One Step at a Time

Yesterday was a GOOD day.

Even though it’s been great to have Kevin home from the hospital, and he’s certainly gotten much better rest (and dare I say care? At least better personalized care), there is a small part of me that wonders if we did the right thing by pushing him to come home so soon.

I feel like we’ve been forgotten.

True. We have a nurse that comes out once a week and checks him out – his blood levels (he’s on blood thinner), his blood pressure, etc., but the rest of the time? We’re just sort of … existing. We go about our day as usual, we make sure he is wearing his braces, we’re careful about his transfers and keeping weight off his legs and I silently fret over his aches and (stabbing) pains.

Though Kevin has a primary doctor, this doctor really has no idea WHO he is. Kevin is a very healthy man, he’s only gone to this doctor maybe twice in the past ten years. The only reason this man IS Kevin’s (and the whole family’s) doctor is because when Kevin filled out our HMO, he had to list a primary doctor and this doctor’s name popped into his mind because he had gone to him for a minor problem years before.

Since this accident happened, they asked for our primary doctor so that everything could be funneled through him. So now, this poor doctor is getting all sorts of reports on a patient he knows nothing about!

I’m betting that’s pretty frustrating.

But it’s the system, what are you going to do? And SOMEONE needs to be in (semi) charge, right?

Even though this doctor is Kevin’s primary doctor, Kevin has not once been to see this doctor since the accident happened. So, we’re getting instructions from a third party – the home care nurse.

It’s an odd situation to be in.

And as a result, we (or maybe more accurately, I) feel a little neglected. I feel like we’re blindly flying into a pitch black room and narrowly slamming ourselves into surrounding walls. Are we doing it right? Am I taking care of him like he deserves to be taken care of? Am I transferring him correctly? He’s healing, right?

I can only hope so because we’re not getting any feedback.

So, our trip to the orthopedic doctor yesterday was a little … nerve wracking. Only because we’ve been, essentially, on our own these past few weeks and though I’ve followed directions to the letter, I’m not a doctor. I only make decisions on instincts. I was worried that I hadn’t taken good enough care of him and we would get there and the doctor would be all like, “Wow. You’re actually worse. What happened?”

One word: ME.

A wife can only DO so much, right?

Anyway …

We had been working toward this appointment since we came home from the Transitional Care Unit. JUNE 8TH had been the bright light on our horizon. I’m not sure what we expected from this appointment, but it gave us something to look forward to. That would be THE day they took fresh x-rays and would tell us how his fractures were healing.

And then, THE day arrived.

We got up early, I gave Kevin a sponge bath and fresh clothes, and he finished getting himself ready to leave. We had to be at the doctor’s office by 1:30 so they could take a series of x-rays before his actual appointment which was at 2:00.

I put his shoes on him and we started to exit the house, only, the soles on his new shoes are a few inches thick and they weighed enough that it was difficult for Kevin to lift his legs so that I could push the chair and I’m afraid I ended up hurting him a few times. I felt so bad about that!! We ended up taking the shoes off and I put on his swim shoes, which looked a little dorky with his tubigrip socks, but at least he had something on his feet and they were lightweight enough that they didn’t give him any trouble.

Getting him into the car was sweaty work. It was going on 90 degrees outside – it was about 95 degrees inside the garage. But once he was settled, the drive to the doctor’s office went pretty smoothly. In fact, Kevin says that being in motion is actually better for his pain, as opposed to just sitting still.

Go figure.

I had to park a ways from the front door. I hadn’t gotten his handicap placard for the car yet (though I did pick it up today so that will be nice being able to park so close), so I had to push him some distance to get into the building. We found our doctor’s floor and made it to his office without mishap.

When Kevin got back into a room, the nurse called me back and we looked at his x-rays. Everything looked great!! He showed us the thin strip of new bone that was beginning to develop around the fractures in his pelvis and his wrist and knee fractures looked nearly entirely healed. So much so, in fact, that he no longer has to wear his wrist splint or his leg brace!!! (Well, he has to wear his leg brace when he starts rehab, but if he’s just sitting or lying down, then no).

Pelvis - June 8, 2010

(Here’s Kevin’s pelvis. The doctor laughed and said that it looked like he was stowing an Erector Set. And the nurses said it looked like he had been shopping at the hardware store. One of my nephews, when he saw this on Facebook, said he looked like he was part robot. Personally? I call him my own personal Iron Man. *wink*)

We. Were. Ecstatic.

But wait, it gets better…

To our complete and utter surprise, the doctor told Kevin that he could start putting weight on his legs and that he was giving us the green light to begin outpatient therapy!


SO, Kevin goes in for his very first rehab appointment tomorrow morning!!! We have to go in thirty minutes early for paperwork, and then they will work with him for an hour. After that, he has to go in twice a week for thirty minutes for one month, or longer if they deem it necessary. The goal? To get him back on his feet and walking again!!

We are BEYOND excited about this. Neither one of us had been prepared for this step for at least another three or four weeks, but the doctor said everything was healing up nicely and he didn’t see a reason to hold him back. He just cautioned him to take it slow and easy.

I still can’t believe this is happening so soon, but OOOOOKAY! I’m not going to argue. I do worry how his leg muscles will react with him being on his feet tomorrow. I know he’ll be weak, how can he NOT be? But I hope we don’t discover some hidden nerve damage or something equally serious that hinders him from making a full recovery. We’re not expecting any problems, but you never know.

Speaking of nerves, Kevin has been complaining about a burning sensation in his right thigh and foot. When we asked the doctor about this, he simply nodded and said that that feeling was normal. He had damaged some nerves and the burning sensation was actually a good thing – it meant that they were healing and he was regaining feeling. However, while that was happening, it could be quite uncomfortable, so he prescribed some sort of nerve medication that would help him tolerate the burning until it subsided on it’s own.

He said the same thing about the stabbing pain Kevin periodically experiences whenever his left hip is out of alignment with his left leg. It would just take some time, and some work, before his muscles and his nerves returned to normal.

Kevin has given me permission to tape his therapy (this is assuming it’s okay with the physical therapists), so that at some point in the future, we can look back on this time period and comment about how FAR he’s come in a relatively short amount of time.

We’re also revamping our vacation plans – because if he’s starting therapy now, there is a very good chance we WON’T have to take the wheelchair with us, although, the occupational therapist did warn us that though he might be walking with a walker or a cane, he most likely won’t be able to tolerate walking for long distances, so we may still have to rent, or use a wheelchair to say, get him around the airport, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

The bottom line is: Kevin can put weight on his legs again!!

Thank you, God!!

Now that he’s starting outpatient care, we will no longer require in-home care. So, the occupational therapist and the nurse will not be coming out to our house anymore. Since Kevin is still on blood thinner and requires monitoring, we had to call his family physician to set up an appointment for him to visit the office so they could draw blood.

And of course, the appointment is the exact time that I have to drop Jazz off for summer school. This means that Dude will have to take Jazz to school AGAIN. He’s been doing really well, driving on his own. Leaving our house, by himself, and picking Jazz up from school the other day was THE first time he had driven by himself without me anywhere close (the first time he followed me to the hospital). He’s still a little freaked out by the whole thing, but the more he does it, the more he’ll be used to it because there is about a 95% chance that he will have to drive them both to school this fall whenever I get a job.

Sometimes, it really pays to have teenagers. 😀