It’s almost 1 AM and I’m awake, as usual. I’ve slept well for a couple of hours, and now the night shift is on, bringing me fresh ice water and a friendly “Hi. You look nice and snug! Be glad you’re warm in your bed: it’s 6 degrees out there…”
So, now that I’m awake for a while, I turn on my computer to check my email. I’ve been on the receiving end of some wonderful emails lately, many from people I don’t know who’ve been reading this blog and have stories to share or words of encouragement to offer. I know there is truth in what my friend Paul says, that there’s nothing like a card in hand that you can touch and caress and hang on the refrigerator, but there’s such immediacy in hearing from someone with a like story or an immediate outpouring stimulated by something I may have said! I even had an email from my techy friend Gerry, suggesting how I might overcome the Sheet Strangulation Syndrome I mentioned in an earlier blog entry.
In my mailbox is a note from Lisa, my daughter-in-law—Lisa the Wonder-Nurse, I call her. Lisa is at work tonight, and writes that she checked in with a friend of hers, also a nurse on the orthopedic floor, about the pain I am having. “It’s natural with a spacer,” she says, “to have more pain”. And she gives me advice about managing the situation. She also tells me what I should be looking for in the way of warning signs that my body might be responding to the antibiotics in an unfavorable way, and reminds me to eat yogurt, since the good bacteria get destroyed along with the bad ones in this kind of regimen.
Earlier this evening, the nurse on duty here at OC mentioned that when she found out I was coming back to the facility, she did a little research on hip infections and the use of spacers. “It’s really pretty interesting stuff,” she says. I ask her to tell me more, and later she brings a few pages of computer printouts (http://www.totaljoints.info/TREAT_HIPINFECT.htm) and some color diagrams about the topic—easy to read articles and photos which fascinate me.
For me, all of this information is comforting. It helps me to read the following quote: “It is almost impossible to eradicate implant-associated infections without removing the foreign body (the total hip prosthesis).” (Garvin) This tells me that the decisions that my medical teams made are based on sound protocol, and it gives me hope that the treatment will be effective. But the real point here is that for me, knowledge is power—the personal power to clearly define the problem and understand the issues associated with it.
I’ve often been accused of being a bit of a rabble-rouser, and perhaps I am. But I like to think of my position as being one of investigation and clarification: “You want to put a billboard on the highway advertising that the home-buying public should use a Realtor? Why? What kind of behavior from the public do you hope to obtain by having this display? How will you measure its success? How will you know if it is money NOT well spent?” Questions from Marketing 101, of course….but the same questions apply to my current medical condition: “You want to take the hip joint hardware out you just put in and do WHAT? Why will this help me walk again? How will it make the site healthy enough for another implant? How will you know when I am healthy enough? How long will it take? How will re-infection be prevented?”
When I was the manager of a staff, I continually asked for information. I wanted people to tell me, to keep me informed. “I hate surprises,” I said. I didn’t want to second-guess anybody’s decision—I just wanted to know what it WAS. As an airline frequent flyer, I am offended when the plane doesn’t fly and nobody will say why. Hey! If the right engine is in danger of falling off, let me KNOW. I’ll respect your decision to stay on the ground, trust me….
And I feel that way now, as I lie here in the hospital bed on a dark cold night, waiting for the sheet corners to come lose (whap!) and wishing silence for the motor mouth that is practicing walking with his new knee in the corridor outside my door. (The health of his knee seems directly related to the amount of talking he can do to the pretty aide as he clanks up and down the hall.) The difference between Marty MotorMouth and me, I think, is that he wants the world to hear the important information about himself according to himself. I, on the other hand, want to know the important information the world has to give me so that I may better understand the problem and accommodate myself to the solutions.