Friday, March 1, 2013

My week of R and R...

Well...much has changed since my last post.  On Thursday evening, a week ago, I suddenly experienced excruciating and immobilizing pain in my leg.  I was screaming.  Somehow, I managed to get into my bed, and get my leg into a position that was comfortable.  My daughter came in, in response to my yelling and asked what she could do. I did not know.  I lay there for a little while, crying, trembling, and anxious, not knowing what to do.  Finally, I picked up my cellphone and emailed my doctor. "I am having excruciating pain and I cannot move", I wrote.  He responded, "Come to the ER at EinKerem".  I was so befuddled I had to ask him how I should get there.  He told me either with a friend or in an ambulance. I realized very quickly that there was no way I would be able to go with a friend. I could not move.  

Having never had the experience of having to call an ambulance before (in Israel) I was unsure how to do this. I asked my daughter to call my friend, Robin and ask her to come over.  But Robin was not answering her phone.  So then I asked her to call Pam.  Pam was home, and she came over immediately. It seemed to me that she must have FLOWN she got there so fast.  She came to me and I was crying and shaking and told her that I needed to get to the ER.  She knew just what to do, and she called Hatzalah and in less than one minute Hatzalah was there!  

I was so terrified because I could not see how they were going to manage to transfer me from my bed to the gurney without causing me pain.  But they did!  There were so professional about it I was able to relax a little bit and to know that I was in good hands.  One of the EMT's was a friend, Sergio Geralnik.  He was extremely considerate of me, and he even asked the other EMT to drive instead of himself, so he could sit in the back with me.  He did that because he knew me, knew about my hearing impairment and knew that I did not speak Hebrew so well.  

We made it to the hospital in pretty good time.  I was then brought into the ER and transferred to a hospital gurney.   Again, it was done pain free.  Pam had followed them in her car and came in to give me my things that she brought with her (that my daughter had put together for me).  She was only able to remain for a few minutes because she had to get back to her children. And then Robin walked in.  She had food for me (yummy sesame noodles) and she stayed with me for company and moral support until the wee hours of the morning.  

I had remained in contact with my doctor the whole time via email - "Hatzalah is here", "We are leaving now", "We are on the way", "We are at the ER", and "my X-rays were taken".  My doctor was performing surgery at Hadassah Har HaTzofim.  He came to me as soon as he was done, which was not long after I had arrived. He looked at my X-rays, he looked at my leg, and could not see anything wrong.  But he had me admitted to the hospital for "pain management".  He also informed me that he would be away for three days (it was Purim, a holiday weekend).  

So, I spent another Shabbat in the hospital only this time it was not so bad.  I had a better expectation of what would be.  I was also too emotionally and physically exhausted to care so much.  On Sunday another set of X-Rays were taken.  On Sunday one of the nurses came to me and urged me to get out of bed and into a wheelchair.  I was terrified but I finally agreed. I agreed because I was in pain -- I needed to use the bathroom.  I had been given a diaper to wear but we are so conditioned to only relieve ourselves when we are sitting over an open hole, so I was unable to do so.  After much cajoling I agreed and he helped me into the special bathroom wheelchair  I took a book and went into the bathroom and sat.  Later when he came to take me back to my bed he inquired as to my "success" -- I answered him with a smile, and his entire face lit up and he laughed and he was so proud of himself for having persuaded me to get up and into the bathroom!

On Monday my doctor came to see me.  He again checked my x-rays and my leg and examined me.  And what he told me stunned me. He said, "I'm stumped.  I have no idea what is going on with you."  And then he said, "I will figure something out" and he left me.  Now, you can only IMAGINE what was going in MY mind.  I was in tears, terrified, and my anxiety level was through the roof.   After I managed to calm myself down, I turned to my computer and logged into Facebook and went to a Facebook support group to which I belong for people who wear frames such as the one I was now sporting. I had been sharing my experiences with them and finding the group to be quite supportive.  This time I wrote about the pain I was having and asked about them and what pain they might have experienced. I asked about nerve pain and what that was like.  I was able to ascertain that the pain I was experiencing did indeed seem to be nerve pain.  I further inquired about whether the pain continued when the frame was removed or if it went away.  Those that answered me said it went away.  So feeling a bit more relieved I resolved to bring up nerve pain to my doctor the next day.  

The next day he showed up, with two other people and they examined me and discussed my leg, with me.  Again, there was a sense of know really knowing what was going on.  I asked him if it could be nerve pain and he said no. I said how do you know it is not nerve pain?  He said, because he has seen nerve pain and he knows what it looks like and this is not it.  But when it seemed that all they were going to do was increase the narcotics I was taking I interruped them and said, "are you sure that something like gabapentin would not be better?"  At that point he turned to his colleague and ask her to put a request in for the Pain Clinic to come by.

Shortly thereafter, the pain clinicians came by. They looked at my records, my x-rays, and asked me a lot of questions.  Then they prescribed Lyrica (pregablin) which is similar to gabpentin and is used for nerve pain.   I started on that two nights ago.  It is supposed to take about a week or two for it to take effect. In the meantime I am slowly feeling better.  

A retrospective look at how I managed myself after the surgery reveals that I was probably doing too much and had too much stress in my life.  I was working, working OUTSIDE the home, and going up and down the stairs outside my house on a daily basis, I went away for the first two Shabbatot I was home, I went to a late night wedding, and to add to all this, life in my home was rather stressful.   I was having to care for myself without any help whatsoever, while at the same time I was privy to the vicissitudes of my daughter's family. I love my family, and grandchildren very much but I really needed a peaceful, loving, and warm environment in which to recuperate.   I was not getting that and my stress level was climbing higher and higher.  

I was also becoming depressed.  I was feeling sad, and lonely, and crying all the time.  So, it should have come as no surprise that I "fell apart" by having a major painful episode.  The pain was real.  I still have it.  I do believe that all the factors above contributed.  I felt that there was a stunning lack of compassion for me by the players in my life - including my daughter, son in law, mechutenet, and my boss.   It was all just too much for me.  Perhaps it was MY fault.  I played things down. I tried to smile and go along. I tried to be valiant.  It simply did not work. 

I have been in the hospital now just over a week and have been given the opportunity to rest, to relax, to heal, and to even treat my anxiety.  We are planning for me to go to a rehab center when I leave here.  I do not know if that will happen.  The decision is ultimately out of my hands.  It is up to the nurse from my Kuppah to decide that.  If I cannot get into a rehab center, then I will go to my sister in law in RBS.  It is not ideal -- their bathrooms are not at all "accessible", even though they are on the same floor as my bedroom and the main rooms of the house.  But it is preferable to my only other alternative which is home -- and that is not an alternative for me at this time.  

Next update will include news about whether I was successful in getting into a rehab center...

1 comment:

  1. Rachel, I SO feel for you, I am at a loss for words...your daughter should be a comfort to you, and at least, if she can't help much, be emotionally supportive. It is very hard--I know, because some of my children are having great difficulties in their lives, and I am not there to do anything (not that I could do much there; no $$ for anything. It would deplete our small retirement fund...). So I support them by calling them almost daily, telling them that I love them, that everything will turn out all right...
    you are doing the best you can, and G-d willing your physical and emotional situation will improve. There is always 'around the corner'...