Thursday, June 10, 2010

Our Surgery Day at Dartmouth

When Rick and I arrived at Dartmouth at 5:35 Am on Monday,the hospital was like a ghost town,and it made us want to whisper as we walked towards the registration area.There were three patients ahead of us,and two others showed up right after we arrived. After five minutes it was our turn. The receptionist went over Rick's info,and me a beeper.That way if I was in the cafeteria when the surgery was done they could beep me.They also gave me a PIN number that I could refer to on a computer screen,which was Rick's personal PIN number. The screen told me when he was going into surgery,in surgery,and out.
After Rick and I waited for five minutes,they brought us into pre-op. We had just gotten settled in ,and Dr Bernini came in. He asked Rick if he was excited,and Rick told him he was. "Are you ready for your life to change?" Dr Bernini asked. "Yes!!!!" Rick said. He then told us that the joints they were going to use were new,by Johnson and Johnson. The area that works as the joint rotates,so there is a longer life to the joint (they do have to be replaced after 20-30 years). The nurse took Rick's temperature and blood pressure,which were normal. When she went to put in the IV,blood spurted out onto the floor and her New Balance sneaker. "I didn't see that much blood in Iraq," Rick joked. The nurse laughed and said,"Now,just stop it!" We met one of the anesthesiologists,and he asked Rick about his stroke and the side effects. Then one of the members of the nerve block team came in,and explained that they would be putting nerve blocks into his legs so the top and sides of his legs would be basically numbed up. The nurse than asked me leave so they could administer the block,and I went back into the waiting room. Once that was done,they brought me back in,and there were 8 doctors and nurses standing there. "Wow,you have quite the team assembled here for you,"I told Rick,then I gave him a hug and I kiss,told him I loved him and that I would see him later.They wheeled Rick down to the OR at 7:25,surrounded by doctors and nurses,and as I walked away I looked back,and felt like crying.

I went downstairs and got a coffee and muffin.The coffee didn't help.I probably slept a total of an hour the night before,and we had to get up at 4:00 AM. I tried reading in the waiting room but my eyes were getting heavier and heavier,so I tried to take a nap,which was difficult. I was somewhere between semi sleep and awareness,when suddenly my beeper went off at 9:25. The surgery started at 8:04 according to the computer that I had checked when I came back from my muffin and coffee. I woke up and Dr Bernini was standing in front of me. "The surgery went well. He had a lot of fluid in his knees. His knees were worse than we thought,based on the xrays.Remember we thought he had moderate arthritis? It was more advanced-he had areas on his knees that were bone on bone. But he is doing well.We were able to use replacements that were the same size for both knees,so that is good. He will be in recovery for a while,then you can see him." "Thank you so much for everything you have done,Dr," I said gratefully. Rick had been saying for two years that if felt like his knees were bone on bone. He knew it all along!

Finally,at 12:15,they beeped me again,and I was able to go into recovery to see him.Normally it only takes 1-2 hours,but because of the meds he is already on,plus the anesthesia, he slept longer. Recovery is one big room,with many surgical patients. Rick's legs were put into a machine which straightens and bends his legs ever so slightly. He had two jugs,very similar to blue Igloo water dispensers, on either side of him. Ice water flows from them down a tube to a cuff around his knees ,in which the water flows into to keep the swelling down. I was very happy to see him,to say the least. As soon I was by his side,Dr Bernini came in to see how he was doing.He asked him to wiggle his toes,which he did. Rick said he felt good,and his pain level was a 6 or 7 out of 10.The back of his knees hurt,and his feet ached. I was allowed 15 minute visit,then had to go back to the waiting room. About an hour later, I was beeped again,and he was in his room. Happily,it was a private room. I visited for an hour,and he was getting tired,so I left,though I hated doing so.

Tuesday his pain level increased,because the pain block went away. Yesterday, my Mom and I visited him,and he had his first therapy session,which last an hour.He was able to bend his knee to a 50-55 degree angle,and with help on each side and a walker,got off the bed and walked 10 small steps to the chair.My poor Mom,who doesn't have strong stomach,had to leave because she couldn't take the pain Rick was in doing the exercises. She felt sick to her stomach. After the exercises,they gave Rick pain meds,and Mom and I went to lunch.When we came back,Rick was asleep,and when I tried to rouse him,he was not that coherent. I did understand that while we were at lunch,they came in and told him he might be leaving Dartmouth Thurs (today) and go to a rehab in Hampton. They can do exercises with him three times a day in rehab,so even though we are anxious to get him home,this is what is best. Hampton is about 45 minutes from us,which is great. They had put him on a list for a rehab in Manchester,which is 1 hour and 15 minutes away,so we are pleased that he will be going to Hampton. Poor thing,he is in soooo much pain,but thankfully,each day it will be less and less.

I should call him to see if he knows what is going on. Thanks to all for your prayers and good wishes!


  1. Aww your poor mum x Today is the first day of the rest of your lives...I'm happy for you :D

  2. Tnank you,Sue,and thanks for the award and the kind thought that went with it.I will be posting it very soon.