So sorry for the long silence. I had my last visit with the surgeon - a specialist in "upper extremity orthopedic surgery" and he has declared my hand completely healed and expressed no concerns about us setting off on Year Two of our travels. After over 10 weeks of immobility, my arm and hand is very stiff and I have started physiotherapy. I can see an improvement already after only two visits. My arm still feels a lot like a prosthetic limb, but I am working hard on making a fist so that I can maintain my championship form in Thai boxing.
The whole ordeal of the surgery and its aftermath was much more than I was prepared for. I was admitted on Tuesday, July 17th for what was to be an overnight stay. When I awoke I found myself in a pretty miserable state - shot full of morphine and another drug to counteract the nausea. My arm was not in a cast due to the excessive swelling, but was wrapped in dressings with a heavy plaster slab on the underside. I was kept on an IV to ensure proper hydration but it wasn't until they asked me to walk to the washroom that I realized the extent of the incision on my left hip where they took the bone for the graft. I thought it would be a small cut but instead found a seven inch gash angling from just below my waist to my groin. If I had had any idea of the size of the incision, I would have asked them to do a tummy tuck while they were at it!
I have never been one to tolerate drugs very well - this has probably saved me from dabbling in all sorts of street drugs as I am a child of the 60s (one of the few who actually remember what it was like back then). This was my first experience with narcotics and it did not go well. They kept changing drugs to try and find something that I would tolerate but I was not able to go home until the Friday - my fourth day post-op. They sent me home with a prescription for Percocet, a pretty nasty drug that was causing me to hallucinate with the most incredible dreams. What is most distressing is that I became very fearful in general and I think this contributed to my reluctance to stop taking the drug as I worried about overwhelming pain. Anil has had no experience with these things either and therefore didn't even think to intervene. All this dragged on for a couple of weeks, and I was miserable even though I had cut the dosage back to a quarter of a tablet from the recommended dosage of 1 - 2 tablets every six hours.
The only reason that I am going into this detail about my horrible experience with this narcotic is that I have a new appreciation for what must happen to people who become addicted to pain medication. I often hear about celebrities going into rehab for such additions and I could never understand how people could get themselves into such a state. I found that this strong drug messed with my head to such an extent that I couldn't make any rational decisions at all. Let this serve as my warning to you should you ever find yourself in a similar situation. I was never aware of how these potent drugs could grab hold of a person so quickly. No wonder there are so many people struggling to free themselves from drug addictions. I have a new appreciation of what difficulties they face.
It was so bad that at one point I even mentioned to Anil that I didn't think I could travel any more because I was too afraid of hurting myself again. He was so shocked that he just answered - "fine, I'll go on my own then".
The best thing that happened to sort me out was the fact that we had borrowed the car from our daughter Adia for the month of July and had promised to get it back to her before the August long-weekend. We had originally planned to host Dr. Kapoor and his wife Kusum from Mumbai for 10 days in July and were to have driven them from Edmonton to Vancouver, through the Rocky Mountains and the Okanagan Valley along the way. This visit had to be canceled because of the surgery but we still had to take the car to Victoria. Two weeks after the surgery, I was finally well enough to travel and we headed out on the highway. We stopped with friends in Golden and then with Cathy and Paul Moreau in Kelowna. Paul is an orthopedic surgeon and one of the first things he asked me was if I was still taking Percacet. He told me in no uncertain terms to stop immediately, that my arm was healing nicely and I shouldn't need such strong medication any longer. This was the commanding force I seemed to need. I stopped wearing the heavy plaster slab and the tensor bandage and only took an occasional Extra-Strength Tylenol. From that moment on, I started to feel better.
We drove on to Victoria and flew back to Edmonton a couple of days later. My arm was healing nicely but it took more time for the incision on my hip to heal - it drained for a couple of days and the swelling is only now starting to subside. I get out for walks most days and am almost over the tiredness I have been feeling these long five weeks.
This was not the summer that we had planned for ourselves back in Canada. We wanted to visit friends and family, take in the Edmonton Folk Music Festival and cheer on our friend Rocco D'Ilio as he challenged himself in his second Iron Man in Penticton. We intended to spread ourselves around a little but ended up camping out with my brother David and his wife Jeong Ae. Our thanks to them for putting up with us for all these weeks while I have been recuperating! We had record high temperatures for the month of July in Edmonton, and their cool basement rooms were a great place to sleep on the hot summer nights. The weather changed dramatically at the beginning of August and I wouldn't be surprised if this month ends up being cooler than normal. Anil was able to get in plenty of golfing while I happily loafed on the sofa and read lots of books.
Now, enough of all these details, the good news is we are starting to plan for our departure for China in September. It's time to apply for Chinese visas and book our tickets to Shanghai. We will probably head to Vancouver/Victoria just after the Labour Day Holiday Weekend coming up and spend some time with our daughter Adia and son Raj before we set off once again. We will also take some time to celebrate Anil's 60th birthday on Sept 9th. A major milestone amongst our friends and family as he is one of the first to reach this venerable old age.