Going Home Can be Very Traumatic….

… especially for those I left behind.

“Oh… you’re back. I see.”

“Huh. Thought you might be staying in the hospital longer than that.”

“Oh hai. I suppose you want your good chair back.”

But seriously, this is where we find out what the true limitations of modern medicine are. Lying in the hospital bed, I wondered how I would manage taking a shower without getting the site of the surgery wet. They told me “Do not get the site of the surgery wet, or you will die!!!!” … So I, over time, I asked a couple of nurses and doctors their opinion on how to do this. It was a little like asking for the cure to evil spirits of a group of townspeople in the 9th century: Alchemy, inconsistency, and a general throwing up of the hands. Modern medicine does not have a device or a drug for that, in part, perhaps, because they don’t have to be there to deal with it themselves. They just send you off and say “Don’t let that thing get wet…”

I am now on a regular Vicodin dose and that has become rather interesting. There are times when the background pain is minimal, and then all of the sudden it feels like an incompetent woodsman hacked at my leg with the wrong end of a dull ax. But when I’m really stoned, such things don’t matter as much, so I stay slightly really stoned.

This, of course, has side effects. I believe I watched the same exact winter Olympics event six times over 48 hours. First they show the event, then they show it again. Then they repeat the whole thing in the wee hours of the morning. So that’s three times, but there is this one winter Olympics event they apparently do twice: Once they call it “down hill skiing” then the other time they call it “Super G” or something like that. As far as I can tell, there is no difference whatsoever between the two, even down to which skiers win and which skiers fall down. The same thhing happens with ice skating. They seem to have the same exact event, plus/minus, happening again and again. Olympic Ground Hog Day.

Then, of course, they do all this for men vs women, so that’s really 12 times for the skiing and I don’t know how many times for the skating (which has the additional permutation of men PLUS women). No wonder this thing takes 12 weeks.

With the death of Grandma Cartin, there will be family coming into town. It is therefore very inconvenient for them that I’m staying at the inlaws, where we are closer to Amanda’s work and it will be easier to take care of two babies instead of one (me being the second one). But the visiting couple will have to sleep in the garage or something. The Vicodin takes the edge off my guilt, but it can not make it go completely away.


  1. #1 Phillip IV
    February 20, 2010

    I wondered how I would manage taking a shower without getting the site of the surgery wet

    Use wet napkins. Or wrap the knee in plastic foil. Or use the Ancient Greek method: rub scented oil into your skin and scrape it out with a spatula. There are a lot of options – but you might want to leave the choice of the right one to someone else while you’re on Vicodin.

    Best Wishes for a speedy recovery, once more.

  2. #2 Lisa
    February 20, 2010

    You don’t. Take a shower, I mean. You take a bath with your leg up on the side. If they told you to make an appointment to get your first dressing change, DO NOT get the dressing wet. If you are changing your own dressings, TRY not to get the dressing wet, change it after the bath if it gets damp or wet. Epithelial cells migrate across an approximated incision in 24 hours, but are very delicate and will not survive soaking. The incision edges will become excoriated (mushy, incompetant) and Then you will die. Don’t hesitate to call if you have questions or concerns.

  3. #3 Digital Rabbit
    February 20, 2010

    Before the shower was invented, people used to boil water on the stove and then use a washcloth to take a “sponge” bath. I can attest to the fact that this method works in the 21st century, having recently employed it. My hot water heater was out of commission for two months. Because a 38 degree shower is torture (at least for a Californian), I opted for the sponge bath method. No one at work complained that I smelled, so it must have been effective. I did manage to sneak a few showers in at the gym, but as long as you aren’t practicing any triple lutz’s, you probably won’t get too smelly!

  4. #4 Greg Laden
    February 20, 2010

    I’m changing the dressing daily, so that gives me a chance of surviving by chaning the dressing right after the bath/shower.

    I’m not comfortable with the bath becuase if I dangle or hang my leg it is very very painful, and the only thing more important than not getting the area of the surgury wet is bending the knee.

    Specifically, the surgeon said “If you get it wet, you will die. If you bend the knee I will kill you” or something like that.

    So the shower (a walk in shower) works pretty well … It is a modified shower with my leg dangling out, etc. But I think maybe only every other day.

  5. #5 Greg Laden
    February 20, 2010

    Before the shower was invented, people used to boil water on the stove and then use a washcloth to take a “sponge” bath.

    Yeah, but did you ever SMELL the 19th century? But yes, I’ve been doing that for a few days.

    Whatever I strategy I develop will have to work for several days. The wetness on the wound bit is probably not a big problem after 10 days or so if things go well, and the surgeon will tell me later when I can start bending the leg, which could be a few weeks.

    I might start wearing heavy purfume.

  6. #6 digital Rabbit
    February 20, 2010

    Old spice works well. It will also alert people to your presence blocks before they encounter you. 🙂

  7. #7 chezjake
    February 20, 2010

    This is how to do the shower; it really works:
    1. Wrap knee and dressings snugly in plastic wrap (Saran).
    2. Tape upper edge of Saran with duct tape (just snugly over the Saran, not on skin).

    Heal well.

  8. #8 Mike Haubrich
    February 20, 2010

    See, I learned something today. I had always been warned about getting stitches wet, but no one had ever explained why.

    I have been watching the Olympics on CTV (Canada) – it is a slightly different experience compared to watching them on NBC and CNBC.

  9. #9 george.w
    February 20, 2010

    Way, way too much experience with this: cut one end off a plastic grocery bag. Slide over affected area and secure with electrical tape (it’s a bit more flexible than ductape) or rubber bands. Optionally you can leave the bottom of the bag open so if it leaks, it won’t retain water and defeat the purpose. Take short shower. Afterward, remove bag and dry area as it will be moist even if seal was effective.

    But for 10 days or so, hell, just do the wet-washcloth thing. Your hygiene will be fine. It will give you a valuable opportunity to be antisocial.

    Hope you feel better soon/off the vicodin. Nasty stuff.

  10. #10 Pinky
    February 20, 2010

    I have been through the “Don’t get the dressing wet”, many, many times since a drunk driver used my body as a breaking device 17 years ago.

    To add to the good advice from Lisa #2 and Chezjake #7; get a hand held shower device (they screw on/off so it would not be a permanent unwanted feature in your in-laws shower); buy a shower chair (the best type is one that extends from inside the shower to the outside) and use a padded, comfortable stool to rest your foot on outside the shower.

    I used such an arrangement for years and almost got used to it.

    I hope you feel better soon.

  11. #11 mikey.duhhh
    February 20, 2010

    Here’s a little Creationist theory to make your day:

    Intelligent Recall


  12. #12 Virgil Samms
    February 20, 2010

    “Oh hai. I suppose you want your good chair back.”

    Let me guess, was that from your cat?

  13. #13 Ron Kephart
    February 20, 2010

    Hey Greg, the Olympics is exactly as you describe, even without the drugs…

  14. #14 momkat
    February 21, 2010

    An overall shower every other day, with daily spot attention to the pheromone-producing areas, is certainly adequate. And the getting wet of the wound is not the problem, it’s the staying wet that will KILL YOU. It’s part of a medical professionals training to put the fear of god into you and warn you of DIRE CONSEQUENCES. Stay safe so I can get my daily fix of your ongoing mischief.

  15. #15 (((Billy))) The Atheist
    February 21, 2010

    Having been the participant in 13 knee surgeries (all on one knee (the left one (tell me again about intelligent design?))), five majors (thank you so much, US Army), I can answer your question: leg condoms.

    Seriously. They are large flexible rubber tubes, rather roomy, except for an area at the top with a diameter about the same as a baby’s wrist. Before the shower, you carefully put the leg condom on and quickly, before it cuts off the circulation to your lower leg, take a shower.

    Contact your local pharmacy or medical supply store. Just be sure that they know what your are referring to or you may end up with a colostomy bag which straps to the inside of your leg (the Army can be very particular about descriptions of items) called a ‘leg bag’. Your orthopaedist (or (more likely) his or her medical secretaries) might be able to help you find a leg condom.

    I sympathize. Knees are tough. Well, they are fragile, but tough (read ‘difficult’) to heal once something has gone wrong.

    Look on the bright side, though — at least you broke your kneecap in a somewhat macho manner. My son broke his leg playing tetherball.