Sleepless nights and music

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How is it that we can function on so little sleep?

I know we all have different reasons for not sleeping. When my daughter calls and details her sleepless night because my granddaughter, Olivia, was up every hour on the hour, my mind drifts back to those days. It’s exhausting being a parent, especially when your children aren’t sleeping. My daughter has a pretty big full-time job, a part-time makeup gig, and runs Olivia to dance, gymnastics and swim class three days a week. She is the most amazing person I know! Ah-mazing! I just don’t know how she does it all on very little sleep some days.

When I was working, I sometimes had sleepless nights because my mind wouldn’t shut off thinking about the event I was planning, the new broker I was on boarding, and so on. The alarm clock would wake me shortly after I was finally able to drift off to sleep and I would bounce out of bed, ready to tackle the new day. I LOVED my job and going to work was exciting! Managing on a little sleep didn’t bother me all that much!

Now, I can’t sleep because I have a fractured hip, no hip-joint, and a collapsed femur. When I go to bed, if I can’t get my hip and leg “aligned” – forget it! I am in for a night of very little sleep, and that feeling of trepidation quickly settles in. Lately I have been experiencing a lot of sleepless nights.

You see, I live in a constant state of discomfort. The throb in my leg is always there, but I try not to focus on it as it has become my new “normal.” But at night when I can’t sleep, it seems as though I always feel the constant throb… and it is annoying!

When this first became a pattern, I thought that I would simply stay up late at night. It sounds logical, doesn’t it? I am exhausted! I’ll stay up late and by the time my head hits the pillow, I will be out like a light. Oh, to be so lucky!

I don’t like taking pain medication because I worry that I will become dependent on them, and that scares me. I like to fancy myself as having a high tolerance to pain. After all, I was the gal who broke her leg on a Saturday, didn’t have surgery until Wednesday, and had no pain meds until after surgery (with the exception of when they did the biopsy)!

So what do you do when you can’t sleep? I have tried reading, meditating, writing in a journal, and various other things like visualizing my goals, etc., etc.  Guess what? Those things did nothing to get me to fall asleep. The only thing that seems to work (after a while) is putting on my boogie shoes (not literally, but you know what I mean), and playing that funky music!

Music has a way of making my soul happy! I have over 1300 songs on my playlist, so there are plenty of options for me!

A few times when I was in the hospital, my plastic surgeon would stop in to check on me at varying times. I never had my TV on. He would ask the obvious questions, such as: How was I feeling? What did I eat that day? He would also always comment that my TV was never on.

Of course, there are always exceptions! On one occasion, when I was an add-on for surgery, we had no idea as to what time I would actually get into the OR. My plastic surgeon and the three dream team residents came into my room at 9:45 PM to wheel me to the OR. (Yes, that’s the kind of surgeon he is; when transport is busy, he comes to get you to the OR!) I was watching the season finale of The Bachelorette. I asked them if they wanted to wait until it was over so I could see who was chosen…sadly, they did not. Apparently, my surgery was more important to them then who Kaitlyn would give her final rose to. Go figure! (Thankfully, she chose Shawn, who had my vote!)

I always listened to music in the hospital. One reason is that it is so noisy (the beeping of machines and call bells). The nurses actually get “alarm fatigue,” which I completely understand. To this day, I promise you I still hear the beep-beep-beeping sounds!

If I was fortunate enough to have a private room, my door was always closed to act as a sound barrier. Once, I was home and I awoke in the morning to beeping noises. I leaped up, thinking my wound vac was alarming (which happened several times: when there was a leak, or blood was filling the canister), only to discover it was a truck backing up outside. And as a side note, at that point, I no longer even had my wound vac. It was taken off a few months prior! See what I mean about alarm fatigue?! Those noises haunt you for a very long time.

I would get lost in my music when I was in the hospital by myself. I could forget about the discomfort for a little bit, which I appreciated tremendously. Lyrics resonate with me for different reasons and brings me back to different times and places in life.

My music genre list is extensive. Stevie Nicks; Van Morrison; Nickleback; Justin Timberlake; Jennifer Nettles; Keith Urban; Jackson Browne; Shinedown; Faith Hill; Tim McGraw; REO Speedwagon; ELO; Lady Antebellum, and Lady Gaga have all kept me company and transported me to different places. If only Lady Gaga could see the dance moves my daughter and granddaughter have for “Poker Face” – priceless!

Sometimes, just a few lyrics could lift my spirit. Blake Shelton’s song, “God Gave Me You” reminds me of my daughter, who is my world, so just hearing the verse of “God gave me you for the ups and downs, God gave me you for the days of doubt,” would remind me that all would be OK.

If you know me at all, you know that Bon Jovi has always been in my life. I saw them five times one year – so you know I am a serious fan! For some reason when I had the playlist on shuffle, their song “Seat Next To You” always seemed to be one of the first songs to play. The first few verses always brought a smile to my face:

“Long slow drive down an old dirt road, you’ve got your hand out the window, listening to the radio, that’s where I wanna be…  On an old park bench in the middle of December, cold hard rain fallin; can’t find no cover, that would be alright with me… Hard days, good times, blue skies, dark nights…”

For the ‘woe-is-me’ moments, Gavin DeGraw’s “Where You Are” would remind me to stop the pity party: “Well everybody hurts, that’s where we’re all the same… We drive on through the worst, and we push on through the pain…”

So my friends, on these sleepless nights, I put on my music and try to focus on that instead of the discomfort. And each night I start with Adele’s “Make You Feel My Love,” simply because my sweet granddaughter, Livy Goose, loves this song and it soothes her. It reminds me of her, which in turn, soothes me.

It will be a beautiful thing when I have my hip/joint replacement and mega prosthesis surgery, and I can sleep again, pain-free. But in the meantime, I thank these talented and gifted songwriters and musicians for helping me along each night. As Bob Marley once said, “One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.”

What do you do when you can’t sleep? (Besides count sheep!)

Until next time, be well and go out and do a random act of kindness.

Good night. Sweet dreams!

Jewels

 

 

 

 

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Insurance, prescriptions & more…

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Greetings!

Recently, a friend ended up in the ED (Emergency Department formerly known as the ER or Emergency Room) and was shocked by how many bills were arriving in the mail. She asked me how I am able to keep my sanity with all of my ED visits, hospital stays, and office visits. The bills must be overwhelming, she said. Indeed, they can be but let me share some helpful tips.

Whenever you are dealing with an injury or accident and you find yourself in the hospital, the aftermath can be overwhelming. You know you have insurance, but are you familiar with your coverage? It is essential that you know what your health insurance covers and what you will be responsible for. And I highly recommend knowing that now. Don’t wait for that moment when you are injured or sick and need to know the answers.

Here are some important questions that will benefit you greatly if you know the answers to the following:

  • What are your deductibles?

This is the amount you are responsible to pay before your plan starts paying.

  • Do you have an “in network” and “out of network” deductible?

Generally, the in network deductible is a lower amount as you are utilizing a provider or facility who is contracted with your health care provider. The out of network deductible is generally a higher amount as an out of network provider is not contracted with your plan.

  • Does your plan allow for visiting nurse care and if so, how many visits per year are allowed?

If you have an injury or surgery that requires in home care followed by a nurse, your plan may have a cap on how many visits per year are covered.

  • Durable equipment – is it covered and at what percent?

For instance, if you need something such as a wound vac, it may only be covered at 80% and you are responsible for the remaining 20%. Wound vacs can be expensive! My wound vac rental was $199.00 PER DAY and I was responsible for 20% of the cost. That doesn’t cover the supplies either which can be an additional cost.

  • Does your insurance cover items such as bandages?

Believe it or not, bandages can be expensive. For the first year I was spending close to $200 a month on bandages and prescriptions.

  • Short term disability – does your plan offer this? Is there a waiting period before it begins? Once it begins, what percentage of your pay will you receive?

If your company does offer STD, there may be a waiting period of several days since your last working day before coverage actually begins. Once it begins, you may only receive a portion of your pay, such as 50%, 65%, etc., and it is imperative that you know this. You don’t want to look at your bank account and discover your pay is completely different than you expected.

  • Long term disability – is this something your company offers and do you need to enroll in it?

Thankfully this was an option my company offered that I elected every year. For a nominal amount, I always thought it was worth it to have peace of mind knowing that if I ever needed it, I would have it. And here I find myself needing it and extremely grateful to have it.

Now let’s talk about prescription coverage. Usually you call in your prescription, pick it up at the pharmacy and you are on your way. I learned a valuable lesson when I first started on blood thinners. While I was in the hospital, it got to a point where it was impossible to draw blood. My veins were shot. My surgeon started me on a well-known blood thinner, however, having the issue of not being able to draw blood, I was switched to another brand which wouldn’t require weekly labs. When I was released from the hospital, my daughter filled my first prescription and called me from the pharmacy to say the cost was $375.00!!  WHAT? That seemed outrageous!

My insurance was refusing to pay for it initially as there were other brands available. After many calls to my insurance company where I explained the reason why I couldn’t stay on the other brand as they would not be able to draw weekly labs, they finally agreed to cover it. I thought, great! Well, not so great because the second time I filled the prescription, it was $75.00.

Now, understand, when you have been in the hospital, had surgery, feel awful, and come home and have to deal with paying an outrageous amount for a prescription you will need every month, it can be a bit much. You know you have deductibles to pay, out of pocket expenses, and you just want to scream dealing with high prescription costs.

As I sat on my couch with my leg elevated, head spinning, thinking about all of these things, I started researching the pharmaceutical company who makes the blood thinner I needed to take. Well folks, smart idea because the pharmaceutical company offers a “savings card” that you sign up for and when you present it to your pharmacy, the cost for my particular blood thinner went from $75.00 a month down to $10.00 a month!

Do a little research and hopefully you can save some money. What do you have to lose? Trust me, I have learned a great deal since my medical journey began and if I can share that with you, to help, I am happy to do so.

The other important lesson I learned is that sometimes we all need help. I have always been the type of person who does everything on my own. I never asked for help, I was usually the one offering the assistance. It is a very humbling experience to realize that you can no longer do many of the things you once did and have these kind, generous people in your life who jump in to help when you need it the most.

Don’t be afraid or ashamed to realize that at some point, you need someone to say, let me do this for you. As I have mentioned, I am blessed with the people I have in my life. Truly blessed. I don’t know what I would have done over these last two years without the love and support from so many kind folks. And you know what I discovered? People like helping you in times of need. It makes them feel good. Sometimes people don’t know what to say when times are difficult. It doesn’t mean they don’t care about you; it just means people are human. When they can drive you to a doctor’s appointment or run an errand for you because you can’t drive, it makes them feel involved and useful. Welcome their kindness and be grateful, I certainly am.

Tell me, do you have any tips on medical “stuff” you can share? You may be able to help someone with your knowledge. 

Until next time, be well and go out and do a random act of kindness.

Jewels

 

Photo – my own.

 

 

 

 

Nurses, thank you!

Greetings!

Trip #20 to the OR was successful. My amazing vascular surgeon is pleased with the two stents and minimal ballooning was needed. We will continue to monitor the blood flow and plastics will monitor the healing of the foot. More progress reports to follow.

For this post I want to discuss the nurses at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and just how kind, compassionate, and hardworking they are. Nurses are truly the backbone of the hospital. It amazes me how much their job entails and how much they give of themselves. Disclaimer – this is from my point of view as a patient. I do not know what the job requirements or job descriptions are for these nurses. My wish is that hospital administrators and surgeons recognize the dedication these nurses demonstrate. Happy National Nurses Week!

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If you are lucky enough to be healthy and not spend time in the hospital, count your blessings. As a patient who has seen the inside of an OR twenty times in the last two years, I am very familiar with the process. Nurses are the folks who take care of you. Pre-op; PACU; floor; and nurse practitioners. These are the people you spend the majority of your time with in the hospital. Think about it, you see your surgeon for the surgical consent before your surgery but you are sleeping throughout the procedure.

I remember my first surgery when I broke my leg. It was unsettling not knowing what to expect and seemed overwhelming. Now, it isn’t as overwhelming and a big reason for that is that I see the same nurses (or most of the same nurses) each time. There is a sense of peace and comfort when you are cared for by a nurse who knows your story or recognizes you. And I know that may sound odd but when you have surgeries at the same hospital for an extended period of time, you build a rapport with these wonderful nurses if you are lucky.

Before you go into the OR, you are cared for by pre-op nurses. There is a lot to accomplish before you are cleared for surgery. These nurses prep you for surgery. They take your vital signs; put in your IV (I always feel terrible as I am a hard stick and it generally takes three sticks before the IV is a success because my veins are shot); put in your Foley catheter; review your history; medications; emergency contacts; health proxy; confirm your procedure; bag and store your belongings; and so much more. Nurses advise the surgeon and anesthesiologist that you are prepped and ready to go. This is all done roughly in an hour. They also tend to family members or friends of the patient who are often times in tears because their loved one is about to have surgery.

When I arrived for this last procedure, I was extremely relieved to see this amazing nurse LeeAnn in pre-op. I instantly felt a sense of relief as I have been lucky enough to have been cared for by LeeAnn in the past. She was with me when I needed twelve blood transfusions and emergency surgery after an initial surgery last June. LeeAnn is sweet, kind, funny, and warm. She is obviously intelligent, efficient, and you can tell she knows her job and does it well. LeeAnn should be recognized for her outstanding contributions and patient care. Thank you for all you have done for me!

After surgery, you are cared for by PACU (post anesthesia care unit) nurses. They ensure you wake up from anesthesia; monitor your vital signs; check your surgery site; notify your family members or friends; provide ice chips; heated blankets; food when you are able to eat; and much more. LeeAnn has also been my PACU nurse in the past.

This time I was cared for by a nurse named Erin who was just lovely. My puncture site was bleeding and she made sure to notify my surgeon and was eventually able to get the bleeding to stop by continuously applying pressure. Erin gave me ice chips (your mouth gets so dry during surgery) and ordered food for me when I was able to eat. That may not sound fascinating but when you can’t eat after midnight prior to your surgery and it gets to be 6:30 PM the following day, I was starving! The cut off time to order food is 7:00 PM so you hope your nurse will pay attention to these things! Erin was kind enough to help get me to my room and talk to the floor nurse about my condition and follow up. Thank you for your kindness Erin!

Floor nurses are generally with you for 8-12 hours per shift. They review the instructions from your surgeon; monitor your surgery site; deliver your medications; give shots; make sure you are as comfortable as you can be; help you to the bathroom; and do everything and anything in between. They have several patients to care for at a time and they are busy. I honestly don’t know how they do what they do and often wonder when they have time to eat or simply rest for a minute. My stays have consisted of the orthopedic, vascular, and trauma floors. These nurses ROCK!

This stay I was on the vascular floor and had two great nurses in Liz and Hannah. This was my first time meeting them and both were professional, kind, and caring. I remember one particular stay on the trauma floor where I had foot surgery and was on bed rest. It was maybe day five or six and I really just needed my hair washed. These two kind nurses, Dawn and Kerry, propped my head up at the end of the bed, put buckets on the floor and washed my hair. I literally cried. It made me feel human again to have clean hair. They acted as if it was no big deal, but to me, it meant everything. Another stay I had been in the hospital for over a week and hadn’t seen the outside and was having a tough day. This kind nurse, Tracy, helped me get dressed in my own clothes and wheeled me outside so I could have sun on my face and get fresh air. That was all I needed to turn my day around. I have such deep appreciation for these nurses and their dedication to their patients. THANK YOU!

Nurse practitioners are these wonderful nurses with an advanced education who work closely with your surgeon and provide care for you throughout your stay. They provide education; focus on your wellness; prescribe medication; and handle your discharge. They often round with the residents and check on your progress. The list goes on! My vascular surgeon has a wonderful nurse practitioner, Lori, and my plastic surgeon has a phenomenal inpatient nurse practitioner, Serena. Just this week, Serena was recognized in the Boston Globe…please read on! Congratulations Serena!

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These talented group of nurses embody what my blog is about – inspiration, hope, and kindness. I thank each one for their part in my journey. These nurses may not remember me (they see an incredible number of patients!), but I will never forget them.

Tell me, have you encountered an outstanding nurse? Please share!

Until next time, be well and go out and do a random act of kindness.

Jewels