Part 2…Hospital hell…I am not a celebrity but PLEASE, get me out of here!!!…Photos of my leg situation…

Tom didn’t waste a moment once I was safely indoors in tossing them plenty of pellets.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Kudus is in the garden awaiting our return. Big Daddy is patiently waiting for his turn.

The hour and 20-minute drive from Nelspruit back to Marloth Park wasn’t easy. I had to keep my legs higher than my heart and could not sit in the front passenger seat. The only other option was to lie down in the tiny backseat with my head on a pillow and my feet propped up on the duffle bag. The small car was tricky and uncomfortable, but finally, I settled down, and the drive went smoothly.

Our biggest fear was trying to get me up the seven slippery steps to the veranda. It had rained, making the steps all the more slippery.  Gee…I wondered how Little makes it up there with his spikey toenails. But if Little can do it, so can I!

Tom held me tight against him, and I somehow managed to get to the veranda. In minutes we were inside the house, and I was lying on the bed, ready for the evening to pass quickly while we figured out a routine.

The plastic surgeon was adamant that my legs won’t heal if I don’t keep my feet up around the clock. Only short trips to the bathroom, the bed, and the sofa are allowed. In actuality, this is much harder to maneuver than it was when I returned home from the bypass surgery.

I now have a plastic tube attached to my left leg,  and the machine requires recharging that will last unplugged for five hours. However, with the frequent power outages, we realize it needs to stay plugged in constantly. 

Fortunately, a thoughtful Marloth Park neighbor loaned me a sturdy walker with a basket. I can unplug the machine, place it in the basket and get to the bathroom unaided. This makes a huge difference in the amount of time Tom has to spend helping me.

Don’t get me wrong. He has to tend to my every need, except bathroom breaks, around the clock. After all this recent experience, he’s pretty good at this, but, of course, it’s hard for me to ask for every little thing.

Kudus, by far, are our most frequent visitors.

He will be on photo-taking duty and pellet distribution since it’s too far for me to hobble to the veranda and back. I have to stay off my feet for two weeks until it is healed further and I can freely walk again. I can’t wait until that day comes.

As for the continuation of hospital hell, I can’t get as wrapped up in telling that story as I’d planned. Now that we’re checked out after a harrowing experience yesterday, it was on my mind to be free of it to focus on the matters at hand.

All I can say is I checked out, once again, earlier than planned to escape the rampant incompetency by some, not all, of the nursing staff in the main hospital. This time, I wasn’t in the ICU ward but in a nice room by myself.

Regardless of the room I was in for five days before and after two surgeries, the experience was dreadful 50% of the time. Bedridden, required to use a bedpan, on an IV drip, making it necessary to use the bedpan once an hour, the situation was often dreadful when the nurse/sister had little interest in helping me. I must stress that some of them were thoughtful, respectful, and kind.

But, there’s a faction in that low-paying job of disinterested and disdain for patients, and I often waited for extended periods for a bedpan or assistance in getting off one. I don’t know what the designer of a bedpan was thinking, but these hard plastic contraptions don’t work well if one doesn’t have a lot of excess meat on their buttocks. Being left on one of these for 20 to 30 minutes was painful.

The distribution of pain medication was inconsistent, often requiring I press the buzzer three or four times in an effort to get a nurse to assist, with no results. When the pain got out of control, the smaller doses were ineffective in bringing it back down to a manageable level.

Keeping in mind, no potent narcotics are used on patients for fear of addiction. Instead, they use a Tylenol/Paracetamol combination with a very tiny dose of a prescription pain killer…we’re talking about 15% of a normal dose. These were administered by IV.

My right leg is bandaged and covered with a compression stocking.  The left leg has yet to improve with the help of the attached machine that sucks out excess fluid and continually cleanses the wound. Both legs have been stitched with stitches that will have to be removed at some point. The left leg is considerably more painful at this point.

Oh, the Paracetamol does have the potential to assist with pain but never to the degree of narcotic medications when it is administered regularly, but not all of us are prone to addiction, and I’d rather have been in less pain knowing I’d be able to stop taking any narcotics without a problem.

Now back at Marloth Park, I have a prescription for the low-dose narcotic and high doses of Paracetamol, which works for a few hours. Hopefully, the pain will dissipate soon, which I fully expect within days. After all, I just had two surgeries within three days and expected some discomfort.

We checked out on Wednesday, but on Monday night, after the fiasco with the “lift” not working, after my second surgery, by the time I got back to my room after 2100 hours (9:00 pm), my dinner was spoiled from sitting out for four hours in the hot room.

The restaurant was closed, and there was no way to get me anything suitable to eat. This same scenario transpired after the first leg surgery and also the bypass surgery, all of which occurred late in the day.

Just in time, Tom made it to a local restaurant to return with a wonderful chicken, avo, and bacon salad that got me through the night. At that point, I hadn’t had a morsel of food in 28 hours. It felt good to finally eat something.

I had to literally beg for a nurse to provide me with pain medication. The prescription was on my chart. There was no reason to postpone giving it to me.  By 2300 hours (11:00) pm, I was writhing in pain and finally had a small bag of medication hung on the IV rack and inserted into my IV line.

Thirty minutes passed with no relief. I found that when I lifted my arm, the precious pain medication was running onto the floor from my IV line. If I say, it took more than two hours to get someone to come and replace my IV line in my hand. I kept buzzing nurses, and they’d look at me dumbfounded when I explained the situation over and over again to no avail.

The tube is attached close to my ankle bone which bore the worst of the infection and is now entirely gone but must close and heal.

By 2:00 am, I was finally hooked up, but the pain was out of control, and the weak solution had little to no effect. I dozed once at 4:00 for about a half-hour, but that was it. At 5:00 am, the tea cart came around, and I opted for a cup of tea to get my mind off of my discomfort.

The checkout process yesterday was equally outrageous. We were ready to leave by 9:00 am but with the doctor not showing until almost noon (checkout time), the take-home meds and instructions and supplies for Doc Theo to treat me over the next few weeks, we didn’t get out there until 1400 hours, (2:00 pm). I couldn’t have been more thrilled to get on our way. Tom was equally frustrated.

It feels good to be back, even with the limitations. I’m up, bathed (sponge bath), and dressed for the day, wearing a casual nightgown dress that will accommodate the tube hanging from my left leg. I included the photos to illustrate the complexity of maneuvering with this attachment for the next two weeks.

Tomorrow morning, we have an appointment with Dr. Theo for the next part of the treatment. He’s worked with this plastic surgeon many times in the past and has considerable experience in working with the device that’s currently in my left leg. We’ll see him every five days over the next month.

Now…how are we doing? The insurance company has yet to pay any of these bills, now totaling nearly ZAR 1,000,000, US $70,467. Undoubtedly, this is a big concern. The bill for the special bandages for use with the machine, not included in the above total, is ZAR 23654, US $1667. Unreal.

Somehow, through all this craziness, we’re staying positive and looking to the future while hoping in the next few weeks, we’ll be able to put some of this medical strife behind us.

Again, thanks to our family, friends, and readers for their continuing love and support. The love has been instrumental in helping us optimistically move forward during this challenging time in our world travels.

May your day bring you health and harmony.

Photo from one year ago today, April 4, 2018:

Such a big scary world out there!  For more photos, please click here.

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