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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Day in the Life

A typical day for me here at the transitional care center:

I wake up. If I had a bad night, chances are this is at three a.m. If
things go well it could even be after seven. The vitals person comes
with the blood pressure cuff, the thermometer. Used to get blood gases
too but they haven't been lately. When that's done usually I get washed
up and dressed before breakfast, which arrives at 7:45. For me,
breakfast is always the same: oatmeal with walnuts, raisins, and brown
sugar, a cup of decaf (Sanka!), water, small half-cup of apple juice,
and maybe fruit or bread.

Depending on my state, I may go to sleep again after breakfast. This has
happened more than I care to admit. Some time in the morning I learn
when I will go for physical therapy, so I try to be ready for that. What
this means is I get some pain meds about an hour before PT time. Even
though I now have a fentanyl patch, I am finding that I need to
supplement that low dose with the occasional percocet. A lot fewer
percocets than I was taking before the patch.Sometime in the morning
somebody comes by with our meds. In my case, zantac to avoid stomach
troubles from taking the meds.

If I have a chance I'll check email, answer it, do any number of
computer things, or read. I have read four books so far (since I went to
the hospital on April 11) and I am near the end of the fifth. To be
fair, I had already started two of them, was well into one and a little
bit into the other.

I go for physical therapy. I have found that if I go to an early session
there are fewer people. There is an advantage if so in that everything
is available. However, there is a disadvantage in that I don't get to
watch what others are doing and sometimes join them for a laugh. Most of
the time my therapy begins with a walk around the building, outside,
including several steps up and down. Then inside to the real work. Then
a walk back to my room, where I get my knee iced for 15-20 minutes.

A person comes by with tea, coffee, whatever. Sometimes I have green or
herbal tea.

Lunch arrives at about 12:45. Always an 8-oz can of ginger ale and a
small bowl of fruit, whatever else is on the tray. I happened to mention
in my early interview that I liked ginger ale now and then. Now it's a
ritual. I tend to take the afternoon to drink it, oddly enough.

Usually I rest, read, work on something on the computer, until I am
called out for the afternoon PT. Different therapist, different
approach. I usually end with icing the knee.

I rest some, visit if someone has come to visit (generally Maryann),
take walks to keep myself from getting stiff. Write these entries.
Answer emails.

Dinner comes at about 5:45. Lighter than lunch, as rule. Later, though,
at about seven or so, somebody comes by with snacks - ice cream,
sherbet, cookies, bananas and soda crackers. Lately I have been saying
yes to bananas and soda crackers.

At eightish the meds nurse comes around with the cart. I get a blood
thinner (operations can lead to blot clots - the dosage is gradually
being reduced), and I usually ask for hydroxazine for a rash that has
been bothering me forever. And tonight I also had one Percocet to take
the edge off, give me a chance to relax, maybe sleep.

Sounds like the life of Riley, huh? It might be if it weren't for the
pain management part (esp. at night), but I am beginning to get onto
that. The nurse just told me they are relieved that I am not taking so
many percocets because the tylenol in them can be bad for the kidneys.
The patch plus a few percocets a day is a better combination. If I can
get this pain thing down better I will feel more ready to go home. One
of the physical therapists said, though,that my job here is to eat,
sleep, and do therapy. Ignore all else. get well. It's a good prescription.

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