Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Recovery Day 12

Today I had to fight with something I didn't even consider with the recovery process, withdrawals from the Oxycodone and Muscle Relaxers.

In the hospital, I was on something like 120-150 mgs of Percocet or Oxycodone a day, plus pretty heavy muscle relaxers.

The first week I was home, I was taking about 100-120 mgs of Oxycodone and about 20 mgs of muscle relaxer.

I decided last week I wanted to start cutting down on how much I was taking. Mostly because I needed something to help me sleep and you can't take narcotics and sleeping pills at the same time. I also wasn't feel much pain anymore. Just discomfort and stiffness.

Probably last Monday I cut my Oxy down to about 50-60 mgs and muscle relaxers to about 10 mg every other day. As the week went on, I eventually got it down to only 5 mgs of Oxy and no muscle relaxers.

I haven't had any Oxy since Saturday.

Yesterday, Sallie set me up outside for about an hour to read and get some sun light. She went for a run while I sat there and I remember feeling really emotional to the point where I almost wanted to cry. But I sort of forgot about it and went on reading.

This morning I woke up and was shaking. I felt really weird and extremely emotional. I would just start crying for no reason. I had no idea what was going on.

The only thing I could think of that would be good was to sit in the shower with the hot water running on me. So there I am, sitting on my shower stool, hot water running on me, totally crippled, when all of a sudden I realize that this is the lowest point in my life. So I start crying again, and then I realize that I'm naked and crying in the shower, which is my new lowest point.

Sallie had to go to work today and I was still feeling the effects of my emotional roller coaster. She left and I just sort of sniveled around for a while.

I'm finally now feeling semi-normal again. Everyday there's new crap I'm dealing with. Everyday my resolve to get healthy ASAP strengthens. If my doctor told me killing a puppy and rubbing its blood all over my leg would heal me two weeks quicker, I would do it right now. Seriously, this is lame. But, another week down. Tomorrow will be 2 weeks since surgery. I have somewhere between 6-10 weeks before I can walk again. The countdown has started in my head.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Recovery Day 10

I can get along without pain killers now. The painful part of this ordeal is appears to be over, but I'd almost rather have it back. I slept a little better then.

Sleep is a huge issue now. The doctors said I can try to sleep on my side, but I need to stuff pillows under the bad leg to keep it elevated. I've done that, but then this plastic brace pushes hard into my skin. I get a few minutes of relief on my back by laying on my side, but no sleeping takes place.

I still am not getting more than about three hours of sleep at any time. It's really messing up my life. For instance, today, I woke up at four, six thirty, eight, ten, and eleven. I tried to wake up at this point, but I kept dozing, so I went back to bed. Didn't wake up until one pm. ONE PM! That's ridiculous. I've got to start figuring out this sleeping situation for when I do have to go back to work.

I think my other biggest obstacle right now is cabin fever. I'm getting it bad. Usually hits me by five or six pm. My chest feels heavy, I can't get comfortable, and nothing entertains me. I spend the next few hours bouncing between video games, Netflix, browsing the internet, reading, and playing with the cats. None of it helps. It seriously puts me on the brink of having a panic attack. The only thing that sounds like it would cure my cabin fever is a nice long walk. Something I'm still a minimum of six weeks from being able to accomplish.

I'm concerned that I will need a third surgery. Sallie and I were re-adjusting the brace last night and it doesn't feel like the bottom part of my leg is being held into my knee area right. There's still too much give. I know its still fairly early in the healing process, but it doesn't feel like any progress has been made with the ligaments.

I don't want to miss anymore work, or hell, the entirety of autumn with this injury. I've been waiting for fall for the better part of five months. I can't tell you how ripped off I'll feel.


1. I'm still trying to stay positive, but its definitely starting to get harder. I think part of the reason is because I haven't had any progress on my goals.

2. I was told that I shouldn't bend my knee this week in order to help the last scars heal on my leg. This is frustrating because bending my knee gave me some relief.

3. Knee and ankle have a little swelling yet. Sallie and I found a pocket of fluid hanging out on my shin with no where to go. I'm not sure what will be done with that. It might need to be drained, or it might just go away on its own. I'm still icing it as much as possible.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Recovery Update

Coming in an out of the hospital, I've found different people on the staff at the hospital empathize with your injury more than others.

-Doctors - Doctors don't care about your immediate pain. They know how far they can bend, poke, and prod your injury before you start crying lawsuit. Then they order the nurse to pump you full of painkillers until you pass out.

-Nurses - Nurses are some of the best to empathize with you pain. The nurses would move my leg as slowly and carefully as they possibly could. They massaged parts of my leg, had me try different pain meds until we found one that worked, and would apologize when they did hurt me.

-Physical Therapists - Had a minute amount of empathy. I think this is partly because their job is to inflict pain and make you move when you don't want to. I wanted to move, but the PT guy still flung my leg off the bed quick and wasn't quick to get me back into bed when I was done.

-X-Ray Techs - X-Ray techs are the worst. When I first went to the emergency room, the ER doctor popped my leg back into place. It felt great. Went to get X-Rays and they wanted an impossible angle and popped my leg out of socket again. Then, when I went to get X-rays after surgery, they attempted multiple impossible angles, but jokes on them, this time my bone was in their way.

I'm still recovering well. Most of my wounds are healing nicely, I've got feeling back in my big toe, and I'm building some upper body muscle.

My energy is completely zapped though. I wake up in the morning, eat breakfast, and then need a two hour nap. Then, come dinner, I eat, and need to doze for a while. I'm not used to all the sleeping. I'm used to being up and doing things.

I went to the doctor for a checkup yesterday. For the amount of effort I had to put into getting out of the house and to the doctor, I would expect them to check everything. Instead, they removed my bandages, looked at my wounds, and said, "Good job." I have to go back next Thursday. Not looking forward to that.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Reasons my Wife is Awesome and Recovery Day 4

I've had a lot of help from a lot of people in the past few days, but no one can match Wifey. She's had to deal with my every request, ache, and discomfort 24/7. Here is a list of reasons she is awesome.

1. She dumps and cleans my urinal without a second thought. This is gross. I would possibly vomit all over the disabled Sal.

2. Inevitably the moment she sits down, my body will start twitching or hurting and she will have to get back up and adjust something.

3. She's been dead lifting my leg, which currently weighs 5,000 lbs, to help me up and down on every piece of furniture.

4. She stands behind me as I hobble to the toilet. Helps me get my shorts off. Waits for me to be done with the bathroom. Pulls my pants back on. And somehow still finds me attractive enough to kiss.

5. She hasn't once lost her temper even when I'm in pain and can't tell her how to fix it.

6. She brings me ice cream once a day.

7. She's been keeping my pill schedule. Otherwise I would be laying on the floor from over use of muscle relaxers.

8. She not only let's me call her Dr. Salmonster, but embraces is.

9. She encourages my painkiller nap time each day.

10. If I moan like a beached whale in the middle of the night, she hops to, readjusts me until I'm comfortable, and then go back to sleep.

11. The normal stuff that is left over from the wedding: smart, good lucking, funny, blah blah blah...

12. She's in desperate need of some wine, but hasn't drank pretty much anything so that she can help me if the need arises.

13. Always serves my food first, even if she is the hungriest.

14. She changes my disgusting gauze everyday.

15. Her hair is red. Sorry, like to even out my lists and the painkillers are blocking my more creative answers.

Update on goals:

1. I've stayed neutral today, which is sometimes the best I can do. I'm not sleeping full nights right now. I'm getting 2 hours here, 3 hours there. It's not just how much I want to sleep on my side, but my leg is very stiff even though I stretch it all day long. The muscle relaxers help temporarily, but there's usually 4 hours where they aren't doing much work. My boot and my elevator pillow just aren't working right.

2. I almost hit 50 degrees. I don't think 90s degrees is going to happen by Thursday. It's partially the swelling and partially because I don't think this brace isn't on exactly right.

3. Swelling has done down significantly. Mostly still my knee and ankle. The back of my leg hurts the most. It's starting to rub on the back of my brace and not feel happy. Been trying to ice that up.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Recovery Day 3

-----Warning-------This paragraph talks about poop------skip if you don't want to hear

I did it. Maybe only an hour after I typed my last blog, I pooped a weeks worth. It was glorious. I screamed out, "SUCCESS!" to the entire house. It was like giving birth. 3 cannonball turds, almost perfectly round. I feel a huge relief. So now I'll have to come up with new goals.

----------------------poop paragraph done--------------------------------------------

I haven't been able to bend my ankle or big toe upward since my secondary surgery on Wednesday. It was a huge setback for me. I had almost full range of motion just numbness in my toes.

So I've felt like that scene in Kill Bill since then. Keep saying to myself, "Move your big toe." But nothing was happening.

Today, I can move my big toe up maybe a quarter of an inch. I'm going to keep at it and hopefully will regain the use of my ankle and be able to move everything up soon.

Sleeping was a bit of a chore again. I like to not only sleep on my side, but change positions often during the night. I found myself wide awake and uncomfortable at 6 am. I tried changing the elevation of my legs. I tried holding my breath. Luckily, Dr. Salmonster woke up and told me it was time for more pain killers. Popped the pills and passed out within 15 minutes.

Slider has been overly protective of me since I returned home. He won't leave my side. When I move to the big chair, he lays on the coffee table next to me. He sleeps next to me in the bed. He's been cuddling up, wanting all sorts of attention. Slider has been better than some of the nurses I had in the hospital.

We had to break down and get a toilet riser today. It sucks buying all of this medical equipment that I know I will barely use the rest of my life. I know it will pay off for my comfort now, and I'm sure I'll find a way to injure myself in the future.

I now sit like a king, high enough that Sal's feet won't touch the ground. I haven't had poop round 2 yet, but I feel me and my mistress will meet again tomorrow.

I'm getting much better at moving around. I'm able to get up fairly quick. I've been doing laps around the kitchen to build my upper body strength. And I've been doing all the knee and ankle exercises. I'm interested in what news I'm given on Thursday for my followup. I'm hoping its good news. I've been hording all my PTO for this winter. Sallie and I had a lot of plans and we were finally going to take our honeymoon in England.

I guess my personal goal on this is to realize it was out of my control. I have a tendency to be angry when these events happen. If England doesn't happen this year, I have to just keep telling myself, it wasn't meant to be. There's nothing I could've changed to make it happen. If you don't have time off, you just don't have the time off.

1. Since I accomplished the bathroom goal, I think my new number one goal is just to stay positive. Know that people have it worse and one day I will be complete again.

2. I was able to bend my knee to 40 degrees again. The swelling around my knee cap has not gone down much and I think any more progress on my knee bending depends on that swelling.

3. Swelling around my ankle has gone down. The swelling around my knee appears unaffected, but there is now swelling on my calf muscle. I think this is because there is always some sort of plastic brace or elevation tool in contact. I started icing my calf tonight and hopefully will see results by Wednesday.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Recovery Day 2

Today was a bit better than all the previous week.

I woke up this morning with incredible stiffness. Even though I had more support on our mattress, not being able to adjust the height I was at, really messed with me. Slider was passed out right next to me all night. He seemed to be a little upset.

I did manage to get off of my foam support under my own strength, but wasn't able to actually get to my feet on my own. This brace seems to add 30 lbs to my leg and then there's the trauma actually to the muscles in my legs.

Right now I'm on Oxycontin, muscle relaxers, baby Tylenol (for blood clots), and blood thinner shots.

I wish I could take the muscle relaxers every 5 hours instead of every eight, cause I do tend to get muscle twitches in that leg toward the end of the cycle.

Everyday, Sallie has to change the dressings on my leg and give me a blood thinner shot. Today, the swelling has gone down significantly in my leg. My right foot is probably where the most painful swelling is at this point. The scariest is a part of my leg puffed up so much, that at first glance you assume its my knee. In actuality, this is the thigh. It's pretty gross. Once those two things stop swelling, I'll be all around more comfortable.

Going to the bathroom is the hardest and most labor intensive activity of the day. It really wears me out to the point of my arms shaking, sweat beading down my forehead, and by the time I actually get to sit on the pot, I'm tired to actually go.


1. Tried to go to the bathroom 3 times today, no success on any. I think I'm sending Sallie out tomorrow to procure a toilet seat riser. I hate that we are having to buy so much equipment that I'll only use during this surgery.

2. I'm proud to report on several occasions, I was able to bend my knee to 30 degrees. There was one heroic time when I was able to comfortably bend to 40 degrees. Taking it slow, don't want to injure myself more.

3. Like I said above, my swelling has probably gone down by about half. Once most of the swelling is gone, I think achievement 1 & 2 will become significantly easier.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Painkillers and Surgery

So, Saturday night, Sallie and I decided to go out for a jog when she got home. We had both semi-stressful days and needed to blow off some steam. We were doing great too. What started as a mile, turned into 3. Only maybe 200 feet from where it happened, we were contemplating walking.

So I catch an uneven patch of pavement. Sallie and I were single file at this point and I had to roll to the side to avoid her. I don't actually remember hitting the pavement, but the next thing I know, the bottom half of my right leg was no longer attached.

The ambulance showed up, and the EMTs started freaking out. They thought that I would be in extreme pain, but really I was just uncomfortable. The EMT didn't really tell me where I was going, but merely said, "You're not going to St. Alexis." (Which is probably for the better. My only experience with St. Alexis was during Sallie's surgery last year, where I sat in waiting rooms covered in church pews and a guy kept screaming and peeing on the floor.)

So I end up at SLU's emergency room after they say they have some openings. It was a busy night for gun shot wounds and motorcycle accidents. I guess the nice weather brought out the excitement in everyone.

I end up dealing with the ER doctor, his intern, the two on staff surgeons, two nurses, X-Ray team, and the MRI team. It seems that none of these teams talked to each other. Three teams would come in in a row, all giving me the same information, or maybe another guy would show up contradicting the first guy.

The on staff doctor ad his intern both thought the knee was dislocated. They made it sound as if I were going home that night. I went to get X-rays, and the techs wanted to get some crazy angles, so they popped it back out of place in the process which didn't feel very good. The on staff doctor got it back in place, but then they decided they needed to get it wrapped. They lifted my leg and just turned it a bit too much. The leg popped out of socket again, the two surgeons were caught by surprise and dropped my leg a few inches, getting a better grip on it. This was by far the worst pain I felt.

This is what my leg looked like when it was re-set. You can see fairly obviously that the bottom half isn't attached to the top half.

So, they finally got me to a room at about 5 am, and I was due to be in surgery by 7 am. The nurse was scrambling to get everything together, and he did a damn fine job. Even with the nurse shift change happening at 7, he was able to get all the paperwork done and get me to surgery.

When I came out of surgery, I had rods in my legs. Basically, this was a temporary solution for keeping my leg together until the real orthopedic surgeon was in on Monday. This was the results of the surgery.

It was a constant battle of different nurses coming in my room 24 hours a day, a loud red neck room mate with a ton of family visiting all the time, orthopedic surgeons and doctors consistently cutting the dressing off my legs, poking around, redressing it. Halfway through the week, another patient was brought in as my room mate.

I got surgery round 2 on Wednesday. They removed the rods, put a plate on my ball joint of my Tibia, repaired the ligament on the right side of my knee, and discovered that my Hamstring was also hosed, so they fixed that as well. Total surgery time was about 5 hours.

I finally was able to leave on Friday. The transport to home just took everything out of me. I could barely move once I made it to my makeshift bed.

There are a few things I'm basing my recovery on.

1. When I can finally poop: I feel like I'm close, I have the sensation, but it takes so much energy and effort to make it to the toilet, I have no energy left. This one is probaby too much FYI, but I'm on too many pain killers to care.

2. How far I can bend my knee. My goal for Thursday, when I meet with the surgeons again is 90 degrees. Yesterday, I could bend my knee about 20 degrees. So I have a bit to go.

3. How far the swelling has gone down. The swelling has subsided significantly since I first got out of the hospital. Most of my swelling is right above my knee, around my ankle, and where my hamstring is.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Fake Money and Passions

The United States treasury has been downgraded from an AAA to an AA credit and this has sent the stock market into a plummet.

Stock holders are a finicky, panic driven bunch. There’s this myth about the stock market, thanks mostly to the 1920s and the 1980s-90s when it was booming, where people think it’s an easy way to get free money. Invest in the right company, and shares explode.

It doesn’t make much sense to me, granted this is coming from someone who hates the business side of things and has no interest with investments.

All of this “money” is digital. Just because a stock is worth $3 more on paper, doesn’t actually put those $3 in your pocket. None of this is real money, it’s basically one large system of IOUs. Sure, you can sell your stocks high, but then that causes the price of the stocks to drop for everyone else. It’s this ripple effect system.

So yes, even though it’s scary to see the market plummet 500 points in a week, this is just going to cause a great buy-up when the stock prices go down. It’s a giant roller coaster ride.

Now I do feel sorry for the FAs I talk to. Even though I think the stock market has too much power and is a ridiculous system that puts too much power in the hands of stock holders, I can understand their stress. It’s something they at least at one time were passionate about.

It would be like if we started blending all food together in convenient shakes. It takes all the passion and romance out of food and cooking. I would hate that life.

I guess today I woke up with an empathy for the FAs I support. Many times I see it as a them vs me situation. Most of the guys I work with see it this way as well. Really, we’re all a bunch of animals habituating a spinning rock for a short amount of time.

Today, while being in this reflective empathetic state, I also realized that there’s no way I’m staying in the tech industry. I have no passion for it, just talent. I’m going to stay in it until my student loans are paid off, but then I’m going to write. I’m going to get a job at a restaurant in Denver, and Sallie and I will be blissfully happy.

With that, I leave you with some inspirational words by the man himself, Ira Glass.

Ira Glass on Storytelling from David Shiyang Liu on Vimeo.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Checkbook that Won't Go Away

So Sallie and I had this checkbook from Myrtle Beach that's been floating around since we left South Carolina. We had a reason for keeping this check book, a reason that I can't think of now, but this thing has caused too much chaos in the past few weeks.

For some reason Bank of America can't transfer bank accounts from one state to another. They forced us to close our South Carolina account and then open a Missouri one.

They of course gave us starter checks for our Missouri account that looks exactly like the checks from Myrtle Beach. I'm sure you can all see where this is going now.

First, I sent my dad a check for his birthday gift. The worst part about this is he even called and warned me that the check said Myrtle Beach. I wasn't thinking about it when he called and just thought it was one of our older checks from our apartment, but would still be valid.

Wrong: $20 charge and I have to send another check in the mail.

Second, Sallie had to go get a hair cut on Friday. This place, for some ridiculous reason, only accepts cash and checks like some shady convenience store. She didn't realize she had the old checkbook until she wrote the check and had left the place.

Not only did she have to call the place and tell them she was bringing a new check, drive home in awful Friday traffic, but then she had to drive back to give them the new check all before the birthday party at our place that night.

Third, and possibly the worst situation, I apparently paid for our water and sewage bill with St. Louis with this checkbook as well. Today, I got a notice that was stamped July 22nd, saying I had 10 days to send a money order, certified check, or pay cash at city hall otherwise I will be sought for immediate prosecution of a Class A Misdemeanor or Class C Felony for trying to defraud the department of revenue.

Here's the issue, we didn't get the notice until today, August 6th, which means we're already 16 days from the date stamped on the notice. We obviously have a post-marked envelope saying the notice wasn't actually sent until the 5th, but knowing bureaucracy at its best, I wouldn't be surprised if Monday when we went downtown, they tell us we have to go to court.

This checkbook has properly been disposed of now and will hopefully cause us no further grief. Here's my thought, let's get rid of the archaic check book system and make everything digital.

On a side note not related to the checkbook:

I was doing yard work today when I noticed a white shirt laying in front of my garage. I went to pick it up to realize that someone had pooped next to my garage and wiped their butt with this shirt. I screamed out in frustration. Luckily I had gloves on. It was just one of those sort of days.