I have been up since the crack of dawn this morning. Well before the crack of dawn really.
I can’t wait to go home. For the obvious reasons, but for others that are unfortunate byproducts of the wonderful care I have received. Let me explain.
Sleep deprivation builds and builds when you’re in hospital. Even now, the nurses wake me twice a night for my pain medications (oxynorm and panadol) and observations (blood pressure, heart rate, temperature). I appreciate it. They have been wonderful. And it’s been good to catch three to four hours sleep over the past two nights. (Previously, one to two hours in blocks of no more than 20 minutes.)
What makes it tough is how long that process takes. I have to drink all medications through a straw. They must be either liquid form or dissolvable and even then, to be marginally palatable, I have them in orange or apple juice. Then I have to get myself, on crutches, to the bathroom to clean my wired teeth scrupulously and use my mouth wash. Finally, I have to sit up for about 20 minutes or else it still seems to tickle my throat and I must somehow soothe the coughing with water.
Not like popping a panadol or two for a headache and crashing back in bed, is it? You are so overtired by that point you are up for a while.
I am still requiring oxynorm (opiate) three times a day for what they call breakthrough pain. Over the last two days, I’ve tested my limit. It’s about eight hours, but less if I have been eating (the polite term for sucking) or talking (the polite term for clenched teeth grunting while holding closed the hole in my throat). The problem is the pain of the swelling in my left lower jaw, not the pain from my left leg. Although technically it is my left leg that’s paining me as it’s in my jaw. Got that?
At home, that would mean I could take a dose half an hour before I want to sleep and the pain should only wake me after seven hours sleep, give or take. Right now, I’ve probably been waiting half an hour for a nurse who doesn’t know me yet to be able to get me the oxynorm. It’s not the sort of drug they hand out to all askers, you see.
Since before the crack of dawn, I have showered, attempted to tidy my room while on crutches putting no weight on my left leg (pretty ineffective clean up), gone for a walk up the hall, and had a little nap. Only to have the physio wake me of course, and the merry go round continues.
But what I set out to tell you about in this post was the discharge preparations. My mum is a little (ha!) concerned about me going home so early and I ran her through all the preparations yesterday to set her mind at ease. As much as that is possible.
For my broken leg, the physio fitted me with a swanky new black boot. Mick lent us his crutches, probably still warm from his last Achilles adventure. He’s also dropped off a stool on rollers for the kitchen that he found helpful and promised to teach me how to get a good gorilla walk going once my leg can bear weight. (This is really funnier when you picture Mick at maybe six foot six, and me at five foot one!)
For my care at home, the head nurse has organised community nursing for me from Royal District Nursing. It will be one hour a day for the first seven days. I can extend it, but it should be enough to get help dressing my tracheostomy wound until it heals in about a week, working out the best technique for washing in our shower-over-bath, and generally negotiating the obstacles of a toddler household, like gates. Darren is going to fit a new shower head. The type that can clip up as normal but comes on a long hose and can be hand held. He plans to use it for Alannah too.
For my nutrition, the dietitian took us through some stuff, fairly unhelpful. We already have it covered. Darren has invested in a whizz-bang new blender for my new puree diet. I stocked up on quite a few things before hospital and will do a big Coles order when I get home. At about three to four weeks post-op, I may get bands to replace the total wiring on my teeth. I won’t be able to chew much or open my mouth wide, but I might be able to move on to thicker puree at that stage. At about six weeks post-op, all the wiring should be removed and I can move on to soft mash.
For my speech, I have a variety of speech pathologist options. This is really a sleeper issue until my jaw is unwired. That’s when I need to work on getting my chewing and speech back to (the new) normal. There will be lots of scar tissue and extra bulk, so there will be exercises to do.
… and that’s all for now… this post was interrupted by my special visitors, Matthew and Cecily! Matthew had the same operation only 10 days before me at Westmead Public. War stories. And now Darren is here too, packing up for me.
Time to blow this joint. Home…