Saturday, November 21, 2009

The New York Experience

Still reeling from Oprah announcing the end of her show (ok, it's not for another two years and the announcement was actually that she was going to be announcing it the next day which I would have taken to be the same as announcing it but what do I know?), it turns out my wife didn't get out of the hospital after all on Friday; in fact, she didn't even get out of the recovery room until late afternoon. (No room at the inn, that sort of thing. I suppose one of the downsides of a hospital that focuses on joint surgery is that people don't die there and free up rooms as frequently.) It's looking like she'll be in through the weekend, with some time at a rehab facility after that. (That last part remains to be confirmed.) My heartfelt thanks for all the wonderful expressions of support.

It's an interesting trip to the hospital, which is located on 70th Street, about as far to the east in Manhattan as you can go. (Let's put it this way; take two steps in the wrong direction and you're in the East River, dodging tugboats, barges, and the occasional Circle Line tour boat.) Since the train from NJ puts me at 33rd Street at about the mid-point of Manhattan's east-to-west span, it's about a two and a half mile travel distance from there to the hospital. For the trip there and back, I decided to walk rather than take the subway; something about walking has always made it possible for me to think, relax, create and energize in ways that just don't happen at any other time. It's surely better than other ways I've tried. Experience has shown me there are no answers at the bottom of a box of oreos.

Every city has its character, of course, and its characters, but even when you've commuted to New York City nearly every day for over thirty years, there's still so much to see on a walk like that. The autograph shop on West 57th with the most amazingly cool things in the window. The cross-dressing guy in a see-through outfit (or maybe it was just a zombie trying to meet someone special) walking along Third Avenue. In the mid-forties, the theater district, I noticed a restaurant that advertises it's been providing the finest Cuban cuisine since 1963, and thought, yeah, I'll bet in 1963 Cuban cuisine was just a great business to be in.

At 34th Street, Herald Square, Macy's is in full swing in its preparation for Christmas and the Thanksgiving Day Parade/world's largest infomercial. Every year, they put up fantastically involved window displays along the Broadway side. Tourists flock to see them, and even jaded New Yorkers have been known to stop for a moment and look. (Not for too long, of course. Got somewhere to be, you know, though we're not always quite sure where that is and have to think of it along the way.)

Anyway, for folks not expecting to be in New York City this holiday season, a brief glimpse of what you'll see as you pass the windows. (This year's theme is Letters to Santa, with the windows showing the path letters take as they are handled in the North Pole.) These are strictly camera-phone videos, about five seconds each, and not broadcast quality. But I thought they had a New York flavor and would be kind of fun to post anyway. As for me, well, I'd better get back to my research; a man's reach must exceed his grasp, or what's an oreo for?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Game Day

Just a short update on today's surgery.

Happy to say it went well. It turns out the tendon didn't actually sever; it just came disconnected from the knee bone. We'll find out in the morning, but it looks like my wife will be able to come home from the hospital on Friday. Still to be determined is what approach we'll be taking in the weeks ahead - physical therapy, rehab, etc. - and for how long.

If every you need joint surgery of any kind, we can give a strong recommendation to the high-level professionals of The Hospital for Special Surgeries in NYC. Every detail is checked and rechecked to make sure everything is done right. And rather than having to spend an hour searching the hospital for someone, anyone, when you need something, we had an on-going parade of hospital staff checking on what we needed before we needed it. The surgical waiting area is a large atrium with a great view of the East River. And most importantly, they provide coffee at no cost.

Time for some sleep.

Friday, November 13, 2009

A Temporary Set-Back, I Assure You

Surgery is set for this Thursday.

Surgery...say what?

Flashback to November 5. My wife had been out of the immobilizer for a couple of weeks, making nice progress, faithfully doing her exercises and gaining a bit of strength. She was even starting to walk some. At first, walking required the therapist's help but she soon progressed to making it around the therapy room with the therapist nearby and a husband moving the wheelchair close behind. (I'm not sure if pushing the wheelchair really did anything for my wife, but it did give me something to do, like those toy car dashboards parents put on their young children's strollers, and for all I know that may have been the real purpose.)

With victory near, my wife was determined to overcome whatever residual fears remained about walking with no one's help. Waiting for me to get home to take her to physical therapy, she decided to try some unmonitored practice and surprise me. It went well up until the last attempt before I got home; a small turn didn't work and she went down.

I'd called a few minutes from home to tell her I would be there shortly - no answer. I was a little concerned about that, but there are many reasons that could happen and almost all of them are not problematic. When I got to the house and saw the back window was dark, my spidey-sense was tingling - it's funny how you can sometimes sense when something's not right before you actually know anything for sure. My first words yelled across the house to wherever she was: "Are you ok?" Her response: "Not really." She was on the floor, in a good deal of pain. Her efforts to surprise me worked, just not as planned.

By then, of course, we knew the drill; this time we even had an immobilizer for the trip to the Emergency Room. (And, of course, we had my really cool leg support wheelchair attachment.) X-rays there, follow-up orthopedist visit, MRI to follow up the follow-up visit, orthopedist visit to follow-up the MRI that followed-up the orthopedist visit that followed up the trip to the ER, and countless follow-up phone calls from well-meaning family and friends who each know the best doctor/hospital/procedure for us to follow-up with, and it comes down to this: the knee isn't refractured, but the tendon that connects the quadricep muscle to the knee cap snapped. (Normally - pardon the high-level technical medical terminology - the thigh bone's connected to the knee bone, and the knee bone's connected to the shin bone. Well, right now, they're not.)

The plan now - after follow-up visits to our regular doctors to clear my wife for surgery - is for the orthopedist (the one from the second orthopedic follow-up) to go in with a large, sterile sewing machine and give the tendon a basting stitch. The surgeon is very optimistic.

Not to worry - as things progress, I'll follow up.