Friday, August 30, 2013

Feeling stronger Everyday 3 - How do you feel?

Update:  As I continue to be faithful to my daily rehab exercises, I’ve noticed that I have quickly gained strength in not only my left leg, but in my upper body as well because of the use of my crutches.  Getting outside as often as possible has been a big help.  Of course that means attention to detail and taking my time using the crutches to get up and down the stairs.  Once I get outside, everything feels so much better.   The act of walking around outside on my own, feeling the sun on my face, or the breeze on my cheeks, is very freeing.  For me right now, this is the best exercise in the world!


How are you feeling?

This is a question that you as a patient will be asked many, many times over the course of your healing journey.  Whether it is during the weeks preceding your upcoming surgery, during the time of your hospital stay, or during the time of your outpatient rehabilitation visits, this question will constantly pop up.  Usually it comes in the form of pictures of a face in various stages of discomfort, or from your healthcare technician asking that dreaded phrase, “on a scale of one to ten…”  And while the question can be annoying to hear, or easy to dismiss, there is no more important question that can be asked regarding your wellbeing.

Why do they care?

The people who work in your healthcare plan need to know how you are feeling.  In fact, to them the more detail you give them, the better they can help you.  This is especially important when it comes to pain management.  The type of pain, the intensity, what it feels like, where it is located (and from how many sources) helps to decide the specifics that will be used in your treatment. For example, it is just as important for them to know that you are having flare up pain from the broken collarbone you suffered two years ago, in addition to your current problem.  That information may change the type or amount of medication you will need for surgery.  That is why it is important for you to tell them everything when it comes to answering the question of how are you feeling.  It really is all about you!

Why do we resist answering this question? 

Our state of being at any given time is a very complex thing, and can be affected by so many conditions both large and small.  What complicates matters is because we are human beings, there are times that we are not as forthcoming with information as we should be.  We are preoccupied by a variety of situations.  Perhaps we are distracted by what we feel are more important or more immediate concerns.  Sometimes for a variety of reasons we just aren't honest with ourselves when it comes to the state of our own well being.  Men especially can easily find themselves trying to create an aura of invincibility about their condition for fear of showing weakness.  We may compare our condition with others and trivialize or minimize how we feel, so we are not perceived as being a diva, or an attention seeker. Unfortunately some of us may even have self esteem issues that make us feel unworthy of being taken care of at all.  Sometimes we hurt so bad that it drains us and forces us into a depressive state, where we just want to be left alone.

The bottom line: Tell it like it is!

No one deserves pain. Not only does pain hurt, but pain is also very tiring.  Living in pain is exhausting, because your body is fighting on your behalf to help you get better.  Because of these things, it is very easy to slip into despair or despondency.  It is ok to be mad about your situation.  You didn't ask for it.  It is important to know that none of this is your fault.  It is the nature of the beast.  It is ok to be tired!  Right now your body is fighting its most important fight.  Right now, this time is all about you, and what you need is most important.  So tell somebody!  Your healthcare team needs to know how you are feeling, and asks you this question, not to aggravate you, but to assess the state of your body (and your mind/mindset) in order to make a plan to treat the entire you.  So do yourself a favor.  Tell them everything.  In the long run it is for your own good.  You have my permission to be a diva in this case.  It really is all about you!

Next entry: Home from Hospital - More tips



Friday, August 23, 2013

Feeling Stronger Everyday 2- Planning for surgery

Update: Saw my surgeon yesterday.  An x-ray revealed that my artificial hip joint is strong and securely mounted in both pelvis and femur, so absolutely no worries about that.  He is very encouraged by my strength of movement in my leg, and could tell that I was exercising it aggressively.  As a result, he has changed my restrictions to FULL weight bearing, which I am quite happy about.  Even though I have pain, this pain is much more tolerable than the tearing, grinding, never ending, 24/7 oppression I was going through prior to the surgery.  I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel!


Surgery sucks!  There, I said it.

Surgery, and everything associated with it is an annoying, life altering pain in the ass.   It is a major disruption to every facet of the normal routine. People pester you with forms that need to be filled out.  Questions need to be asked and answered (multiple times) and eventually you will lose your privacy.  Your body will be exposed to the world in all manner of uncomfortable and downright embarrassing ways.  Sooner or later your “parts” will be on display to somebody, but you’ll be too drugged up to deal with it quickly enough, or to care.   You will be poked and prodded, jostled and moved, and you will feel powerless to do anything about it.

Oh, by the way, during this time, you will be in pain. In some cases, a lot of it.  That is the downside to having surgery.

But sometimes surgery is the only answer.  If that is the case for you or a loved one, having a plan in place for your surgery will make things go more smoothly than trying to wing your way through it.  Being a free spirit myself, even I can recognize the need to set a framework in place.  While I may not be able to control everything that happens, with a plan I have power, and with power, I can manage each situation to my advantage as much as possible.  Even when the unexpected happens (and something will, trust me), and things get screwy or annoying, with a plan, you'll be able to endure the situation from a position of strength.

I have a few practical suggestions to make your hospital experience a little more tolerable.  

Schedule surgery with enough time to prepare for it.

You want to make sure that your responsibilities are being taken care of while you are “out of action.” Whether it’s your job, school, business, finishing projects, paying bills or what have you, you’ll want to make sure that the proper people or agencies are informed of your plans.  Sometimes you won’t have a choice as to when your procedure takes place, but if you do have the option, take your time so you can plan your life accordingly.  The more you get handled, the more worry-free you will be.

Recruit your “Agent”

Perhaps the most important thing you can do for yourself to insure a better outcome at the hospital, is to have someone who is willing to help you and be with you every step of the way.  This can be your spouse, significant other, a family member, best friend, or anyone you can trust to make decisions in your best interest.  This person will be doing everything from being a listening ear for you and being at your side pre-surgery, to running interference for you and advocating on your behalf with the hospital staff.  This person is your “cruise director” who will take care of everything for you from the time you check into the hospital, until the time you are discharged.  Don’t leave home without your Agent!

Pre-plan your hospital transportation

This should already be taken care of if you have your Agent in place.  Do not drive to the hospital.  You'll only end up inconveniencing yourself later when you find that you cannot drive home, and you have to worry yourself over what to do about your car.  Take a cab, or arrange a ride to the hospital.  The same goes for getting home.  Let family friends or loved ones help!

Recognize that you will have limitations, and Plan accordingly

Due to its very nature, when the human body is cut into, it becomes weak.  That doesn't mean YOU are
weak.  It means your body will be going into recovery mode.  Take time NOW to think about what you will need to make yourself feel more comfortable while you are healing.

For example, a few years ago, I had to have surgery on the rotary cuff of my right shoulder.  I also happen to be right handed.  A very important thought occurred to me.  When nature calls, what was I supposed to do? You guessed it.  I practiced "taking care of business" using my left hand ahead of time.  Believe me, when the time came, my practice time made my life a whole lot easier.

Set up a command center.

If you will not be bedridden, decide where you will be spending the majority of your time during your
recovery at home.  Think about what your body will need. (Extra pillows, a plusher chair) Equip this area with those things, as well as those special items you deem necessary for your comfort (video games, laptop, etc.)  You may be in this spot for a while, so give it some thought.

Do your laundry before hand.
This is a no brainer.  You definitely won't feel like doing it once you get home from the hospital.  Trust me!

Pack a light bag.  

Other than 2 sets of clothes (shorts and T shirts, underwear), and (maybe) that favorite bottle of shampoo of yours, you won't need to bring much else. The hospital supplies most toiletries (you actually pay for them as part of your stay).  You may not even feel like changing into real clothes, and opt to wear the hospital gown instead, especially if you are bandaged up and covered with solutions that can stain.  (I can never understand why folks bring bags and bags of clothing and toiletries into the hospital.  They never use them, and some poor sucker always gets stuck hauling them around for nothing.)  Packing light is the best policy.

Take advantage of "integrative health services"

Some hospitals take a holistic approach to healthcare and offer alternative health services to their patients either free of charge, or as a part of the cost of the hospital stay.  Services such as acupuncture, acupressure, aromatherapy, massage therapy, guided imagery and others are offered to help relieve pain and discomfort, and provide relaxation to the patient.  If any of these services are available (especially if they are free of charge) consider trying several of them.  There is nothing wrong with giving yourself every advantage during your hospital stay, and you may find that one or more of these therapies really helps.

Enjoy Family/Friend Fun Time

A few days before your surgery date, why not spend a little quality time with those closest to you.  Have a
picnic.  Plan an outing at an amusement park.  Or just hang out with the gang.  Spend a little of the time talking about your surgery if it is appropriate, and answering questions about your plans.  You can also ask them to be understanding of the situation while you are in recovery.  After all, you may not feel much like talking after surgery, and you’ll be spending most of your time concentrating on your own healing.

Spend quiet time with yourself 

Finally, The day or night before surgery, I highly recommend that you enjoy some quiet time with yourself.  Whether it is in prayer, meditation, contemplation, or in some type of peaceful reflection, it will do you well to “get your mind right” and place yourself in a confident mindset.  Picture the affected part of the body fully healed, free from pain and fully mobile.  It is a well documented fact that those entering surgery with a positive outlook experience better overall outcomes with their procedure.  Why not give yourself an advantage?

Thanks for taking the time to read the article.  I hope you enjoyed it and find it beneficial.

Next Topic: How are you feeling?



Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Feeling Stronger Everyday-My Healing Journey

I'm sure you've noticed the lack of activity on our blog over the last 2 weeks. There was a good reason for it.  Due to the increase of bone-on-bone hip pain that I have been experiencing over the last 8 months, I elected to have hip replacement surgery on August 7th 2013.
Ice packs and my leg up for comfort.
It was not a decision that I made lightly.  I went through much discussion with medical personnel, to verify my diagnosis, and to develop a plan that would serve me best in getting my body back into form and into pain-free status.  I spent time talking with friends and acquaintances who have experienced the same surgery that I was contemplating, to gain insight and make a plan for my own care.  Most importantly, I discussed it with my wife Terry from an emotional and practical standpoint, in order to plan for the time where I would be unable to care for myself, and where my share of responsibility for Winter Goddess Foods would fall upon her. 

So no, the decision to undergo surgery was not taken lightly.

Terry and I thought that this experience could turn out to be beneficial to others who may be faced with a similar decision.  There is a lot of practical information that can make the ordeal of surgery and rehab a lot easier to go through.  Because of this, I will be sharing my story with you in blog entries I’m calling “Feeling Stronger Everyday – My Healing Journey.”  This will be a series of entries on practical tips as well as current updates on my own progress. You'll catch the good and the bad, as well as the things I am learning about myself through this journey.  It may not be pretty, but I am hoping that it will at least be helpful for you or your loved ones who have to face the prospect of surgery and subsequent rehab.  I hope that you will look forward to my entries, and benefit from them in at least some small way; even if it is only to get a laugh or two.
Don't forget healing energy!
Next up: Planning for surgery.

Blessings to you!


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Away for the Week!

Hello Loyal Readers -

Frank and I will be away from our blog for a week due to health reasons.  We appreciate your patients with us and we look forward to getting back to right next week.

Until then, be well and stay safe.  


Terry and Frank Williams
Winter Goddess Foods

PS  Don't forget to be good to yourself!