Friday, February 8, 2013

Neurosurgeon Appointment Before My Surgery (02/08/13)

Hello Folks,

I had my first ever neurosurgeon appointment yesterday and made a Facebook status report:

"I had my first visit with Dr. Moratti, MD, PhD (Argires, Becker, Marotti, & Westphal) today. I am so glad I went to see him. I've had so much back pain over the past years and have found only relief from spinal epidural steroid injections, but I never saw a Neurosurgeon. I had an updated MRI a few weeks ago and Dr. Marotti reviewed this test with me. There is so much going on associated with degenerative arthritis in my spine. Some that I remember us discussing were bulging disks, several stenosis, bone spurs, scar tissue, fatty infiltration on my muscles due to arthritis and non-use, and fluid sacs (forgot name) that are caused by arthritis and place pressure on nerves. These issues are found throughout each of my lumbar vertebrae. I also have a congenital issue called spina bifida occulta. There is not one procedure they can do to help such a wide range of spinal problems. So... After my left knee surgery on Monday, I will schedule a bone scan of my spine and meet with Dr. Marotti in six weeks to decide the best course of action... 1. Continue with the Spinal Epidural Injections (They do help me) or 2. See Dr. Trevin Thurman MD (Interventional Pain Management) and possibly cauterize those nerves causing the most low lumbar problems for me."

It's funny how long we can put up with something that causes us pain and suffering. I always thought my dad was one who would not go to the doctor when something bothered him and I swore I would never be that way. I remember when he was diagnosed with lung cancer at the age of 63 and passed away six months later. I was only 33 yrs. old at the time and it made a huge impact on my life. Dad had an x-ray about a year before his death and they had found a mark on his lung and basically wrote it off as scar tissue from emphysema. Dad was a heavy Camel cigarette smoker.

Although I go to the doctor's office when something bothers me, I often feel like I'm a hypochondriac, of sort. I remember mentioning how I felt to my past PCP, Dr. N. Tony Mastropietro and I'll never forget what Dr. Tony's reply was... "Tom, a hypochondriac claims to have something wrong with them when truly there is nothing wrong. This is not the your case at all. You do have health issues that need care."

Although it made me feel better to hear him say those words, I still felt bad to be in the situation I was in at such a young age.

I remember when I had my hip replacement surgeries. I had my left hip replaced when I was only 49 yrs. old and a month later, I had my right hip replaced. I had turned 50 (8 years ago) between the two surgeries. I had entered the hospital for my first replacement during Christmas Week. There were only two of us in the orthopedic wing during that week and I definitely got excellent care. But when I returned a month later, the wing was now totally filled with senior citizen knee patients. I was the only hip replacement among them and the youngest patient on the floor. 

The first surgery went so well that I looked forward to the second surgery. Little did I know what was in store for me when I returned to the hospital. The right hip replacement itself went well, but what happened afterward was a total nightmare! I slept most of the first day while still under the influence of anesthesia and a morphine drip. But on the second day, things went down hill rather quickly once the afternoon/evening shit came on duty.

Julie had arrived from work around 4:00 pm and I received my oral pain medication which was scheduled for every four hrs. Visiting hours ended at 8:00 pm and Julie left for home. I waited for about 30 more minutes and then rang for my nurse... "Yes, can I help you? I would like my pain medication, please. I'll be right in, Mr. Boyd". 

Well, I waited for another hour and rang for the nurse once more... same conversation. I was dosing off and on throughout the night and at 3:00 am, I called my wife at home. "Julie, I need you here. I feel like I'm dying. I haven't had my pain medication since you were here at 4:00 pm. and I'm in severe pain"  "WHAT!?", she yelled on the other end of the phone line. "As soon as I get the kids up for school, I'll be in."

Julie arrived around 7:00 am and I still hadn't had my pain medication... It had now been 10 hrs since my last dosage. My surgeon arrived for his morning rounds. We told him what was happening. Of course he was angry and he ordered new pain medication for me before leaving to visit his other patients. 

At 9:00 am, the PT therapist arrived in my room to take me to therapy. "Are you going to walk to PT today, Tom?" I had walked to PT on the third day of my first replacement with a walker. "I can't even get up out of this chair" and I explained to her what was happening... I had a very unhappy PT!

I agreed to go to PT if she would wheel me there. The entire time I was exercising, I was in tears. Several kind senior patients actually sat with me and held my hand while I was going through my paces. My wife had tracked down the director's office, but the director was in a meeting (Of Course). So, Julie got to speak with the assistant to the director. The assistant came to PT and spoke with me and several other patients.

It turned out that several others had not had their pain meds on time, but I was the only one on the floor who hadn't had any pain medication all night long!

Finally, the "seasoned nurse" of the floor arrived with my medication... The WRONG medication! My wife caught this and told me not to take it. The nurse questioned me about the medication and then went back to her station to order the new medication my surgeon had ordered during his morning rounds.

After 30 minutes, she still hadn't returned. Julie went looking for her and found her talking among the other nurses on the floor... Let me explain... All orthopedic patients in this particular hospital went to PT at the same time twice a day. During PT Time, housecleaning did their task of cleaning rooms and putting new sheets on our beds,. The nurses would catch up on record keeping and once done, they would have a free moment before we returned from PT.

When my wife asked the "seasoned nurse" where my medication was., she said she was still waiting for it to arrive from the pharmacy. Well, it was sitting at the nurses' station waiting for her to bring it to me. Imagine that!

The pain medication finally arrived at PT an hour after we were there. Julie stopped to talk to the assistant to the director...  It was now 17 hrs since my last dosage! When the nurse left me and entered the hallway, she stopped, turn to my wife, and said, "He's in there crying."

My wife came into PT, grabbed the back of my rolling chair, and started to push me towards the door, "We're getting you out of this d*%# hospital!" I replied... "Let's go."

As we approached the door to PT, my therapist (Who was a mother of one of my middle school students) stopped us and asked if she could try something to help. She went to the large refrigerator that held all the cold packs and grabbed a huge pad. She placed that cold pad across my lap. "AHHHHH." It was the first sense of relief I had  since before the surgery... "Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!"

I lost over 50 lbs of weight during this entire ordeal. My hunger was absolutely non-existent, but I maintained myself by drinking fluids. My surgeon mention one morning that he "didn't want to lose me".

Yesterday, I told my neurosurgeon this story and discussed my apprehension about returning to this hospital.  He told me that I was truly lucky to have survived that entire ordeal, especially with the severity of the surgery and the amount of weight loss I experienced.

Yep... The same hospital and orthopedic wing. Dr. Moratti assured me that with the guidance of Dr. N. Tony Mastropietro, the hospital is now a much safer and kinder facility.  God, I hope he's correct.

Dr. N. Tony Mastropietro was my family doctor (PCP) during that nasty experience and I know that he is aware of what exactly took place there 8 years ago.

So, on Monday, February 11, 2013, at 7:30 am, I will be entering  the hospital once more to have "repair" work done to my replaced left knee. Dr. Wm. Parrish will be shortening my femur so that I will have more room to straighten my replaced knee. I have faith in his work and carry the confidence that Dr. Mastropietro has in my orthopedic surgeon to help me move forward.

I am not sure when I will get to write my next blog entry to you. But be assured that I will be thinking up ideas that will interest you all here at "Fishing With Dad". 

Keep in mind that Spring is right around the corner and I am praying that my recovery goes much better than back in July, 2011 and I can get out on the Susquehanna River and bring updated reports to you once again.

Please Take Care and Be Safe until I return, my friends!