Sunday, June 21, 2020

Urgent Caring

Yesterday at the kitchen sink. Excuse the face in shadow.

It has been eleven days since the accident when I fell of my bicycle and broke my hip. I would not choose to suffer the injury but the support I have received has been extraordinary. It reminds me that most people are genuinely caring and want to help. That realization started in the Emergency Room of Holy Cross Hospital on Wednesday and Thursday, June 10 and 11.  And it was reinforced on Sunday, June 14 when I went to ER with a swollen lower leg and foot. Every doctor, nurse and technician I met at Holy Cross was empathetic and committed to diagnosing my condition and prescribing the best procedures for my recovery. I remember most every one of them by name, know a little about them and recall parts of our conversations. Everybody has a story and each one is worth telling.

Friday post X-ray in court appointed bloomers. 

Let me write that down. So, you said I have to use that stupid walker for 12 weeks.

At 3:00PM Wednesday I was greeted by Camille, a nurse from Virginia near Washington, D.C. Camille and her husband had been in Taos for only two months. I asked how she learned about the town and she told me she had done a three-month assignment here last year. In Latin it is called locum tenens. She liked it so much that she and her husband decided to move here. And since he is in financial industry he can work from home. She was glad to be here. I told her I was very glad she had chosen Taos.

X-rays were taken and came back negative for fractures in the hip, pelvis, femur, knee and elbow. I harbored hope that nothing was broken. Then Dr. Peter Neff, the orthopedist on call came by. He was young, hirsute and buff. His easy manner inspired confidence. He said that the while the X-rays didn’t show any fractures I was in such discomfort that they’d have to do a CT scan to be sure. Like the X-rays the scan was done right there in the room and it showed a fracture near the top of the femur called the greater trochanter. He described the break as unusual as if that would be a surprise. I wouldn't have an injury that wasn’t special. Because the fracture was not completely through the femur, that it was diffuse, it could be dealt with by six weeks without downward pressure on my right leg, in short a walker, and with physical therapy which should begin as soon as possible. I was disheartened by the six weeks but glad I didn’t need surgery. The efficacy of this non-intrusive course of action was to be confirmed by an X-ray and a follow-up appointment on Friday, June 19. I whined about my stupid decision to ride with osteoporosis after foregoing it for five years. What was I thinking? I described how the accident happened when my foot came out of my pedal and declared that was my last bike ride. Ever. Neff, an avid cyclist, told me “Don’t jump to conclusions so soon. Get platform pedals that don’t have a locking mechanism. They won’t be quite as fast but you won’t have your feet stuck on the pedals.”

I allowed that was probably valid but. “I can’t imagine any circumstance that would move me to ride again.” And I still can’t.

The night nurse, Falko, was from Germany. I asked what part and he told me he was from the East, 100 miles south of Berlin. He was extremely fit. I told him he looked like an athlete and asked what sports he participated in. He told me he had been a swimmer. He said he was also a martial artist. Behind a face mask judging his age was difficult. I found myself wondering if he was old enough to have been part if the East German sports machine, the drug fueled state system of winning at all costs. I’d like to know more about him.

“Do you always work the night shift?”  He answered, “Always. I prefer it.” Falko was sincerely concerned about my well-being and I was moved by his attention and kindness. I felt like I’d met a kindred spirit.

As dawn broke and I hadn’t slept, Cipry Jaramillo the hospitalist in on duty, visited my space. When I asked what the next steps would be and made it apparent that I counting on going home Dr. Jaramillo of Belen, NM cautioned that, “You shouldn’t count on getting out today. In fact, you’ll probably be staying another night and maybe have to go into a rehab facility.”

I was apoplectic. There was no way I was staying another night. There was zero chance of rehab stint at the Taos Living Center. That’s where people go to die as far as I’m concerned. I was rehearsing my refusal speech when Jaramillo told me, “It’s all up to physical therapy’s recommendation. They’re going to set you up with a walker and we’ll see how it goes. Personally, I think you should stay at least one more night.”

“When will I see a therapist?”

“By 9:30 I’d guess.

A few minutes later the therapist Spencer Bushnell appeared with a DRIVE walker, “the only one you may use” he stressed. He had me get off the bed, no mean task in my condition, and walk out to the hallway using the walker. I scuffed along in my johnny for maybe 30 feet passing Dr. Neff is the process. When I got back to my cell Spencer told me, “You’re good to go.” Lord, I was giddy. 

The next day when I scheduled my first PT I asked for Spencer or for Katherine Kulp who’d led me through the rotator cuff minefield in January and February. I told the scheduler that I’d like Spencer, Katherine or someone who was a hip specialist. Since Spencer was away the following week, I had my first PT session with Katherine on Wednesday. The first visit was largely diagnostic though she manipulated my right leg and gave me three exercises for my right quadricep, knee and ankle. Being a compliant patient, I have done them faithfully ever since. I am scheduled for two visits this week and hope that she’ll assign cardio and strengthening exercises soon. I’m anxious to maintain as much fitness as possible.

On Friday Dr. Marvel, real name, reviewed the new pics and proclaimed that everything looked good. I could continue with the therapy. The decision to mend without surgery was the right call. I finally bought in.

Then he dropped the bomb. I’d be using a walker for 12 weeks not six as I wanted to believe. 12 weeks wasn’t part of any conversation. I thought six weeks was the gold standard for good as new. Uh, no.

I’m will be batshit crazy by September.

1 comment:

Blacks Crossing said...

Even with a walker and bloomers, you cut quite a figure. Winning smile is still there. Your eyes don't show batshit craziness quite yet, Steve. A great blog, with the descriptions of the staff at Holy Cross who seem to a person, interesting people. Hope one of the good side effects of this is that you will get to know their stories, and each step you take makes you better and stronger, and enable you to go farther, as the saying goes. Thanks for keeping us posted on your progress, Steve!