Free at last

Monday 4th March

The lady from the plastic team came round quite early and said the drain could come out, from their point of view they were happy for me to go home. Before the drain and catheter came out I asked if it was possible to experiment the process of going to the toilet. You may think that a strange request but much of my pain came while I was sitting on the toilet, as there was no support under the end of the stump. A Nurse unhooked all my attachments and held them as I got into the wheelchair. I pushed myself to the toilet stood up and transferred to the toilet where I sat for a couple of minutes. I stood up for a couple of minutes and then sat back in the wheelchair. It was weird, I had trouble with my balance while standing and I did have to hold the stump, which was painful but I was confident it was all doable. The new thing I found difficult was actually straightening the stump. I had been lying completely flat at different times of the day as the Physio had suggested but the stump was really tight and hard to straighten. I asked the Nurse about the possibility of living as an amputee in the safe environment of the Hospital and going home the next day, she said she would try and find out for me. From all the blood pressure problems, blood transfusion, only just having got out of a bed for a week, pain etc. etc., I think I just wanted the reassurance that I would be safe to go home. A short while later the Physio came round and asked if I would like to go along to the gym. She would arrange a porter to take me there for about 11:00, they could assess the stump and I would be able to ask any questions I needed to. I thought that was a great idea and would be really useful so I agreed.

I had to get the drain and catheter out quite quickly, to be able to try and have a wash in the washroom before the porter arrived. Between us me and the Nurse released the stump from the stump sock, to reveal a deep imprint in the stump from the drain tube. Over the years I’ve experienced excruciatingly painful, to not feeling it at all when the drain has been removed. I was pleased to say that the Nurse was excellent and although I felt the drain came out it wasn’t particularly painful. She’d made me look away and take deep breaths in and out while she removed it, I was quite impressed with how well she did it. I find catheter removal can just be more uncomfortable than painful so that was fine too, I was free from the two shackles at last. The Nurse put a dressing over the drain site but it had been bleeding a bit, she told me to keep and eye on it while I had a wash. The wash was difficult and time consuming but I was just finishing when the porter arrived. Having checked the dressing the blood was coming through again, we raced to get more dressings on the drain hole and get the stump sock on as well. Thankfully the porter waited and I was whisked off to the gym, over the other side of the hospital.

There is a permanent amputee Physio and they have the other place as a rotating position for Physio’s. The usual one was away and I had not met the new Physio before a couple of days ago. The Physio Assistant had also changed since I was last there but they both seemed really nice. They measured my stump again and decided that the size I had was OK for now, we agreed that I should wear it during the day but remove it at night. I did just a couple of exercises to try and extend the stump backwards while on my back and side. I was told that if I could tolerate it, it would be good to lie on my stomach for periods or at night, which would help a lot. Although I prefer sleeping on my side I can sleep on my stomach better than I can on my back, so that should be no problem for me. I asked about the exercises you are given after you have had an amputation, she told me I could do any of them provided it wasn’t too painful, and again I could tolerate doing them. I couldn’t at the time but its useful to know you can do them in a few weeks time, if the pain has eased. Doing these exercises would be good to help build strength and movement in the stump. I asked about a plan to move forward, she suggested I go round to clinic 9 and book an appointment for my Rehab Consultant. Once I’d see the Rehab Consultant we would get a better idea of what he wanted, and how soon he would want me to start Physio. I said that I was trying to arrange to living as an amputee in a safe environment and go home the next day. The physio said that if I was still there the next day I could go back to the gym again, which would be really useful. We shot across to Clinic 9, which is not far from the Gym, but the lady who normally books his appointments had just left the Clinic. As it was lunchtime the lady at the desk left her a note and told me they would get an appointment out in the post.

When I got back to ward a Nurse, smiling like a Cheshire cat, told me she had just got off the phone from the Physio and I could go home. The smile instantly disappeared when I told her that I hadn’t seen anyone from the pain team, she said she would give them a call. Again I said about living in a safe environment as an amputee and go home next day. She told me that if pain team were happy for me to go home I would have to go home, then off she scuttled. Not long after, she came back again to tell me the pain team would visit me in the afternoon. I spoke to the nurse on drug run about going home the next day, with an obvious slopey shoulder she told me she didn’t know as she wasn’t involved in my discharge, and if they needed the beds…. shrug of the shoulders. I was beginning to feel a bit annoyed about the situation. I was on a dumping ground ward even though I’d had elective surgery, and now after all that had happened they wouldn’t let me stay one more night to make sure I was OK. I would also miss the gym visit that would probably have proved to be really useful.

After lunch I decided I would try and lay on my stomach to give my stump a bit of a stretch. It was really painful turning over on to my stomach, I could feel the stretch though, which was good. It was also a little painful where the drain had come out but it was tolerable. I was lying there thinking about going home, Cody (My Labrador), not being able to donate blood anymore, all the problems I’d had since the operation and whether the surgery would be a success. I was feeling all the pain, feeling cheated over the Blood Transfusion, feeling exhausted and really wishing that I had never had it done. Not too long after lunch the pain lady came to see me, the emotions got the better of me and I just broke down and cried.  We discussed the medication and changed some of the doses again, mainly the Gabapentin and OxyContin. She thought that I may be suffering from reactive depression, she would let my doctor know and if I wasn’t feeling better in a week I could have a course of antidepressants. It wouldn’t have surprised me if I did have reactive depression but to be honest I just felt totally exhausted and thought some decent sleep would help a great deal. I just wanted out of there as soon as possible now but they had to get the Doctor to sign the take home medication and discharge letter.  Ro came up and visited me, I was still emotional and even though she is a ray of sunshine she couldn’t help me that much. The Lady from the pain team came back up with ‘A Guide To Chronic Pain Management’ for a bit of bedtime reading, like war and peace, but a good refresher I suppose. I asked for some liquid pain relief but my chart was in pharmacy, the Nurse said they would try and get it back so they could give it to me. Leah visited with a gift of Tootsie Roll Midgees (American sweets), which I’ve never had before but Leah loves them and I’ve wanted to try them for ages. Teatime came and my drug chart was still not back from Pharmacy, I still couldn’t have any medication and after the gym session in the morning I was now in a lot of pain. A Nurse came and told me the Doctor had made a mistake with the medication, she had bleeped them many times to try and get it changed. Apparently the Doctor had just contacted nurse, she told the Doctor they needed to go to Pharmacy to get it sorted. Just to add to my day the woman diagonally opposite me was in no pain and told in the morning by her Consultant she could go home. The Sister had just come round and spoke to her about going home, the woman she said that she didn’t feel like it, wanted to stay another night and go home next morning, the Sister said that was OK. I was really hacked off and low by this point and just want to get out of there. The Nurses on hand over said that I was going home but they were still waiting for take home medication. I asked about pain relief again but they told me the chart was still not back, I got emotional and started crying again, one of the day nurses who new I wanted to stay the night asked if I was ready to home yet! This was the worse thing to say to me, I just told them to get me out of there. I was so ready to blow, about the woman diagonally opposite and that I’d asked them about staying the extra night, but what would that have achieved? Nothing! 20:00hrs and the drugs finally arrived on ward. I was given some pain relief, which were two power drugs at the same time, the nurse said that it could make me drowsy, I said “Thank God for that!”. She then went away to see if the discharge letter was ready to be print off. Not long after Mum and Dad arrived, by now I was just so pleased to see them. I was already packed and waiting to go, the nurse came back with the letter and drugs. I asked about dressings and after care, she was very vague then popped off and got some dressings for the drain site and main wound. The discharge letter said there would be an appointment made for me to see my Consultant in 2 months time, which would be sent to me by post. Dad asked me about going the longer route home as the roads would be much better, I told him that would take us ages and to go the normal way. I did feel quite sleepy by about half way home and a couple of the back roads were a bit painful but manageable. We got home that night at just after 21:00hrs, I may as well have been able stay the night, but no, they wanted me out.

Cody’s really good, he doesn’t jump up at anyone at any time so I had no worries with my stump there. The first thing I tried to do when I got in was cuddle him but I couldn’t bend over, I could only manage stroking his head and the top of his chest but I think he was happy with that. In the lounge laid on settee and gave him belly rub while he was on his back on floor. Went to bed about 22:00 and set the alarm for liquid pain relief through the night. Mum got me a pillow for my stump in case I wanted to lay on my side. I eventually got in my cosy bed with the fresh smell of washing powder, my comfy pillow and the lovely smell of my hand wash.

While I was in Hospital Jo, one of the wonderful followers of the blog, contacted me through the Facebook Page. She said she had a little something for me and could she have my address, which I gave her. When I got home sitting on the kitchen table was a small package, which I opened. Inside was a gorgeous little monkey wearing a T-Shirt, which said I Love (little love heart shape) Helen. It was from Jo, I was overwhelmed that someone who doesn’t even know me, gives up some of their time to read my blog and then sent me such a lovely gift. I can’t really compare that to anything I’ve had happen to me before. I can only assume it must be something like a celebrity must feel when they get something from a fan, I just hope they appreciate their gifts as much as I appreciated little monkey. I have quite a few Monkeys’ now but this one will always be that little bit more special than most of the others. I don’t normally name the soft toys I have but I’m thinking of maybe naming this one, any suggestions? Thank you very much Jo, it was such a kind and thoughtful thing to have done and I am very touched by it. That gift and of course Cody made my day.

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2 Responses to “Free at last”

  1. What a roller coaster. I certainly sympathise with the drain coming out. I remember that horrid experience after my hysterectomy. I don’t think there is anything as painful as having that drain out, it beats childbirth. Thank goodness you are home, Cody must have missed you. I do hope the pain eases now. Keep blog gin’ xx Jacqueline xx

    • Many thanks for your comment Jacqueline :) Even though I’ve not experienced it I can’t imagine there is anything more painful than childbirth, I expect the drain removal comes close though. It really all comes down to the Nurse you have and the technique they use, you obviously had a not so good Nurse with a bad technique, ouch! It’s been great to be back home and I probably missed Cody more than he did me, I know he was moping about the house while I was away though. More in-depth pain information to come but I’ll definitely keep blogging, thanks again :) xx

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