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Sunday, October 29, 2017

More hospital stories again

So this one time at Sanford Inn and Suites I got my kidney stones removed, a bunch of times. I really don't know how many surgeries I have had for stones either in my kidneys or bladder. It's got to be pushing double digits. I have had them blasted a couple times. The last four times they have used the ureter stent procedure known as percutaneous lithotripsy surgery. That's when they stick a tube through your ribs and in to the kidney. They pull the kidney stones out through the tube and the tube stays in for a couple weeks.

This time I had the tube placement surgery on October 24 and the stone removal surgeries the next day. This time they did the right side. In August it was the left side. Two years ago they did the same thing on both sides and the bladder. Having stones is one of the perks of being a quad. It is the result of not moving around. Everything settles and collects at the bottom of the kidneys and forms the stones of pleasure.

I have been having so many surgeries the last 10 or so years that I am beginning to become recognized. I even get recognized when I am getting pushed down the hall with a hairnet on. I don't even recognize myself after a couple days in the hospital. Nurses, doctors, dietitians, office staff and transfer people know me by first name. That probably isn't a good thing. But at least I know they care enough to remember my name.

When I was getting prepped for the stent placement, I was in the imaging operating room. At least that's what I think they call it. Anyway of course one of the nurses goes, "Do you know so-and-so from Enderlin?" She went on to explain that her best friend is dating a guy from Enderlin. Pretty soon there were four of us reminiscing stories. But then the anesthesiologist came in and ruined the party. It was sleepy time.

My board is always entertaining. My TV was an 1983 Zenith. You'd think they could afford flat screens with good cable.
During the second day while I was in the hospital, the charge nurse came into my room. She just came in to visit. Then she says, "Do you remember when you were here a couple years ago when that CNA tipped over in your room?" I actually didn't remember until she reminded me of it. During kidney stone surgery two years ago a CNA was helping a nurse in my room doing something and all of a sudden her eyes rolled back up in her head and she tipped over. Pretty soon there were four or five doctors in my room and a crash cart. She turned out to be okay. But that made for an interesting day. Throughout the rest of the day nurses would be popping in asking me what happened. Anyway the charge nurse said, "We were sure glad that if it had to happen it happened in your room, nothing seems to faze you." I guess I will take that as a compliment I told her. She said some people would've freaked out. It seems like there's never a dull moment when I am involved. Geesh.

I pretty much have the menu memorized from doing time in Sanford. I know what sucks least. I usually go for the chicken breast, scalloped potatoes and fruit plate. I figure that stuff is pretty hard to screw up. But hospital food is always so bland. It doesn't even matter how much salt you put on it. I even think that their salt is bland. But thankfully this time my niece brought me a sixpack and a pound from Taco John's. That didn't suck. It's amazing how much flavor food has when you get out of the hospital or have something brought in from the outside. Hospital food has no flavor. It's crazy when I get home and have a hot meal that is not lukewarm, with flavor.

I am always nervous on the supposedly discharge day. Something usually goes wrong. But this time everything went smooth. I was out of there by 1:30 PM on the third day as scheduled. Usually the doctor doesn't get the papers filled out in time. Or if the discharge papers are filled out, it happens during shift change and that is always a cluster. This time the nurse practitioner of urology came in the morning and told me she will get everything lined up for me to go if everything turns out okay during the x-rays to see if they got all the stones. She rocks. She said, "It’s always good to see you but I wish I didn't have to see you all the time when you are in the hospital." I told her that goes both ways…

Kidney stones suck. Plain and simple. But they are part of being me. They have become somewhat chronic with me. I really don't look forward to doing this every two years. Next step is to try and change my diet to lessen the chance of growing stones in the future. I read over what they wanted me to eat and not eat. It's going to suck. But if it helps not getting more kidney stones I guess I will oblige.

Things are reading, Clint

Sunday, October 22, 2017

2017 Continued…

Not much has changed since this post on May 14, 2017. Click here for a refresher. 

My site that got infected in February has still not healed completely. It has gotten a lot smaller but it will not come to the surface, it does not want to close for some reason. Slow healing is one of the perks of being a quad. In the meantime I am still on bed rest except for one or two days a week. During those days I can get up for 2 1/2 hours. During those 2 1/2 hours I need to tilt back in my chair every hour for ten minutes. I try to make the most of my time being in the chair and doing it Clint style. But I have behaved for the most part.

You would think being laid up this long that the time would drag on. But for some reason it seems like it has gone fast. I imagine that is a good thing. But there are a couple reasons why I believe this has happened.

I can't thank home health enough for what they have done for me. Not only the medical stuff but just being there when I need them. Home health has been coming to the house at least once a week and up to three times a week depending on the orders they get from my providers. They have been with me through the whole process since February and will be with me until I am healed. I don't know where I would be without their help. Having to do all of this in the hospital or rehab facility would suck.

I started physical therapy at home in September after my left side kidney stone removal surgeries. They usually beat the hell out of me in surgery so the Sanford caseworker put in the referral for therapy. Also, being on this much bed rest is tough on your joints and muscles. Atrophy sucks.

Before all of this started in February, I did physical therapy for about a year and a half for pain that was in my neck and shoulders. Along with getting rid of the pain we worked on strengthening. If you have noticed I haven't used my head rest on my wheelchair in over a year and a half. But the bed rest these last eight months has reversed what we gained from the previous sessions. With the help that I have been getting from PT twice a week, the discomfort from being in bed so long has greatly diminished.

We are very lucky to have these types of services available to come directly to our homes in our area. I don't know what I would do without home health and physical therapy. They are truly lifesavers.
20 year class reunion. Just the cool kids.
But being laid up this long has also sucked. I have missed a lot of stuff. Two of the biggest things I have missed has been just being outside and everything that encompasses, plus going to baseball games. I haven't shot my crossbow or any guns this summer at all. I believe I only made it to one baseball game. Go Indies! I really miss not being out hunting. Bow season started this year September 1. I haven't been out once. I hope to get out during the peak rut in November. I also got out to the shooting range a couple times but would've liked to have gone more. That place doesn't suck. Cherish the small things, don't take them for granted.

A couple good things have happened while I have been dealing with this. I have gotten a lot of writing done, which is always good. I have shared most of them on my blog or on Facebook. About a quarter of the stuff I have written I don't think I will ever share. Another good thing that has happened is that I was offered a writing gig for a new hunting product coming on the market early this winter. I have been and will be writing blogs for Safeshoot. I am hoping this will turn into something bigger in the future. And of course the pickup happened. I will have a full blog on that within the month.

This is by far the longest I have ever been laid up for any reason. I guess my body just can't handle what I could do when I was younger. When I look back I can't believe some of the stuff I have been able to do being a quad. I don't know how I got through college being in the chair that long every day. I don't know how I got through some of my hunting and partying adventures being up in the chair hours on end. But I am glad I have been able to do what I have been able to do so far. This isn't the end but I guess I'm going to have to learn not to push it as much. Getting old sucks. But I guess it beats the alternative.

Again, I do not want any sympathy. That is not the reason why I wrote this. I wrote this just to show what it takes to be a quad and to live life. Everybody has problems, able-bodied or not. It just depends on your perception and attitude of life. Ulcers are just a part of life for a quad. Especially if you are out and about as much as I am. But that's the price we pay for trying to be normal. Hopefully the next time I write about 2017, I will be all healed up and on the road to becoming me again.

June 22 - urologist appointment, kidney stones are back
July 15 - mingle in Fingal, I partied. Thanks Paul and Dana.
August 21 - tube placement - nephrolithotomy
August 22 - kidney stone removal
September - started physical therapy again
September 16  - 20 year class reunion. Wasn't that a party…
October 6 - started wound vac again
October 13 - went for a rip in the pickup, Clint style
October 24 - tube placement - nephrolithotomy
October 25 - kidney stone removal
October 26 - hopefully go home
The Future - who knows…

Thanks for reading and thanks for the support, Clint.

Friday, October 20, 2017

More hospital stories

I have told some of you this story. During my last kidney stone removal surgeries on my left side I had a couple odd experiences. Evidently the anesthesiologist was a little generous with the gas those two days because I was out of it. Usually after surgery, that sucks that I know how it usually should go, anyway I am usually not affected by the anesthesia. While lying on the table in the operating room I was fraternizing or some would say flirting with the nurses. They are always so shocked that I am willing to talk and discuss pretty much anything while I'm waiting to go under the knife. Usually one of them will say, "Hey I think I remember you from last time or I remember you from somewhere." I think it makes me feel better or less nervous getting to know the people that are going to possibly help save my life. I think it also puts them at ease knowing that I am comfortable.

Anyway while waiting for the mighty doctor to make his presence known so surgery could start, I was talking to the anesthesiologist. She was giving me the regular rigmarole out what is going to happen. It's old hat by now. But as soon as she said that I should start coming down from 10 I said, "Good, I could use a nap. I am fuck tired." Half of people in the room snorted. Then I was out like a light.

The next thing I knew I was getting pushed to my room. The weird part about that is that I usually wake up in the PACU. That is where they put you after surgery to make sure that anesthesia doesn't have a negative effect. I usually wake up right after surgery and have a conversation with the PACU nurse. This time I don't even remember talking to the doctor after surgery.

When I got to the room after the surgery, my PACU nurse actually brought me to my room because there was no transport people. Anyway, she was explaining how Clint is doing very well, we have had a great conversation and I wish you luck. With that, she was gone. I was looking around like I don't remember her and I don't remember this conversation we had. Evidently it was great. I wish I knew what we were talking about. That is kind of scary. Knowing me it could have been anything. The nurse in the room could tell I was looking a little confused. She asked me if I knew what the date was. I think I replied back September. She then asked me if I knew the date and year. I had no clue. I can't remember what I said but I remember the look on Kiara when I answered. Kiara was shocked by my answer. Evidently it wasn't right. Then the nurse said she is going to have to keep an eye on me. That was the first time I have ever experienced anything like that.

So the next day I am back in the OR and we are waiting for the doctor, again. During this waiting time I am mingling and reminiscing with some of the nurses I have seen before. Good times. It seems like every time one of the nurses knows someone from Enderlin or they know me and they proceed to tell an interesting story that happened. It usually starts out like, "Do you know so and so?" Or "Do you remember that time?" Anyway, the next thing I know the anesthesiologist wants me to count down again from 10. So instead of doing what she told me, I start whistling "Patience" by Guns N Roses. It's my go to tune. She just rolled her eyes.

Next thing I know I am in my room. This time I missed the total time I spent in the PACU. I don't remember talking to the doctor. And of course I had a different nurse this day. She asked a bunch of questions and I got about a third of them right. Then it was shift change. So I had to do it all over again and this time I got three quarters of the questions right. Good times. Not remembering stuff is not fun.

Sidebar: I have always wondered why they don’t pair you up with the same nurse if you are going to be on the same floor days in a row. Wouldn't it make life easier for both the patient and the nurse? You wouldn't have to explain yourself over and over again. Things would be more familiar for all parties involved. You would think there would be fewer mistakes. You would think there would be less of a hassle. You would think this would be done just because of common sense. But I digress.

My right side kidney stone surgeries are scheduled for next week. It seems something always happens when I am at the hospital. No matter why I am there. I wonder who I will meet this time. I wonder what will happen. I know one thing it will be entertaining.

Thanks for reading, Clint

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Suprapubic and stuff

I wish I knew then what I know now. That goes with everything about being a quadriplegic. They actually give you a handbook when you leave the hospital or rehab. This handbook is supposed to have everything you will need to be able to live your life. I can tell you right now the handbook is worthless. It is full of things that you would never do. It goes on and on about stuff that will never affect you. But when it comes to the most important stuff, there is maybe a sentence or two. Now the handbook I got came out in the early 90s. I imagine things have changed now with the shareable information that is easily collected these days. At least I hope the handbooks now have relevant information in them.

One of the top two questions every quadriplegic wants to know is how I am going to manage my everyday bathroom duties. Most people have no clue what this involves for a quad. But as a quad I can tell you your life pretty much revolves around how and when I am going to relieve myself.

I had a surgery about two and half years ago to place a suprapubic. A suprapubic is when a tube is placed in a stoma that is surgically opened below your belly button and then the tube goes directly into your bladder. This tube automatically relieves any urine into a bag, that is collected in the bladder. If I knew then what I know now, I would've had the surgery done when I was 15 years old. It has made life so much easier that it is hard to explain.

For some reason my urologist thought that doing straight cathing five or six times a day would be easier than trying to maintain a suprapubic catheter. This is the complete opposite, at least for me. First of all, being a quad you need to depend on someone else to do the straight cathing if you're injury is high enough and you cannot move your fingers. Having to depend on someone else to do anything is always more stressful and bothersome. Having to straight cath I had to be always concerned of where I was and who I was with, when I knew my bladder was full. It pretty much sucked for 20 years. I didn't know it sucked until I had the suprapubic placed and found out how much freedom that gave me. I no longer needed to be somewhere at a certain time to relieve myself. I no longer needed to have someone with me every four or five hours to help. The independence and freedom it gives me is immeasurable.

Emptying the leg bag or bed bag is no big deal. It is simple. It is way easier than having to do anything with straight cathing. As for me, being left alone is a big deal. I don't have to rely on someone always being there just in case. The suprapubic with a bag gives me that independence. I have experienced a lot of neat stuff over the last couple years because I have not been stuck waiting on someone else. I have even had friends empty my leg bag because I was experiencing AD. I was a little nervous at first but it was no big deal to them or me afterwards. It feels more natural.

Urinary tract infections are another big problem for quadriplegics. When I was using the straight cathing technique I was probably averaging around three or four UTIs a year. I was on an antibiotic pretty much year-round for 20 years. As soon as I switched to the suprapubic my system cleared of any bad bugs. I haven't had one UTI since switching to the suprapubic. The UTIs happened because when doing straight cathing, you are entering a foreign object into your body. You can't always get everything clean. Being UTI free does not suck.

The expense of suprapubic is way less also. Most insurance covers these cathing supplies no matter what program you use. But when using a suprapubic you only need to change it once a month. You can change the collection bag whenever you need to but the tubing that goes into the actual bladder is maintenance free for a month. The one thing I do is flush once a day, for ten minutes with a product called Renacidin. It is a type of cleanser that takes out the clogs and sediment that collects throughout the day in the tubing. The stoma also gets cleansed once a day. But that depends on the person and the stoma site. If you are doing straight cathing, that means you are using at least five catheters every day. If you are lucky your insurance will pay for that many catheters a day. If not that means you are going to be cleaning catheters and or buying them every month. Let me tell you, it adds up.

As a nurse friend stated, a suprapubic can help anyone with long-term urinary issues, anyone with muscular issues or bladder issues. Not only does this make life easier for a person with urinary issues, it makes life easier for their possible caretaker. Knowing that you are not tied to a strict schedule makes life more flexible for both the caretaker and client.

The difference in my quality of life before and after this surgery is crazy. Not having to worry about the extra supplies, need for privacy and the clean environment is worth way more than any negative I can think of when using a suprapubic. I wish I wouldn't have to listen to my urologist and did the surgery a long time ago. The best part about this surgery is that if it is elective, that means it is reversible if it does not work or help you. I am not trying to push anyone who is reading this one way or the other, I am just stating what has worked for me.

Thanks for reading, Clint

Monday, October 2, 2017

Last movement gained

I don't remember much about my time in rehab after my accident while I was still in the hospital. There just seems to be some flashes of things that happened. Most of the memories are not a good thing. But there are some good memories. I was in rehab for about 2 1/2 months, from the end of December through the beginning of March.

The good memories mostly have to deal with family and friends that were visiting. Nurse Nancy is another good memory. She was pretty much my personal nurse. When she was working she was with me. She was great. My physical therapist is also another great memory. She would lighten the mood every day. But for the life of me I cannot remember her name. But I do remember her smile and laugh. I was her first full-time patient after being hired at MeritCare. She was fresh out of UND.

I won't get into most of the bad memories. But the one that I will tell you about is about my last movement. While in rehab I went to PT and OT just about every day. The occupational therapist mostly worked with my hands. Sidebar, OT was on the same floor as my room. PT was in the basement. When going to PT, some of the transport people would let me run amok afterwards. Good times.

Back to the bad stuff, I remember this day like it was yesterday. I wasn't really fond of the OT lady. She was one of those fake type people. She was annoying. I am glad I don't remember her name. Anyway, one day while I was at therapy with her, she was working on my hands as usual. All of a sudden she said, "Did you feel that? You have some new movement. It looks like your radial deviation in your left hand is trying to fire." I remember her being so excited and that got me excited. She said, "This is just the beginning of your road to recovery." This happened sometime in February 1995. That was the last movement I regained after my accident. I know she was just being positive. I cannot blame her for that. But that defines false hope.

The radial deviation I regained isn't much. It's not even that noticeable but for some reason I find myself staring at my left wrist a lot. I don't know why I do. It doesn't necessarily bring up bad memories. It just is a reminder of what could've been. It is a reminder of possibilities lost.

So if you see me staring at my left wrist, watching my last movement I regained, that's what it is all about. 

Thanks for reading, Clint