Tag Archives: surgery

10,000+ Steps Today, but 2 Steps Back: the Knee Saga, part 50

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About 7:15 p.m. C.S.T., while on a rather plodding one mile walk during my youngest’s evening fencing class, my Fitbit buzzed on my wrist, confirming I had reached my daily goal of ten-thousand steps. It was a glorious feeling! I haven’t felt the buzz of my chameleon-like friend in nearly four months, and I have missed it so. The question from here, however, is how many more ten-thousand step days can I rack upfitbit-colors in the remaining days of summer?

Sigh. I suppose I shall find out soon enough. You see, I had my twelve-week post surgery follow-up today, and while things are better than they were on 9 a.m. on March 18th, April 18th, May 18th, and even June 18th, they are still not back to where they were on March 17, when the “only” orthopedic problem I had was a two cm “high-grade” tear of the proximal hamstring tendon (under my butt cheek) in my left leg (at this point, dear reader, I will refer you back to my post of May 18, “A Day in the Life of My Knee,” for the full-story about my surgery). Due to continued pain at the medial joint line and my inability to walk a mile, let me amend that, “stroll” a mile, without pain three months after surgery, my surgeon has ordered a new MRI on my bum wheel.

Once the results come in, he and I will discuss “the future.” What, oh, what will it be? If a “frank” tear, a screaming, blatant, obvious tear is evident in my meniscus, then we will be looking at another surgery, perhaps in the fall. Dear Surgeon, thinking aloud during our tête à tête today, commented that the question would then be whether to attempt another repair or to debride the tissue, leaving me sans a medial meniscus in my right knee. I quickly assured him I was leaning towards removal. I am so sick of being sidelined, that between waiting an additional quarter plus for the outcome of a second procedure that only has 60/40 odds of healing properly and would require another $#@%^!!!! six weeks on crutches or a removal that would have me walking again within days, my answer is, “Get rid of it.”  I know that undergoing a complete menisectomy is starting the clock on a total knee replacement, but that may be ten years dfrustrated-kit-247x300own the line, not my fourth surgery in two years in three to six months if the repair fails again.

Of course, the idea of waiting until the fall if surgery is indicated, gives me time to get stronger, for my very angry hip muscles to relax, for my gait to improve, for the feeling to come back into my knee (nerve damage sucks!), and for me to be in a better frame of mind. All of those things will make recovering much easier on me (and my family), and I could use a little “easier” right now; I could also use a lot of exercise “release.” When you are someone who needs exercise, who craves the outdoors, but you have to put all of those desires upon the shelf for a season, well, I think I finally know what a castrated tom cat feels like now.

Still, through it all, I have tried to maintain a good perspective, even if I have had pockets of sadness and thrown a few pity parties here and there. A dear friend of mine suffers with MS. Her physical decline started in her early 20s, when her children were very small. She is now in her 70s and has been wheel chair bound for the last decade. Before that she progressed from requiring a cane to a needing a walker. I am blessed.

Earlier this year, combat veteran Noah Galloway was on Dancing with the Stars, a show I never watch. Fortunately though, I caught the video of Noah on Facebook several months back. And I was in tears. I feel like such a complete wuss, whining about a little nerve damage and a torn meniscus. This amazing man is nothing short of a walking miracle, and my pain, or my frustration is nothing.

Indeed, compared to many millions, I am blessed beyond measure. Like us all, I have to remember that I am an eternal soul stuck in a fragile, imperfect, mortal body. I shall run, no, SPRINT, in the eternities, even if on this Earth I have to be content to racewalk. Or even sit on the bench for a while. Since I’m not quite ready to take that final step-off into perfection, I guess I shall await the outcome of my upcoming MRI and continue to bide my time in this telestial sphere. Maybe, just maybe, I can finally get some help for that torn hamstring, too.

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A Day in the Life of my Knee

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Today I met with my knee surgeon: my six weeks post-op appointment. Two months ago today, I was minding my own business, eyes closed, letting my fifteen year old drive us to the local junior college where she takes a few classes, when…BOOM! CRUNCH! BAM! Breathlessness and pain rocked my world, as did the acrid odor of angry engine and airbag propellant. Dear daughter was not fit to operate heavy machinery; she was drowsy, but failed to tell me, even after I asked her directly at one point, “Are you okay to drive?!”

Yeah, about five minutes after that question left my lips, she crossed over the center line on a local two lane road, colliding with another car. Gratefully, the other driver was fine, considering a Buick LeSabre had just invaded her space, pushing her car’s tail into a ditch and requiring the driver’s door to be cut from its moorings in order to extricate her from the black Honda Accord. My daughter was largely uninjured, too. Nothing that wouldn’t heal quickly, anyway. I, unfortunately, had my knees bent, feet on the dash when our airbags deployed. I took a direct airbag blow to both knees, though the right one got the hardest impact, and my left made a beeline for my sternum. Two weeks later I was having surgery on the same meniscus I’d just had trimmed seven months before. Happy day.

I haven’t walked on two feet since the surgery, so I was incredibly anxious to talk my surgeon, to see if it was “time.” But as the minutes ebbed on in the the grocery store freezer case my surgeon’s group calls their waiting room, I got bit paranoid. I’d waited four plus weeks for this appointment and felt like this was going to turn into one of those days where the staff would keep all of his patients waiting two hours before finally fessing up the the fact that Dr. J was never coming in! It was bad enough that I hadn’t eaten anything but a Power Crunch protein bar at 6 a.m. and I had a free Egg McMuffin coupon burning a hole in my car door, a hole almost as big as the one being gnawed in my stomach by Hunger!

Thankfully, I did get a reprieve, though well after McDonald’s stopped serving breakfast! It was only fifty minutes after signing in that I heard my name called, then another twenty before his bald pate entered my room.

Our little chit-chat went well. I told him I had little faith that the repair he’d done to the medial meniscus in my right knee was healing properly. I described the “burning, tearing, searing” sensations I’d felt after the first day of physical therapy, and to a much lesser degree at points thereafter. He shrugged and casually told me, “Scar tissue.” (WHAT??)

However, Dr. J did alert me to a few things I didn’t know before today, which I greatly appreciated: 1) the tear I sustained was right at the outer margin, which is a very, very good thing. Outer margin = blood flow = oxygen = better shot at healing; and 2) he never would have attempted the repair if he didn’t feel I was a good candidate/ the tear was in just right place for a repair to work. There is a pretty good risk that I’ll be under the knife again in 5-6 months if the thing doesn’t heal; the odds are only 60/40 that it will, even in youngsters). Okay, well, I do feel a bit better now.

The last thing he said, waving his right hand towards my crutches, those accursed things that have made ambulation possible, but wreaked havoc on my ability to juggle for the last six weeks, was, “Get rid of those. You’re done with them. You can start walking again as of today.”

Gee, doc, I didn’t realize you were quite as good as Jesus Christ. As much as I was hoping to hear words similar to those today, I expected they might be tempered just a bit more! Seriously, If you don;t mind, think I’ll continue to go to physical therapy for the next four to six weeks and learn how to do that whole ‘walk’ thing again. But thanks for the vote of confidence!

So, what I have I done since returning home? Messed around with that walking thing, of course. Grasping on to furniture, counter tops, walls and door frames, I actually managed to vacuum my living room and kitchen for the first time in two months! You have no idea how good that felt! And the knee did okay, too!

Maybe in a few more weeks I won’t look more like a new born colt than I do a grown woman who had just completed a half marathon just weeks before an airbag took my breath away!