Daily status reports on
He is doing very well.
Status report for 6/24, 11:30 a.m.: No news is good news; Alan is doing fine...plan to visit him today, so more later.
Status report for 6/22, 11:30 p.m.: I forgot to mention, the catheter was removed before Alan checked out of the hospital, and he hasn't needed it! (or missed it.)
He sounded good on the phone today.
Our grandmother is into a regular room and doing fine for the moment.
Status report for 6/21, 11:30 p.m.: Jim Scott got Alan to Kathy's house today. The air mattress was a bit leaky and the ride was rough, but he made it.
Alan has a 7' hospital bed that was delivered today. His Laz-E-Boy is also waiting in the wings. Sounds like he is in good shape.
Sad to report, our 93 year old grandmother Elva is now in ICU at St. John's with a gastrointestinal problem. I paid her a visit this evening, and she is quite alert, and in very little pain, and not from taking painkillers. I mention this so that you will understand if my attention is split for awhile. Our mom is staying the night there, but our grandmother is in stable condition.
Status report for 6/20, 7:15 p.m.: Lots of good news today! Believe it or not, it looks like Alan will be out of the hospital tomorrow! He will be going to stay at his girlfriend Kathy's house in Broken Arrow.
He went down to the basement for X-rays today. The urologist filled his bladder with some X-ray opaque liquid then took some pictures. The preliminary results are good, Alan says he was told. This means no infection, nor other apparent problems. He was able to void this liquid successfully. He says this is a big weight off him (figuratively speaking). He may be able to concentrate on the "finite" task of exercise and rehab.
X-rays were also taken of his left leg just to check the progress of the healing, but that also seems to be going well.
The armrest was taken off his walker today. It had enabled him to use his elbow in place of the injured hand. The hand is cleared for more weightbearing now.
His stomach has healed up nicely and he has had no real pain from the area where the fixator was.
He has had an IV going for the antibiotic. It comes out tomorrow.
Jim Scott has a van and has removed the seats to accomodate Alan for the trip tomorrow. He has an air mattress for Alan to use. Jim is a firefighter and an excellent man for this job.
Thanks again to Gary Brown, who volunteered so much time keeping Alan's yard up (dare I say, better than usual for Alan's yard).
Alan still has challenges ahead, but this is certainly a big milestone, and he is excited about getting out of the hospital.
The end is in sight for this site (updates, anyway), but I will keep it going for as long as needed. Thanks for the complimentary things you all have said about it...I hope it has made life easier for all Alan's friends. We've come a long way together!
Status report for 6/19, 9:15 a.m.: Today is the big day for the fixator to come off. It is scheduled for 11:00 a.m.
More later today...
3:30 p.m.: The fixator is off! In an unprecedented move, Alan got into surgery EARLY this morning and was back in his room by 11:00. No problems or ill effects whatever. He was even up for a Subway sandwich at lunch.
The doctor left orders for Alan to get out of bed about 1:00 p.m., and so he did, with no more trouble than usual. He's doing well!
The recreational therapist who was helping him get out of bed finally figured out who Alan sounded and looked like to her: Nicholas Cage. We'll have to get Alan a Nicholas Cage movie so he can study up on his moves.
Pat had a T-shirt for Alan Saturday: "I survived Zena Road...and all I got was this lousy web page!"
Status report for 6/17, 2:00 p.m.: The external fixator is coming off on Monday. That will be general anesthesia, but shouldn't be too bad. The urology test is Tuesday. There is talk of extending the rehab stay a few days to accomodate these events. That is OK with Alan.
Sunday is a day of rest from exercise for Alan.
He is up to 45 degrees of flexion on his knee. I may have erroneously reported 60 degrees previously...that is the goal.
Status report for 6/16, 3:00 a.m.: Alan went on his field trip yesterday. He found it quite taxing...the van hit a lot of bumps and his backside isn't what it used to be! The air con was also out in the bus, so he relied on the windows being open. That took up his morning, and he rested at lunch with a Captain D's meal.
He had a visit with the urologist scheduled yesterday afternoon, but signals got crossed and the needed equipment wasn't ready. So he'll try again tomorrow.
Status report for 6/15, 2:00 a.m.: It wasn't as bad for Alan as I feared; nurse Connie Sue replaced the "Foley" (type of catheter) in anticipation of the urologist's visit, and she did a great job according to Alan. I didn't hear if the urologist made it by today. Alan did get clearance to use his left hand in moderation (as he has been doing anyway). He is in good spirits.
He continues to look stronger the way he gets to the walker, then to the wheelchair. He worked on the parallel bars some yesterday.
He is going on a field trip tomorrow to scout out his future living conditions at home with the occupational therapist, Alyssa.
Completed his motorcycle insurance claim today.
Status report for 6/14, 12:15 a.m.: Well, the catheter is back in again. Alan just didn't have the output needed to keep it out. The urologist did not show up yesterday...he or she is supposed to be there later today. Around 9:00 p.m., I had heard that the catheter was in, but no output. I called the desk at 11:30 p.m. (I am working this evening) and was told that he was sleeping, and that he was getting some drainage. I sure hope the urologist gets this under control later today.
This is not necessarily such a huge deal in the scheme of things, but Alan particularly hates it, and it is hard to see him have to endure it.
Status report for 6/13, 9:15 a.m.: Spoke a little soon on that bladder infection; the antibiotic in pill form was not effective, so they are switching to IV. It won't be a permanent IV, but will take an hour twice a day...like a super-long shot. Otherwise, he is still handling all the physical therapy and doing well. He'll catch up on the guestbook today.
2:00 p.m. update: Visited Alan at lunch time. The catheter is out, but still having some troubles...a urologist will visit later today. From the doctor's explanation, the original catheterization when Alan arrived in Rehab was necessary, which I am glad of in retrospect...I didn't want to think that he suffered it unnecessarily.
He looked stronger when he stood up. He is now off for more physical therapy.
He caught up with the guestbook over lunch. I saw him smile several times while reading it, so thanks for all the get well notes!
Status report for 6/11, 11:50 p.m.: Alan got his first breath of fresh air in 6 weeks this evening! Not that fresh, actually, but plenty of life-giving hydrocarbons from just outside the main lobby of St. Francis. We got the OK to wheel him outside for awhile.
He dressed in a T-shirt and shorts (with a bit of help), and moved to the side of his bed with only an assist holding up his left leg. He then transferred to the walker, and from there to the wheelchair. This is now his standard procedure, and he does it without the all-out effort it took less than a week ago. Each new little maneuver he learns makes it easier. He did the work of moving the wheelchair until he got tired, then took a free ride the rest of the way.
He is on antibiotics for a bladder infection, but that appears to be well under control. He is still on catheter. He continues to take blood thinners for the blood clot discovered in his knee over 2 weeks ago, but this has not impeded his progress at all, and doesn't appear to be a danger. The feeding tube has been removed from his stomach. It has not been used in quite awhile. Other stitches in his stomach were removed and it has healed very nicely. His appetite is getting stronger.
This evening he didn't experience the fever/chills problem of a couple of days ago.
He once again put the weed whacker to his beard and is now clean-shaven. He hopes to maintain this now that all those distracting surgeries are behind him.
A tentative release date of June 21 has been set. The fixator on his pelvis should come off on the 19th.
He still has a lot to accomplish in the time remaining. I have been told by a St. Francis nurse's aide not involved with Alan's care that HMO's have cut the time spent in Rehab to about a quarter of what was done in the past. This somewhat explains the relative lack of flexibility we have observed in the Rehab ward personnel. They are trying to squeeze a lot into a short time. They are also more used to dealing with elderly stroke victims than alert and motivated patients like Alan, and have had to change their mode of dealing with him.
Alan has become very active in his own care, even "training" new people in doing tasks such as cleaning the pins of his fixator. He has also discovered that by negotiating and being adamant that he can effect changes in the way his care is done. It also helps getting to know the people. As a result, he is now considerably more comfortable in this environment.
We watched an Elvis movie this evening.
He has a very busy day lined out for tomorrow. He may get word about how much force he should exert with his left hand at this point.
Status report for 6/10, 8:00 a.m.: Alan's main task yesterday was bending his left leg. He has a brace on it, and the range of motion of the knee can be set. It was at 35 degrees, and now it is at 60 degrees. The therapists worked with him to bend his knee that much. Soon he will be up to 90 degrees.
He is able to get himself into the wheelchair with no help except handling his left leg. When he stands using the walker, he is a lot more steady.
Status report for 6/8, 11:45 p.m.: Alan managed to take several steps with the walker today! He would like to use his left hand more, but he hasn't heard from the hand doctor if that is OK yet. The occupational therapist is going to look at his house and see what needs to be done to make it work for him.
He put in over 4 hours sitting and standing today, pretty hard work. He is also running a bit of a temperature after these workouts, then sometimes going into chills. My mom asked the doctor if that is normal, and she said it was, but we would really like to hear more of an explanation of what causes it. It is somewhat worrisome. Alan did sound good on the phone this evening.
Status report for 6/7, 10:15 p.m.: Alan sounded more upbeat on the phone this evening. The nurse relented and gave him an extra break....he could have lunch while reclining instead of sitting up. He says he is doing more all the time. The left leg is still no help in getting around; the walker will be necessary for quite a while. He had some X-rays taken of the leg today, but doesn't know the result yet.
Status report for 6/6, 11:00 p.m.: I am a bit under the weather...I seem to have picked up a croupy cough thing that is going around. So I've been staying away from Alan to keep him from getting it. But I heard that he sat up in the wheelchair for 5 hours yesterday!
The pace he is being worked at is very fast, and we sometimes wonder if the staff is listening to feedback from Alan. But they do this kind of routine all the time, so we'll hope that they know what they are doing. This group is definitely goal-oriented, and Alan is scheduled to leave the hospital in about 2 weeks!
Status report for 6/5, 6:00 p.m.: Alan had a day of rest yesterday. I hear that he stood twice before 10:00 a.m. today! They are really putting him through the paces.
Status report for 6/3, 10:00 p.m.: Alan got so carried away doing exercises yesterday that he was pooped today. But that's OK. It's good that he felt like he had energy to burn. Now, the PT's don't give extra credit for that, and still want you to do their program anyway. So the lesson Alan took away is, don't do too much!
He has a day of rest tomorrow, then back with the program Monday. With all the movement he is doing, his still-healing left leg gets moved a lot. So he is getting a 100 mg/hour pain patch to help on that.
His night nurses let him sleep undisturbed until 7 a.m. The occupational therapist came in at 8:15. With some help, Alan got into a T-shirt and shorts before having breakfast in bed. He will soon be going to the dining room with other patients for meals. He has a full card of activities scheduled for today.
He is still on catheter, but that will probably be removed tomorrow. Still didn't hear anything about what the meaning of the sonogram was, but evidently it wasn't the problem originally assumed by the nurse.
Alan is adjusting to the different environment. It is sharply focused on getting Alan to do the activities he will be doing when he gets out. This often means that events run on a schedule and not at necessarily at a pace comfortable to Alan. He has less control of his environment, which is disconcerting and put him in a less than upbeat mood (Note: Alan does not like to be covered with a thick, greasy coating of Eucerin skin lotion). But Alan likes his therapists and is doing well with them. He stood up with the walker again yesterday, and with a bit less exertion than it took a couple of days ago. He also got into his new wheelchair and was upright for an entire hour.
The plan is to step up the PT each day. Alan has no trouble with that, and he is looking forward to concentrating on the job of building his strength and cordination back up.
Alan was in his new room in rehab yesterday when they did a routine (for rehab, we are told) sonogram on his bladder. The result indicated to the nurse that he had 900 cc of urine backed up. They elected to catheterize him, but the hypothesized amount did not appear. A sample was taken from the bladder that had a light sediment (this was sent to the lab for analysis). After confering with a urologist last night, the nurse again put in the catheter (an especially traumatic experience for Alan, despite her beyond-the-call-of-duty efforts to make it less painful). Over the rest of the early morning hours, urine production was about the same as it had been. Alan had in fact not experienced any change in his normal pattern before the sonogram was done. We suspect that the original interpretation of it was incorrect. We should know more later today.
Other than that unfortunate occurrence, Alan did get some quality sleep. We were faced with a whole new (and to my mind, not entirely logical) set of rules in this new domain on the 4th floor. One standing order for all patients is to be "turned" every 2 hours to prevent bedsores. A worthy aim, but one that strongly conflicts with the need to get a decent night's sleep with minimal interruption (particularly after the day that Alan had!) We pointed out that he had made it for 4 1/2 weeks without this treatment. After much wrangling, we got a reprieve. We certainly don't want to be unreasonable, but do wish to feel that Alan's exact condition is understood, and reflected in the instructions given to the staff.
It was also initially presented to Alan yesterday that the only way to use the restroom would be to physically get there...again, a worthy goal, but one perhaps somewhat ahead of his very recent achievements. This was intended to be an upbeat introduction to rehab, but was a large source of stress for Alan yesterday. We believe that after the planned evaluation is done today, the new staff will have a truer picture of where he is and the steps to get where he is going.
This note has been more detailed and graphic than most of the preceding ones, but I haven't previously conveyed the personal distress that goes with these bathroom issues. I don't want to embarrass Alan when he ultimately reads this, but I also don't want to depict his course at the hospital as being a steady ascent. It hasn't been, and I'm sure you can fill in many blanks from this brief glimpse.
Once he gets acclimated to rehab and its routines, I imagine he will be a lot more receptive to visitation, and will benefit from it.