Saturday, November 13, 2010

Day Three and The Great Escape


By the time she hit day three of knees replacement, Ann was getting downright cocky with the nurses: "Walk to the water fountain? THAT all you got?  The corridor past the fountain? Put a bell on my walker and I'll back this bad boy around the corner at the end of the hall.  A loop around the entire floor without a cut-through at the nurses station?  This IS supposed to be rehab, right?"

OK, so maybe it was just the drugs talking and the nurses should have known that but I think Ann blew through their sense of humor when she started playing "Flight of the Bumble Bee" on her nurse's call button.  Not sure why this harshed their mellow because they were all in the break room and couldn't hear anything.  Anyhow, the meds were already an hour late so Ann started working on the "Orange Blossom Express".  And apparently there is a "Note to self" section in the chart because the next day, "The Shermanator" arrived.

Sherman is THE physical terrorist (therapist) they run in on you when they want to put you in detention, but all the rooms are full.  And Sherm shows up with a list, which looks uncharacteristically customized for E318.

"She has to be able to do certain exercises before she can home -- these let us know where she is in her recovery and what to expect for her rehab.  It's pretty standard stuff, really." He shows me the list: the ankle pump, leg dangle, knee bend, heel slide, butt scoot and, of course, the stair climb.

I flip the list over and back and say, "I don't see any jumping jacks, one-arm push-ups, or Chinese splits." He doesn't miss a beat, "Oh, you can add anything you want when you get home, as long as she keeps doing those."

With that he swings into action and has Ann doing tricks like a circus dog.  Looks painful as hell and it's all I can do to watch.  She's pumping and lifting and bending and dangling and sliding and I'm exhausted.  Then we get to the butt scoot -- which, as it turns out, isn't as interesting as you might think.

What happens is, you plant your feet on the floor and scoot your butt off the chair, toward your feet.  In the event you understand as little about body mechanics as I do, the net effect is that this causes your knee to bend MORE than it wants to. Way more.  Never mind more than YOU want it to. 

"Sherman, that looks like it hurts like hell."

"Oh, yeah -- it's like your knee is giving birth to a kangaroo."  Interesting.  Would that be anything like ME hitting YOUR thumb with a two-pound sledge hammer while shaving your head with cheese grater?

But the Shermster is ecstatic and has been won over to Ann's side -- "She's gone from 83 degrees to 104 degrees!" Yeah, well, I figured she's be hot about THAT little piece of torture.  He says, "No, her range of motion is great… fabulous… she's blowing my doors off."

Easy boy… back it up there, pilgrim .  I got seniority and then there's our tom-cat and then the kid down the street she keeps buying cookie dough from, not to mention the guy with the cute butt who cleans our windows that the neighbor lady comes over to watch.

Next is the stair climb and I figure we got this one cooked because a) we don't have any stairs plus which I just got through b) installing a twelve foot all-metal ramp to get her over the three steps to our living room.  Rules are rules, though and we need to practice the stairs, just in case.  Just in case what, she moves in with the window cleaning guy?

So, today is the big day and we're got all our prescriptions, had two or three social workers stop by setting up physical therapy, and got our final debriefing from the nurse about what not to do under virtually any circumstance -- which essentially boils down to "Whatever you do, don't fall". 

Then it's time for me to start hauling out clothes, leg braces, ice packs, bandages, leg supports, paper work, plus all the really cool stuff like water jugs, puke trays, stolen towels, ice buckets… like that.  Erica decided if someone could have a harp in their room there was no reason for us to bring Ann flowers when a Christmas tree would look just fetching, so that had to go last (no, I'm not making this up).

And I'm making my first trip in the elevator when a very nice young girl in scrubs (I dunno, 23, 24 years old?) looks at me and says with a smile, "So, today's the big day, eh?"  And I say, "Yeah, The Great Escape."  You know how it is when you invoke something that has a mutual commonality to it, there's an INSTANT bond with the other person?  She nods, enthusiastically -- she gets it, we have a connection. And she says, "Yeah, The Great Escape.  That's the one where James Dean jumps his motorcycle over the fence, right?"  Yup.  And then he races through the streets of Saigon and picks up Linda Blair at the Bates Motel.

We're home, we're on drugs, we may or may not answer the phone, but if you want to deliver food please make it something we don't have to fight the cat for, he's a lot faster than he looks.

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