Archive for the ‘hospital’ Category

A woohoo day

May 23, 2020

It was an early start to the day, well, early for one member of the touring party. We were on the road by 7.30am, not knowing how the traffic would be getting from one end of Auckland to the other now that we are at level with schools back and people back at work. It turned out that the traffic wasn’t too bad, just a little slow in a couple of places but I’m sure that some people have forgotten how to drive after being in lockdown for 7 or 8 weeks.

We arrived at Greenlane Hospital with plenty of time until my scheduled appointment, first we get checked in at the door by security before heading to reception. I had to go and have X-rays first. The newly reconfigured waiting room with chairs having ‘Do not sit here’ signs placed on two chairs with the next chair vacant, find a seat and wait. Got to keep up the social distancing. Once the X-rays are done it’s off to the next reception area standing on the appropriately marked spots to then be told to take a seat in the waiting room. Not too long to wait and I’m off to see the surgeon, the upshot of the consult? Without going into great detail, the main things are that recovery to full mobility (and free of pain) is a work in progress but I’m doing well, I’m on antibiotics for another 6 months but I’m discharged from his care through the public system however I will see him in a few months time in his rooms.

Yay, one thing done, now onto the next. A trip to Manukau to see Antony for a brief meet up at his work and collect our mail from him. It was great to see him after all these weeks and look forward to really catching up properly next week.

From there it was a short drive to the craft store for a few supplies including some wool whilst Roy managed to find another shop to spend his hard earned cash. There was a nice looking cafe nearby so we decided to have our lunch there, practising the new normal of one at a time in the door, standing on the x spots before sanitising and signing in, taking a seat at tables which now have appropriate distance between them. After a lovely lunch we headed off toward the next appointment.

But along the way we realised that via a small detour we could visit a favourite market garden and get in some supplies ready for some pickling, bottling and saucing to be done over the next few days. Back on the road again and off to the fishing shop where Roy was picking up a few essential supplies ready for some serious fishing in the months ahead.

Onto the next appointment at our GP, where Roy was having his medical for his drivers licence renewal. That completed, it was again off across to the other side of Auckland to the Cardiac Specialist for Roy’s 2 year checkup. Whilst I waited in the car, I read Roys drivers licence renewal form noticed that the GP had ticked the wrong boxes for the drivers licence. After the successful visit with the cardiologist was completed where Roy was given a big tick, we headed back across the city to the GP, fighting the 5pm traffic! Get the form changed to include Heavy Traffic licence and then time to head home along with everyone else it seems, getting back to the van early evening.

We are now all good to go medically, just a few more things to be ticked off the list before we can head off into the wild blue yonder. Watch this space.

A birthday and some good news

April 23, 2020

Roy celebrated a milestone birthday the other day, I say celebrated, but in our bubble of two it was a sort of a celebration.

I made him a cake, his favourite cake that my Mum used to make for him, a chocolate orange drizzle cake.

Yes, I even found a couple of candles to go on the top

Extra concentration is required!

The day passed with lots of messages, phone calls, texts and video calls before we had his birthday dinner, finishing it off with a slice of cake of course. Although Roy could partake of a tipple, I am still under an alcohol ban, but perhaps one of these days we will be able to raise a glass or two together.

Celebrations this year were to have taken place in London however we all know now that that wasn’t going to happen this year what with one thing or another. We are forever hopeful that we may be able to postpone those celebrations, however long it takes.

Today was a momentous day, I had to travel 60kms each way to Greenlane Hospital to have my knee checkup and also to have my PICC line removed. We were there in plenty of time, and with only 5 other people on the huge waiting area I thought that I would be out of there pretty swiftly. But oh no, they were running late with appointments, so instead of my scheduled 10.15am appointment, I finally went in at 12 midday. Meanwhile, Roy was waiting in the car but I had to send him off as we had made appointments with our GP not too far away from Greenlane, to have our flu shots. Never mind, I’ll get mine another day. Anyway, the news was good, everything is looking good, apparently the blood tests are all looking fantastic and in particular the test that measures infection and inflammation went from 422 (when I was first admitted to hospital) down to 13 now. Normal range is under 5 apparently, so a little way to go but as I have arthritis that may account for a slightly higher reading.

Now I am on oral antibiotics for the next 6 weeks which will be reviewed in a months time when I go for my next checkup.

So it was a quick checkup, and then I was to wait to have my PICC line removed. Nurses in the orthopaedic department are not allowed to remove the line so I had to wait for the specialist nurse to come and do it. I will not go into detail, except to say that the removal of the external clip with the hook shaped wires embedded in my arm to keep it in place hurt one helluva lot. The line itself was totally painless and didn’t feel a thing as it was removed.

So the positives that I take out of having this line removed today are;

    No more wrapping my arm in plastic and taping the plastic in place to have a shower
    No more remembering to pick up the bottle and line in the middle of the night when I want to go to the loo
    No more waking up to be able to turn over in bed and shift everything to the right position, then try and get comfortable again
    Being able to lift my arm up above my head….think washing hair, hanging out washing, etc etc

Don’t get me wrong though, I am forever grateful that there are such amazing things as PICC lines and infusor bottles otherwise I would have had to spend the last 5 1/2 weeks in hospital having the antibiotics being injected through a lure every 4 hours. Not my idea of fun.

In fact looking at the overall picture, the timing really couldn’t have been better for this whole episode, as my recovery at home has lined up with the lockdown for Covid-19. I have managed to rest as much as possible and we have been happily locked away on our bubble of two. And Roy too was very fortunate to have had his colonoscopy done the same day as my surgery, as all those procedures were subsequently cancelled due to the pandemic.

Onwards and upwards now, we just have to hope that a vaccination will be forthcoming and we can return to some semblance of a new normality and we can get to go and play with this gorgeous young man.

Life as we know it…

March 26, 2020

Who would have thought that world events would have such an impact on all of our lives. A lot, and I mean a lot, has happened over the past week since I was discharged from Auckland hospital.

The District Nurse visited last Friday to oversee the changing of my infusor (yes, that is the correct spelling) bottle of antibiotics and to ensure I have procedures, hygiene etc down. She was really happy with what I am doing and I went solo from Saturday onwards. However, she did pick up the fact that where the PICC line was located, that every time I bent my arm, I kinked the line, so I wasn’t getting the full daily dose. So we agreed that I would go in on Monday and they would reposition it for me, in the meantime, could I fashion a splint so that at least whilst I slept, my arm would be kept straight. A proper splint was found in the first aid kit, a malleable foam covered aluminium device that ended up working really well. However, it wasn’t pleasant to sleep with and I woke frequently through the nights.

Monday morning and events changing rapidly in NZ, we are at Level 2 Alert on the new Covid-19 system, with the prospect of going to full scale level 4 in a few days. I have my appointment with the District Nurse and she repositions the PICC line, changes the dressing and ports, and send me on my way, it’s so much more comfortable now. Meanwhile, Roy waits in the car for me…..he’s in isolation being over 70! Then I have to go for blood tests, the local Lab is closed so we have to go further afield, again, Roy waits in the car and I distance myself from everyone else. That done, we are on our way home again.

Once we get back we are told that the park is closing and everyone has to be out by midday tomorrow. Oh dear, what are we to do.

A very stressful rest of the day is spent sorting us out, and I can admit to a few tears shed by moi (in the privacy of the van) along the way, with my stress levels going through the roof. A lot of hard work, phone calls and talking ensues. But by early evening and we are sorted. We are parked up safely, in total isolation, and very happy where we are.

Tuesday morning I have to be at a Greenlane Hospital to see the surgeon and get the staples removed from my knee (ouch) plus get further instructions on what to do/not to do. I am basically told to rest as much as possible and let everything heal. With developments over the past 24hrs with emergency levels going to level 3 and level 4 coming into effect Wednesday evening, we tie everything up so I don’t have to go back to see him until 21st April, as they will do a once stop shop for me and remove the PICC line, check my knee, give me scripts for the course of oral antibiotics and anything else that needs doing. In these crazy times it’s sensible. Meanwhile I still have to go out once a week to get PICC line dressing and ports changed and to have blood tests but we can do both of these on the one day, Roy can stay in the car and I will sanitise, sanitise and sanitise before getting back into the car to protect carrying any germs with me.

As for me? I am slowly recovering, every day I feel a little better and a little stronger, Thursday was my first day of staying awake all day without having a nap or two. Tiny steps folks, tiny steps. Roy is well although I worry that he’s getting worn out as he’s also busy with his work and then running around after me. I’m trying not to be too demanding but I do need help with some things still.

So now we hunker down, I managed to get a click n collect slot for the supermarket this weekend and we have someone who has offered to pick up our “normal” grocery shopping……..with not a toilet roll on the list either!!! The shops will be open for the duration, we have plenty of good food supply lines in NZ so there is no need to panic folks!

We hope people will take this opportunity to learn a new skill or two; a new cooking skill, language, change a tap washer, knit, sew, garden, learn some handyman skills, get fit, read or whatever takes your fancy and connect with those who live in your “bubble”.

If we all do our bit, it will be over soon enough, but I am picking that this will last much longer than 4 weeks as there will be some *@#&$* out there who will muck it up for the majority of us.

Be kind, be nice, be strong, be safe. Stay Home!

Never a dull moment

March 20, 2020

I apologise now for the long wordy post, however make yourself a cuppa, sit back in a comfy chair, and enjoy the read!

They say that life in hospital is quite boring and that time seems to go by very slowly, but not for me. Looking back, I don’t think I realised just how ill I was as days blurred into one another and I seemed to want to do nothing but sleep. Eating was not high on my priority list and I don’t think I really ate anything much for at least the first four or five days, besides, the food at the hospital is worse than bad, it’s terrible, not what should be fed to very ill people who are in need of nutrient rich food, however, I have been very fortunate for friends and family to come to the rescue with delicious food parcels for me.

Excitement does occur occasionally and that happened on Monday morning when on my return from a bathroom visit, a dodgy looking, scruffy couple came into my room, scouted around the others cubicles ( I’m in a four bed room), so I asked “can I help you, are you looking for someone?” The reply was ” oh no, just looking for a pen”. Hmmm I thought, that doesn’t sound right, as I was trying to get back into my bed the girl asked ” do you need help?” No I do not” I replied, given with one of those stern looks of you’d better get out now before I beat you with one of my crutches looks! “Oh” she said, “oh right, I suppose we should go and put our uniforms on”. With that they left the room and I could see them wandering up and down the corridor. I thought to myself, nope, this doesn’t feel right, so I rang the bell for the nurse and told them what had just occurred. Soon, I hear the nurse came back into our room to tell the other nurse who was with me that there was a code Orange alert and security were on their way. Shortly, we heard that the security cornered this couple, who apparently were going from room to room stealing patients belongings. Police were called and arrived very quickly, they were arrested and removed. All this was done in probably less than 15minutes from my first encounter with them. But how low can you go, stealing from very ill people, on an orthopaedic ward where they probably knew how immobile most patients are. All rather dramatic.

On Tuesday the excitement was to ramp up a little. I mentioned in my last blog about the ungrateful, rude American woman in the next bed to me. Mrs P we shall call her. Mrs P (in her early 80’s, very fit and mentally onto it) had broken her upper femur whilst on a tour of NZ. Well, her daughter (Miss A) arrived from the US on the Sunday morning having independently booked some sort of cycling tour which just so happened to cross over time wise by a few days of Mrs P’s trip. Miss A had been up to the hospital visiting many times, always wearing a mask, and never coming too close to any of the rest of us although I did engage in conversations with her as she seemed a little more amenable than her cantankerous mother. Well, Tuesday evening after Miss A had left, and other visitors had left Mrs P was visited by the charge nurse and was told that with the way things are, Mrs P needed to be removed to a single, isolated room, tested for Covid-19 and Miss A was no longer able to visit the hospital and should go into self isolation. Mrs P was not impressed and threw a hissy fit….her daughter had arrived before the cut off time albeit by a few hours, why wasn’t she Mrs P being removed back to the US now, her insurance company was saying one thing, her son in the US another, the medical team at AKL hospital something else, airlines were all against her…blah blah blah blah. Nothing about putting others at potential risk.

Well, that sent us all into a mild panic, to say the least. I really really felt for one of my other room mates who not only had surgery for fractured bones but is also undergoing chemotherapy so her immunity is seriously compromised. Mrs P was removed from our room without a thank you or good bye from her as she was wheeled out. The stripping and cleaning of the room began….all this was now after midnight.

Meanwhile I was keeping my family up to date with what was going on. Antony had been in to visit that same evening and he was here when Miss A was visiting, and sat in the chair next to my bed on the side which Mrs P was, albeit behind the dividing curtain. Antony immediately rang his boss and put himself into self isolation because as he said he did not want to become “patient 31”. Yes, I know, I didn’t know what that meant either until a quick google search. As a brief explanation “Patient 31upended South Korea’s coronavirus-containment efforts, Patient 31 Caused 80% of Coronavirus Infections in South Korea, showcasing the importance of testing and social distancing.

The remaining three of us were subsequently visited by management, at some ungodly hours of the morning, questions answered as best they could and reassurances, as such, were given. None of us had any contact with Miss A or Mrs P for that matter, Miss A did wear a mask whenever she was in the room, and was never within a metre of any of us, however, that niggling doubt sticks in the back of ones mind, and we wait for Mrs P’s test results to return, before we all panic too much.

But the thing that got me the most was the arrogant selfish attitude of Mrs P, she was not concerned about any one else at all, in fact all she was worried about was herself, and she kept going on about the fact that Miss A had arrived before the isolation cut off time time of midnight Sunday. And yes she did arrive before midnight but by only a few hours before the curfew was invoked and of course subsequently all tourist arriving 14 days prior to the official cut off time have been told now to self isolate. Miss A certainly hadn’t come to NZ to see her mother, no she was booked on an independent trip, which was subsequently cancelled as soon as she got here. The relationship between mother and daughter I would have called platonic at best and was not particularly warm or even amicable.

I really really feel for the amazing nurses that work at Auckland Hospital, they too are all worried as of course they had very close contact with Mrs P.

So we waited, and waited, for the test results to come in. This is when time really did seem to drag, meanwhile Antony was at his home, keeping out of physical contact with work, as he said, the last thing needed at this time was for a whole section of detectives to be taken out of action. We waited and waited. Meanwhile, I start to feel better and better each day. My “numbers” are reducing rapidly which means the antibiotics are working. I must add here, that I have always been of the understanding that I was allergic to penicillin, coming out in a rash, this from childhood, which let’s face it was a few years ago now! I was put on an antibiotic that was on the penicillin spectrum but which between the Infectious Diseases team and the Allergic reaction team agreed I should be able to tolerate. The type of infection that I apparently have responds really really well to a very specific narrow based type of penicillin, Benzylpenicillin, which I was keen to try as I did wonder about my supposed allergy. Again after much to-ing and fro-ing between my surgical team, the Infectious Diseases team and the allergic reaction team, and as I was seemingly tolerating the other drug very well, we decided to give one dose a go. Well, of course nothing happened, no rash, no anaphylactic reaction of any kind, so I’m on the Benzylpenicillin with no side effects at all plus of course it is really targeting the bug causing the infection.

As I need to be on the drug, given intravenously, for 6 weeks, the thought of being in hospital for 6 weeks was horrifying, I was told the best way of administering the drug and to get me out of hospital was if I had a PICC line inserted. Peripherally Inserted Central Cather, PICC, line is inserted into your arm under local anaesthetic, the line runs up the vein inside your arm and ends up in a large vein in your chest. It is often used for administering chemotherapy.

I had this procedure done on Tuesday morning, not without some angst on my part….well, I am a wuss. My dear friend Di came to visit that morning and was waiting for me when I returned from having the procedure done. She was brilliant, as I don’t like all the gory details of what is done, on my return to my room Di went off with the nurse to have explained to her out of my earshot about the line I had put in and how it’s all attached externally etc etc. Di could then relate all of this to Roy, and I don’t really want to know!

Apart from being a little uncomfortable once the local had worn off, it wasn’t too bad, just unpleasant. It now meant I could have the other IV needles removed, and also bloods can be taken from the line as well so no more being a pin cushion.

In hospital I was having the antibiotic administered every 4 hours, but it now meant I could go home and have a 24 hour infusion attached. This infusion method is changed once every 24 hours and can be done from home via a District Nurse visiting, and I can be taught how to do it myself.

Meanwhile, we still wait for test results.

The wonderful OPIVA Nurse (Outpatient Intravenous Antibiotics) came Wednesday afternoon to explain to me how it all works and to give a little demo. This was now getting exciting as it meant that I’m ever closer to being discharged and with the outside world going crazy with Covid-19 news I was looking forward to being at home. Thursday morning and my surgeon visits, he is really happy with the way things are looking, and if everything can be put into place, was I happy to be discharged this afternoon? Really? I’m ecstatic! Behind the scenes teams have been working hard at sorting out the realities of my life because of course we have no fixed address. We use Antony’s address as a nominal address but as we are staying at Shakespear for the duration of my treatment, I was actually causing problems by being under 3 different District Health Boards. With some fabulous team work, I am sorted, I get my OPIVA stuff all done under one DHB and I can continue under the care of my surgeon through another DHB rather than the one covered by Antony’s address which means I get continuity of care.

Thursday morning and I’m given another demo of administering the PICC line, with my first hook up to the system scheduled for 3pm and if Roy could come in at that time he could also become au fait with what is happening and once that is done I could be discharged.

Test results finally come in, Mrs P is negative, phew, we can all relax a little.

So that’s where we are now, I’m at home, back in the van, I am comfortable in changing the infuser full of antibiotics into my PICC line daily although the District Health Nurse will oversee my first changeover today and then I can just go to their hub once a week to get dressings and fittings changed. By administering it myself also means one less thing for stressed and stretched health worker resources to be under. I’m sure as things develop over the next few weeks/months they need as much help as they can get. I get my medication couriered to me once a week, of course it has to be kept refrigerated, but we are comfortable with managing this. I have to have weekly blood tests, visit the Nursing hub once a week, see my surgeon once a week (initially), enough to keep us busy.

I won’t be doing much as I am under strict instructions to rest, rest and rest. Hopefully next week I will be able to have the 35+ staples removed from my knee, and I’ll get into the swing of things generally. Here is where you can say thank you for not putting up the pictures of my knee with the staples in it!!!

As the weather cools, and with world events ever changing, we don’t expect too many campers will be coming in and certainly no more school, scout or guide groups in. So you could say we are self isolating.

The world has certainly changed, for the better? Who knows, but one thing is for sure, I don’t think we realise what is ahead of us. Stay safe with your families friends and neighbours. Look out for each other.

It was all going so well…

March 16, 2020

The second week post surgery was going brilliantly, I was walking around the van easily without crutches, and outside with one. My pain levels were almost negligible with just a few meds at night time to ensure a good sleep. It also seemed my role in the kitchen was quickly handed over to me as well!

Then on the Sunday evening, I felt cold, as in shivery cold, went to bed early with an extra duvet on shivering but apparently feeling hot, took my temperature but it was normal. I fell into a deep sleep to be woken at around 2am boiling hot and sweaty, oh well I thought, at least the fever has broken and I’ll be ok.

We had friends visiting Monday and it was fabulous to see them, I decided to start the antibiotics I had been given for such an instance, however at around lunch time I excused myself as I did not feel well at all and went for a lie down. After Glennis & Robin left I decided to ring my surgeon, yes, he says, good for getting onto the antibiotics and come and see him tomorrow, Tuesday, early afternoon,

By 3pm Roy was delivering me to Auckland hospital A&E with a covering note from my surgeon to be processed and put under the care of his team. The next couple of days continued into a blur, with IV antibiotics being given as well as pain meds with Hugh, the specialist due in Thursday morning to see me. It seems I have an infection, a serious, deep seated one.

Hugh came in at some ungodly hour and said I’d be going for surgery, I have to say that at this stage all the staff from all the different departments were brilliant at keeping me up with the play, being kind and caring, and most helpful. Also a quick thank you here to fellow blogger John, who turned up on Wednesday with a lovely coffee in hand. Hope your treatment goes well mate x.

By 9.30am I was in pre op and being told by the anaesthetists what they were about to do and what was best for my future care then wheeled through fairly quickly into theatre, I came to in recovery at sometime around 2pm. At first I was completely bamboozled and asked where the hell I was? When they said hospital, I said ok but what the hell for?! I could not figure out what I was doing there or why. I was totally disoriented.

I was back in my room sometime after 3pm where I was told everything that they had done……..hmmm, best wait for anaesthetic and pain drugs to wear off first!!!

Roy and Antony were at the end of my bed that afternoon, it just so happened that poor Roy had to undergo a Colonoscopy at another facility earlier the same day. Antony came to the rescue and picked Roy up from the facilty, thanx mate. Good news for Roy though, all good just a checkup in a couple of years time.

That night, Thursday remains a complete blur, I have no idea what.was said, done to me, whatever, but apparently the next day I was told that I did ask the night staff if I could get out of my clothes and into my nightie and get into bed? All the while being in bed in a hospital gown! I bet they have a right laugh sometimes at the things said to them. Another of the night staff the following night told me I told her that I loved her hair and another nurse that I loved her!! They did laugh whilst retelling me.

Lovely friends Helen & Don were up in Auckland for a day so they came to see me on Friday, I have no idea if I made any sense, sorry guys, it’s all a bit of a blur but it was great to see you both. Roy was back for a short visit to bring some essential items and of course to see me, as it was our 38th Wedding Anniversary after all. Happy Anniversary babe, not an anniversary to remember kindly!!

Saturday dawned and I wanted to get a clear head so let’s forget those awful drugs, I managed on paracetamol all day, got up and changed into my nightie, walked unaided with my crutches, a huge relief not to have to call for the dreaded bedpan, horrid things that they are.

Steve and Les came up to visit, what a lovely interlude as well, they came bringing a goodie bag which included, among other very thoughtful things, some much welcome fruit. You see, the food here is pretty much not what is good for nourishment of very ill people. Very small, appetising meals or soups are what is required. I enjoyed picking at grapes and raspberries and I particular enjoyed the feijoa. Thanx guys, love you all to bits.

I have to mention again the staff here, they are all outstandingly amazing people whom every single Manager CEO or whomever else gets paid BIG bucks and bonuses, they should hang their heads in shame, and give their salaries to these underfunded nurses, because, by crikey, they are the ones that deserve it. I’ve see first hand how they have to deal with obnoxious, demanding, ungrateful people…and that is just the American woman with her whiney, grating, loud voice that is in the bed next to me. In frustration last night, I called out “a please or thank you wouldn’t go amiss occasionally!’ The staff of course, treat her the same as everyone else, I don’t know how they don’t say something but they do roll their eyes as they leave.

So that’s just about up to date, days trickle by. However, I’m having a PICC line put in which is a permanent line to deliver intravenous antibiotics which will be administered over the next 6-8weeks. That should be able to be done from home with visits by the district nurse which we will work on the logistics of that shortly but we know we are able to stay on at Shakespear. Hopefully that will work then they will retest but I may have to be on antibiotics for months.

Every day is a moving feast, I see teams of Doctors from different teams the orthopaedic teams, Infectious disease team, Allergic reaction team and goodness knows who else but we are getting there.

Of course this scuppers our plans to go to the UK but world events also seem to be scuppering that as well with events changing hourly its seems. Who knows how this is all going to play out, we shall wait and see. I think our world is about to change, and who knows if it will be for the better. Let’s hope so.

First week post surgery

February 27, 2020

True to his word, my lovely surgeon allowed me to go home on the third day after surgery seeing as though I was doing so well. I’ve got good range of motion, can put full weight on my leg and can even take a couple of steps without crutches (shhh, don’t tell anyone that, I’ll get into trouble!!).

But before I left hospital, I had a surprise visit from some lovely friends. It was a great visit breaking up my day and catching up on news. It was certainly a huge and very unexpected but welcome surprise and really made my day. You know who you are, you are both treasures. As well, I had lots of phone calls and messages from special people, thank you so much for your kind thoughts.

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Roy heading off to do his duties whilst wearing his new vest emblazoned with Camp Host

We settled back into the campground, and I’ve settled into a semblance of a routine by doing my exercises, walking a little, and putting my leg up to rest. The latter is important due to having a very swollen foot and ankle.

img_4835One left foot and ankle very swollen. Note the lovely ice pack on the knee – it’s hiding the bruising too!
img_2075-1 just a bit of bruising

Some of the bruising at the back of the knee

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Bruising down the leg and onto the foot, I thought initially that I had stepped into something and it had left a dirty mark!!!

Not that it stops me doing much. Did you know you can still vacuum with one crutch! Shhhh, don’t tell a Roy what I’ve been up to.

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Vacuum in one hand, crutch in the other!

Meanwhile, my garden is growing well, I just need a bit more flex in the knee before I can get out there and give it a good weed. And just so that I don’t get my hands too dirty, Rangers Bruce & Emma found this toy on the beach and thought that it would be perfect for me!

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Toy rake

All in all, everything is going really well, with the best thing being that I am not in any pain at all, just a bit of tenderness over the surgery site and a bit uncomfortable with the bruising and swelling however I consider myself very fortunate indeed.Long may it continue.

Knees up

February 19, 2020

Well, I am writing this just 36hours post surgery and it has all gone really really well. I am truly thankful to have such a very good surgeon accompanied by an even better anaesthetist whose expertise is really the key to good recovery.

I was back in my room by just after 6pm on Monday evening, and at 8.30pm I was up and walking with crutches to the toilet. Not bad going eh? Had an ok nights sleep, just waking up when being checked on by nursing staff. Tuesday morning and I was allowed to shower so off I went to shower whilst the nurses waited outside the door in case I needed help. I was fine, and just needed help drying off my feet.

After showering it was time for the physio to visit, she checked my range of movement and already had 90 degree bend, which is pretty amazing, they hope to get you to 90 degrees by the time you leave so I’m well ahead of the game. Then it was a long walk through a myriad of corridors to the gym area and a set of steps, went up and down no problems, so it was the walk back to my room and I’m done for a while.

Me, a very unflattering photo just an hour after surgery

The food here is very appetising and there seems to be a constant stream of food…breakfast, morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner and then supper. All of the staff are wonderful from the cleaners to the ancillary staff to the nurses, physio, and specialists. Southern Cross North Harbour is a very nice place to be if you have to be in hospital at all.

A days selection

I’m walking quite well and once the swelling and bruising goes down things will improve even more.

Bruising on the side of my knee

The surgeon, anaesthetist and physio are so pleased with my progress that I am allowed home tomorrow rather than at the weekend, which is great news. I just have to keep up the hard work and make sure I continue getting better and better.

Thank you to all who have sent messages and well wishes, I really appreciate it. And thank especially to the lovely Rangers from Shakespear for the great send off.

Back to being kneedy

February 9, 2020

It’s all happening very quickly. I went to see my surgeon on Tuesday as my hip is still very painful and keeping me awake at nights. Actually it’s sort of my upper thigh and bum that is very sore, and I thought it was probably referred pain from my knee radiating to my hip. This is the left hip that was replaced 18 months ago, then I had the Avulsion fracture at the top of the femur on the trochanter, the right knee was replaced a year ago.

The surgeon suggested that the pain was more likely coming from my back, possibly a trapped nerve or something similar but to make sure an MRI is needed. That was scheduled for Friday morning with a follow up appointment with him later in the day. In the meantime we scheduled a full knee replacement for the 17th February, which would go ahead if the MRI came back ok. Yes, I know, it’s very quick but he knows we want to go to the UK in April so the sooner he could do it the better.

Friday morning was an early start as I had to be at the MRI at the Southern Cross Hospital Wairau Road on the North Shore for 7.00am and with traffic the way that it is, who knows how long it could possibly take so we set off before 6am! I am NOT a morning person at the best of times so it was a struggle to drag myself out of bed at some ungodly hour. With Waitangi Day (Public Holiday) the previous day, we hoped that many people will have taken the Friday off work so that the traffic would not be quite so hectic.

The MRI was, as usual, a test of my ability to contain myself from panicking from within such a confined space for the hour long procedure, and for some reason I felt things heating up much more this time and I remained heated for some hours afterwards.

We had a few hours to chillout before my appointment with the specialist across town in Remuera, so we amused ourselves for as long as we could but we still managed to get to the specialist over an hour before my scheduled appointment. Luckily he managed to see me almost straight away, with the upshot being that I have some condition of my lower, the name of which was a very long sentence and I’ve now forgotten, but basically means I have arthritic type growths/spurs on the hook shaped bones of the lower spine (possibly called the transverse processes), which, when I move around they have a tendency to trap and pinch the nerves that run through them. The good news is that it is not in the central column where the spinal cord runs. After much discussion, we decided to leave well alone at this stage.

Spinal anatomy

What I did learn though was that the Avulsion fracture of the trochanter, the top of the femur, does not heal as such, it’s just a broken off piece of bone that just sits there. If it continues to cause problems I will probably have to have the piece of bone removed.

Anyway, the upshot of all this is that I am having my left knee replacement done, which also may help to alleviate the back issues by balancing out the way I walk. The surgery will take place in just a week away, on the 17th February, which will mean that we should still be on schedule to go to the UK in April. Yippee!

Oh and after an epic day of travelling around Auckland, we arrived back to the van to find this on the doorstep.

A lovely pot of succulents, set inside a kete with flax flowers

The card

How nice is that?

We have been so spoilt this year by campers, which puts the odd negative event or camper out of the hundreds we meet into perspective and we have made some great friends over the years we have been here. We look forward to camp hosting for however-many-more years to come.

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” 😉.

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.