Drew has had his new fixator now for one week today and I have to say again that this experience has been much smoother than last. Drew is still in pain and taking regular pain medication, but in general this isn’t as hard as I feared it would be. Drew’s leg is a lot better condition than his right was immediately after surgery. His right leg looked to have been taken through a grinder with all of its scabs and sores. But, his left is relatively pristine. Drew enjoys going on walks outside which is an improvement from the agoraphobia he seemed to suffer for the first week or two post right-leg surgery. And, though his sleep isn’t at good as it was the five nights prior to left-leg surgery, it is a vast improvement from the time period getting used to the brace when he was up and moaning eight to ten times a night.
Late last night, however, we encountered our first slight issue. One of his pin sites, the one at the top of his femur near his hip, began to bleed quite heavily. It had soaked the gauze wrap and stained the blanket underneath. We cleaned him up and wrapped the pin tight so as to apply pressure to it during the night in hopes to stop the bleeding. This morning, we woke up to what looked like a crime scene. The thick wad of gauze had become soaked through and through with blood. The sheets underneath were soaked with blood and even stained the mattress cover underneath. It was a bloody mess. Seeing this much blood was quite a shock a week after surgery. It hasn’t bled like this until now so not quite sure why. Sure, we gave him a sponge bath last night which required us to clean his individual pin sites, but we certainly didn’t scrub that hard. But, I guess we must have loosened the site enough to cause the bleeding. For now, we are just changing the gauze frequently. We pointed it out to his therapist this morning and he didn’t seem to be too concerned with it.
Speaking of therapy, Drew has visited physical therapy twice now. He is now under five days of therapy a week. He did better today than he did yesterday, but it’s still quite uncomfortable for him. For once, he doesn’t complain about pain in his right leg and happily does exercises to strengthen his muscles there. Don, his therapist, said his leg is very weak. They are working on his ability to bend and straighten his leg. Yesterday, they got it to bend to a 75 degree angle (or, I assume it was 75 degrees…they said, “It’s 75” so I guess that’s what it means. He can bend it about as far as you may bend your leg as you are walking.)
They’ll continue to work with it to improve its bending capabilities. Right now, Drew doesn’t have the quad strength to bear weight on the leg because he’s unable to lift his leg below the knee by himself. So, they’ll build that muscle up and then we’ll get to bear weight on it for the first time. And, since he now has a left leg that has a fixator on it in which we can add an extended foot plate to match the length of his straight right leg, he’ll actually be bearing weight on his fixator leg as well. But, for now, it’s just building muscle.
They gave us a muscle stimulation device this morning to use at home to strengthen his muscles. It applies small electrical charges to the muscles to contract them in coordination with stretches to enhance the exercise. We’ll learn more about that tomorrow.
We are currently working with insurance to extend physical therapy benefits since we’ve exceeded our alloted amount. Though we have really good insurance, apparently it’s not quite up to par with the physical therapy element of the surgeries. We have thirty days of covered physical therapy which we used up even before we were done with physical therapy on his right leg. So, any physical therapy from now on is out-of-pocket for us. We submitted a grievance to extend our coverage, but it was denied. So, we’ve escalated to the 2nd level and will be participating in a conference call to discuss further. But, until then, we must pay out-of-pocket. Sessions are $225.50. For one hour. Thankfully, we were very successful with our Drew Walking Tall fundraising to cover these types of costs, but we don’t have enough left to cover what we expect to be seven months of therapy. I had to pay for our first week today and for only four days, it was $902.00!!! So, even after our physical therapy benefits will restart for thirty more days next year, after that we’ll be looking at therapy costs of around $35,000! All of that for 140 hours of therapy. I’m in the wrong business! This is more than my yearly salary in just a little over three weeks!
Speaking of medical costs, we got a peek at an insurance from from Dr. Paley’s office in which had outlined the costs of the right leg fixator removal. The surgery itself took maybe an hour and we were discharged before dark same day and the cost of this procedure was around $25,000. Luckily, we’ve exceeded our out-of-pocket expenses for medical so these surgeries and such are 100% covered by insurance. Until January 2013 that is.
We got Drew’s fixator adjustment schedule today and we’ve started making adjustments to begin the process of straightening and de-rotating. So, just like last time, I will be documenting Drew’s leg process week after week. So, here is Drew’s leg before any adjustments made: