Monday, March 14, 2016

Latest Post-Surgery Reports

This may seem oxymoronic, but I swear to you that it makes perfect sense. Even Steve, after only a moment of thought, understood exactly what he thought I was saying:

The days are flying by while the hours drag unmercifully.
Just how are the days flying by? It's more like a complete absence of an internal clock, the one that tells you which weekday it is, what's coming up on TV, how many days it's been since ... anything. Stuff should be happening, progress should be getting made, differences should be apparent. None of that is happening. It's frustrating, of course. While I don't seem capable of noting progress in, say, pain reduction or tendon strength, normality returning, I am capable of noting that very lack of progress. Yes, I know that seems an awful lot like whining, probably one of several things which has kept me from posting for the last few days. It's also something I'm not certain of clearly explaining.

One of the things that makes the days vanish uneventfully in all this is my lack of ability to concentrate on reading for even an hour at a time: me, who'd happily go through three books a day! So many things can happen within those 6 hour chunks, but I can't concentrate long enough within one to lose myself inside it. With no books "retiring" from my Kindle, no progress happens. That frustration spreads, rightly or wrongly, to cover other things I wish to accomplish. It may take 4 days to make a grocery list, after which there will be about 5 things listed and absolutely no inclination or drive to head for the store. Appetite is more habit than drive, so there's still no shove towards going.

Concentration problems also show in the simple attempt to write this blog post. I started 3 days ago.  It did not take me long to realize things made no sense, not even to me who knew what I was talking about. All that beginning - middle - end stuff: jumbled. Sentences were repeated in places, not caught after several proofreadings. They were attached to the wrong paragraphs, connected to the wrong thought, or missing thoughts entirely. The start of one sentence ended in another one completely unrelated. Each time I closed out rather than posting, another day had passed without accomplishment, however small. And whatever I had said was gone, my mental page as blank as if I'd never put anything down on it. What had I said?

Nothing, apparently.

Some drugs, eh?

I am, however, literally painfully aware of the slowness in the passage of the hours. I finally settled on 4 x day a doping, being still too goofy to follow any schedule that has variety in it from the previous day. Was I waiting for 3:30 for my next dose? Did I skip one at 6 or have it half an hour early because ...? If everything happens at 6 and 12, My fuddled brain can figure out that much. Either it's still an hour or 3 to go, or I've just taken my dose and should sit back, relax, wait for it to hit, and plan meals and activities accordingly. No point in starting a TV show that I know I'll sleep through after 15 minutes, but it will be a nice distraction about 2 hours out from next dose. I'm sure I'll need one.

I can wake from a nap, subjectively convinced that I've just had 3-4 hours of down time until a quick clock check shows that perhaps 25 minutes have fled, though fled is way too optimistic a verb. I'm sure somewhere out there is a thesaurous which I could use during some of my between-pill-times for working to find just the right amount of motion within the confines of practically no motion whatsoever. Heck, the word search might even make the time pass.

Not sure I'd recognize it if it moved around in front of me and stepped on one of my toes, however. I'd probably think it had been some kind of hallucination.

Ahh, yes, those are still continuing.They continue to reinforce my belief that I should be nowhere withing 50 miles of the steering column of a car.  It's not so much that they distract me from whatever might or might not be real. It's that when the movie scene playing in my head skips forward, I spend a full second or more trying to either remember what the previous color the background for the last otherwise-identical image was, or spend that same second processing whether or not it was even important whether I do so or not.

If this all sounds extremely frustrating to you, It's not. Not really, at least in the better moments. Of course, why should you believe the person who just finished explaining the frustrations? Maybe it's that the expectations and coping skills are both meshing and improving. With better, more regular scheduling of my PT to fit in with the meds, I can make sure to assign blocks to the task when I'm up to pushing the job. It doesn't seem important but putting those tasks on my internal schedule makes them more real. They did happen.

Tiny things show. Not every step requires a deathgrip on the walker. I can stand on one foot - or both - and reach over to the medicine cabinet to load up on the morning / evening pill supply, haul them to where TV, coffee/water/food are lined up. Evidence of planning.

I do have some reassurance of a minor bit of prefrontal cortex functioning left to me. I lost my keys. Ahah! You think: another oxymoron. Lost keys as a sign of thinking?

OK, I do get your point. But it's the processes of locating them which has been somewhat reassuring of progress.

I never used to lose car keys. When I worked, I kept one set in each pocket, patting both before leaving/locking the car. Those pockets were only emptied into a small dish on the nightstand. Habit, habit, habit. There was no "lost". Now however, I share the car with Steve. Each of us has our own pattern, such as it is. Steve still had his set so his habit pattern must be working. It was my set that came up missing. I wasn't too worried. I'm not driving and the other set was being taken good care of.

However, it began increasingly to gnaw at Steve. He was searching, hunting, questioning, unpacking, then repeating. All the steps I'd be going through were I feeling the need to find my keys. At first my lack of caring about the keys was a big part of why Steve was starting to drive me nutty with his. I was barely capable of recognizing my own keyring, much less with taking time and energy from healing and recuperating to assist in finding them. I was seriously considering snapping at Steve next time he announced which was to be the upcoming project to find them. He'd even gotten me to start imagining them getting sent out of the house with garbage or recyclables,

Luckily for him he found the need for a nap of his own before his next announced step in the hunt could occur. But he'd gotten under my skin, so maybe not so lucky for me. I made it over to the table to hunt through piles and figure out what/when/where of possible placement, also reorganizing and rearranging piles so I could drop the table leaf and there was room for a person with or without to move through the room on that side. I made it to the couch, to the master bathroom, to the clean and dirty laundry piles including pockets, into the washer and dryer, throughout the lapidary supplies, through bagfuls of hospital paperwork and supplies that of course I'd find exactly as urgent as the staff sending them all home with me found them to be.

Uh huh. Those piles will still be the same piles in three months. I'll bet on it.

Now, you could think of all that activity as the biggest PT program  in a single session in history. Mine, anyway. Will hold that status in the future as well. Ain't never gonna do all that again! Not even though I've completed the three days necessary since then to let the muscles and tendons relax.

Four, maybe?

The important part of all that is not whether it led to the finding of the car keys. Because it didn't in fact accomplish finding them. What it did do is show that there was still something of a brain behind all the chemicals which was still capable of making and carrying out a plan. If you give me a few hours, I might even remember exactly why that matters to this posting. And if I do, maybe even have the sense to check whether I told you once or four times.

I was busy collapsing into my living room chair for the next two months of my life when that final process itself led to their locating. The chair is a lift chair, and when it hit a certain point, my car alarm went off. That told me two things. First, the keys were within close distance of the car. Not in garbage or recycling. Not gone forever. Second, the keys were somehow caught in the framework of the lift chair. It was nowhere I could find, and nowhere I was willing to continue looking for them.

Yes, you may think of those two as the same one thing. I understand. My brain is working differently right now.

About 20 minutes later Steve woke up, and my setting the chair down after greeting him set off the alarm again. Now we had both of us to look for those pesky keys at the same time. Again, Beep Beep Beep Beep. Just no keys keys keys keys. We'd tried reaching between cushions several times already, but this time I tried while putting the chair up in a higher setting. It worked!

At our next PT outing, we headed over to the local hardware store to replace the house key on the ring that got bent in the process of jamming in the works. Another day/time/burst of energy, we'll locate a car dealership and find out if the part of the electronic key fob case which connects to works to the keyring can be replaced. That bit of leather has been well chewed. If it can't be done cheaply, I'll figure out something with duct tape rather than waste a couple hundred. Probably not this month.

It was an important find, but only minor progress. Real progress reports  will hold information about being able to get my own shoes and socks on. Or making it down the hall with little enough reliance on the walker that I no longer need to do so much laundry!

What? You don't see the connection?

You must still be very young. You can probably move quickly from wherever you were when the thought struck to the actual bathroom where that thought should be implemented. Not me. Not now.

While I love having two bathrooms in the house, each one is tiny. Narrow. Requiring planning for a safe way to get both person and walker inside and lined up properly, ahead-of-time type planning, since once started there's no easy turning. (Just for fun sometime, try it.) And there are impediments.

It seems it takes a similar amount of time for a novice to back an 18 wheeler into it's dock as it does to turn a 180 in a well-used lender/walker  and back oneself across the bathroom without catching the slightly wobbly wheels on the door frame, missing the same frame with my hip, dodging the side rails of the lender toiler seat and managing a squat with all the necessary wardrobe out of the way, but not so fast the tendons are overstretched to the point of being required to find a spot on the floor for a fetal position because you missed the most favorable stopping point on your way in.

Now THAT would be progress!

 We could even pack the earplugs away. Maybe. You know, for the screaming. No, not for the embarrassment. Not even for all the extra laundry. Maybe not even for the need to get somebody's attention to arrange an assist lift out of that tiny space that one well person can barely get in/out of. But just because all that would hurt like absolute hell!

Well, no, I haven't actually had it happen, at least not yet. Just saying, doncha know.

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