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The Battle of Wounded Knee

Those of you who visited us at a Craft Event last fall could not help but notice that the BAGMAN — my husband, best friend and partner — was having trouble with his knees and not getting around very well.  Chances are he was sitting!  Our last show was December 1 and he had total knee replacement surgery on the right knee on December 4.  For two weeks after the surgery, it was a battle!!  Now, two months later, he is walking around well and about 90% recovered (thank Heavens!!).

Bag MAN on Wounded Knee

Being the high control people that we are, we had planned ahead for the surgery.  We cleared our schedule of all but one 32-bag commercial order (this customer knew he would have to wait) so we both could devote ourselves to the task of the knee.  We went to the hospital training classes where they tell you what to expect of the surgery and therapy etc.; we replaced the shower head with a hand-held one; we bought a chair for the shower, a walker and a special light for the bedside.  Then, I scrubbed the guest room, aka patient room, from top to bottom, laundered all the bedding and curtains.  We were ready!

SURPRISE:  The first night home the incision leaks blood and stuff all over the sheets, mattress pad, blankets, side of the bed and the carpet.  No problem–?– I run to the pharmacy for special bandages,  wash all the bedding and buy a carpet cleaner.

SURPRISE:  The narcotic pain medications make him crazy and he is in Zulu-Land.  He doesn’t think straight, he’s sick to his stomach, and he smells bad.  No problem –?– we begin a regimen of drinking lots of water to flush the drug toxins from his system, give him a shower, and wash the sheets.

SURPRISE:  One of the drugs (still don’t know which one) they gave him at the hospital causes an allergic reaction and he breaks out in hives all over his chest and back, and it ITCHES.  When he scratches, the skin breaks open leaving bacteria all over the bed and him.  No problem –?– I run to the pharmacy for anti-itch cream, we give him a shower and put the cream on, and we wash the sheets again.

SURPRISE:  His red-blood cell count is low and he needs oxygen to supplement his breathing.  We call the oxygen company who brings out the machine and he is “teathered” to it via tubing which is always in the way!  Instead of fighting the tubing to get to the bathroom all the time, he uses the hand-held urinal, but it’s very difficult to hit the small hole at the top.  No problem — ?– we empty the urinal often and wash the sheets.

SURPRISE:  He is anemic (which is the same, I guess, as having a low red-blood cell count), so off we go to the doctor who prescribes iron tablets and metamucil to counter-act the constipating effect of iron.  No problem –?– we run to the pharmacy for the iron and metamucil and, for the next month, the Metamucil resides on our kitchen table!

SURPRISE:  The 26 staples holding his incision together come out and soon after the incision starts to bleed a bit… for the next week!  The physical therapist tries to help by applying steristrips, but soon there is more blood.  Back to the surgeon we go!  Luckily, there is no sign of infection, but she prescribes antibiotics just in case.  No problem–?– we run to the pharmacy again and wash the sheets every day that week.

This is not a complete list of surprises, but I’m getting tired of talking about them.  I can say that I discovered just how capable this woman can be when she needs to!  The walker did not fit through the bathroom door, so I took the door off!  The man could not get into the shower with the shower chair in the way, so I took the shower doors off!  The solar-powered battery that operates the gate to our place lost its charge, so I hauled out the battery-charger, hooked it up, strung two big extension cords and re-charged the battery!  I finished an order for 32 big rodeo gear bags, packed the two 50-pound boxes into the back of the truck and shipped them at UPS!  I shoveled snow, I cleaned snow off vehicles, I got Christmas organized, and I washed a LOT of sheets.

I can also say that we were blessed with help from every direction.  Thanks to my son Jake who helped us get home from the hospital that first day.  Thanks to our grandson Bowen who hauled all the Christmas decorations up from the basement and put up the tree and lights.  Thanks to our daughter-in-law Heather, an RN, who helped us understand the medications.  Thanks to our son Jeff who offered himself or his wife Heather to fly out and help us.  Thanks to the Physical Therapist who noticed the anemia and told us to get him to the doctor.  And a special thanks to our friend Bea, also an RN, experienced in surgery, emergency room, and her own husband’s knee replacement, for calling regularly and keeping us sane.  Hers was wonderful advice!  Also, thanks to my wonderful mother who, when I am feeling quite overwhelmed, tired and stressed, sends me a big box of her homemade specialty Italian Christmas cookies.  It felt like a hug.

So now the traumatic time has passed, we are both back to making bags, planning for next season’s events, returning to normalcy.  And now I have new friends at the pharmacy and I am looking for a sale on new sheets!  But, wait a minute, what about the other knee that is worse than the one we fixed!


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