Archive for the ‘health’ Category

Hip hip boo hoo

February 15, 2019

Last week I had my follow up appointment after knee replacement surgery. I have to say that I found the knee replacement surgery a doddle and had full mobility after just a week or so, and the pain has been negligible, compared to my hip, but you will find out why that is shortly.

Here’s the X-ray of the said knee replacement, with a side view on the left and front view on the right and yes, I know the X-ray is reversed!

The knee is fully healed and I have full range of motion and what is more…no pain!

My hip replacement however, has not been all that I expected, for a start I have had continual pain, so much so that the past few months I have been unable to sleep and you know what that means? …yes, grumpy Bernice. We knew after the post op checkup X-ray and subsequent MRI that there was a probable crack in the trochanter which I was expecting it to have healed by now. There was also a suggestion at the time (and the reason I had the MRI) that something more sinister could be going on rather than a break.

There was apparently lots of discussion between radiologists and my surgeon as to what was going on but I was pretty confident that the surgeon was right and it was just a break.. did I really say that? “just” a break?

However, my surgeon was adamant that it was stress fracture, the talk of worse things he played down considerably so that I would not worry or panic. He now tells us that he discussed it with his wife, who just so happens to be a cancer specialist, and he was sure he was correct and that there was no need to put me through the trauma of a biopsy, which we discussed at the time of the first MRI when we considered having it done whilst I was under anaesthetic for the knee replacement. But the week before the knee surgery we discussed the biopsy possibilities again and I was more than comfortable with his recommendation that we don’t proceed with it. And at this stage the pain was not so bad and in fact had started to dissipate however, over the last two months the pain has increased, a lot.

Last week during the knee checkup I explained to the specialist that my hip was becoming excruciatingly painful, especially at night, and I was not a happy chappy. He quickly sent me back to the X-ray dept next door for another X-ray, this time of the hip.

And what do you know? It’s definitely fractured, with the offending piece having completely broken off at some stage! No wonder it’s been damn painful. The following pictures are of my X-ray on the lightbox so there is some shadowing and reflection.

the offending trochanter which is the knobbly piece at the top of the femur

The trochanter circled in red, the break is indicated by the yellow arrow. Not only has it completely broken off, it has moved a bit. Ouch!

So another MRI was booked and I had that on Tuesday as well as a follow up appointment with the specialist.

This latest MRI confirmed the specialists view, what has happened is that the stress fracture developed over time to become a full on fracture. I was relieved that a) it was nothing more serious and b) that I had a very reasonable excuse for being in such pain and I wasn’t just being pathetic!

We talked at length about what to do about it, coming to the conclusion that doing nothing for the trochanteric break was the only real option. It is now healing nicely albeit slower than I would like, and further surgery is definitely not in the scheme of things. The thought of them having to do further surgery to rebreak it, then reattach with screws, plates and wires is a daunting prospect particularly as everything I’ve read and studied all come to the same conclusion; the outcomes after 12 months are almost identical wether nothing is done or surgery is performed. So with good pain management the priority, we now have a plan in place and hopefully it will continue to heal and I just have to be patient (not one of my best qualities) and definitely no skydiving or other dangerous activities, even though I’ve been walking around on a fracture for months.

Apparently fractures occur in a very small number of replacements but they are the most common complication after total hip replacement surgery and of those small number of fractures about 5% are trocanteric fractures. So it’s just my shit luck to be part of the very, very small percentage to have this occur! I always knew I was a bit “special” 😉.

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Knee update

January 18, 2019

A number of people have asked how my knee has been post surgery, so after 6 weeks here is an update.

It has been a breeze, pain has been negligible since day one, however it has been carefully managed and I have tried not to be a hero and go without the pain meds which I am sure is part of the reason why recovery has been so easy. I had full movement back after just a week post surgery and I was diligent in doing the exercises given to me by my physio.

I continued using crutches for about 4 weeks although I could have given them up long before then but I have been very mindful to take things carefully so as not to have any mishaps. My wound healed really well, helped I am sure by the Manuka Honey Wound Gel that my surgeon suggested I use. The scar is already becoming less and less visible, now assisted by the use of rosehip oil to reduce the evidence of scarring.

the scar isn’t looking too bad at all is it?

It has been so easy that I am wondering why I put it off for so long? In fact I asked the surgeon the day after the op if he could whip me down to theatre and do the other knee whilst I was there. Unfortunately his schedule was full.

I had been putting surgery off in the hope that the research into stem cell use would be done by now. Although some people are having stem cell therapy done and with some success, my very thorough research says that clinical trials are still ongoing with advances coming all the time however there have been too many incidences of rogue cells becoming cancerous. Hence my reticence in trying it out.

I am reliable told that advances in orthopaedic surgery in the past two years has been remarkable which has probably helped my recovery as well. But having a great surgeon and anaesthetist is also a huge factor in my quick recovery I am sure.

Now just the next one to be done, I think we may just postpone that one until we return from the UK as if I have it done before we go I am pretty sure that Sod’s law will kick in and something will go wrong and I definitely don’t want to do anything to jeopardise that exciting trip.

So to sum up, it’s been such an easy surgery and recovery I wish I had had it done years ago. I even enjoyed? (not sure that is the right word) my hospital stay pretending I was on a mini holiday break with the bed made for me, meals cooked for me, with lots of rest involved. Just keep your fingers crossed that the next one goes as well.

The good news

December 10, 2018

We have both been back to our respective surgeons this past week, actually on the same day but on the opposite sides of Auckland. Roy headed off to Ascot Hospital Greenlane in the morning for his post op check up, which went well, his PSA levels are almost zero and everything else is healing fine.

My appointment was at Southern Cross Hospital in Wairau Road, and Keith came to the rescue and did his best “Driving Miss Daisy” impression and we were there in no time. I also got a good review, the allergic reaction has settled, the wound is healing nicely, so well in fact that instead of seeing the surgeon in a couple of weeks time for the post op X-rays and checkup, we have delayed it until next year as we both felt that it would be a better time frame and considering I am doing so well, there was no point in an early appointment.

But prior to our appointments we were spectators to an amazing thunder and lightning storm which also brought with it torrential rain.

the view from the door during the deluge.

The thunder and lightning was directly overhead, the noise was intense and I must admit I was a little concerned. What we didn’t find out until later in the day was that three sheep, up on the hill not 150metres from the van, were struck by lightning and killed.

The storm was over in a few short hours and was all clear by the time we needed to get away to our appointments.

The view from the door just a few hours after the storm departed. amazing really that the water was already disappearing from sight.

The following day was departure day for Keith & Debbie, we have been travelling together for the past few months and have enjoyed having their company and at various times assistance with bits and pieces especially as both Roy and I have been on light duties post surgeries. We’ve shared a few laughs, in fact a lot of laughs, and of course we have enjoyed the fishing exploits. We will meet up again next year when the freezers need filling up again with lots of lovely fresh fish.

So life for us is back to camp hosting duties, which is already proving to be interesting,, what with a terrible booking system to contend with from an end user perspective, tourists who cannot book in for whatever reason, the odd partying underage campers to deal with, campers arriving late and being noisy without regard for others and campers who arrive without essential items and come looking for assistance.

All in a days work.

It was all going so well

December 2, 2018

My surgery and subsequent recovery had been going so well, I’m well ahead of expectations of range of motion and activity and all was great. The physio came out to see me on Monday, she was also impressed at where I was up to but she did say that she thought I should pop back to the hospital to get the dressing changed as it appeared the wound was oozing somewhat.

Instead I rang my surgeon and talked to his receptionist about what to do. She suggested I come in and let Hugh have a look but also to start the antibiotics I was given for a just-in-case situation like this. By late that afternoon I was at his office getting it looked at. It turns out that the wound itself was fine, but I had reacted to the glue on the dressing and it had formed blisters all around the wound. Ouch.

So he cleaned it up and put on a different dressing. This was Tuesday afternoon. Thursday the dressing was again soaked but also bit of an ugly shade of green.. so I again rang Nicki who suggested I send Hugh a photo of what it looked like. So I did. I mean how many surgeons give you their cell phone number?? He rang almost immediately and said remove the dressing clean it with the special wash I had been given and send him another picture.

Which we duly did. He rang back again, saying he thought the wound looked fine, it was just this allergic reaction, so sit in the sun with it exposed for a while, and then put on the Manuka Wound Gel he had told me about, redress and come and see him in the morning. Which we did on Friday for a dressing dressing change and some ointment for the blistery, itchy, hot, annoying rash that circumnavigates the long thin scar of the surgery.

I go back to him on Tuesday for another check up, I hope to goodness that the rash and blisters have cleared up by then otherwise I may be very annoyed!

There will be no pictures in this blog entry, I do not need to share the ugly side of my wound, it’s bad enough having it out in the sunshine for people to see.

Apart from that and a very swollen ankle and foot, all is well and I am well on the road to recovery..

Roy also has a post op checkup on Tuesday, let’s hope that it is also a good result.

Knees up

November 20, 2018

The worst bit about going into hospital for surgery is the waiting time before you actually get taken into theatre. I had to check in at Southern Cross North Harbour Hospital at 11am and by 11.30 I was ready and waiting for the inevitable, I was wheeled down to the theatre at 1.35pm, left outside the door of the theatre once the anaesthetist had put in the needles ready for what comes next. As I was left by myself waiting (5 minutes seemed like an hour) wondering wether I should do a runner, actually that would be more of a limp, or just breathe in, breathe in, breathe in…….and out and calm myself down.

They were soon back to have me walk into theatre, this time I was very good and didn’t look around at all to see all the gory bits and pieces, I hopped onto the theatre bed which they have at the side so I could face the wall and not see anything behind me, the epidural was put in seamlessly and painlessly then the sedative injected. Next I knew I was in the recovery room. But what a weird sensation of having no feeling of anything below my waist. I tried desperately to move my feet and toes but I don’t think messages were getting through.

I was back in my room by 4pm where Roy was waiting for me.

my attempt at a selfie post op!!

After an hour or two, a light snack was brought in for me to try, jelly, ice cream and little sandwiches….I thought I was at a kids party! I haven’t had jelly on its own for years, and it was delicious. See, I qualified that Keith by saying jelly on its own, I know you made that lovely layered dessert for Debs birthday that included a jelly and fruit layer!!

The epidural eventually wore off over the evening but I had also apparently been given a femoral block. What does that do? well, you feel no pain at all and I can tell you it was bliss. For the first time in I don’t know how many months I actually slept for 5 hours straight, unlike my usual pattern of no sleep until the early hours of the morning and then for a maximum of 2 hours at a time.

I was put on the bending knee machine which you can gradually increase the incline of the bend. I eventually got it up to a 90 degree bend without too much trouble.

I don’t think it will get that far today now that the effects of the block are wearing off but I have to say that any pain i do have is being well managed unlike when I had my hip done and things were excruciatingly painful, until I realised I could ask for pain meds!! I have walked around the bed with crutches today, which is apparently pretty good, and I will have another couple of goes later this afternoon and evening.

So far this hospital experience has been very different from when I had my hip done, same surgeon and anaesthetist just different hospital and protocols. I have been made very comfortable and haven’t felt so terrible afterwards which means I have a better appetite, which of course makes you feel better too.

Well, that’s it, just over 24 hours since surgery was completed, and I think I’ve written this in some sort of sane manner! I’m sure someone will let me know if I haven’t .

Now comes the hard recovery work.

Time drifts on by

August 20, 2018

I am always surprised at how time seems to slip through our fingers, before you know it another week has gone and we wonder what on earth we have been doing.

We are still at Uretiti enjoying the sunshine and relative peace and quiet and managing to keep ourselves very busy doing not much at all. Oh I tell lies, there are always things to be done, and places to go and people to see with little spare time for much else.

We have been to local markets to stock up on lovely fresh vegetables as well we have been in to Whangarei to do some shopping as there always seems to be those little bits and pieces to buy.

Included doing the odd things like cleaning the vents and the vent covers, cleaning the windows, and as well putting new broom holders on the wall in the laundry area.

All looking neat and tidy.

It’s been lovely having Keith & Debbie around, we all seem to get on well without living in each other’s pockets. The chaps have been out fishing on numerous occasions with very little catching being done with either the drone or the kite, but it seems as though no one is catching much off this beach right at the moment so we think it’s time for us to move further north. We’ve been on the odd excursion into Whangarei, finding new things and rediscovering others whilst always having a laugh and a half. Keith & Debbie are now off with family for a couple of weeks but we shall meet up with them again in another few weeks.

We’ve caught up with Mark & Glynis a couple of times, with the last occasion Glynis finally remembered to take a photo of us

It was a great night too, lovely food, fabulous Ata Rangi wines, and fantastic company.

Roy and I had a quick trip down to Auckland for specialists appointments and to collect our mail and have a quick catch up with Antony. Included in the mail was my new Fitbit-style activity tracker, which is keeping me on track so I know exactly how far I am walking each day.

I haven’t quite got to the recommended 10,000 steps as yet but I am getting there. I just have to get used to all the features this tracker has to make best use of it. It seems to do just about everything as it is paired to my phone so I get notified of messages, txts, emails etc as well as the tracking features, heart rate monitor etc etc. We are so impressed that we have ordered one for a Roy, his one has even more features so that should be fun.

My hip is really good now, the last annoying stitch finally fell off yesterday, and I have very little hip pain at all apart from when I do something I shouldn’t! But the knees are another story. You can tell they are giving me lots of pain and issues as I am not hesitant at all about going to back to the surgeon to get them sorted……it’s only been 12 years since I was first told I needed them replaced but I don’t think I can put it off any longer.

Other little tasks have been done like getting warrant of fitness certificate for the RAV, and then both vehicles needed registering.

Another wee job that has always gone to the “I’ll do that later” list, has finally been sorted. I am getting my engagement and eternity rings fixed after a mishap I had with catching my hand in a door some time ago. I have found a fabulous jeweller here in Whangarei that actually does design and repair work. They have suggested that they join my eternity and engagement rings together as part of the problem has been that the two rings move against each other and have resulted in damage. Brilliant idea.

There have been many other motorhoming friends pass through the camp so it has been an opportune time to catch up on all their comings and goings and what everyone is up to since we saw them last.

The hands have been busy knitting up a storm with lots of baby things done for friends and family that are having babies.

I’ve also got back into making my sourdough bread again which has proved to be very successful. So much so I’ve had to make a couple of loaves every second day to keep up with demand!

All in all we manage to keep ourselves out of mischief and we do achieve a few things occasionally!

Another woohoo

August 1, 2018

Yes it’s another woohoo in the Vannini vanhold bushold rvhold household.

I had my checkup with my surgeon yesterday and everything is looking good. I still have some pain, just minor stuff which is just things taking their time to heal after bones being bashed and sawn, muscles & nerves being chopped – goodness me sounds more like butchery than surgery – however we are getting back into shape and we are getting there. I see the surgeon again in 8weeks time when we make the BIG decision on which knee to do first.

Funnily enough it has always been my left knee that has caused the most pain and grief but since having the left hip replaced it is the right knee that is now causing the most angst. Apparently that is to be expected as some of the knee pain was coming from the hip and of course relying on the other knee heavily whilst recovering from surgery has put added pressure on the right knee. Anyway, we shall see what happens in a couple of months time when we make the decision to go with the left or the right. And NOT having a ‘Lieutenant Dan’ (Forest Gump reference) as my delightful son suggested!!!

Meanwhile we are still at Uretiti…..there is a story behind that but more on that later!

Woohoo

July 24, 2018

We have some good news. Roy had an appointment yesterday with the Oncologist for a follow up after all of his treatment recently which we are delighted to say came back with all good news.

He has been given the all clear and has been discharged from their care with no more appointments or follow ups to be done, apart from the usual checks with our GP. Woohoo!

Getting back to normal

July 3, 2018

Saturday was a momentous day, as I moved back into the van! After visiting the day before to make sure I could get in and out of the RV with some semblance of ease it was time to make the big move.

Bringing with me my special raised chair as well as the over-the-toilet raised seat it wasn’t long before I had comfortably taken up my place in the van. But hello, we have a problem Houston, as the seat that goes over the toilet will not fit into our toilet space, oh no, but hang on a minute, let’s just see if I can actually use the loo without the seat. And what do you know? Yes I can. What an achievement, well, it feels like a huge accomplishment. And that raised chair to sit on? It takes up an awful lot of room, but it’s the same height as our two front captains chairs, so that’s easy, I’ll just swivel the chairs around to face the cabin and sit in one of those. So apart from a pair of crutches and a picker-upperer thingy, they are the only visible things to show that life has not quite returned to normality but we are getting there. Another accomplishment made….I can put my own knickers on! With a little help from the picker-uperer thingy. Not too bad for 12 days post op.

It’s been quite an experience, especially trying to describe how it feels. Initially it felt as though someone had injected a 20kg lump of lead inside my thigh/hip as well as a dead leg/Charlie which makes for lifting your leg up, especially when lying in bed to try and get out, almost an impossible task. It makes for interesting times and ingenuity to make life’s little tasks a little easier. Today though, the lump of lead feels as though it weighs only about 15kg and I presume that each day it will become less and less as I become more and more mobile.

We are staying here at Ardmore for a day or three to make sure I am ok with everything before planning our next move. Nothing is being done in a hurry, I am content to take my time and to be patient, somewhat of a foreign concept for me, but I know that I cannot hurry the mending process along.

Simon & granddaughter Maria came to visit last Sunday. It was lovely to spend some time with them and to enviously watch Maria clamber over everything and nimbly race up and down steps with such ease…..I’m only slightly envious of such suppleness of a 22month old! Antony called around as well so it was a catch up for us all.

Hip hip hooray

June 26, 2018

Firstly many thanx to family, friends and acquaintances from near and far who have rung, emailed, messaged or managed some other means of communication to wish me well and to see how I was going. I especially appreciated those of you who stayed away due to having cold bugs etc, and for not sharing them with me. And to those of you who sent messages telepathically, they may have got a little muddled in translation but I got the gist! It has all been very much appreciated, and Jacky’s visit on Friday was just the tonic I needed before leaving the hospital.

Now that the anaesthetic fog has lifted and the pain meds are reducing, I almost feel human like again. Every day things are a little easier but as I have said before I am definitely the tortoise in this race.

Antony and Roy are looking after me well, making sure I do exactly as I have been told, and it is nice to be here in front of the fire and out of the damn awful weather that we seem to be experiencing. Oh yeah, it’s winter, right. The boys are honing their cooking skills showing that some knowledge is passed on via osmosis. Long may it continue.

Oh, and I have received a letter from the Bone Bank thanking me for my donation of the old hip and that the bone has been accepted and already been used to help someone else. I wish them all the best.