Wheelchairs & Ice Packs: An Arthritis Survivor’s Guide to Orthopedic Surgeries

Pattye Snyder Health Guide
  • I am now two weeks post-op from my most recent surgeries on my foot and leg due to osteoarthritis. Although these were #8, and #9 for me, they somehow don't seem to get easier to handle.  There are many things that need to be done pre-op.  I knew, in advance, because of the extensive surgery on my foot, that I would not be allowed to walk for at least 2 MONTHS!



    This has made my life a touch challenging.  I love to cook and tried to grocery shop and prepare as much as possible before the siege began.  I made a variety of small meatloaves, chicken noodle and vegetable soups, etc. to freeze in individual portions since I live alone.  I also froze bagels, muffins, hamburger patties, and other things individually.

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    When I returned home, post-op, I was met with a mountain of stairs (I have many steps outside my house and, since it is a split-foyer, lots more stairs inside).  After trying to discover an easy solution to this, my friend and I accepted the fact that the ONLY way up and into my house was on my bottom (going up backward). This brings a whole new meaning and spelling to the song "Boot Scootin."


    The hardest thing is  remembering  not to touch the ground with my newly operated foot.  I normally have a good sense of humor, but none of this seemed very funny to me -- it was excruciatingly hard!  When I finally arrived on the main level, I collapsed in exhaustion,but then the REAL challenge began: how could I get up into my wheelchair?  My girlfriend and I are both very well educated, but this is definitely not the sort of thing they teach you in grad school!  After a wide variety of experiments,I finally managed to plop into the chair and decided I'd never leave it!   I was told at the hospital that I could also use either crutches or a walker, but  I wasn't allowed to put the newly operated foot down at all!


    By the way, hospitals don't usually tell you this, but if you've had general anesthesia, it can take several days to completely leave your body!  After two days of hopping on one foot on crutches, I had managed to fall several times.  I try to think positively most of the time, but by then, I was getting desperate.  I called my  doctor to see if she'd write a referral to put me in a nursing home for a few days until I became stronger.  She was very willing, BUT  Medicare reared its ugly head.  You all need to know that unless you have been in the hospital for a minimum of 3 days, and go directly to a nursing home, Medicare will not pay anything. In my case it would have cost $178 per day out of pocket!  I again called my surgeon, who gave me special permission to put the heel only of my newly operated foot down for balance with the caution to be extra careful to not break all of the surgical pins sticking out of my toes which would require more surgery!


    I've found that, with a touch of my balance restored, I can continue healing.  The other advice that I was given by a professional is to stay on schedule with my pain meds.  I used to not take them until the pain became unbearable, but the reality is that by then it's  too late to stave off the pain (and when I told my doctor what I'd been doing, he asked to see all of my medals for bravery!).   This time, I knew that I had to stay on the 4-hour schedule for at least the first two weeks in order to survive. The pain hasn't been totally gone, but this has definitely taken the edge off for me.


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    I seldom watch TV, but I happened to see an interview yesterday with Montel Williams talking about his Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis a few years ago.  He said, "I've learned to go to a place of gratitude. This is what God gave me, now what am I going to do with it?" This is very much my mantra most of the time.  I've learned to read, ask questions, and study.  I try to be actively involved in my arthritis and my recoveries, and it helps change my frame of mind.  When my pain is at its worst,  I turn to others to do something for them. Interestingly enough, it seems to decrease my own pain levels!  I continue to try to focus on my abilities and NOT my disabilities.


    have OA, it will NEVER have me!






Published On: March 23, 2009