Friday, February 5, 2010

Knees and Sleep

Rick had his sleep study at the VA on Wednesday night with the sleep apnea machine to see what oxygen levels he needed during the night. He said at first it was strange,because when he first started falling asleep he would wake up,gasp for air,and felt like he was strangling because of the oxygen levels were at a certain amount. He couldn't just gulp in air like he normally would,and of course the levels kept changing as they adjusted it. He said a couple of times he wanted to rip off his air mask,but he didn't. At some point he fell sound asleep,and didn't even move all night,nor did he snore once. When I picked him up at 6:00 AM,he told me he felt great. He woke right up,and wasn't' groggy. His limbs didn't feel like lead,either.The technician explained that the doctor would read the report,then put in an order to the prosthetics dept,who in turn would order the unit. The company who makes the unit will come to the house,install it,and explain it in detail. The technician did go over the major points,such as what to do if something breaks,don't try to adjust it,how to put the right level of water in the tank for humidity (because it can dry someone out having all the oxygen being forced into the nose and throat).He also explained that while the machine will work right away,his body won't feel the full affects of it until about a month of use has gone by,and if he felt good now,imagine how he will feel when then? It will take a month or so before he gets the machine. It's not big,about the size of a loaf of bread. He needs the face mask instead of just the nostril unit because he also breathes through his mouth off and on during the night.

Another positive thing is he has an appointment with the Lower Extremities Team at Dartmouth Hitchcock Hospital on the 18th regarding his knees. The VA had referred him Concord Hospital late last year,but after reading Rick's medical notes,the Dr refused to even see him because he had a stroke in 2008.Apparently that puts Rick at a higher risk for surgery.He said we should try Dartmouth or Boston Medical. We were not happy,because he wouldn't even see us and tell us in person.We then went back to the VA and they put in a referral for Dartmouth. For those of you not familiar with Dartmouth,it's one of the best hospitals in the country.It's over in Lebanon,NH,about 2 1/2 hours from here,on the VT border and right by Dartmouth College.When Rick explained to them what was going on,they said that they needed to get him in as soon as possible,and put him in on the first opening-someone had cancelled. So we need to bring any xrays or MRI's with us,and they are going to do some tests themselves,then we see Dr.Bernini afterwards.If any hospital can help,it should be Dartmouth. Dr Bernini has written a paper regarding the benefits of simultaneous bilateral knee replacement.Of course, we don't know if Rick would be a candidate for that,but if he could be, it would be great. It would be so wonderful to see Rick walk with comfort again,even to the next room. His knees have been getting worse,and giving out more and more. You can hear the crack,it's like crumpling a bag of potato chips. If his knees can be fixed,his quality of life would be a million percent better---and he wouldn't have to take morphine anymore,which would be great. So on the 18th,the ball will be rolling. I just hope we are not disappointed again. The Manchester VA has told him there is nothing that can be done for his knees,except bilateral knee replacement. Why the Boston VA only looked to see if he had cartilage left and didn't consider the bone infarctions is beyond me. (Manchester does not do this type of surgery,since they are no longer a full service VA hospital. They stopped being one right before the Iraq War started---so now vets have to have big surgeries done in Boston. Our Congressmen have been fighting to make it full service again).We are thankful that Manchester realizes how bad his situation is and have gone to the mat for him. Some of the hesitation to replace his knees is the fact that he's so young-replacements generally have to be replaced within 20-25 years,and they generally do not take well or work at all the second time. But like Rick says,he would rather be able to have some semblance of a life now,while he's young enough to enjoy it,than when he's 73 years old. I concur!!!!!

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