Monday, October 20, 2008

Like a Duck

Sir Michael Caine once quipped that we humans should be more like ducks, "calm on the surface, but paddling like the dickens underneath." Well, for the next 6 weeks, I'll be very duck-like.

Today was my first day back at work, and boy did it feel nice to see the students and impart mathematical knowledge to them. Only a day and a half out of the hospital, some might argue that I returned to work too soon, my insurance company argues that for sure (more on that later.) I argue that going back today was great medicine. With the help from our wonderful school nurse, who not only checked on me throughout the day, but who also has graciously agreed to disconnect me from my morning infusions, to the benevolent assistance of friends and colleagues, I managed to get through the day with minimal effort and ambulation.

With my leg up all day long, except that one time, I sat from my mathematical command center and pontificated the principal postulates of precalculus with the vim, vigor, and vitality of a vehement virtuoso who is NOT on Vanco. As I taught, I was essentially releasing all the pent-up teaching energy I had been curbing while in the hospital. From the front of the room, partially hidden behind the projection equipment, I did my best to personally reach and interact with each and every student, including the one in the back corner partially hidden by the large Stephen King novel she was reading. The math was flying, the funny was flying, my classes were absorbed in my waxing frenetic energy. Many students inquired about the medications I was taking, but I assured them that my enthusiasm and alacrity were simply a result of missing THEM and had nothing to do with any chemical alteration of my physiology.

With my cane by my side, many students said I looked like "Dr. House" from the Fox Network series. I assured them that they had me confused with another pill-popping, tall limping guy with a cane who extolls torture on his subjects and who solves problems in creative, eccentric, non-linear fashion. But even if that DOES sound like a commensurate description, I reminded everyone that the cane and the medications for ME were only temporary, while for House, I believe they are not. The other stuff will be there when I'm better, so nobody should get any ideas about homework going away or even getting shorter.

Everyone was happy that I was back today, well everyone except my home health care provider (HHC.) Upon leaving the hospital on Saturday afternoon, I was prescribed (that means I did not ask for, nor have a say in receiving) home-health care. This meant a nurse was to come to my home, educate me on the process of taking my infusions, change dressings on my PICC line periodically, and draw blood for my required labwork. Great! How convenient! The nurse that came out on Saturday was very, very kind. In fact, I had remembered her from my similar experience 4 years ago. She was scheduled to come back tomorrow (Tuesday.) Well, today I get a call AT WORK from the HHC office. I thought nothing of it, but apparently, my insurance company deems that I am not "homebound" if I am "not at home," but rather "back at work." This means they will not pay for the extravegant luxury of HHC. Dang it! I never thought of that! I felt horrible for the especially nice and considerate lady on the phone, another person who vividly remembered me from 4 years ago. My only concern was "get back to work, get back to work, . . . . ."

Now I am required to get myself to the hospital to have my blood drawn, likely "peak and trough" which means before and after I dose that day (3.5 hours later.) I'll also have to change my own dressings, which won't be a problem since my wife is an RN. I'm also going to have to get up and get things myself, like the remote control, my bottle of Coca-Cola, etc. Man, I was just getting that HHC nurse trained, too.

The most difficult part of this entire recovery is now something I'm shockingly remembering. It's not the pain. It's not the horrifically uncomfortable hospital stays. It's scheduling everything from follow-up visits with at least two doctors, scheduling routing "peak and trough" lab draws every 5 days, and working in physical therapy at least twice a week. And I thought my schedule was busy enough before all this just trying to get my two kids to all their activities after school. Now trying to juggle this schedule in between my 6 hours of daily infusions, not to mention . . . . uhhhhh . . . . my profession of teaching, is seemingly impossible and stressful. The next 6 weeks are going to be tough. Webbed hands and feet would be nice right about now, even if they did make it more difficult to blog.


Anonymous said...

You are sounding like your old self again. I know everyone is glad to have you back at school - especially your students. LC

Anonymous said...

Well, it's great to have you back, Korpi! And while I'm still not totally sure if your eccentricity today was a side-effect of the direct vena cava super-turbo antibiotics or merely you missing us, it's still good to have a good class to end the day (and a bit of math to dwell on, too). Get well soon!

elaine said...

Hi Korpi! I found this from your website, which I hadn't been on in a loooong time. I am sorry to hear about another surgery! I remember the first and second ones, especially that picc thing. Get well soon!

-your former calculus student Elaine

Anonymous said...

Glad you are back at school. Hopefully you are now on the road to a full recovery.