As of July 2010 (last update was March 2008), I'm doing just fine. Up to my "not so old" tricks again. A lot of things have changed, but not my personality, desire and dedication to take care of myself. I'm able to do the same things as before, just more careful. If it took me four hours before, it'll take several two hour stints. I do this to let myself know not to push things and to rest before something goes wrong. I still have small issues with my back, but nothing like before. My kidney function is fine (although some is destroyed) and my hand is doing just fine. I'm able to be myself and continue on with life. If nothing else it has taught me patience.
I believe I've just gone through the worst four weeks of my life! What started out months ago as a diagnosis of back injury, which would require surgery, turned into an additional struggle for me and my family. I'm documenting this to keep before my mind forgets things and people who helped me along the way. Also, to let everyone know there isn't always an answer for things that happen.
One big bonus I had is my wife Jeanne works at the hospital where I was taken. This made things easy on her for sure. All I needed to do was pick up the phone and ask her to stop by when the doctors came in. I tried to leave her to her work, but you know how wives are. She was in very early each day to see me and check on my well being and usually the last to leave at night. Lovely lady for sure. Thanks Dear!
I apologize if I forget and/or leave out staff names but want you all to know YOU ARE IMPORTANT! Without people like you, we wouldn't have the care we're provided with in this area. I can't thank all of you enough, sincerely, Glenn DiOrio, Aptos, CA. Email: email@example.com
After months of physical therapy and doctor visits, an MRI (prompted by my physical therapist Jeff) was done on my lower back showing a severely herniated disc at L5/S1. I knew something had to be done and the three doctors I saw Dr. Frank Jan, Dr. Samuel Kim (Dr. Kim has since moved to New York) and Dr. William Cao (my PCP) all said they were amazed I was walking! That prompted me to do something quickly so I opted to schedule a surgery date. During this time my foot was constantly on fire and my toes buzzing with referred nerve pain. I would also get a BIG "poke" of pain in the left buttock when driving over 30 minutes or more. This was enough to see stars a couple of times. Yes, it hurt like hell and I couldn't continue my life like this anymore.
I schedule surgery for August 15, 2006 and was ready to go. However, I had my doubts and was making everyone around me along with myself, a mental nightmare case. Up to the day of surgery I still doubted what to do although I knew it needed to be done. The day arrived and I was off to the hospital Dominican Hospital for the operation. This was scheduled to be a 1 to 1 ˝ hour surgery to repair the herniated portion and stitch me back up. Schedule time was 1:45pm but the scheduled was bumped up and I was in sooner. Nurses prepped me and I was off to the O.R. around 12:30pm. This website shows a graphic video procedure of what was done Microdisectomy (graphic)
I met Dr. Carlisle Percival (anesthesia) along with an aid named Glen. How bad could that be, same name only one 'N'. We joked about that and when it was time to go, I said, "o.k. bottoms up". All I remember after that was laughter and I was out!
When they got me aroused in the recovery room, I remember seeing a clock on the wall and the time was about 4:30pm. I knew in my mind something had taken more than scheduled time and I remember wiggling my toes and feeling my left foot with my right and all seemed o.k. and that was about it. I was transferred to my room and was told I had to lay flat on my back all night and that I might have to stay an extra day. During surgery, complications were caused by scar tissue adhering to the dura of the spinal column.
After being placed in my room for the night (2326), I was taken care of by Debbie and Bill for the evening and next day. I may not remember them years from now, but at the time, felt they did the best job possible, always asking if I needed anything and to just call if needed. Very efficient staff indeed! My youngest daughter Melissa was right there by my side along with my wife Jeanne. They took turns feeding me dinner, yeah I was hungry. Not easy to do and everything went down pretty good until...well, let's just say I felt better after that. I told my daughter I was sorry and she couldn't believe I said that. Well, I was sorry it happened. Anyway, the rest of the evening went pretty well. Ever try to eat laying down? For that matter, ever try to go to the bathroom laying down? Geesh!
I had a few visitors that night and my boss (Carol and her boyfriend Warren) stopped by to inform me that another co-worker (Brian) was in the hospital for a heart attack. Damn! What is going on? They said he's doing fine and is suppose to go home the next day.
Dr. Samuel Kim (he has now left SMC and moved back to New York to continue his practice) came to me the next morning and told me what happened. It seemed that I had injured my back some time ago and that the scare tissue had adhered to the dura and when he was removing all of it, the dura tore causing spinal fluid to leak out. An emergency procedure to repair was put in place and they basically patched and super glued me back together. He was very confident of the repair so there was no drain put in my back to monitor. He said if it was to leak, it would come through the incision. He inspected the area and said everything looked good and I could get up and start walking when I felt like it. He also reminded me of our last visit when I had doubts about the surgery and he assured me I made the right decision. He said my quality of life would be so much better in a couple of months. If I didn't do anything, he said it would be "piss poor". He also said steroid shots wouldn't have helped at all if I didn't do surgery. He told me I could go home if I felt like it and not have to stay the extra day. That was the best news I heard all day! I got up that morning and started my walking in the hospital, although very nervous at first, and as I continued my walking episodes (some as long as 45min making nurses nervous), I was confident that by the end of the day I could go home. I even stopped by my co-workers room to say hello.
Returning home was great. I was in some pain at the incision, but most all of the pain feelings were gone! No more hot foot and toes felt good. I also didn't experience any buttock pain but I know that this can linger for up to six weeks post op. I did my basic excersizes and stretching for the next week until my visit with Dr. Kim again. I saw Dr. Kim the following Wednesday (August 23 after surgery and I was feeling great. He removed the stitches and the relived about 70% of local incision pain immediately. During the exam I told him of my progress which I documented and he said that was normal and the body is healing itself. He said everything looked good and to see him in three months. I was out the door and headed home for my final recovery. I was feeling very good and ready to get back to normal again.
After eating lunch I started to feel some abdominal pain in my lower left side. After just coming out of surgery a week before, I was concerned to say the least. I though I ate some bad food and had some minor stomach pain. I was able to sleep o.k. and felt a little better in the morning.
Friday August 25, 2006
Within minutes after having a cup of coffee, I was on the floor in agonizing pain on both sides of my stomach. It was like everything was on fire and moving back and forth. I found myself having severe abdominal pain and dry heaves for the next couple of hours. Each episode was less and I started to feel a little better by noon. I was able to walk and eat a small bite of food and had more abdominal pain late that afternoon. I ate a bite for dinner and then went to bed.
Saturday and Sunday August 26/27, 2006
Saturday started out real good. I was able to eat a good breakfast and start off fairly normal only feeling a little weak from the prior days events. I drove the car for the first time in several weeks and did some walking to start healing my back again. I felt o.k. by evening and we had a good dinner without issues. Sunday morning started out much the same with a good breakfast and then I decided to do some minor things in our bathroom. I needed to remove a section of wallpaper and then prime the wall. Dr. Kim had told me to do what I felt like doing without overdoing and I know what good pain/bad pain is all about.
Starting the job around 10:00am, I proceeded to remove the wallpaper. The section of work was about a 4' by 7' area so it wasn't like some big deal. I took quite a few breaks and during the process I felt fine. No pain and I did take a two hour rest for my back and take a trip to the store for some items and had lunch. Returning home all I needed to do was prime the wall. After finishing that task and cleaning my mess up, it was about 3:30pm. This is when it all started…
Around 4:00pm I felt like I had more abdominal problems, only this time the pain was different. Nothing happened but the pain stayed there and I was back on the floor in pain trying to get comfortable. After a few hours I was able to get up and get into bed for the night. I was fairly comfortable and got to sleep around 10:00pm. I awoke in pain at 1:00pm and couldn't get back to sleep. I was doing all I could to keep comfortable. The pain was on my left side only and I could feel it at the bottom of my ribcage and just above my hip. It went all the way around to my back and by pressing near the incision of my surgery, it felt like that was the starting point. I waited until morning to call my back doctor, Dr. Kim.
Monday August 28, 2006
My appointment for Dr. Kim was 11:00am but they called just before that and rescheduled for 3:15pm that day. My mother-in-law (Bonnie) was home with me so Jeanne stayed at work and would meet us at the doctors office. I was able to get a little food in me without any repercussions. I could urinate fine and was able to take a vicadin to try and ease the pain. The pain never moved from my left side and was always in the same place as before. I didn't know what to do and that's why I called Dr. Kim after just having back surgery on the left side just over a week before. Upon my arrival to the doctor, he was shocked to see what condition I was in after just seeing me a few days before. He took a look and said everything was fine and that I needed to see my primary doctor, Dr. Cao. I told him everything that took place during the last few days and they were shocked to hear I did some bathroom work. At the point in time, I felt really bad that I may have done something very bad. Dr. Kim got on the phone to my primary doctor, Dr. Cao and they got the ball rolling.
I was sent to the Santa Cruz Medical Clinic Urgent Care department where they were waiting for me. Bonnie drove both of us there and was just as worried as anyone about the situation. I saw Tom Halderman PA-C. They got me in and started the testing; blood, urine, chest x-rays, intestinal x-rays, phone calls talking to other doctors. The only thing left to do was a CT Scan because we all thought it was intestinal, possibly diverticulitus, because of my description of symptoms. Tom said that it could wait until morning because the clinics had closed or we could go to Dominican tonight. By 6:30pm, Tom said he could not let me go home in the condition I was in and they ordered the CT Scan at Dominican Hospital right away. Bonnie drove us to the hospital because Jeanne's car was already there, and we told her to go on home and we'd be in touch. I know that both of them were very concerned about me. I didn't have time to think about me and the pain was way past the tears level!
7:00pm I was in the Radiology Department drinking one of two bottles of stuff. I was amazed I could drink without my gut hurting but the pain was still there. They moved me from a wheel chair to a gurney and put warm blankets over me until it was time for the scan. I must have been having a fever because my teeth were chattering and I was shaking all over.
Around 8:30pm they moved me in for the scan. I was in a lot of pain by then. All day dealing with this really took a toll on me. I couldn't even lift my left leg by itself, I had to lift it with my arms or have someone do it. The pain was terrible! It was at this time that we finally found out it had something to do with my left kidney. I was asked to go back to the Medical Clinic for further instructions. Time: 9:06pm Monday night.
Upon arrival to the clinic, the place was locked because they close at 9:00pm. We had to bang on the door and have the security guy get us in. I was a little shocked, but we finally got back to Tom again for the diagnosis and what we should do. They took vitals again and noticed I now had a fever of 101.3 and discussion started with other colleagues to have me admitted to the hospital that night. I was told that the left kidney had a large black spot on the CT scan, which meant either infection or damage and that immediate care needed to start. We were off for Dominican Hospital at 11:00pm that night.
Arrival was planned and taken well. All the doctors had things in place. Without their assistance I'm sure it would've taken much longer. Entering through the ER, I was placed in a wheelchair and taken to Admitting where things went as smooth as could be. I was then escorted to my room in 2 West. I remember going by the nurses station there and calling out "incoming". I still had some sense of humor although it wasn't as funny I guess, but it helped me.
After getting placed in a room (2129) I was quickly put on morphine and vicadin to ease my pain. Time was now 12:00am and Jeanne had been through a lot since being up at her normal 3:15am time the day before. I was seen by Dr. William Mears to assess my condition as well as being taken care of and then I finally persuaded Jeanne to go home and get some rest. She had been up a long time and was doing very well to keep me under control and give me support.
My nurse for the evening was Jessica and boy she was on the ball. In fact ALL of the nurses and staff there were top notch in my opinion. She told me how to buzz the nurses station with the smaller remote unit. She took vitals and information and then let me rest. Around 3:00am it was time for more pain medication so I started using the remote. Nothing happened and I continued to try for 20min. I guess I could've yelled but I thought that would be a little rude. I had an idea! I picked up the phone and dialed the operator and then got forwarded to the nurses station. Bingo! We made contact. I was taken care of and slept the remainder of the night.
In the morning, I was seen by Dr. Cao to go over what had happened. He said he was going to transfer me to TCU (Transitional Care Unit) for further assessment and to get a plan in place. My little remote unit was being attended to so the nurses were close by. I was given my toy back and used it again around 11:00am. Push once…wait…push twice…wait… O.K. back to the phone. Jessica had notified the nurses station that I would be phoning in for care if needed. Yep, the phone did the trick again. Thanks. I will miss the nurses who provided care for me in 2 West. I believe Jessica and Geneva were my nurses. There were others and they are appreciated as well. One thing all the nurses harp on is "pain management", which means don't let it go to far before needed medication. Yeah, I learned that too!
Trying to run a medical facility and keeping it functioning at the same time must be a huge challenge and I guess I was in the middle of all of it. However, there were ways to communicate and it all worked out fine.
Before lunch I had a visit from a nurse who gave me an ultrasound of my heart and chest area. She said everything looked pretty good. I asked her about the colors on the screen and she just told me that she was looking for leakage and if there was any, there would be a lot of different colors in that area. After lunch I was escorted by nursing staff, actually they pushed me in my bed, to TCU where I was placed in a room (2219). A very nice room at the end of the hall and in a corner where I guess I wouldn't be any trouble to them. Well, I knew it made no difference and turned out to be a very good place for me. Now, did you all catch the correlation of room numbers? 2129 to 2219? Is there a pattern here?
As soon as I was officially transferred the nurses started their duties. I was wired for sound, with probes on my body and put on a morphine drip I.V. I had so many tubes and wires coming out of me I felt like the bionic man for a time, although I sure didn't feel like him I'm sure. My nurses included; Makalya, Maureen, Jessica, Renee, Christine and Darren and Marc (who are twin brothers from different mothers). All of these and more did a fantastic job of seeing to my needs. I couldn't ask for better care.
Tuesday evening was a real gem. Even though I was on the end room, there's still someone beside you on the other side. Yeah, someone who makes lots of noise sleeping. Well I got about 3hrs. sleep and after the nurses check at 12 midnight, I just tossed and turned for the next three hours and finally said, enough is enough. I got up, washed my faced, shaved, cleaned myself as best as I could and got back in bed and picked up my magazines that my friends Al and Cee brought me. I had the light on, t.v. on "very low" and just sitting up reading. The Renee stopped in for my check and was surprised I was up and not only that, up and awake. I told her that I usually get up around 4am. and Jeanne at 3:15am everyday so this was just a little earlier. Little did I tell her that the neighbor was noisy, but I think she knew. Well, we got to know each other a little better and had a good patient/nurse relationship. o.k. we talked about our families and things like that. Around 5am. I finally started to doze on and off for awhile. Luckily for me, my neighbor left the next day and the rest of my stay was peaceful.
Wednesday and Thursday were tests on my blood and trying to come up with some kind of meaning to what happened. I was seen by urologist Dr. Elizabeth Newsom on Wednesday to give me an idea on what happened. After discussion it seems that part of my left kidney died as a result, but the reason was still unsure. She explained to me that if the kidney is deprived of blood, within two hours or so, it would fail. I did learn that the kidney is made up of sections so all of the kidney hopefully didn't die. They were ruling out infection because I never really had symptoms as such and the fact that my tests were all coming back normal. It was on to the next phase of testing.
I finally got clearance from the doctors to take a shower and allow me to walk around the hospital area on Wednesday. My back from surgery was really starting to hurt and some of the symptoms were annoying me. The shower felt great and the walking started loosening up my back again. Laying in bed isn't the best thing for my back right now but they were concerned because of the I.V. cart that had to go with me. I appropriately named it R2D3. I was reminded by a R.N. Marilyn, to hold on to my I.V. hoses near the connection on my arm. The reason is to keep them in your arm instead of being ripped out in case something happens while moving around. Needless to say, every time I was up, they were in my hand. She got a kick out of it and actually commented that I was listening to them. Yeah, I got points for that!
I was seen by Dr. Patrick Shields on Wednesday and he informed me what had taken place. Much of what is written here is what I was told by him. He also said that a cardiologist would be visiting me that day. His name is Dr. Neil Sawhney and was very open about what he had planned. He is a funny guy but very down to earth for me. I liked his way of presentation and when I wanted to ask a question he said, "not now, I'm on a roll" so I let him roll. As soon as his last sentence was finished he said, "now, what's your question"? How's that for concentration! Yeah, I like this guys style.
After discussing the possibilities of what happened it was thought that I either had a clot or other plaque matter lodge in an artery to the kidney, thus causing all the pain. However, there was nothing that would substantiate this claim given my past health history (negligible) or the fact that my blood tests were not showing this type of behavior. I was taken back to the radiology lab to have an ultrasound of my legs to check the arteries. Everything looked good so I guess it was on to the next test to see what could be found. Oh yeah, blood tests. I can't imagine how many tubes of blood they took. Eight one time, three a bunch of others, another eight count, finally I gave up and just held out my arm.
Dr. Sawhney's suggestion was to have a CT Angiogram of the artery to the kidneys so he could get a good look at what went wrong and how to address the problem. I agreed and it was set for Thursday afternoon. Little did they tell me I wouldn't be able to eat or drink after midnight Wednesday, but what the heck, I had to do the same for my back surgery so I knew I could.
Around 2:00pm I was transferred to a wheelchair and with my I.V. cart in front of me, the nurse proceeded to "drive" me down to the CT area. Yeah, finally behind the wheel again, left turns, right turns and even a 180° turn. Yeah, life is good in the hospital! Well, I wasn't really driving, but I could still think I was.
Once in the CT OR, things started happening. I was greeted by Chris, Susan and Calvin who went about their jobs like a well-oiled machine. I even told them they were like robots going about their business. Dr. Sawhney asked me how I was doing and I told him I was nervous. He said not to worry, we have the "Dream Team" here. I thought about that and said, "that's only four but if you count me, we could field a team". I got a little chuckle from him. It was now time for the procedure, which you are awake through and they give you a little "happy juice" to ease the pain, thanks Calvin.
Dr. Sawhney said "this isn't going to hurt me a bit". I responded, "thank me very much" and again it made me feel at ease and I'm glad he has a sense of humor too. As the procedure was happening, I really didn't feel anything other than the very start, after that it was smooth sailing. I don't think the entire process was more than 30mins. I was escorted by the "Dream Team" back to my room in TCU.
Once back in the room the nurses came in to remove the sheath from my artery in the groin. Man was that thing long! They had to apply pressure with this super duper patch kit that bonded with the blood to form a tight seal. I had to lay flat for an hour and then was allowed to get up if needed after six hours. At least this time I could have the bed propped up so I could eat and be more comfortable. I had my right leg flat, left leg propped up on the side rail, arms out of the blankets just living like a king. A nurse came in and said "I can see you're pretty comfortable". Yep, sure was!
Dr. Sawhney visited me that evening with the results. Nothing was certain other than one of the main arteries to the kidney had ruptured or clotted and he was going to do some research with others to find a cause, if any. He did say he checked the main artery from the heart and said it was crystal clear. No plaque of any kind present and that the right kidney looked very good as well. At that time, it was still a mystery and probably would stay one. Later that night Dr. Shields visited me again with results that still weren't conclusive. He indicated to me that my case would be discussed Friday morning with other colleagues. I asked him to tell them thanks for me and then he asked if I'd like to attend. I thought that was an honor and he explained that it helps to put a face, patient, story so the other doctors have a chance to possibly help their clients. I graciously accepted.
Dr. Shields met me Friday morning and escorted me to the meeting area. I told my story to the doctors and was very honored to be a part of the process. I expressed my gratitude to all involved and returned to my room. Around noon, Dr. Shields came in and said that I was going to go home today and the Dr. Sawhney would stop by to see me and go over my case.
Dr. Sawhney came by around 1:30pm and told me the findings. They really didn't have a reason and that they may never know exactly what happened to the artery. They came to the conclusion that the artery just ruptured and that I had three choices. Do nothing, take 81mg aspirin a day, or go on cumiden. He said cumiden won't stop me from throwing a clot so he said he wouldn't do it, and the next choice was to take the 81mg aspirin a day for life. The do nothing wasn't a choice for me. The ordeal was behind me now and I can start again to get back to normal. I left for home around 2:30pm. I still have to see a vascular surgeon the end of the month, so I'll find out more at that time.
O.K. This has gone to the "Theory of Three's", meaning, I had my three "happenings" in a span of a month and now it's OVER!
Just after getting over the hospitalization of my back and artery issues, I was doing very well and getting myself ready to get back to working again. On Tuesday, September 12, 2006, I found one of our cats getting involved with another in a fight. I broke up the fight and got my cat away from the other and then picked him up to get him in the house to calm down. I had just carried him from the front yard into the garage and was just three feet from the door when I reached out to open it. Well, I guess it startled him and he did a very quick "bite-n-release" to my right index finger and palm area. The pain and blood was gnarly! I didn't hit him as it wasn't his fault but got him in the house and proceeded to take care of me. Again!
On Tuesday, September 12th, I broke up a cat fight between one of ours (Buddy) and some other cat. Once separated, I got a hold of Buddy and got him away from the other cat. I was taking him into the house and after going up the driveway and into the garage (with him tucked beneath my left arm), I reached for the door with my right hand and he struck out like a snake and bit my right index finger and palm area. I guess he was still in fight mode.
The pain was immediate and I got him into the house and proceeded to start taking care of the bite. It hurt like hell too! It penetrated the top of my finger and felt like it went to the bone. Blood was coming out in several places and I finally got that stopped and bandaged. The next day I had an appointment with the vascular surgeon Dr. David Rose at 10:00am, so I figured I go there first and then to Urgent Care at the Santa Cruz Medical Foundation. Dr. Rose said I really needed to have it looked at as it was already swollen.
It was during my visit with Dr. Rose that I learned my artery problem was very rare and called a "dissected renal artery" (see below), which means that the inner wall of the artery got pushed to the other side closing off blood flow. He said it's very common in the carotid artery from a sudden motion such as a chiropractor would do. No reason is given why it happened, but he did give me hope in the fact that he hasn't seen it happen twice to the same patient. Wow! I get a break.
|Drawing of an artery dissection.|
|In an aortic dissection, the inner layer (lining) of the aortic wall tears, and blood surges through the tear, separating (dissecting) the middle layer from the outer layer of the wall. As a result, a new, false channel forms in the wall.|
I was off to the Urgent Care doctors. Once arrived I got examined by Dr. Arthur Vedder and he wasn't quite sure how to handle the issue being it was pretty infected and they couldn't contact the plastic surgeon. So, I was given a shot in the butt along with some antibiotics (doxycycline) and told to return the next morning for a re-exam. I was off for home thinking it would get better.
The next morning (Thursday), after a night of vicadin, it hurt. Hurt really bad and was worse than before. I was off to the doctor to get evaluated. Once there, it was obvious to them I needed to see the plastic hand surgeon. That doctor was in surgery so I had to wait there until they heard back. While there, the drug I was on (doxycycline) gave me a rash and itching all over my body. It drove me nuts for two hours! Damn, I'm not doing too good these days. Finally, they got the call.
Dr. Vedder came to me and said, "we have to admit you to the hospital". Deja Vu. Or should I say, Vuja De, which means, "I think I've been there and I have". Oh my God! I'm off to the hospital again. Third time in a month for three totally different reasons.
I called Jeanne and she couldn't believe it. Well neither could I but it was really happening. I got checked in again and into a room. While the nurses were checking me in, they actually witnessed the changing itching and rash that was still going on. They couldn't believe it. Luckily, it stopped soon after. I was put on two antibiotics (levaquin and clendomyacin) and rested for the night.
I was admitted by Dr. Wendi Knapp who happened to be on the doctor panel I talked to when I was in just weeks before. She couldn't believe it as well that I was there, but insured me it was the best thing to do because cat bites are very bad and can lead to serious problems. She told me I would be seeing Dr. Suzanne Kerley, who is the plastic hand surgeon specialist.
Friday morning I got my visit by Dr. Kerley. Very nice person and just off the cuff told me how bad it looked and after a quick exam said, "you need surgery". Surgery was scheduled for 5:00pm that night. I felt real good about this doctor just as I felt about the others before, ready to do what was necessary and get me going again.
I was whisked done to surgery around 6:30pm (no food since breakfast) and I was as nervous as before. I was greeted by Weldon and Dr. Plumb (anesthesia)...(hhhmmm, "Mr. Plumb in the Library with the Pipe") came to mind rather quickly, to prep me for surgery. Then, another doctor comes in and Dr. Plumb says he's going home and Dr. Howard (really Dr. Howarth, but I thought it was Howard at the time) will be doing the anesthesia. Oh great, I just got comfortable and now they switch on me. Dr. Kerley shows up and asks how I am and I told her it still hurts and she said, "yeah, it needs the cold steel". Oh boy, what a night this was going to be. I then told Weldon, "I guess we have Dr. Howard, Dr. Kerley and now just need Dr. Moe"! He just started laughing along with Dr. Percival, who just happened to stop by too. He was my anesthetist when I had my back surgery. Well, I was ready now!
I was a real mess in the recovery room this time. I think Jeanne said I really broke down. The recovery aid Richard, was there and kept me calm as possible and he and Jeanne returned me to my room around 9:00pm. I.V. started and almost immediately I was getting hot and itching all over. The nurse removed that as fast as possible and disposed of it. I guess that's another drug to add to my allergic list. Believe it or not, I was hungry and the only thing they came up with was a tuna sandwich, but it was just enough to take the edge off.
|Notice right hand outline of area effected.||Palm side showing infection area on index finger.|
|My friend "Lambchop" post surgery.||Incision and dressing, Dr. Kerley made to relieve infection.|
The next morning was o.k. I slept fine and woke up with "Lambchop" on my right hand. Here are some sites on bites to the hand and a reference page on how and what the sheath is on the hand. Flexor Tendon Sheath Infections and Muscles and Fascić of the Hand.
Saturday went fairly well. My hand was wrapped and I was just resting, waiting for the doctor to show up to examine the hand. Dr. Kerley arrived around 2:00pm and it was time to check her work.
The nurse (Elizabeth) got the table and supplies ready, along with a 4mg shot of morphine in my I.V. tube (you'll know why in a minute), while Dr. Kerley started unwrapping my hand. She kept telling me the first time is the worst. Little did I know exactly what that meant, but I was soon to find out.
Yeeeeeeeeeooooooooouuuuuuucccccccccchhhhhhhh! Damn, that smarted. I started sweating, squirming in my chair, threw my glasses on the bed, put my hand (good one) to my head and just agonized over what felt like, someone ripping my hand apart, but she was just pulling out the packing, which looked like a real thin shoelace. I didn't scream or yell, but it hurt like hell! Well, only for an instant, but it still hurt. The doctor said she likes to pack them good after surgery. Yeah, I know why now. Now it was time to pack the incision again. "Oh No", I thought, this is going to hurt too. Well, luckily, it didn't hurt nearly as bad as the removal.
I was observant at that point on how to pack it because I knew at some point I was going to have to do it or I wouldn't be able to go home. So, for the rest of the day and night, I watched the nurses do the work. All of them were very professional and took time to do things right. This also allowed me time to really soak in the procedure on what and how to do it. Well, all except for the morphine shot.
One very big surprise was the visitation by a few of the doctors who saw me the last time I was in, Dr. Shields, Dr. Sawhney and Dr. Rose. I was very honored to have them take the time, just for a moment to see how I was doing even though I wasn't their patient this time. I even had a brief "hello" from Michael in TCU whom I waved to earlier in the day when he was busy. Thank you!
On Sunday afternoon, R.N. Elizabeth suggested we try a vicadin early and then do a dressing change. I agreed and thought that would be a good test because I can do that at home. Just before the next changing, Dr. Kerley showed up and I got to perform my dressing change. She said I did well and asked if I wanted to go home. Yes I do! So, I packed up my materials and was released for the third time in 30 days from the hospital.
Arriving home again was sweet. It was sunny and I went out to the front lawn and just sat there. I spotted Buddy up the hill and called him. He came running down the hill and came right up to me and rolled over and wanted to be petted and loved. I did just that. It wasn't his fault for what happened and I'm sorry it did, but I was going to get better and I still had a good pet.
The next few days were just taking it easy and changing my dressing four times a day. It was a little trying at times, but all in all, not that hard to do. Remember, it was for my own good I did it!
My follow up visit with Dr. Kerley was the following Thursday. I made my way there all wrapped like I was shown and she did compliment me on how well I learned. I told here I had a good teacher. She said everything looked good and the bandaging would be much less until it healed. I thanked her again for all her work.
After surgery on my hand, I had physical therapy. Yes, physical therapy on my hand. I can't stress enough how this will help you. If you don't do things right, you won't get full function back. It's no different than when I had my knee or shoulder operated on earlier in life. You need to tell your doctor to prescribe therapy for your hand.
It's not a painful process but a necessary one. I didn't know they had hand therapists, but they do. They will tell you how to massage your hand, do stretches, soaking etc. It is the best remedy I can tell you about. If you're like me, you want to get better and if you follow instructions, you'll do fine. But, you need help to get started.
After my surgery, range of motion was terrible, and I mean terrible. I couldn't close my fist either and I'm right handed. That was a real downer. It took months to years before I felt comfortable. To this day, I still massage my hand when I feel like it to keep the scar tissue and just "fatty tissue"from setting in. It's not a deliberate massage, just when I think about it and stretch the area for a few minutes. It's also not done daily like post surgery.
You'll find you won't have much motion on the hand/finger for quite some time. Little by little it'll come back, but you must be persistent on your exercises the therapist gives you. I think I only had therapy for about two months and that was enough to get me going in the right direction.
Because I'm right handed, that aided my success in movement (at least I think so), because I used it everyday for everything. Gripping, tightening, typing (I remember how hard that was), tying shoes, etc. The more you can use it, the better. If you can't get any type of therapy, the best advice I can give you is to soak in warm/hot water with some type of lubricant (baby oil or skin oil of some type) then do some stretch massage to keep the skin pliable, then ice it for 10-15 minutes. Repeat this several times a day at first. Also, massage the scar tissue lightly to keep the skin from making scar tissue at the incision. You will lightly rub the incision area opposite directions easily for a few minutes. This will help keep the skin from forming that scar lump that happens if you don't.
I can tell you that it will get back to a semi-normal state, but only if you get some help or guidance early, and it's not long after your surgery, so you're on the right track. I know you can't get therapy with an open wound so it wouldn't start then. I can also tell you that it took about a year or more for me to make a fist without the index finder leaving a gap near my palm. You'll know what I'm talking about.
My finger still feels "fat" at times but doesn't limit me from anything. I'm a handy "hands on" type of person and the more you take in, the more it gets better. I remember right after surgery and months later I couldn't touch my index finger to my thumb. That was depressing, but also gave me motive to get better.
I can't really tell you anything else I haven't said or repeated but I can tell you it'll get better if you get some direction and demand to see a hand therapist. That's the best advice I can give you.
Many thanks go out to all who assisted in my health issues. Dr. Samuel Kim for taking time for me and getting my back better and to Tom Halderman PA-C, who pushed the issue to get me into the hospital and not allow me to go home during my internal issue, also to Dr. Suzanne Kerley for taking care of my hand, Santa Cruz Medical Foundation and Dominican Hospital for having the facilities to take care of patients in our area, and, to each of the above mentioned, for their staff providing the patient care needed to make things go as smooth as can be. This includes housekeeping, hospitality, admitting, nursing, engineering and many others associated with keeping a small city going.
I also want to thank all my friends and family who stopped by to visit and called to see how I was doing. I even had hospital staff that Jeanne works with stop by to say hello. They are some very special people.
Thank you very much, Glenn DiOrio, Aptos, CA.
Doctors, nursing, and hospital staff who provided care, listed in no special order.
|Doctors and Specialists|
|Dr. William Cao
Dr. Samuel Kim
Dr. Patrick Shields
Dr. Neil Sawhney
Dr. Suzanne Kerley
Dr. David Rose
Tom Halderman PA-C
Dr. Elizabeth Newsom
Dr. Frank Jan
Dr. Wendi Knapp
Dr. William Mears
Dr. Arthur Vedder
|Dominican Hospital Staff|
Richard in PAC-U