Early mornings and just before bedtime are the toughest times for Hannah. When the day begins, there is a day to fill when so much has been taken away: simple movements, physical activity, much spontaneity, daily tasks such as making meals, taking out the garbage, going upstairs to make curtains for Owen’s bedroom. The evenings bring a wonder of how the night will go. We head to Hannah’s first post-op appointment hopeful that the restrictions and the pain are receding.
Eleven days after Hannah’s surgery to repair her fractured tibia, Hannah and I meet with Dr. Sutherland’s PA (physician’s assistant) on a Monday afternoon. First, he shows us the x-rays of her left leg that were taken just minutes before. Showing us the plate and maybe five screws with their distinctive spiral twist, he says, “It looks good.” He reinforces that if she were to put weight on her left leg, the screws could start to loosen and the operation could eventually be for naught. He repeats that caution at least three times during our fifteen minutes together.
The nurse removes Hannah’s bandages and she feels free at last. No longer will she have to wrap her leg in a black plastic garbage bag and secure it with duct tape to shower. What’s crucial is that she start working on the left leg’s range of motion. She has full extension, but can barely bend her left leg backward at all. He would like her to be able to bend it back 120 degrees in the coming weeks. I asked, “How often can she exercise?” He responds, “Constant exercise.” Without these exercises, her muscles will atrophy.
When her range of motion increases, she can go to the gym and spin (pedal without resistance) on the recumbent bicycle, since she’ll be putting no weight on her left tibia. Alas, she’s definitely not ready for that.
For the past week Hannah has had nagging pain in her left palm that just wasn’t going away. We don’t know if it’s from the water skiing accident or overuse of the crutches. In any event, the PA gives her a black flexible splint that allows the pressure from using the left crutch to be spread across her entire palm. It works almost immediately.
Taking two Vicodin roughly every eight hours, Hannah is ready to start weaning from the narcotic. Her pain is less than it was at the time of operation eleven days ago. Ergo, she can take one Vicodin or even see if Tylenol will take care of the pain. Five to seven days after surgery the concept of staying ahead of the painer paHe no longer applies. It’s now time to reduce the use of the narcotic.
They used stitches under the skin that will dissolve in six weeks. The plates and screws will likely stay in, unless they are causing her pain. In any event, the plate will stay for at least six months. He ends with “I like what I see.”
Lastly, we wonder if we can travel to Virginia. He says travel is doable. The days say yes, the early mornings and bedtimes just don’t know. Sometime soon Owen Daniel Rawding will meet his Omi and Papa.