Now that I have had a few days to recover, let me see if I can fill in some of the details other than how painful everything has been.
First of all, the surgical center was great and the staff were wonderful. The poor guy who got the honor of trying to find one of my veins is the best “sticker” I’ve ever had. He’s been doing this 18 years. Part of the issue was that was because this was a major procedure they needed a large needle in case they needed to infuse something in a hurry. The smaller needles aren’t appropriate. He agreed that we could start with a smaller needle — enough to get me sedated — then once I was asleep, they could go searching for something larger. Which is what happened — see previous post.
They also did a regional block which blocks a bundle of nerves coming out of my neck and controlling the left arm and side of my body. Jack was watching them do this and although I was sedated and don’t remember this, apparently I could answer their questions about whether or not I could feel things. One of the nerves controlled the diaphram and Jack tells me they gave me the hiccups to make sure they had the right nerves.
I came out of surgery as always with a dry mouth and throat. I had my arm tucked into a padded sling and all bandaged up — which was normal. I was also hungry which was good because that meant all the anti nausea drugs worked. The surgery was at about noon-thirty and I was in my room at 5:30 demanding food. My arm was numb except for my finger tips because of the block. I had a patient-controlled morphine drip for pain, which I used once more to see how it would make me feel.
The first issue that came up was that they needed to move the IV to the port in the back of my hand. I had compression wraps on my calves and they couldn’t put the one on my left leg without moving the IV. The port on my hand was a bit of problem because it stuck out and I had already hit it a couple of times and I was afraid that I’d catch it on something. So Jack and my night nurse Tammy came up with a plan where they wrapped the port and my outside three fingers together, protecting the port, but leaving my finger and thumb free to manipulate things.
That worked fine until they needed to draw blood. Tammy brought in another nurse with more experience to look at the blood draw, since all my available veins had been blown looking for an IV port. We’d already noticed that the hand and arm looked swollen and as it turned out, the port in my hand was no longer in the vein. They indicated they were going to look for another IV site and I suggested that I would be checking out of the hospital. We finally decided that I could be switched to oral medications rather than IV medications, so they pulled the IV port. And the nurse actually found a small vein which she hit the first time to get the blood draw.
Other than that the first night went fine and I woke up Tuesday morning feeling good and assuming that I would go home. In fact, I spoke with Jack and he was geared up to bring me home. What I didn’t realize, but was about to find out was that the nerve block was still working and that was the reason I didn’t hurt. About 1:00 the nerve block wore off and I went downhill in a landslide. I took the oral medications which didn’t help and finally asked for the pain shot — which meant I couldn’t go home. I spent the rest of the day and night fighting nausea and pain. On Wednesday morning, I was determined to stay on the oral meds so I could go home, which is what happened. They also changed the dressing while I was there and showed Jack and I how to do that
I basically just crashed Wednesday when I got home. The home health nurse came by and even though we’d just changed the dressing had to change it again because she had to verify it. I was not a happy camper, but I understand the process and we got through it.
Thursday the occupational therapist came. I had been able to get up and get a shower so I felt better and was in a better mood. The OT person went through my three exercises with me and said she’d be back next week.
Since then I’ve been basically laying around trying to get well. I feel really drugged. I take a muscle relaxer at 6:00 am, 2pm and 10pm and one or two oxycontin (strong pain pill) at 8am and 8pm, which percocets for pain in between. I’ve cut the oxycontin down to single tablets and I have all but eliminated the percocet. Sometimes in the afternoon when I do my exercises, it hurts a lot, so a percocet takes the edge off that, but I’m trying to get off the drugs as soon as possible.
The OT person comes back next Tuesday to check on me and the nurse comes in the following Monday (4/20) to remove the staples, then I go back to the doctor on the 30th.
I’ve been running a bit of a fever, but it’s gradually dropped to being mostly normal. That’s to be expected after such a major procedure. My arm, as to be expected, is black and blue and to add insult to injury I’ve developed a really itchy rash under both arms. I think it’s just like a heat rash since I’ve sweated a lot with the fever. The itching has subsided, but it was making me nuts for a while.
That’s all I have to report. I will say this, though. I’d rather have 10 hip replacements rather than one shoulder replacement. I’m not sorry I had it done, but I’ve told Jack it’s the last surgery I’m planning to have — ever. I know in a few weeks I’ll be better and this will be behind me, but until then, I’m done.
Thanks for checking in.