to the operating theatre I am given a surgical mask to wear during the operation. Another COVID precaution. It seemed bizarre but a small sacrifice to make.
Thankfully, I don’t remember anything about the surgery other than being asked to shift my bulky body from the bed onto the operating table the width of a plank. Then rolled over onto my side while the surgeon inserted something in my spine. Convinced I was going to roll off the plank, I begged the nurse to stand in front of me while I clung to him for grim death.
Back on the ward
My first thought when I returned to my room was to ask the nurse to pass me my mobile phone so I could ring hubby to let him know I was okay.
My second priority was FOOD. Not a morsel of food or drink had passed my lips since 18.00 the previous night and I was STARVING. God or Buddha must have been listening to my stomach growling because the food trolley on cue and I was served a wonderful lunch of soup, chicken with lemon, vegetables and a bowl of salad, and fruit! A real feast especially as I had opted for the Gluten-free option.
In fact, the arrival of the food trolley in the absence of visitors to bring me grapes, fruit, sweets, and drinks, etc. helped alleviate the hospital monotony and the bleak sense of loneliness. Yes, food can be a great comforter! And because I was gluten-free I could not even have biscuits or cakes.
Apart from one dinner (I think it was pork stew) which tasted so vile, I could not eat it, the food at Alvor private hospital was far better than expected.
Life on the ward
I decided to have the TKR op during COVID only IF could have a private room and facilities. I knew I would be unable to cope mentally, given the fact we don’t go to bars and restaurants and supermarkets unless they are empty, with sharing a room and the intimate space of a toilet if I could not ‘hover’.
The nursing team were extremely kind and had the patience of saints. I mention this because me buzzing for a bedpan nearly every hour through the night kept them busy.
I felt sorry for them on Friday night as they were understaffed. The wards were full, they had a problem patient who kept ripping all his dressings off and their laundry supply was down to two sheets as the supplier had let them down.
Nature called and demanded I be wheeled to the toilet. Already too much information… anyways, safely deposited on the throne, courtesy of a wheelchair, with a hole in it and my leg resting on the rubbish bin for support, I completed the necessary and pulled the emergency red chord and waited. I pulled again, no one appeared. Silence. I shouted. Screamed and pulled the chord again. Nothing. My leg now throbbing I counted to a thousand then pulled the chord again before going into meltdown as rigor mortis set in and leg cramp/spams shot through my body. To say I was scared shitless was an understatement. What a place to end my days.
Eventually, after about 35 minutes, an auxiliary came to my rescue. Poor love, she was so upset at my predicament but there was not enough staff. I decided next time I had to use the throne I would take my phone so I could ring the emergency services.
Apart from the joy of food and toilet traumas I occupied myself writing poetry, surfing the net, watching Netflix and chatting to friends and family via WhatsApp and FB.
The nights went on forever because even when eventually fell to sleep with exhaustion I was woken up at nearly midnight every night to be given painkillers and a sleeping pill. And of course, once woken from a deep sleep I could not get back to sleep and stared vacantly at the blackness beyond my window.
On Saturday, much to my surprise, a physiotherapist came to put my leg in what can only be described as an automatic knee bending machine. She tried to persuade me to walk using crutches but no way.
After yesterday my tendinitis was extremely angry and painful and any pressure left me howling with pain. I managed to walk out of my room but was forced to concede defeat and plead for a wheelchair.
To be discharged from the hospital I was expected to walk the length of the corridor and back and up and then down a flight of stairs before I would be discharged. I quickly pointed out I haven’t walked a flight of stairs for years and I don’t have stirs at home.
We negotiated and agreed two steps would be okay.
My hospital stay was scheduled for a minimum of five nights so when I’d heard nothing by 14.00 on the sixth day I’d resigned myself to yet another night or two in hospital. I knew I had to have better mobility before they discharged me, but at the same time, there is no quick fix for tendonitis. Rock and hard place came to mind.
You can imagine my delight when Dr. Pinto came to see me just after two, asked me some questions, and agreed I could go home!
Now the real fun begins
Useful reference: Bonesmart.org