I was really apprehensive before my two month check up after my arthroscopy surgery on both of my hips. I am going to tell everyone something I have not admitted to myself. I hated the therapy in Cali. It seemed too easy to me. I felt very upset to be stuck in Cali away from my Villa and my pets. I would get up and go as instructed, but I hated that I was staying in Cali, while I could be in Paradise in my own home! I had a lesson in humility yesterday by my famous surgeon Doctor Bernardo Aguilera of Cali, Colombia. He said patients like me make him afraid. He said to me “Michele, you are in amazing shape, but you have to listen to me. I need you to take it easy and do what is instructed by therapy. You cannot do any hiking for at least another month, you need to start a new therapy in Aquaclara near you! I will send the therapy to them as instructed and you can memorize it. I understand you are an athlete, an inspiration to others, but you can ruin what I did after 4 hours of surgery.” I was not happy because I feel great, I have no pain. I wanted to hear my acclaimed surgeon tell me I am a miracle (which he did say..sort of) but he shut me down! He said “You need to just stop this, I have patients once in a while like you. You scare me.”He put me in my place rapidly. I was like look at me, and he was like NO you are doing things way to soon. Dios Mio! So I was totally shut down.
I will start a new therapy next week. I am being humble. I have so many who follow me and think Michele is amazing and strong. I am, and I am also obstenate, stubborn and think that I know what is right. Hah, I have met my match. This doctor is very good at what he does. In fact, he told me during my first visit. He gave me his percentage of success for results. I believe it is 96% success for surgery, but I am the person that gives this wonderful doctor the 4% of bad results. I think I know better. I do not. He was brought into my consultation yesterday because his young doctors learning from him are following me closely. I am NOT young, I am very athletic, and I am stubborn and I hate that someone tells me to do therapy that is too easy. I even asked my surgeon “how are the others at this two month mark?”He said not like you at all. AHHAH I felt vindicated, but alas, I was again put in my place. I am doing much better, but again in his words Ï am scared by patients like you”
So yesterday was a lesson in humility. He made the intern doctors do an exam of moving my legs and I was great, but he made them stop. He said “No more”and talked to me again. He speaks English, like I speak Spanish. We communicate fine. He was very explicit in his instructions of my next month before I see him again. I will do what he says, and I will be very careful. So that is where I am. I am starting a new physical therapy and I will do exactly as instructed. I know I am not the normal patient now, which I knew before. However, I think my world renowned surgeon prefers the people who listen and do exactly as he says. Stay tuned for a follow-up. I am admitting I was wrong, and perhaps I am overreaching. Michele
I’m 15 days post hip surgery and 3 days into my physical therapy. The cover photo is after my third therapy and as you can see I can stand and also walk without crutches but only for short periods of time. I’m so impressed with my care and the organization at the center for physical therapy at Imbanaco Medical Center in Cali, Colombia. I had my first check up Tuesday by one of the interns who works with my surgeon. He was very pleased with my progress, took out my stitches, and said I could stop taking my medication except Tylenol. He even did a Yoga pose and told me that I would be back to it soon. He made me laugh with his antics. He wrote out my order for physical therapy and said they would send them through email every month, and that I would be able to go back to my Villa soon.
Jazmin and I went over to the physical therapy office to make an appointment. In Colombia all medical centers have every need right in the same area. It is the same in Palmira the main city closest to Villa Migelita Ecolodge. We just had to walk a 1/2 block. We entered and I was registered and scheduled for an appointment that same afternoon. My doctors know I’m renting in Cali and want to get back to my animals and home. To say they are accommodating is an understatement!
When I arrived that afternoon I had been told by my doctor the first week would be very gentle therapy. I was asked questions about my pain level, they used a ruler type device to measure my range of motion in different positions and had me on ice and then heat. Then I did a few similar exercises to what I had been doing during my rest period after my surgery. I had an appointment Wednesday morning at 9:30 am and everything changed. This was funny to me because there was nothing about my second therapy that was easy. I had balls to hold between my legs while lifting one at a time for many repetitions, they even had me sit with 5 lb weights on my ankles and straighten my leg out and down , then the other leg! Believe it or not I had no pain!
Today was my third therapy and it was different again. I used the ball between my knees while I lifted my hips up and straightened my leg out and held for 10 seconds. I also had a band that I had to use while on my stomach and lift up one leg at a time for a series of repetitions, then sitting doing the same thing. My final exercise was balancing on a tube which was very hard for me because of my vertigo but I did it!
After my therapy Jazmin and I make fun plans as I am in much better spirits now that I am out and about. Cali is like New York City and we are discovering new things every single day. Today we took a ride on a cable car to a barrio where the citizens of Barrio Seloe used to have to walk up stairs to incredible heights to reach their homes! It was fun and we were so entertained! Perfect for me because I could sit and enjoy the views after doing my physical therapy.
I’m also impressed with how kind every person I encounter are to me. Opening doors , making sure I have a seat, telling me where elevators are, such care from complete strangers. Then there is Jazmin, my person. We are having fun while she takes such great care of me. I don’t know how I could have done this without her. I feel I might be leaving earlier than 30 days because my physical therapist told me today I was doing so great. I have to laugh because this week is supposed to be my easy week. What comes next week, weight lifting with squats? Don’t worry my blogs will keep everyone updated. Stay tuned, and remember no matter the challenge we all have it within ourselves to overcome any obstacle!
There is something resilient about me, and it is a quality that I like about myself. When I decide I’m going to do accomplish something, I do it. Sometimes it might take me awhile but I do what I say I’m going to do. I also don’t dwell on negativity, bad energy, or the mistakes I’ve made in my past. I just get on with my life. We should always put ourselves first before anyone, so that we can enjoy healthy relationships with others. To love oneself, to respect oneself, and to achieve respect from others are great gifts in life. I have suffered, but through my suffering I have become very wise.
I have realized since I started writing my book that I cared too much about what others thought, and not enough about what I need. Now, when I encounter situations that are unexpected, I figure out ways to fix the problem if there is one, or to embrace good news wholeheartedly with joy in my heart. I also have found what real friendship is since moving to Colombia. My friends in my tiny little pueblo have been contacting me every single day to see how I am. Some of the people who have contacted me I didn’t even know they knew I was having surgery. I love this quote “when someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time” Maya Angelou. I believe that I have people who truly care for me here in Colombia and I also believe I’ve earned the respect of many with what I have accomplished and continue to accomplish.
I don’t necessarily believe that the goal in life is to have unconditional happiness. I believe that life is about learning and growing. I don’t seek out anyone with persistence, in fact I like being alone with my contemplations. I allow myself to have space and time when I’ve made mistakes to ponder what I can do differently the next time. Oftentimes, it is listening to yourself and not letting others influence you in decisions that should be yours alone.
I wrote about being afraid before my hip surgery in my last blog. There is one thing I’ve counted on all of my life and that is exercise. I envisioned not being able to hike nor do Yoga because of the rare hip condition I developed. Exercise is sanity to me. It is healing to me. Exercise is a habit I can’t imagine being without. As I write my book, l realize it is integral to everything that is part of my history, both good and bad. So I had a basis for my fear. Once again, I needlessly worried and my results have been spectacular. I have steadfastly done what the doctors have asked, including taking a lot of medication that makes me sleepy, and exercises that physical therapists showed me while I was in the hospital. I’m free of the pain in my hips and I have not even started my 20 days of special therapy ordered by my surgeon.
Yesterday l walked two blocks down the road to the hairdresser with my crutches, and of course Jazmine was with me. I was slow, it was a bit nerve wracking because I thought maybe I’m doing too much, then I walked back up the hilly road. Today, I could walk without crutches if I wanted to, but I’m not going to. I’m following instructions. I’m certainly surprised by my progress. I am hoping that perhaps I won’t have to stay as long in Cali, Colombia when my surgeon sees me next week. That perhaps he will release me after a short time of therapy here to finish physical therapy in Palmira and I can be back to my Paradise and my animals. If he won’t I am ok with that too. Oh, and this morning a hummingbird came to the feeder I put outside on the patio. If that isn’t a good sign I don’t know what is.
The cover photo is me 3 days post surgery at my place of residence in Cali where I will be staying until I’m released to go home to my Villa.
I really do not have much to compare my hospital stay with because I’ve never been in the hospital for anything that wasn’t childbirth or outpatient surgery. I’m sure most people have trepidation before major surgery and I am no different. My new life in Colombia revolves around adventure, hiking, nature, tourist activities and ecotourism. When I was given my diagnosis for the mysterious hip pain that showed up and continued to get worse I became worried. I then find out not many doctors perform this surgery in the world. It is a very technical procedure and some people are not candidates for the procedure needed because they will go on to need hip replacement later. Fortunately for me, I was a perfect candidate because my condition is called CAM and the only way to correct it is through arthroscopy. Fortunately for me there is a renowned doctor in Cali, Colombia who performs this technique.
Fatalism is a part of my personality. I’m certain when I was younger and raising my family I didn’t think much about what is destined to be. All of us become caught up in our lives and we never think of having bad things happen. We always think that dreadful stuff can only happen to someone else. After my daughter was murdered I accepted a different reality. As I write my book chapters alongside this blog, I’ve come to realize my life has always been characterized by my strength. I seem to be given many challenges and somehow I get through them. This diagnosis was just my latest contretemps.
The day of my surgery I had to pack for 30 days away from all that brings me peace in my life. My Villa, my animals, the climate, nature, my normal routine and prepare not just for surgery but for recovery in a strange home in the city of Cali, Colombia. My stress level was high. My good friend drove Jazmine and I to the hospital. He is bilingual thank goodness because I was so unnerved I lost my Spanish. Of course I can always communicate with Jazmine, but when they called me back for preparation I was panicked. Jazmine was allowed to stay with me until I was wheeled away in the hospital bed, tears were flowing down my face as she hugged me and I kept looking back at her until she was out of sight. I know this seems melodramatic, but it was scary for me because I couldn’t communicate like usual. When we entered the OR there was the wonderful doctor for my anesthesia whom I conversed with in Spanish quite well during an appointment. He spoke with me and all I heard was a foreign language being spoken by everyone, as well as huge computer screens, a lot of nurses and doctors asking me questions about my pain level, let’s just say I blanked out. Then my surgeon entered the room and came over to me and took my hand, and said ‘tranquila’ and I replied ‘el ejercicio es mi vida’. I don’t remember anything else.
I awoke with my teeth chattering. I’m serious, I was frightened I would break my teeth. I was covered immediately with so many hot blankets, and saw my Jazmine looking down on me smiling and holding my hand. I immediately felt like my brain had been reset. Isabel the wonderful nurse in the picture above gave me pain medication in my IV and I started speaking Spanish again. She stayed with us until we were brought up to my lovely room and introduced me to the night nurses who would be caring for me. Not even 6 hours later the two interns who study with my surgeon were in the room and had me on my feet using my crutches! They had me out of the bed and sitting in the chair and doing my exercises after I walked around the room. I had those medical pressure socks on and a machine massaging my legs until they knew I could walk and perform the simple exercises prescribed until I start my real therapy in about 10 days. I also have medicine that I’m continuing after the hospital to inject in my stomach for blood clots and the drug Celebrex and a few more prescription drugs all covered up to a certain amount which is then reimbursed to me with receipts given to Coomeva Insurance.
That first day in the hospital was a revolution of different people visiting me, including physical therapists, doctors, interns on rounds, the nurses with my medicine and I was even given a hot shower by the nurse who changed my bandages later to small simple coverings. I had three meals a day plus two snacks and when I needed more water and pressed the button on the call phone they would come immediately. The representative from my insurance even came in to ask if I needed anything! I am still so impressed by the wonderful care I was given. My second night I was exhausted because I did what I was told and it was not easy.
I awoke on the second day by the morning nurse and I had dislodged my IV line in my sleep and that was replaced. When the interns came in next for my assessment I was covered in blood from my hand and the dislodged IV line. That was attractive! The interns didn’t care and they went through my exercises again and said you can leave, you are a great patient. My pain level had decreased dramatically. One of the interns adjusted my crutches and that helped so much for my back, which was bothering me. I went by myself with Jazmine’s help to shower. When the nurse came in to bathe me she wasn’t happy about my bath without her, but I sat in a chair and it was safe. I then waited to be released because I knew I would be fine. Again, it was all so organized and without any wait. Jazmine did everything and I was wheeled downstairs and outside to an awaiting taxi. My friend met us at the house with my large suitcase and took Jazmine to get groceries. We have settled in quite well and I am 4 days post surgery and doing very well.
So now I’m recouperating in a lovely house in a really nice area near the hospital where I will have my therapy. I’m almost without any pain already in my hips. Truly, modern medicine is miraculous! I am very uncomfortable at night because I have a special pillow for my legs and have to sleep on my back without moving. I wake up feeling sore from my sleep position but not my surgery. I’m writing, reading and laughing a lot with Jazmine. It is hard to change routine, but I’ve accepted my fate for the next 30 days and hopefully when I am less tired from the surgery I can go out for an hour or so to have my nails done, sit at the famous Chipichape mall or even sit in a park to photograph nature and birds. I brought a hummingbird feeder and today we are going to hang it outside the window where I’m staying and I can attract some of my favorite little jewels to watch here in Cali, Colombia.
Next blog will be soon about my therapy and continuing recovery. I’m going to try and enjoy Cali, Colombia as I will be here awhile. Maybe I will get photos of different species of birds because the climate is very hot and tropical here. Look for more musings soon.
The cover picture is a photo of a room at the Imbanaco Medical hospital in Cali, Colombia where I will be having my hip surgery on August 22. My housekeeper will be staying with me and it is included in my health insurance. The couch you see is a pull out bed where Jazmine will sleep. We did everything together alone on Thursday. I drove to Palmira we took a bus to the Cali terminal and then a taxi to the hospital. I do not drive in Cali, it is hectic and very hard to even use a GPS in this city. Jazmine only speaks Spanish, but she can interpret for me when I do not understand something because we have our own special language of my Spanish and her Spanish that somehow works out well for us both. My appointments had been changed from Friday to Thursday and my friend who was supposed to drive and help interpret could not make it on Thursday. I have become quite adept at sudden changes because Jazmine and I work well as a team. I understand Spanish pretty well now, but medical or complex issues are definitely a challenge for me.
I had a wonderful meeting with the anesthesiologist. He only spoke Spanish but we talked well and he understood my Spanish. I actually didn’t need her for much. I was worried about this meeting because it was for my general health, looking at my blood work and explaining the procedure of the surgery. I found out that they schedule the surgery for about 5 hours and that I will be asleep even though it is arthroscopy. They do not rush, and I am having both of my hips done. We then went down to see my surgeon and he was not available Thursday so I saw the doctor who is his assistant for an explanation of the aftercare part of my recovery. I could not understand a word he said. He had a strange way of talking, slow but his words kind of dropped off. Jazmine helped a lot in this meeting and I left with the knowledge that I will have small spots on both of my hips that will be cleaned with alcohol only, no need for antibiotics and probably medicine for pain. They do not use strong medicine in Colombia. So hopefully my pain will decrease dramatically after the surgery. I will be in the hospital for two or three days. I will rest for ten days doing exercises in my bed twice a day, and will be up on crutches immediately. The bad news was that I could not return to my Villa for the 10 days of rest because the distance is too far and the bumps in the road could damage my hips. I also found out I had to have 20 consecutive days of therapy that is specialized by my surgeon at the Imbanaco Medical Center. This therapy is vital to a great outcome and complete healing. In Colombia they do not have recovery centers and I had to find my own place to stay for one month in Cali. I am upset by this because my Villa is so beautiful and I had thought maybe someone could come to my house for therapy.
The next part of the day was the hospital registration. We went to that area of the medical center and the first person I saw was a nurse who went over what I should do at home the night before and the day of the surgery. My surgery is late in the day so I am allowed a small breakfast of only certain foods and I can drink water until 11 am. Then nothing after that. I have to wash with a special soap the night before and the day of surgery. I understood her perfectly and again Jazmine did not have to help much, then the final part of the day was the actual registration of my surgery date. That part was simple and everything took 4 hours. We left and grabbed a quick-lunch and then a taxi and I was back in Palmira by 4 pm. A long day but very productive.
Yesterday, I worked all day looking on the computer trying to find a place to stay for one month. It is not easy as I cannot have stairs, I didn’t want a room in an apartment with no scenery to look at, and I wanted something in a residential area where I could see birds and nature. I found a wonderful place, and Jazmine will stay with me there too. I will need help with everything from cooking, washing my clothes and bathing at first. I might find out that I am quite capable and can stay alone after the first week.
It is going to be an adventure. An adventure I still am not happy about, but I thank God I have such wonderful insurance and the only costs I have had so far have been two small co-pays and I had to buy two special pillows, one is used in surgery and the other is for my legs after the surgery. I am going today to get my crutches, and the cost of my room in the beautiful home I will staying in is quite reasonable.
I will miss my animals, my hummingbirds, my fresh air and lovely home. I will not like the heat in Cali and most places in Colombia do not have air conditioning. The nights are always cool, but I will need a fan during the day. The water is also not heated in most places, and so I will be having cold showers. I won’t like that, but if it is hot it might not be so bad. The beautiful Air BnB home I am staying in is exquisitely decorated and has a small garden patio where I can sit outside. I will be writing my book, and I will journal for all of you about my experience in the hospital, and then going to my rental place.
I continue to become more and more independent and I hope by writing it down I can show others you can achieve anything you want with determination. I also will show how excellent the healthcare is that I receive in Colombia. My hospital stay, doctors and all the therapy is covered 100%. As are the medications that I need from the surgery. After I am able to return to my Villa I will continue therapy in Palmira. I should be allowed to drive. I will do everything exactly as instructed and hopefully will be back to my hiking and Yoga in 3 months. Wish me luck, because I won’t lie and say that I don’t feel anxiety because I do. Exercise is everything to me, I want to have a completely successful outcome. Look for a new blog after my surgery. I am sure it will be interesting and very positive because I have had nothing but professional and very modern care so far. The surgeon is only one of three doctors who perform this surgery in Colombia. I know it is an inconvenience for me to stay for 30 days in Cali, but I sure wouldn’t want to stay in Bogotá for 30 days where the other doctors are located.
So now I am going to get my personal affairs in as much order as I can, I have wonderful friends who are going to help me with many things while I am staying in Cali. I am so blessed to have these people in my life. I have learned that it is not always about the amount of friends we have, but the quality of the friendships. Stay tuned for my next blog, my surgery is on Wednesday. I should be writing about it on Thursday of next week.
Habits of a lifetime are part of our make up as a person. As my surgery is getting closer I find myself worrying about the outcome. I can’t imagine not being able to hike anymore, or ride my bike, do Yoga and exercise like I have all of my adult life. So I have been reading a lot about the procedure and it seems that I should feel a reduction in pain immediately after my surgery. Reading this group study has helped but I am still very worried about everything, including that I will be the same as I always was before when the surgery and rehabilitation are completed. I am writing questions down as I think of them for my meeting with the surgeon this week. This blog is part serious and part funny. One of my questions is can I bring cute pajamas to wear and not those horrible hospital robes where the naked butt shows?After reading the above article I am not certain if I will be put to sleep or just have my hips numbed. I will ask this of the doctors because I also will see an anesthesiologist who will evaluate my health. I am not sure why I have to stay in the hospital three days, because it would probably be outpatient in the USA. However, when I asked at my first meeting with my surgeon he did say I am having both hips done, and they remove a bony obstruction on both sides. He is very famous for this procedure and when I visit his office I see many people with crutches. They all look healthy and happy so I am just trying to accept my situation. Hopefully, when I am the person in the waiting room, I will look happy too.
Part of this situation is that there is not one pill that relieves the pain I feel. Nothing works. I am just living in pain. I have found one solution for the night. I have said many times that cannabis is legal here in the home. I can even grow up to 20 plants if wanted to. I don’t want to. Cannabis is so inexpensive and I have found that all pharmaceuticals I have taken for my various back and neck problems from being a flight attendant are no longer needed. I started using cannabis oil under my tongue a few days ago. It is strong, and it works for the night pain. However, I would not consider it for daytime, except when I am on bed rest for ten days. Then maybe I will use it. I do smoke a little weed at around 6 pm in a pipe. I have done this for a little while for pain also, but not much and only if I am not going anywhere.
Now on to the funniest part of this admission about the use of weed for pain management. Yesterday I bought the weed oil for the outside of the body to rub on my hips from the natural medicine store. It smells like Vicks Vaporub ointment. I have used it three times today and I have noticed my pain is better. The smell to me is awful. My mother used Vicks when she was old for everything! I don’t like the smell, and it reminds me of nursing homes.
So I am not going to get any mosquito bites before my surgery, I am going to be able to breathe very well at night because you know that Vicks is great for respiration, and hopefully I will get a bit more relief from the pain.
I have a severe hip problem that just showed up about 8 months ago, and now I am having surgery on both of my hips. Surgery meant for someone 14 years old. Yes you are reading that right, I have a condition found mostly in young adult women. This is an article on my condition, which can be translated to English. I am going to keep everyone updated throughout the time leading up to the surgery and after the surgery with journal blogs. As everyone knows I moved to Colombia because of the health insurance they offer here, I have two types of insurance. One is Prepagada or prepaid and the other is called EPS and this is what most Colombians have. By having both I am covered for just about anything, including having my housekeeper stay with me in the hospital. I am covered for an ambulance to pick me up and bring me home from the hospital also. Health insurance is affordable here and high quality. I am staying at this hospital complex in Cali, Colombia called Imbanaco. The best hospital in Cali, Colombia and I have been told the rooms are really nice like suites in hotels.
Exercise saved me when my daughter was murdered, exercise is something I plan my day around. Especially Yoga, I love Yoga. Exercise has been a habit that has been part of my life since I was a young woman. I even taught exercise class throughout my pregnancy with Misha my deceased daughter.
I took to Yoga after a customer at Villa Migelita Ecolodge showed me how wonderful it is for the body and mind. I also like walking through the mountains around my Villa taking nature photography. I actually thought I had injured my hips through Yoga because the pain started in one hip and then it went to both hips. I have been assured by my doctors Yoga had nothing to do with this condition CAM and I just developed it and it can just come on like it did.
So far it has been an easy process of getting the tests needed and making the appointments before the surgery that I need. Just like in the United States I will be seeing my surgeon and the anesthesiologist next week. I already had my blood work done, and I was told to write down any questions for my time with the surgeon before the actual surgery date of August 22. My surgeon is one of three doctors who perform this surgery here in Colombia. I am lucky he is in Cali, because the other two doctors are in Bogotá. I have been told by all doctors my surgery is a rare type of CAM and that not many doctors do this surgery in all the world. My surgeon has a 96% percent success rate. I am sure that I will be fine, but I worry about after the surgery because he wants me to do therapy in Cali and it is an 1 1/2 hours from my Villa. His secretary told me he has special therapy and needs it to be done in the hospital I have the surgery at. So I will be figuring that out. I am a bit worried about how I will get to and from Cali, and am hoping I can get an ambulance to take me to this therapy also. I do know I will be on complete bed rest for around 10 days before I begin my therapy.
I have already had a call checking on me to make sure I was getting my blood exams, and making sure I am doing well. I have noticed that my hip pain has progressed and I am happy to be having the surgery soon. I am doing my Yoga as much as possible until the actual date because I will miss it when I am healing. That will be one of my questions: “Will I still be able to do Yoga after my healing process and therapy is over?” Right now I have to limit certain positions because they cause me pain, but I am able to adapt. However, walking is not easy for me and leaves me with radiating pain. So I have been only doing walking to short distances.
The waterfall cover photo is one of my favorite adventure travel options offered here at Villa Migelita Ecolodge and I will keep looking at a photo I have on the wall of my Villa of this beautiful place as inspiration while I get better. I love taking my tourists on this experience, and thank goodness I have people who work with me so I can still run my hotel as usual. I just won’t be able to participate for a bit. As for now, I am trying to organize everything perfectly because I don’t think I will be able to drive for a few weeks.
I will write more after I visit my surgeon next week. One thing I am doing is eating a lot. I am trying to put on a bit of weight because I know myself and I will lose weight after the surgery if I am in pain and not sleeping well. I am eating very healthy and Jazmine made me rice pudding last night from real cows milk. Oh so delicious! There is nothing like the milk from a cow, we do boil it for pasteurization, but the creamy deliciousness of arroz con leche is wonderful. It reminded me of my mother because that was her favorite dessert.
I want everyone to see the how wonderful the healthcare is here in Colombia, and to follow my journey. The United States could offer options like I have here in Colombia. Perhaps, reading my journey will be enlightening to many who do not have the option of a job that supplies health insurance, or the money to afford the best in the United States.