Friday, September 28, 2007

Needles to say....

My life has been full of hospitals, Doctors visits, and major surgery so I'm no stranger to the "patient" view of the healthcare industry, but I've not been a "patient" at Mayo Clinic very often - especially not for serious things as I was today. But as in all things, I find humor in my latest adventure.


I've been having a great deal of pain and trouble with my "good" hip the last several months. I guess I'll have to find something new to name it, because it is being very naughty now. I guess, like every teenager, it had to find its time to rebel. It supported it's lesser sibling, the "bad" hip for years and years.



And when we took the "bad" hip away and brought in a titanium replacement, "good" hip didn't complain. Nay, it bucked up under the pressure of having to support ALL of me - and I am not a small person! It performed beautifully all those 10 years ago. "Good" hip was only 33 at the time of this major test to it's strength and when I made it through a very long and arduous recovery I thought to myself: "Self: You've got one really great hip who is willing to go the extra mile for you. You should be very thankful!" And I was.

But there is one thing I didn't do for "good" that with my 20/20 hindsight vision I can see clearly now. I should have taken better care of it and not assumed it would be there for me for the rest of my life. All relationships are fragile, and extreme care must be administered to ensure their health and happiness, and this relationship I've had with "good" is no different.

Over the past several months, "good" has been giving me the signs of a mid-life crisis, but I ignored them. I wasted 10 years ignoring them and not doing the right thing by "good." So, I went to see an orthopedic doc on Monday. I actually have an appt. with the Dr. who pioneered hip replacements, but that's not until October. This appointment with a different Dr. came about because of an extremely painful episode that left me unable to put any weight on "good" at all.

The nurse told me to remove my pants and put on these ugly little shorts. I complied. So there I am, with a business suit top on, and the ugliest pair of cotton shorts that aren't even the same color. Below that, my knee high nylons and dress shoes. What a sight! The shorts, however, were a size too small. I sat down and rip...the back of the seam ripped. Yes, I'm fat. But to my defense, they were TOOO small and already very worn and frayed. I'm sure I just found the one weak spot in that lousy pair of shorts, right? I spyed the forbidden drawer under the examination table...you know the one...you've always wanted to snoop in those drawers but were afraid to be caught! I was more afraid to be discovered that I was fat and busted a pair of shorts so I dove for the drawer. I rummaged through it, destroying any bit of sterilization they may have had. I checked the sizes on each of them. S. Nope, not me. XS. Definitely not me. XXS? i didn't even know they made people that skinny! Then I found a M. Well, that's a step in the right direction. Did I tell you I was already in an XL? Then I found them, the oversized group. Hiding (or should I say shoved) in the back of the drawer. I felt a flood of relief - which of course was short lived. 4XL. 3XL. What the *&^%??? Who are these giants that fit in these, I thought? I could use it as a pup tent. I could fit both my children and myself in the 5XL I found! Yes, that's right, they make a 5XL. Do you think I could find ONE STINKING XXL?????? This is Mayo Clinic after all, and I work in the fundraising department - I know how much money we have raised for Orthopedics! You think SOMEONE could have stashed one lousy XXL in that drawer? Then it dawned on me - that drawer must be for the mis-fits in our society - there must be another drawer...

Before I had the chance to look - the door opened and there was the Doctor, and the obligatory student in tow. This is a teaching institution, so I've gotten used to having these silent guests in my examinations. Feeling awkward in my very tight shorts (except where my fat was protruding) I sat down on the bench and greeted them. When I sat, however, my feet were 8 inches from the floor! I started to believe this whole room was for mis-fits. As I sat there with the Dr. prodding and poking me, and talking to him about my history I realized how much of it sounded like a mis-fit and I was right where I belonged.

Back to the story of "good." This week I learned that "good" has went from mid-life crisis to full-blown estrangement, and it is very unlikely that our relationship will ever be the same. In fact, this week I learned that "good" wants a divorce. This week I heard the words I never wanted to hear again - "you will have to have your hip replaced soon"...


Soon? What kind of medical terminology is that, I asked? I can't deal with soon. I feel like I just had "bad" replaced and now you're telling me I have to get rid of "good" too? Are you crazy? I'm SOOOOOO not ready for this...I thought "good" would stay with me until I was at least 60.

I think the perceptive old Dr. saw the pain in my eyes...and that's when he suggested that we could try a cortisone injection into the hip to see if that relieve the pain and bought me sometime.

Flash forward to today - 9am. Oh, and did I say I HATE HATE HATE NEEDLES???? I have this thing that is apparently very common called vasal vago response. It means I get the crap scared out of me so much that I faint like a sissy when you stick me!

But for some odd reason, I wasn't feeling a lot of anxiety about this "procedure" as they called it. I was feeling pretty calm. I was laying down, a little nervous maybe, but no sweaty palms, no palpitations, no shortness of breath. I think because I know the pain I've been in is so much worse than one stick with a needle. But maybe it was all their talk while they were prepping about firmness of needles, different gauges, sizes (remember: Teaching Institution) that got me. Or the fact that this was not one needle, but two? The first to numb my leg a bit, the second to deliver the goods. All while they use an ultrasound to guide this 5 inch needle into the inner sanctity of "good."

When the second needle went in - I went out. Out, out, waaaay out. When I came too, they were all hovering - all 6 of them. Teaching institution - six people in a room to do the job it usually takes 2 people to do. Six witnesses to my weakness! Thank God for their ethical boundary that they can't go tell everyone I know about what a baby my physiology is! They were putting cold cloths on my forehead, checking my blood pressure, etc. The nurse said I went "deep" - and boy was she right. I can't remember the last time I have ever fainted that deeply into it, or when I've been so disoriented.

An hour later I hobbled over to my office, but felt so nauseous that I had to lay down. I laid down right there in my office on the carpet that is only ever vacuumed if you vacuum it yourself. And, since I'm always running late from here to there and never even have time to clean the papers on my desk - what would make you think I've ever vacuumed my office? Thank goodness for the once a year shampooing they do - but that was 10 months ago.

I decided that I didn't want to risk what germs were there, and it would be a bit unsightly for someone to come into the Director of MIS's office and seeing her flat on the floor - so I came home. I slept. I ate. I wrote. How cathartic this is.


I have an aunt with whom I've always been close - although I haven't seen her in over a year. But she's been on my mind a lot today. She has had her hips replaced multiple times. I never saw that in her - all I ever knew her to be was warm, and funny, and wonderfully happy all the time. I always knew we shared the hip thing in common - and now I realize that the part of her I want to keep with me is not the sharing of painful things like bad hips, but the wonderful thing she always gave to me - her incredible attitude and kindness. Thank you Aunt Norma for being such a grand role model - if I can deal with "good" only half as well as you handled all of your mis-fortune, I'll be just fine!

3 comments:

ahna said...

Julia
That was an amazing blog. Funny and painful at the same time. Knowing your history as I do, I wish that I could put on fairy godmother wings, swoop over and save you from the pain and anxiety. I would do it, too. I am sorry that you are looking at another replacement. That totally sucks. Take good care of yourself as you wait for that time to come. Park close. Don't carry stuff. WEAR GOOD SHOES!
OK, I'm not your mother, but I love you and I want you to feel good.
That said, OMG - I needed that laugh this morning. You write so well. I was laughing so hard - not due to your pain, but recognition of the sometimes humiliation that comes with a trip to the doctor's office. I ALWAYS get the wrong size of paper/fabric garments tossed at me. Something is always showing where it shouldn't. Usually, I am further humiliated by having to waltz down the hall - in front of some attending so-and-so to another room for "pictures." If' I'd wanted pictures taken of myself in this ridiculous position, I'd do it in the privacy of my own home, and they'd be polaroids.
Miss you bunches.
I am sending all of our good energy your way.
love you
Ahna

Bill said...

Because I knew you....

Good title. I have lots of things to say about that to you, but hey, this is your blog.

So I never would have accused you of having a pair of falsies, but then you never know what's going to happen, huh.

Funny (strange, not ha ha) that you brought this up. I just got back from Minneapolis and woke up the next morning and my hip is killing me. I just didn't know but it was sympathy pains. So, I'm not going to talk about my pitiful little Arthur Itis twinge. They might break out the needles. Yikes!

I guess the good part about that blacking out business is you probably don't feel a thing while you are.

Hope you don't have too many more of those episodes. Also sorry that you are in such a remote place with such inadequate healthcare. I'm guessing it's more fun to work there than be a patient there??

Billy
Peepaw, Grandpa, heck I don't care as long as they call me :>)

ahna said...

Nice new format. Isn't it fun to change things up a little?
AB