After Jay’s surgery, we had a little while in the recovery area to be sure he wouldn’t immediately die before we were admitted to a real room for the night. Spoiler alert: Jay did not die. The room, like the rest of the hospital, was super nice, and at that point Jay was already able to help transfer himself from the OR stretcher to the regular hospital bed. Painful, but able.
We got him in bed where he was 100% naked and freezing but didn’t want to put on clothes because it was too hard, and isn’t that the way it always goes when you’re sick? Family was chomping at the bit (understandably, it was 8pm at this point) to come visit, so after we met the nurse for the night (Hi, Kate!) and got vitals we “released the hounds,” as Jay says. About half the family came to visit and Jay was dozing in and out thanks to trauma-related exhausted and Dilauded, so they stayed for a few hours, brought dinner (YES) and then headed out. Jay insisted that I leave too, so about 11 left to go sleep for a few hours, which didn’t work AT ALL because I was so worried. I slept for maybe 4 hours, then got ready again and went to the hospital super early on Sunday.
That’s the thing about trying to sleep, it isn’t nearly as much fun to rest up when your husband is alone in a hospital room in tons of pain. Luckily he texted me through the night (I keep my phone on silent so I only saw it when I was awake) with updates so I knew that he was awake-ish when I got back. The surgeon had said that he’d come back between 6 and 8 the next morning, which was alarming to me but I was determined not to miss it. The doctors at our hospital have varying schedules, with one doctor never even showing up until well after noon most days. So, I was a little wary of Dr. Geier actually being on his game at 6am on a Sunday, but I’ll be damned if the man didn’t roll into Jay’s room all chipper in his fancy scrubs at 6:35am. Not even the tail end of his window like a cable guy (offensive or flattering to call a surgeon better than the cable guy? You decide). He talked to Jay about his pain (I’M DYING FIX ME) and said that the pain was to be expected but that as soon as Jay felt it was manageable without IV meds he could go home.
after the break are graphic leg pictures. now you know.
Like with any post-surgical experience, there are steps that have to be taken and boxes checked off before you can go home. On Sunday morning Jay was in pain to the point that he wanted to live in the hospital with the IV in his arm, so we wavered all day between going home that day and staying one more night. Jay got another big dose of Dilauded around 9:30am which helped power him through incredibly occupational and physical therapy sessions. They needed to see that Jay could move around, sit on a toilet (raised seat), and gave him some pointers on how to grab things and make do with the mobility he did have as soon as he was able. All of the therapists we encountered were lovely and funny and played along with his in-pain-yet-so-determined sarcastic nature, and besides the fact that he was nearly in tears the entire time it was as good of an experience as you could hope for.
We ended up having 4 visits total from the therapists throughout the day for various reasons: Jay was too sleepy from the meds to continue, in too much pain, blood dripping on the floor, etc. Yep! Blood. Dripping. Overnight one of the 4 surgical incisions had started to drain kind of excessively, “like they cut off an ear,” according to a drugged Jay. Once he started moving more all the blood rushed into his leg and we had some spillage that had to be dealt with before we could continue, which was incredibly unfortunate for my poor husband. I don’t think the blood scared him because everyone assured him it was normal, but it was a LOT. The nurse wanted to change the dressing but didn’t want to do too much without Dr. Geier, and we were informed that he had left the hospital to go to church. Jay was a little perturbed by this (I thought it might be useful to us depending on how specific the man’s prayers were, but whatever), and said “maybe if he gets out of temple soon we can get this show on the road.” Jay enjoys calling all places of worship Temple, and in the Baptist South for some reason I giggle a lot when he says it. It’s not just me, the nurses got a huge kick out of it. Eventually Dr. Geier got done with Jesus and came back to work, and he and a nurse changed the dressing. HOLY BLOOD. All normal, apparently. We were reminded that bones are filled with blood, and when you break one the limb fills with all of that blood. So, the incisions were oozing old yucky blood really quickly, which looked scary but was totally normal. It was like vampire movie stuff – a really steady faucet-like drip.
While we spent Sunday in the hospital, Jay’s family was at home making things ready for us to get back, whenever that should happen. They shopped for foods and drinks he requested, and moved all of our things to a different room which we thought would be more comfortable, only to have Jay decide at the last minute that the original room would be better, so they moved everything back, bless their wonderful hearts. I was mortified because my massive pregnancy bras (not sexy, just functional) were flopped about everywhere, but Jay’s sisters are lovely and discrete and hopefully didn’t judge me too much for being an utter slob. Because clearly that’s what they were thinking about with their brother in the hospital. It was these little details, though, that made things SO much easier on Jay, and, subsequently, me. Because we had the little errands and prep stuff taken care of at home I could just BE with Jay to make decisions, say the eff word, dump his pee, and tell him that it would be fine that he broke his leg while I was pregnant and required 2 ambulances to get to an effing ER and it wouldn’t be thaaaat expensive. Fine. Fun, even. 😉
In between therapy and bleeding and visits from practitioners Jay would nap for little bits of time and I would read and text updates to interested parties. We still had some family dying to come visit, and after much “I do not want any visitors,” they came anyway. The day after surgery is just incredibly hard on some people, and that amount of pain coupled with decisions that needed to be made didn’t incline Jay to want to be nice to anyone. But, he had a few short visits from his parents and grandmother and then went about the business of getting better. In between visitors and sessions with therapy he would think on whether or not he wanted to discharge that day or wait, and he wavered a lot. The doctor’s advice was that if he didn’t need IV meds anymore for pain he may as well go home, which was exactly what he did. After the 9:30 dose when things were still really bad he took a turn for the better (a relative term, mind you) and decided to get the heck out of there.
Once we had the decision to leave, the therapists all rallied together to be sure we had the supplies we needed (walker and convertible shower/toilet chair, I’ll let you know how much we’re billed for those) and that Jay’s bandage was in the right place for him to go home. The original plan was for him to get in a boot before we left the hospital, but because of the True Blood seeping out of his leg the wound required more dressing than the boot would allow. BUT, the doctor wanted the foot to be kind of in a walking position so that in between surgery and getting the boot on Jay’s ankle wouldn’t start to rest in a pointed position, which would be super painful to correct. SO, the PT wrapped an ace bandage around the bottom of Jay’s foot up his shin to pull the foot up closer to the angle you’d have your foot in if you were standing on the ground. Every time we had to do one of these dressing changes or wraps or maneuvers it nearly killed poor Jay because at that point he was only on oral medication, which is really for the birds less than 24 hours after surgery. But he gritted teeth and bore it, and it was ridiculously impressive to watch. Very Russell Crowe.
Around mid-afternoon Jay’s sister and brother in law came to visit, which turned out to be perfect timing because it allowed me to run out to get his prescription filled and grab him a few things to have at home from Target AND while the surgeon and nurses were making final preparations for Jay’s discharge. Catherine and Yoav (sister and BIL) helped load the car and prep my car for transport, and after a slooowwwww move to a wheelchair, down the stairs, and into the back seat of my car we were on our way back to the beach house. Once Jay and I were both in the car with the AC blasting and Yoav and Catherine driving behind us with all of his gear, we high fived. We made it out of that hospital, Jay said. It wasn’t that he or I had done anything remarkable, but given that we were making new decisions every 5 minutes or so for the past 26 hours, we felt very accomplished and also grateful to be alone in a quiet car for a 10 minute drive. Alone isn’t really alone in a hospital.
The car ride home was uneventful, THANK GOD, because do you know how stressful it is to drive someone with fresh surgical wounds and snapped bones? Bumps are hard. Jay was a champ and I drove like a nanna.
There was a collective exhale once we got home because, even though he was still in a lot of pain and unable to do much, we didn’t have to contend with arranging visitors and hospital staff and PT sessions; his family could see him as much as they wanted and there was food and he was SO glad we decided to come home after that first night, when he’d hardly slept. On Sunday night I got up with him every 90 minutes for medicine, which really meant 45 minutes of sleep or so at a time because you get up, give the meds, offer pee/water/phone/snacks, and then try to go back to sleep, think about everything that is happening, lather, rinse, repeat. I’d had the foresight to get a yoga sub and call off work for Monday, but I had to leave Monday morning to get back for rehearsal for our concert on Wednesday afternoon, which was happening with or without an intact husband. Here is a picture of me sleeping that night.
Leaving Jay on Monday morning was one of the worst things in the world. He was fine, of course. Even 100% alone he could move enough to care for himself, and he had tons of able-bodied helpful adults around him. But it wasn’t me, and do you really want anyone besides your spouse helping you pee and sponge-bathe when you’re 34? The correct answer is no, but we had no choice. I had tasks, too. Have ultrasound (I’ll tell you about it next week). Deal with my work. Deal with Jay’s work. Sing concert. Pack up house + dogs + 2 adults for a week of “vacation.”
Coming home on Monday afternoon was supremely weird. On one hand, everything was the same. The dogs were still with my parents so it was quiet, and I slept for one hour and ten minutes before I had to leave for rehearsal, which was the best sleep EVER after a few days of hardly any sleep. The house was clean because I made Jay help me before we left “because you never know,” and BOY HOWDY DID WE NOT KNOW. Everything was the same but it was all not the same at all, so I just did what I had to do. Tasks, one at a time, cancelling when I could, eating leftovers and random bits of food, not messing up anything that I didn’t need to since I’d be leaving again so soon.
The first morning I was home (Tuesday) I woke up with a massive nosebleed that went everywhere and then started AGAIN in my office. It’s so sexy hovering over an office trash can with blood dripping out of your head. True Blood 2.0. A nosebleed is normal for pregnant people and stressed out people, and I think it’s fair to say that I fall squarely in both categories, and my nose has been fine for the rest of the week. But, it inspired me to get even more yoga subs and just simply not do anything I could get away with, which made me feel better if nothing else.
So now we just keep trudging forward, and I think it’ll be a slow climb for both of us – for me with “how do we make this work” as new things come up, and for poor Jay as he forces his body to do things it’s really not ready to do yet. He’s already weaning himself off his medication and bored, which is a good sign because it means he’s not so doped up that he’s losing time. I’m trying to work on having him allowed to work from home so he can be functional AND not lose a ton of sick days, and I’m trying to work as much as I can (hello hospital bills) but also not run myself ragged. We have 10 days before we get back and have to deal with me going back to work, but he’ll likely start next week since he can’t do anything else and has things to do for his job.
And that’s just it, right? You do exactly one thing at a time, handle it the best you can, and then move on to the next. I’m not thinking about if I have a husband who can barely walk in the delivery room or if we have to get more jobs or credit cards to deal with hospital bills. We have insurance and just a broken leg, which in the grand scheme of things could be a ton worse.
Jay, for his part, has been optimistic and sweet and has handled all of the back and forth and different caretakers beautifully. He’s grateful for all help he gets and has been doing as much as he can on his own from the very first day, which SUCKS but will make things so much easier as he moves through the coming months. He said that having a half-cooked baby is pretty good motivation to get back on his feet, so maybe this came at the perfect time for him to have a speedy recovery. Let’s see if we’re still both doing this well after a month of “Lindsay being put upon and Jay being lazy,” amirite? At least neither of us feel that way yet, though I’m sure there will be massive ups and downs between now and total healing, which can take 5-8 months.
We’ll keep you posted. I’m going to buy princess stickers for Jay’s boot, because why not? We may as well have some fun with this!