Friday, September 23, 2011

Kids with Scalpels

Me,  feeling a little overwhelmed.

Dear Readers, Please understand that my blog posts for the next [however long; I don't know] will vary from day to day between the whimsical to deep thoughts, and my experiences with Beloved as he undergoes knee replacement surgery.  

On Wednesday of this week Beloved was contemplating all we had been told at our informational class; then yesterday here on the blog I whisked us off to thoughts and pictures having to do with Pumpkin Festivals.  Today I am writing about the surgery again, sorting through my own thoughts about what's going to happen.  So I'll be back and forth about these things as I write.

Yesterday we had the last office appointment with the surgeon before we go to the hospital.  He is a handsome man, much younger than us (of course -- most doctors are these days.)  He is also Asian, speaks perfect English,  and is very tall.  He actually reminds me of an Oriental version of my tall nephew (that's a compliment, by the way).  Because he is young and because we have a friend at church who has had THREE knee replacements (yeah, figure that one out!), we wanted to ask him how many of these surgeries he has done.  This is a good idea, by the way, any time you are going to have surgery.  Find out how much experience the person holding the scalpel has before they proceed with what they are going to do to you.

As it turned out, a different  young man came into the room, introducing himself as Dr. Surgeon's Physician's Assistant.  He sat down on the rolling stool and proceeded to bring up Beloved's x-rays on the computer screen, at the same time asking if we had any questions.  He did a fine job of explaining everything we needed to know, in spite of the fact that he looked barely old enough to shave.  

Then he began to talk like he would be in the operating room.  I asked him what his part is in all of this.  He said that he is Dr. Surgeon's right-hand man, in on everything.  After Dr. Surgeon does the big stuff, Physician's Assistant makes sure all the sponges have been removed and he is the one who does the final sewing up (actually "stapling") of the surgical area.  

Beloved and I looked at each other but said nothing audible.  The nice thing about a good marriage is that we can read each other's thoughts (sometimes) and this was one of those times. We had been told in class that some doctors close up the incision with staples and some with super glue (the medical kind, of course).  Beloved wanted to throw in his vote for the super glue, but it turns out he doesn't get the final say in that and it will be staples.  Oh.  Well, okay.  

Beloved decided to ask Physician's Assistant how many knee replacements this doctor has done.  Sit down.  His answer was amazing to us.  They do 3 every Monday and 5 every Wednesday.  And they do this every week.  So if I do the math, that's 8 a week and 400 a year (I gave him 2 weeks off for vacation in that math calculation).  Okay.  I guess he's got enough experience to satisfy us.  Beloved will be patient Number Two on Wednesday.  Good.  Let's get it done while the doctor is still pretty fresh.

Then somewhere in the conversation it came out that Physician's Assistant is 6 years older than Dr. Surgeon!  I guess these "kids" have more background than I was giving them credit.  Okay.  I'm satisfied that we've got a good surgical team.

Other things that transpired in that visit:
- there are several sizes of knee replacements.  The necessary size will be determined while he's under anesthesia.
- the material used for the replacement parts are cobalt chromium, titanium, Legos, and Gummi worms (smile)
- we came away with a signed form for a Temporary Handicapped Parking Permit
- surgical time of 9a.m. has been confirmed.  Check-in time is 7am. (or as our eldest son would phrase it, "Be there at o'dark early.")
- the hospital will supply or order for us the walker, raised toilet seat, a shower seat, and any other bells and whistles we'll need for recuperation at home
- a hospital bed will not need to be ordered (unless we really want it) because this surgeon is okay with spending a night or two in a recliner on the main floor if the stairs are just too formidable.  They  make sure the patient can navigate stairs before leaving the hospital. 
- a physical therapist will be coming to our house twice a week for two weeks; and a nurse will come once a week for the first two weeks. After that, we will go to therapy via the car for a total of 6 - 8 weeks.
- Beloved may be cleared to drive after 2 weeks, although it's the right knee getting the knife, so I doubt he'll be pedaling his Ford quite that soon.  There's also the issue of not driving while under the influence of pain killers.

My head is spinning a little at the thought of all this, but at the same time, I know it will  be just fine.  With the number of these surgeries being done weekly by our doctor alone, it is clear that we are in good company.  It is staggering to realize how popular joint replacement surgery has become in recent years.

Now you may know more than you wanted about knee replacement surgery, but wait! There will be more!  For this post, however, I'm done.

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