Friday, January 6, 2012

The Second Time Around ... Operation Recovery is Turbo-Charged

(My last actual blog - not a holiday greeting or New Year wish - dealt with the breaking of my left femur in April 2008. I was at the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life of Sanford at the Central Florida Zoo when I fell and realized the horrible reality that, once again, I was broken and needed major repair. I was back at Central Florida Regional Hospital in Sanford, FL.) 
When I woke up, I was back in my room. I do not recall post-op at all. But, my family can tell you exactly what I was doing when I woke up. “Boom. Boom. X-Ray.” I said. “Boom. Boom. X-Ray.” I repeated this over and over again as I came out of sedation. No one had any idea what I was talking about, but those were my first words. I kept repeating them - over and over again. As my family reassured me that all was fine, that Dr. Brodrick had met with them and I would “be back together again” I kept saying those same words over and over. I could not stop and I had no idea why I was saying them. 
This recovery period would be different than the last. In 2005, I weighed a lot more -- I was about 186 pounds at that time. Now, I weighed much less. I had begun losing weight in early 2007 and was already about 50 pounds lighter. That would make a huge difference in my recovery time and efforts. At least, I would discover this as the weeks went on. Meanwhile, I still had to undergo hospital-based PT and OT on a daily basis. And no, it was not easy but I did know the process so that made the entire effort much easier. Half the battle is not being afraid or fearful of the unknown. Since I was already aware of the recovery process for a broken femur -- there was little or no fear involved. I was simply scared of the path I would travel, knowing there would be pain and challenges to face. But, it was much easier this time around. And no, I do not recommend breaking bones over again -- nor do I advocate falling. I thought my first and only time with this was in 2005 - breaking a femur was bad enough. Now, I had successfully broken both my femurs. Was I just lucky? Do not even go there. I am being sarcastic -- and I realize I am not lucky. But, being where I was and being under the care of the surgeon I had -- yes, I was fortunate. And I began to realize this and I embraced my good fortune.
Dr. Brodrick had checked me over that evening -- before I was to begin physical therapy. He was checking my incision and wanted to check my movement. I was terrified. He took my left leg and began moving. I was unable to move the leg on my own, but of course, as a physician, he knew what he was doing and took my leg and moved it in a way that nearly brought me to hysteria. I began to shut my eyes as he took my leg in his hands. “Oh no!” he said. “Keep your eyes open and look at me. Look right at me,” he said calmly. I was now scared, but somehow, I realized I had to trust him. I kept my eyes open and looked directly into his. As I did that, he began to move my leg. He smiled as the movement came naturally, with his assistance. While I could not duplicate what he had just done, he proved his point. “Your leg is strong,” he told me, as he placed it back on the bed. “Remember that. It’s very strong.”

Fortunately, I did remember those words the next day when the physical therapist arrived. He was familiar -- turns out, he had cared for me in 2005. So, that helped tremendously since we already had a bond. It allowed me to trust the PT, plus, hearing my doctor’s words also helped me. When I stood up to walk, for my very first time post surgery -- I could still hear Dr. Brodrick saying “Your leg is strong.” While I may have screamed bloody murder the first time in 2005 when the PT stood me up, this time, it was much different. I felt differently, too. I understood my doctor’s words. I was stronger. I felt my body rise up -- much more confidently than before, and I took my first baby step. No screams. No terror. I stood up and walked. Slowly, of course, And with the aide of my PT. But, I did so without this horrible fear of falling -- or a fear of pain -- or a fear of not having a strong enough leg to stand on. I was standing up. I was holding myself up with the walker and and I was able to take a few tiny steps. What an amazing beginning. Again. I had to learn to walk all over again in 2008 but this time, I had greater confidence (thanks to my surgeon) and I was about 50 pounds lighter. That, made a significant difference as well. My recovery process would go faster and easier. My great fear of being at zero and starting again...unfounded. I was more than 50 percent already on my way to getting better and stronger. All those months working out at the Y had made a difference. The lost weight helped too. And now, I was doing all the familiar PT/OT routines again, but this time, I would go through the regimen quicker, easier and more confidently. 

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