Saturday, May 09, 2009

A Positive (And Hopeful) Sign

I had what turned out to be my last visit with the plastic surgeon yesterday. It was a happy day – he pronounced my heel healed (interesting choice of words, isn’t it?) and gave me a note to return to work on May 22nd.

As good as that is, it is only half the story. I still have to get clearance from the orthopedic surgeon. As I have an appointment with him this coming Thursday, I’m all but assured that he will also release me. As he was willing to do that back in March, I have no reason to think it won’t happen when I see him next week.

That said, if I go back to all of my jobs at the same time, it will probably break me the rest of the way, so I’m going to ask him to write me a gradual return-to-work order so that I am not working 80 hours my first week back. I don’t plan to work that much overall, anyway, but I certainly don’t want to get hurt all over again. So I’ll ask him to start with my primary job only (working at Cataldo) for the first couple of weeks. The rest (RRA, Goffstown Fire, Tri-Town, the track) will have to wait a bit until I’m ready to jump back into the fire.

Because of the schedule demands I work under, the biggest obstacle I’m looking at as I write this is my physical conditioning. Between PT and going to the gym as often as possible (I’m going this afternoon to get a workout in) it’s pretty crucial that I can at least function somewhere near the level I was at when I got hurt. And it is coming along, but I didn’t realize how compromised my cardio-vascular conditioning was when I started. Being made inert will really cause trouble with your body, as I’ve been finding out. First, no strength in my left leg. Now, doing anything remotely taxing has been enough to really kick me.

On the other hand, I am noticing improvement. Small gains, to be sure, but I’m coming along. Plus, I’ve been going to yoga with Martha, and I had no idea how much of an ass-kicker it is. I know now, to be sure, and I don’t care what anyone says: it is hard. But it is working on me; I’m noticing my upper body strength is coming back.

I know that with exercise and regaining lost physical conditioning, like anything else, it is all about time. And I have no idea how long it will take to get to a place I am comfortable with, but I know it will happen. As with everything else, I have to be patient. And that has been the lesson throughout this whole experience for me, hasn’t it?

One thing I am looking forward to is writing about the job again. I think having been to the places I’ve been to recently, my perspective will be a little different than it was before. Think about it for a minute; I’ve been a patient and a consumer of the health care system over the past 8 months, and the way I look at all of this has been affected in a way I never expected that it would be. I’ve had to deal with things that have gone wrong in the aftermath of a surgical procedure, there has been the need of additional surgery to correct a wrong, and I needed emergency care during the winter to deal with what was thought to be a cardiac event. Fortunately that wasn’t the case, but it could have been. And that would have really messed my life up even worse that it already was.

No – this experience will most certainly affect the way I do things in the future regarding how I do my job. I think it will have made me more understanding of the needs of the patients in my care, and I certainly think it will cause me to speak out even more than I do as an advocate. I know that when I was on the stretcher Martha advocated a lot on my behalf, and I was glad she did. I have done the same for her, and there are many times that you simply have to as sometimes docs and nurses are simply too busy to know what you need. It helps them understand where you are coming from.

This Tuesday and Wednesday I have to teach the monthly continuing education class at the Fire Department. Seizures and Diabetic Emergencies are the topics of the month. When you think of Diabetes, put together a mental image of actor Wilford Brimley being  spokesperson for Liberty Medical talking about getting supplies to manage his “Diabetus”, as he pronounces it. Of course, the class will have a much more serious tone to it, but I would like to interject one of his commercials into the lecture. And I’ll find a way to do it...

I bought a new pair of boots for work, and I’m wearing them to get them broken in. A pair of Danner boots – I have always liked them, and they are worth the expense; this pair cost me almost $190.00. But I decided that if I’m going to wear boots I might as well wear good ones. The past few pair I’ve owned have been less than impressive, and the pair I was wearing when I got hurt were wrecked, especially the left one. So – I decided to get something that will be worth wearing.

More on the medical clearance saga as it unfolds. By this time next week, I’ll have a good handle on when all of my employers can expect to see me again.

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