Surgery Monday


Wednesday of last week, J slipped on ice on our front porch and slid down the stairs into the driveway. The result, he broke his radius about an inch from where the smaller two of the forearm bones meets the wrist. It was a clean break and it didn’t rupture through the skin, but it will have to be fixed surgically. Which made for some long, long days.

The swelling was fairly bad. Which is why they had to delay surgery until the Monday after he broke it. However, they also didn’t set it. The section of radius sticking out from his wrist, is at an angle, sticking out to the side.

Certain movements still cause him to blanche and break a sweat. He has already passed out on me once, so I’m not particularly happy with the fact that they didn’t set it. Setting the bone would be more painful in the short term, but less painful in the days while waiting for surgery.

I’m also not terribly happy with the ER or our health insurance, but there’s little I can do about those things. The problem with the ER was that they treated him like he couldn’t be in that much pain. He was acting “okay” except that he was holding his right arm in his left and keeping it tucked close to his body. His blood pressure was “normal” and his pulse was a little low.

I know pulse and blood pressure are indicators of pain, but I also know from lots of experience that sometimes these things are “normal” or “low” despite pain levels. Even on days where my only thought is “please let me die so the pain ends” my blood pressure will register as “low.” The only saving grace for me is that my pulse has been exceptionally fast for nearly 30 years. My pulse averages 105 beats per minute and has for most of my life. I have oddly low blood pressure, a normal reading for me is 75/60. I’ve even had a few doctors ask me how I was standing, because my blood pressure has been so low. But when it’s always low, it’s just normal and there’s no side effects. When my blood pressure gets to the “normal” range 100/70 I get a terrible headache and it feels like my head is going to explode. For me, normal blood pressure is so high, I feel terrible.

J’s pulse was averaging only 60 beats per minute despite having passed out from the pain on Wednesday and his blood pressure was 126/81 at its highest. However, I once watched this man pull a nail out of the webbing between his thumb and index finger with his teeth, after someone accidentally nailed that section of his hand to a board with a nail gun. I’ve also seen him suffer second degree burns over half his torso. Only the burns made his blood pressure skyrocket and he never passed out from the pain.

I know medical professionals have to go by what’s “average” for the general population. But sometimes, those markers aren’t a very good standard in my opinion. Only after the X-Ray showed that the bone was indeed in two pieces did they do anything about his pain. However, usually they listen to the patient or in this case, the patient’s wife. Which they didn’t do on Wednesday. If I tell a medical professional that J passed out from pain, I expect that to be taken into consideration. Especially since, his nose had a cut on it to prove it.

I will give a shout out to the two nurses that splinted his arm. They listened to me. While applying the casting material, he got that look. I pointed it out and they stopped and let him take a few minutes before continuing. The thing is, I know I’m not a doctor or nurse. I write novels for a living, but I do know J. I have known J for more than half our lives. I feel that should carry some weight on what’s “normal for him” and what isn’t.

The nurses that treated him had a sense of humor, something I always appreciate. They asked, like they do everyone, if he felt safe at home. His response “my wife writes serial killer novels.” And they all had a good chuckle over it. Now, in defense of the nurse practitioner that treated him, they were having a busy morning. There were at least 5 people in the rooms around us that were there for falls on the ice. But that’s still no reason to ignore someone trying to give you valuable information.

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