Saturday, August 4, 2012

Maiden Voyage

Since my surgery took place on the Friday of Labor Day weekend, I was able to take a few days of rest and not begin physical therapy right away as the doctors would have liked. As I'm sure you have wondered, what would it be like to walk without a hip? I wondered the same thing since the doctor had told us that I probably WOULDN'T walk again.

Admission info on body brace.
So, when Tuesday rolled around and I was told I was going to get out of bed and walk, you can imagine our family was a little surprised. The doctor had originally told us that I would need to wear a body brace and I had been fitted for a custom brace by an orthopedic and prosthetic maker in July. He even had the brace delivered to the hospital and it was in the closet in my patient room.I worried all day about getting up out of the bed. It was the only thing on my mind. How was this going to happen? I thought I would be healed a lot more before moving into therapy sessions. All I could do was look at my mom and dad and ask them how this was going to go.

Body brace to stabilize the hip.
We made it through the lunch hour and the therapists hadn't come yet. It was closing in on my dad's time for his afternoon snack, and they still hadn't come. By the time dad got back from getting is Pepsi and cookie for snack, the therapists showed up to take me on my maiden voyage out of the bed.

All-of-a-sudden, the therapists started grabbing the brace and opening it up since it was in two parts, lowering my bed, taking off the DVT cuffs from my legs (which I have now dubbed the "leg squeezers"), lowering the side rails of my bed, unplugging the IV machines and ordering the nurse around for items they needed before they got me got up.

Next thing I know, they are rolling me from side-to-side on the bed and placing the back of the brace underneath me. Then, they start tugging on the sheet they placed between me and the brace, it didn't feel that great on my hip and I had to ask them to stop and slow down. At first they didn't listen to me. I had to raise my voice to ask them to stop, again. This time they heard me and asked what was up. I told they were hurting me with the tugging and needed to be way more gentle. I guess they were used to people not swing anything to them and they just got in their own lode of doing things and went for it. But, I wasn't going to be like those people. They needed to hear me when I said it hurt, because I wasn't playing around and wasn't going to be steam-rolled by their way of doing things. This was my body, and I was in charge of how we did things.

My parents were there and were rear to help in any way they could. The therapists really didn't want the help and kind of pushed them aside. I could understand that the needed to get me used to getting up and stuff, but I was going to want my parents right there too. I made my voice heard in this area as well.

The therapists, Noel and Joi, were now ready to put the front part of the brace on and secure it with the velcro and metal straps which were affixed. They tightened each side of the brace independently. The left side was smaller than the right as it only needed to fit around my ribs ad just above the left hip; it only had two straps. The right side was a lot more complicated as it fit from around the rib cage, the hip and the thigh just above the knee. The right side had four straps on the outside and two straps on the inside of the thigh. If I had been more claustrophobic, I would have had a problem with this set up. As it were, I was very comforted knowing that the hip wasn't going to move with this thing on.

It was a little tight around my thigh, so they had to do a little adjusting because it felt like my skin was being pinched with the brace. After adjusting it a few times, we finally had it right and it was time to get me up and out of the bed. I was now very nervous. They asked if I was ready and I told them, "No!" They asked why and I told them I was very nervous. They assured me that with them there, it was king to be fine, they do this all the time. "Well, you might but I don't."

I gained my composure and said, "Let's do this!" With that they explained how this was going to need to work. Because the brace prevented me from bending at the waist, they were going to have to lift me straight up using my feet on the floor as the pivot point. In theory that sounded great, but as we began to get me up it was readily apparent it wasn't going to be as easy as they thought. They got the nurse in with us and had her help get me up, it was better but still not enough. Finally they let me dad help. With my dad helping, we were able to get me to the standing position. I was sweating by now, the brace was so hot. They asked me to take a couple of steps and at least walk to the door. My mom was on the verge of tears because I was out of the bed on my own two feet like they said I may never do again.

It was difficult to get moving. There was something that was pinching my back so hard it felt more like a stabbing going on. Every step I tried to take was nearly bringing tears to my eyes because it stung so bad. I kept telling them something was wrong. They didn't know what it could be. But, with as bad as I was sweating now, it was apparent to them that we weren't going very far today. Somehow, we were able to get me back in the bed and as squared up on it as possible. We found that the air mattress allowed me to move much better than a regular bed would.

After they got me back in bed, they took the top part of the brace off. They said it would be best for me to stay on the back part so there would be less movement each time to put it back on. So, we left it there with the sheet under me on top of the brace. Today was over, but they would be back again in the morning to try again.

I had dinner and talked with my parents a while. At 8 pm they left because visiting hours were over. They would be back again in the morning as soon as they could.

The next morning, the therapist came back just before lunch. My parents were already there and everyone got their sleeves rolled up and ready for this job again. We went through all of the same motions with the top of the brace and repositioning it because it was pinching the thigh. We knew now how to pivot me out of the bed and that was much easier for all of us. Now, we would try walking to door again. With the very first movement of either leg, I felt that stabbing pain again. But, they wanted to keep going anyhow. I was not ready to deal with this kind of pain. I stood upright and adjusted the brace up around me a little. I noticed that the pain seemed to go away as I lifted up. It came back when I let it back down again.

Noel holding the brace on the left behind the monitors,
Joi holding onto me for steadying, my dad pushing
the monitors stand, and me happy to take my
first steps following surgery.
"I want to try something," I said. "If one of you will slightly lift up on the right side of the brace while I am walking, I think the pain will be gone and I can do this." "Really? Why?" "I think the JP cord is being pulled and the staples are being yanked on," I said. The JP was short for Jackson Pratt. It was a surgical drainage device used to pull excess fluid from the body by constant suction.

I asked if they would just humor me. So, they did and got in position to try this at my request. Noel tried to hold the brace up on the right side by squatting down to its level as not to hurt his back. Joi held onto me in case I felt unsteady or stubbled or something. My dad rolled the IV monitors and my IV lines in front of us. Mom walked out the door with the camera to take the pictures of my first time walking. One of the best pictures is the one to the right where I am almost to the door from my bed and smiling because I was making it happen with their help.

This was a monumental achievement. If God had not given me that thought about lifting up on the brace, I would have still been lying in the bed not able to walk. I totally credit God for putting that thought there. Even the therapist were amazed at the idea.

When we got back to my bed and got me settled, I made sure I told everyone in the room that God had given me the idea and that He was to credit for me being able to walk on this day. Everyone that came into my room from the doctor to the nurses, I told them that God gave me the idea. I was not taking credit for it. I know they probably thought I was cray at the time, but I knew (as did my parents) that the Lord was good to us that day, especially me.

Next, "Moving on out......"

"Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever." 1 Chronicles 16:34

Has there been a time when the Lord gave you an answer to something big and you failed to give Him the credit for it? What was that experience like for you and how did you turn it around (or did you)?

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