More Information and equipment testing

Last Friday was another busy day but having had a much better nights sleep, due to the PCA (Patient Controlled Analgesia), I was able to tackle the onslaught of people, information and equipment with ease.

The first set of intelligence came from the Infection Team who were first through the door. Although they were armed with intelligence the very first thing they did was ask me a question. That question was whether I still wanted/needed the catheter to be in or not, an element of unintelligence crept in there but I told them that the catheter was still required. Moving on, they had identified an enemy bug that was suspected to be E. coli. It was decided to allow them to gather over the weekend and plan the antibiotics to use on Monday. In the meantime I would remain on the general strong antibiotics over the weekend. So far the team are working well and I’m impressed with decisions.

My Mechanical Engineers come in the form of the Orthopaedic Team, they were in next to check on their work. They decided the drain should be removed and the compression dressing taken down. The would talk to my assigned Physio and let her know what they wanted me to do, which for the next week or two could be nothing.

Later that morning the Nurse came in with a student Nurse (in her last year of training) to do the drain and dressing. It was the student Nurse who carried out the procedure supervised by the Nurse. The dressing had lots of dried blood on it where it had been leaking from. The bandage came down first, followed by the cotton wool wading, which was really stuck in one place. She managed to get it off in a fairly painless way, which just left the the Opsite dressings. As she pulled the Opsite dressings off it pulled the skin, like it does, but it was my first proper encounter of what it feels like to have a knee with cement in it, and it ain’t nice.

There are three different types of feeling I’ve encountered from the knee, they are:-

Soft – Hmmmm Hard to explain, OK I’ve just looked at my drink bottles and it has given me some inspiration. I was going to go along the lines of the Space Dust/Popping Candy but I think this drink comparison will hopefully work better.
Visualise it, you have a brand new, virgin, unopened bottle of Coke. Now you shake this bottle a little, ah ah… don’t over do it, just a couple of shakes to liven it up a little. Now when you unscrew the lid and you get that tsssshhhhh sound, replace that with the sound of someone walking in the distance on a fine gravel track/drive way and we could be close. Now as the lid comes off there is a rush of bubbles that dance there way randomly up the bottle, that’s kind of what you feel, unfortunately not as light as bubbles so we’ll substitute that for some uncooked rice, but as the bubbles go from bottom to top in the bottle the feeling can travel across any direction of the knee.

Hard – Much easier to explain and most people have probably had a similar feeling in a joint themselves. It’s just one hard crunch with the sound to go with it. Think of people clicking their knuckles or a big click in the knee when you crouch down and you’re pretty much there. It just makes a louder noise and it’s a more aggressive movement, it comes as just a single movement or sometimes a duel movement, as if something was popping out and then back in again.

Sharp – I think this is probably the one I dislike the most. It starts with the ‘Hard’ style movement but it just happens, there’s no warning and the closest thing I can compare it to is strong nerve twinge/jolt. As it’s quite powerful it bends the joint a bit, and as they say “what goes up must come down” As the knee comes down you go through the ‘Soft’ style until the leg is straight again. It’s a bit like a double whammy with a jolt, just the other way round.

I was talking to someone about eventually getting used to when it made certain grinding movements and how it reacted doing different tasks. They just said that they were sorry to disappoint me but it didn’t work like that, says it all really.

Following a blood test it was found that my potassium levels were low so they introduced me to the Potassium Bicarbonate Effervescent tablets. Well that’s an introduction I could quite happily have gone without. You dissolve them in water, they lull you into a false sense of security by being nice and fizzy, looking harmless and then BAM! (comic style effect). Think of Alka-Seltzer on a speed and salt overdose, even mixing squash in with it hardly takes the edge off. Needless to say I started ordering bananas off the menu at every available opportunity.

Generally when were talking gadgets and equipment I’m all ears and excited. Unfortunately with the bugs having the upper hand at the moment I’m limited with equipment I can be issued with. In come the Physio and OT (Occupational Therapist). The Physio brings in a brace, an Ottobock Innovator DLX +. I’ve had braces very much like it in the past, probably the only significant difference being the side bars, this allows for different levels of bend, the ones I’ve had in the past have all been ridged. It’s a one brace fits all and after some Blue Peter cutting down to size and altering straps we got it on. At the moment they don’t want me to have any bend in the knee so it’s been locked straight. This is to be worn 24/7 for at least two weeks, if not the full 6 – 8 weeks.

The OT gave me a much bigger toy to play with, but done forget just because it’s bigger it’s not necessarily better. She produced a wheelchair, with matching leg rest, pressure cushion and a slide board. When you transfer from the wheelchair to another object and there is a gap the slide board is placed over the gap so you can slide across from one object to another. Obviously not as fun as something like a death slide but if you want to relive a little childhood memory you can make one object hire than the other and use it as a slide. I’ve never used one of these before but have seen them used loads of times when I’ve been in Hospital. The Wheelchair (said in the loosest sense of the word), already had its accessories fitted, dubiously, so all that remained for me to do was transfer to the wheelchair from the bed and back.

For most people some of the major questions on their minds would be, how painful will this be? Will I have the strength to do this or that? I had only one question in my mind and that was is this wheelchair going to fall apart? Thankfully the transfer went off without a hitch and the wheelchair stood it’s ground, just. All I need to do is practice my technique and were on a winner. The Physio and OT were well impressed that I could do so much so soon. I’m not phased by anything practical like that, just tell me what I have to do and I’ll do it. The only thing that will hold me back from doing things like that so quickly is down to pain control. It was another good day with some more positivity, I’m happy to take it in a drip rate day by day, let’s hope we can grab a bit more tomorrow.

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