22 Feb 2015
Major Surgery and being a Wedding Professional
Whether you plan or not for major surgery, you are a wedding professional and cannot escape couples that want to see you and speak to you, no matter how hard you try. This is the story of my bilateral knee replacement, I hope you enjoy it!
I’ve had trouble with my knees for over 10 years, but was not “old” enough for knee replacement surgery until last year. I decided to have my surgery this past December. I planned, prepared, plotted, exercised, and passed on bookings at work, ensuring I was available to have the surgery, with a 4-month window for recovery. This time frame was based on my surgeon’s recommendation.
Now just so you know, I told lots of people I was having this surgery, I spoke to lots of people who had one knee replaced, I didn’t speak to anyone who had both knees repaired at the same time like I was about to do. Many people spoke of infection, and of taking a year or more to heal or to get past the pain. I spent a year preparing, I needed to be well in 4 months, no more! I have weddings on my book…I need to stand, walk and do my job without appearing to be weak, in pain, draw attention or anything else that might break the confidence of a couple before their big day!
On Dec 15, I went into the hospital (terrified) prepared to have bilateral knee replacement. The surgery was completely successful. On the day of surgery, I was able to lift myself into a walker and take a few assisted tentative steps. I felt tired and accomplished. I even had a small amount of physical therapy (PT) before I was put back to bed.
Every day for the next four days was filled with recovery, PT, walking and more, including 2 units of blood because I was anemic. Thankfully there was not much pain. I am pretty sure there was a lot of anesthesia in my knees.
In the meantime…the person I had appointed to manage things, fell and broke her wrist…. She appeared in the hospital room to tell me she just sprained it, but all of the nursing staff felt it was broken. I thought so too; it was just too swollen and bruised to be a sprain.
The evening of the 4th day, I was moved to rehabilitation. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am sure there are some lovely places; this one was not one of THOSE! I went from a beautiful, large private room, to a smelly, noisy, room with a roommate who was suffering from a shattered knee replacement due to a fall.
I spent six days there, with only two days of rehab. The food was atrocious and completely unhealthy (which I found difficult to believe). There were horrible drug -pushing nurses, and nothing to occupy my time other than a few lovely visits from family, friends and believe it or not, clients! (One couple insisted on coming to see me. I must have looked atrocious, with days of dirty hair and no makeup! )
On Christmas Eve, I was released and I came home. At last, in my own bed! My fiancée was amazing. He made sure I ate, bathed, walked, exercised, got the meds I needed, and helped me when all the meds were making me violently ill. He took me to doctor’s appointments and just made sure I was ok. Thankfully he was able to work from home and on the few days he was not able to do so, I managed (just barely) to care for myself.
My major problem was the drugs. I lost 20 pounds in 3 weeks because I couldn’t eat very much. I had extreme nausea and several times when the PT folks came to work with me, I was ill. It was a real and serious problem.
At 3 weeks following my surgery, I had my first visit with my surgeon. He couldn’t believe I was walking unassisted. He couldn’t believe I was sitting on the table swinging my legs back and forth. He couldn’t believe I was doing so well! He authorized for the staples to come out and for outpatient PT to begin. He told me I looked and acted like someone who was at 2-3 months post surgery. Again, yeah! I was stubbornly determined to get on with my life.
After an embarrassing and really nauseating visit to outpatient PT and a really sick day over all, I just couldn’t take being ill any longer. It was time to take matters into my own hands after, I missed a medical appointment because I was throwing up all day, I stopped taking the narcotics and started taking Tylenol. I took that for 4 days.
After 4 days of being nervous from the Tylenol– I was literally shaking– I changed to Naprosyn, the drug I was on before surgery. I decided enough healing had taken place for me to, finally, get back to normal. (Although I don’t recommend self-medicating, I do agree that I am responsible for my own health.) The pain was significantly reduced and I finally was starting to feel normal. I was doing a few domestic chores around the house, my fog was clearing and finally, I was able to get back to work and sort through the hundreds of emails I had received while under the influence of the narcotics.
Despite my best efforts, some client emails got ignored. I am not making excuses here, I’m just saying that when you are sick, in pain and in a drug-infused fog, you cannot help what you do or don’t do. I actually felt like I just didn’t care, which is completely opposite of how I normally feel! This was an awful feeling, but I just couldn’t act on it.
When I contacted those few couples, most were understanding, a few had moved on (which was fine) and one lambasted me for not keeping my promises of an email (which I actually sent twice) and refused to keep her appointment (which was also fine…I was going to give her a discount; but she didn’t accept my apology of being on drugs, being ill or anything like that. I guess she knows best, she is a nurse!) You know, I probably didn’t want to work with her anyway as people like that are very demanding and wouldn’t have been happy no matter what I did.
Anyway, now at 8 weeks following my surgery, I am finally sleeping through the night. My client appointments are building and I’ve started driving again (I had to get off the narcotics, not fall asleep or get sick and be able to slam on the brakes, duh.) I am slowly getting back to work.
It feels great to chat with happy couples and work on wedding ceremonies. I even attended a cocktail networking event. It was great to be with people and not be a hermit! I have a couple of weddings already scheduled before my 4 months are up and I think I will do just fine without a walker or a cane.
Now about the person who was supposed to help me…she has had surgery on her wrist, a colonoscopy, a lump in her breast biopsied and a follow-up lumpectomy. She has done her best to keep me on track, informed clients of my situation and supported me as best she could. She and several other officiants worked the wedding shows we had scheduled and kept the business rolling. It is a new year and it is engagement season, so we are busy.
So… how are you doing with your plans this year? I hope you have no major surgeries scheduled!