Friday, April 27, 2007

Notes from the bedside

I'm still in the hospital working on my walking skills. I have to be able to do a lap of the floor and a set of stairs before they release me. Up til today I could only manage a few steps without feeling like I was going to pass out, but this afternoon I made it all the way down to the nurses station. Of course then I had to be carted back to my room but it was an improvement.

My op leg is about twice the size of my other leg but the stitches are clean and dry. Right now I'm working on figuring out what medication will not make me nauseous. I had dilaudid in my pain pump that they took away from me on day two. Perhaps because between the hours of 4am and 8am I hit the button 49 times... Not that it delivers all those times but it may have made them nervous. But something they don't tell you about dilaudid is that it makes you insanely itchy all over! I couldn't figure out what was going on and I couldn't stop scritching and scratching. It was like an acid trip gone terribly awry...

I'm not hooked up to anything anymore and my parents scored me an amazing private room with views of the East River on two sides. So as soon as I get some more walking under my belt, and learn the crutches (up til now it's been the granny walker) then I can leave.

Thank you all for your support and emails and visits. It means the world to me. I'm looking forward to blowing this pop stand as soon as I can.


Sarah has been moved to a private room on the fifth floor of the Hospital for Special Surgery -- with great views down the East River. She took 12 steps on Thursday... and used a proper toilet for the first time since the operation! Hoorah! She probably will not be discharged today... perhaps on Saturday.

To everyone that has visited her in the past couple of days and/or kept her in your thoughts, our family sends our deepest thanks.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Surgery Update

Sarah's surgery is complete -- all went well. She is in recovery right now. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Day Before the Day: Later On

Here's my brother and his godchild Imogen. Your updates are in his hands.

Day Before the Day


Friday, April 20, 2007

Dear Dr Buly:

I know that many decisions made in the OR can't be predetermined, but I have one request. Even if you are tempted, please do not remove my gallbladder through my vagina.



P.S. This all assumes I will return from paradise. I may just set up residence here and sell fruit on the beach.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Pre-op Day!

So much to do! So many people to give blood and other things to!

Blood donation first. At a different hospital down a few blocks from HSS (as my technician told me, HSS has a blood bank, just not a blood donation facility).

I've tried to give blood before and it's gone poorly. Not that I faint or freak out, more that I never make it past the initial interview. When it's for your own surgery they don't care about what potential little critter demons may be lurking in your veins, but when someone else's life is involved in the mix, be warned - you may be tripped up by such questions as:

What country did you grow up in? (England, it turns out, is a bad answer, as I may have some dormant mad cow disease just laying in wait for a really bad time to attack.)

Have you traveled out of the country in the past 5 years? (Yes, because I am not a hermit...?)

What country/countries have you traveled to? (South Africa, Uganda, Namibia... I should just stop here because that look you're giving me tells me that you don't want my dirty dirty blood... oh well.)

But this time all they cared about was my iron level. "It has to be over 11 or you can't donate," said the technician as she pricked my finger.

(oh please let the coma-inducing iron that I've only taken for 5 days be working!!!)

I rocked out a 12, people. I am very impressed with myself.

Then into a room with about 10 huge recliners and several people in various stages of donation. And a strange party-like atmosphere. I truly felt a cocktail would not have been out of order.

I lay down in my recliner and a male tech came over wearing a badge that read 'Ask me if I've cleaned my hands'. I couldn't resist.

"Have you cleaned your hands??!?!"

He took it well. I'm sure he gets it all day long.

He set up a pouch next to my recliner on top of some machine that rocked it back and forth as my blood ran out into it. Apparently this is so that the blood is mixed with the anti-coagulant in the bag and doesn't... congeal. Ew. Also he told me that a pint is about 2 cups, which was the grossest thing I think I heard all day, because cups are for cooking.

It went pretty quickly, and then he also took some into vials "to test for West Nile, Hepatitis, other things" (um... like HIV? Pretty sure that's on the list.)

And then I was unhooked and taken into the little kitchenette to drink my juice and eat some cookies. The little fridge in the kitchen said in big letters "FOOD ONLY" which I thought was hilarious. An older, quite glamorous woman came in after me and sat down at my table.

"Can I ask - are you a dancer?"

"No," I said. "I'm a yoga teacher."

"I just knew you did something interesting with your body."

(In another setting that would be a come-on, but this woman was so cool. She was who I want to be when I grow up. We chatted for a while. This was her fourth surgery.)

Then a nurse hurried past. "I've got a nauseous!"

Very glad I wasn't a nauseous. I wasn't even a light-headed. The fig newtons probably helped.

There was a plaque on the wall for the "20 Gallon Donor Club" with several gold-plated names. 20 gallons of blood, people. That's a veritable Carrie-style bloodbath. Seriously though, I'm glad they're around. People need blood for surgery and ticking bombs like me aren't helpful. Bet they don't travel much though.

And that was really the most exciting part of the day. I met with an internist who asked me a bunch of general health questions. She was interested in my vision-obscuring bout with a blood clot a few years ago as apparently hip surgery makes you prone to clots, but since there was a specific reason for the clot that is no longer around, she didn't think it was a big deal. In her words, I'm as healthy as a horse.

And then a nurse who drew more blood, and an echocardiogram to make sure my heart beats (which was pretty cool I got to see it on a monitor like on the doctor shows) and a chest X-ray to make sure I have lungs.

There was also a pastoral care request form - I could have any sort of priest or chaplain or imam or rabbi I wanted, pre- or post-experience. I could even get a prayer rug. I kind of wanted to check 'prayer rug' and 'Roman Catholic priest' just to see what would happen, but I refrained. I had already bugged the clean hands guy.

Dear Ones, I take my leave of you tomorrow for my Bahamian vacation. If I can access, I may post, or I may not, as you will no longer feel sympathetic and will hold back on the gifts and visits out of spite. Soon after I return the surgery will be upon us. I will try to set things up so my brother can put out a little "she's fine" on here, but if you don't hear anything for a while, do not worry. All is well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.

And I shall be taking copious notes for some ferocious post-op posting.

Saturday, April 14, 2007


So I received a bundle of instructions in the mail from the hospital the other day, partly about my pre-op day coming up on Tuesday when I donate blood and get cleared for surgery, and also several pages about how different things like the hospital stay and the anaesthetic will be billed separately and that I'm responsible for all of it, insurance or no, and then also this:

IRON SUPPLEMENT BEFORE BLOOD DONATIONS: (Begin one week prior to first blood donation)

(meanwhile it came 5 days before donation day but anyway)

Iron Sulfate - 325 mg.
1 tab by mouth three times per day until the day of surgery (Begin one week before first blood donation)

I didn't know there were different kinds of iron to take, and I'm already all over the folic acid situation, but ok, I looked it up online and ferrous sulfate is often prescribed to anemics or pre-ops. Got it. I'm down.

So I found it at the drug store but wasn't really paying attention to the amount - I felt like I needed to start shoving it into my system post-haste since it was less than a week to donate-day. But when I looked at the bottle more closely I saw that the one I bought was 65mg 3 times a day. And if I was going to get 325mg 3 times a day, which seemed like an enormous amount given that ONE 65mg tablet is already over 300% of the RDA, I would have to take 15 iron tablets every day. That seemed totally out of whack and ridiculous. 3x65mg a day is already making me so drowsy. Every morning when I am yanked awake by my alarm I feel like I've been whacked upside the head with a baseball bat. Plus my dreams are getting nutty. Nuttier.

So I went to another drug store and found a different brand with this on the label:

65mg iron from 325mg ferrous sulfate

AHA! You can't outfox me, HSS, with your misleading instructions! I will not be outfoxed, foxy people! I am so not taking 15 iron tablets a day on top of the 11 vitamin pills I already swallow! Whaddya think about that!?!

I'm sure they think nothing. They are far too busy with more important things. I'm just trying to take care of my fellow pre-op peeps who may read this so they don't turn into Wolverine as I was sure I would if I took 15 iron tablets a day.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Hot Pocket

Got this done two days ago.
It was amazing. I do stuff like this about once a year.

But I was a human Hot Pocket. My pregnant Eastern European aesthetician rubbed me with essential oils and then wrapped me in something like tin foil and then covered me with more blankets and then turned on a heating pad underneath and let me cook while she gave me a facial. And at first it was just nice and warm and sort of a soothing, swaddling effect, kind of like the MRI without the jackhammering sounds and actually let's be honest a lot nicer, the MRI was a bitch.

And then when she wrapped my face with warm towels I started to get really, really hot. Like sweat rolling off my belly down the side of my body, from my scalp onto my neck, every part of my body is cooking in oil hot.

"Any time you need we give you water if you feel dehydrated," said the aesthetician. It felt a bit like a battle of wills, me against the sweat. I will not give in and ask to be unwrapped. I am not this body and mind (although I don't think this is what the ancient yogis had in mind). I will be the baddassest toughest strongest detoxifier this woman has ever seen (as if she gave a crap).

And then right at the moment when I thought I was going to cave, it was over. Showered and clean and walking out on the street I felt incredible. I highly recommend it (although the battle of wills part is optional I believe). They are also renowned for talking you into additional services while you are prone on the table (I cave every time on that part).

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Heart attack in the mail

RE: Participant: Sarah XXXX
Patient: Self
Eligibility: Plan 1 through 3/31/07

Dear Dr Buly:

This is in response to your recent letter regarding the above referenced patient.

We are unable to pre-authorize benefits for hip arthroscopy.

This participant's coverage terminated on March 31st, 2007, and they are no longer eligible for benefits. They may qualify for benefits upon receipt of a premium or self pay payment.

We regret this review could not be more favorable, &c.

(cue sharp belly drop)

Guess someone forgot to pay their insurance premium. Classic.
In my defense, the bill never came in the mail.

God bless 'em though for having an automated phone payment option.
Got that taken care of in 15 minutes. Mom, you can relax now.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

April 24th

Every now and then I'll run into someone I haven't seen in a while and they'll say, "Hey - did you have that hip thing done yet?" and I'll smile and say no, April 24th, and it always sort of surprises me on two levels. Firstly that the other person seriously thinks I would be up and walking and going about my life so soon (although this is probably my own downplaying of the seriousness of the situation) and secondly that the entire world could not be aware that everything is coming to an end (beginning? begending?) on April 24th. It stands out for me the way a birthday does. I see a billboard for a new movie coming out on April 20th and my first thought is "4 days before". People talk about plans in May and I calibrate where I guess I will be in my recovery and whether I can join them. Someone compared this surgery to a bomb going off in your leg. In my head it already feels like D-Day.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Go Yankees

Crazy 2 1/2 hour wait to see Dr. Helfet at HSS today. Had a nice conversation with a man from London who got called in before I could find out what he was there for. On the age scale I was by far the youngest for a while. Every now and then a young person would come in and you could feel the older patients wonder and concern at us babes. Turned out Dr. Helfet was seeing 82 patients in one day. Is that physically possible? By the time I left there were people waiting out in the hallway.

But the good news is that he agrees with Dr. Buly's plan! I have coxa valga (on the left above) and because of the cartilage deterioration on the femoral head he said that the PAO was not the right surgery because it doesn't address that issue the way the FO does. He certainly thought that if I was ever going to have a PAO I would need the FO as well. So in his words this was a good step one, to have the FO first and that it might preempt the need for a PAO at all. He even said that a regular PAO might not be the right one to have ever, that the acetabulum was retroverted and so if I ever had one done it would have to be a reverse PAO, but he seemed to think that because of the cartilage situation, and the fact that, in his words, I was 33 (regardless of their brilliance, none of these doctors can keep my age straight. One of them kept telling me I was 35. Have they no decency? Must they continue to age me?), that the whole 9 yards (PAO/FO combi pack) was better suited for someone younger (and he didn't mean just by a year) who didn't have the cartilage complication that I do.

So, full steam ahead. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the raised toilet seat of my near future:

Dignity. Always, dignity.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Toe Cheese/Minutiae

Talking to my friend yesterday and I realized I hadn't written anything in a week. Because nothing's happening. Holding pattern continues until Monday when I see Dr. Helfet for my 3rd/4th opinion, which will be described in great detail, never fear.

But if you're trolling the interwebs looking for something to read on a cloudy Saturday afternoon, perhaps you may be interested in the mighty bone-building blood-strengthening immune-system-polishing toxin-dumping diet that I am doing my best to stick to so that this little brokedown palace can be super mighty before and after.

What it does not involve: Bone soup. Although bone soup was strongly suggested as a great way to build bone strength, and as vigorously as I nodded through the whole description ("Get a bunch of beef knuckle bones from the butcher and then boil the crap out of them until they're just white white white, and then you can jazz it up with some greens and vegetables and drink that every day") as it turns out, I was balls-free in the execution.

Seaweed soup as an alternative, is semi-grossness. I tried for a while boiling kombu and putting seaweed in. Not so much. Although if you are a homemade miso-maker you can use it as your base and then the flavor is disguised better.

But the basic premise is this, and this is not only for any of the needs described above but for general good health: EAT YOUR GREENS. Anywhere and everywhere. The darker the better. However you need to cook them to make them palatable. Eat these things as well: root vegetables, cruciferous vegetables (broccoli and cauliflower), underwater vegetables (oh just hold your nose and eat your seaweed it's frickin good for you); sunflower and pumpkin seeds; whole grains; beans; butter, flaxseed oil (put it on your salad), olive oil, sesame oil.

The back story to eat your greens is the body does well in an alkaline state, and not so well in an acidic state. Bones in particular suffer from an acid body state because it leaches the minerals out of the bones and makes them weak, but it can also throw off your your lady parts ph balance and make funky things happen. (TMI! TMI!) Acid forming foods are, of course, the ones we want to lay on the couch and stuff in our gobs as we watch SNL reruns with Justin Timberlake and wonder why we're single and what that itchy sensation is all about: sugar and everything else refined, so cake, cookies, ice cream, white bread, white pasta, etc.

I'm also on crazy amounts of supplements, shakes, drinks etc from this company Isagenix. There's an involved story about sherpas trolling the Himalayas for ingredients; I resisted for a long time as I have never been a vitamin popper but finally gave in and I have to say in particular, that the Ionix Supreme at night is helping me sleep a lot better. No, I'm not involved in the sales pyramid, although it's never the wrong time for a passive income stream.

Like I said, toe cheese. Real information to follow on Monday. Happy Easter/Passover!