Friday, November 16, 2007

Adhesions Stink

Its been a while since I last posted. Its much harder to motivate now that I'm going back to work. Usually I just want to lay around after a day at the office.

The knee is still improving. Recently the Torturers decided it was time to get rid of the adhesions preventing me from bending my leg. This involves an extremely painful process that includes screaming and crying from me, and forced bending from the Torturer.

Today was the third time evil boss man has attempted to break the adhesions apart. This time he decided to cheat. Once I reached a point where I was yelling in pain and couldn't handle it any more you would count down from 5. Instead of letting go at 1, as he did last time, he decided it would be amusing to quickly smash my knee into a more bent position before letting it go. After attempting this a couple of times, including the cheating bit, and only getting minor snaps from the adhesions he attempted another torture tactic. He had another Therapist come over push down on my hip so I couldn't lift it. Then he picked up my leg so both the thigh and knee were off the table and then bent and lowered the knee, which he claimed wouldn't hurt (which was total crap). On the second attempt at this lots of snap crackle pops occurred.

While the torture is absolutely horrible, I must admit that is is remarkable how much more flexibility I had after the first adhesion breaking session last Friday. This time its hard to tell since my knee is super swollen now and my thigh is aching, but hopefully the improvement will be even more noticeable.

The evil boss even congratulated me and said that there weren't many people who could have handled that (I didn't even cry this time, just yelled). He was probably saying it to make me feel better, but I'm still going to tell everyone I'm a bad ass.

Here are the updates on the milestones I had left:
  • Sleeping on my side - Achieved!!
  • Sleeping on my stomach - I can also do this, though it feels weird when the fluid pushes into the knee.
  • Moving around with 1 crutch - Done
  • Moving around with no crutches - Done
  • Brace Free Walking - Done
  • Unaided Walking - Done, even though I look like a hunchback still.

The only one I have left from the list is:
  • Sleeping through the night
I think I might give this one up, its mostly unrealistic unless I drug myself with sleep aids.

Now I am working towards my physical therapy goals: increasing my bending flexibility and strengthening the pathetically smaller leg.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Crazy Runners

Ari's sister Pia came to visit this weekend. She works for the Big Apple Circus and was up in the neighborhood so she stayed for dinner. We made homemade Italian bread, tarragon chicken and squash. It was all very yummy. We also found a new knitting store around the corner from me - very convenient and thus dangerous for my bank account.

Today Ari and I went to cheer for my friend who is running the marathon. Last year she ran so damn fast we completely missed her so this year we showed up 30 minutes early to improve our chances of spotting her. Miraculously, we didn't miss her in the enormous crowds of runners and spectators and she nodded our way as she passed while we screamed her name. I am pretty sure we just distracted her, but whatever, she didn't stumble or fall down or anything. I still think people who run marathons are crazy.

After that we cheered a bit, though I must say its pretty boring when you aren't looking for somebody specific. We headed home to an afternoon and evening of watching football after only a few minutes.

Yaaay Bills!

Stupid Patriots. Their coach is a real jerk, and he dresses like a loser too.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Yesterday was my first day I went in to work since surgery. Since my office is in a crowded area I wore the brace and took the gimp sticks in order to beat morons away. I had to get up at the crack of dawn to do my exercises and get ready. I hate the morning. Fortunately, the commute wasn't too bad - it turns out it's really pretty easy to get a Taxi at 7 AM in the morning. The day went by quickly, most likely because it took me 10 minutes to gimp to any given location. Everyone was very helpful and most tried to deny how pathetic I looked.

I decided to go all out and dress up as a gimp for Halloween. As you can imagine it was really easy, gimp sticks and a brace are all you need - maybe I will keep them around for next year.

The torture session today was particularly awful. The evil boss took an interest in me and decided the knee wasn't being bent to its full potential. He proceeded to push it in all different and painful ways until I cried (literally) from pain. I think I might have screamed too because everybody in the place was staring at me. After that I wasn't too interested in attempting the rest of my exercises, I was more interested in the pain medication and Rocky Road ice cream awaiting me at home.

There weren't very many good costumes tonight either. One punk kid came up with monster gloves on, a t-shirt and jeans. He had no response when I asked him what he was supposed to be besides a slacker and so he only got one piece of candy. This other creepy child came dressed up as a bleeding version of the Scream thing. Nasty. Only one kid came in a costume that was homemade - it was a huge paper-maché bird head. Quiet interesting - it got the most candy.

All in all not the best Halloween I've had. I think instead of a gimp I will go as a blood sucking vampire
physical therapist for Halloween next year.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

A Good Start

Today was a good start to my second month. Since my doctor said I could put as much weight on my leg as was comfortable I experimented last night and this morning. I am now able walk around the apartment with no brace and no crutches! My knee is still a bit wobbly and I can't bend it very well (not to mention the morons) so I don't feel comfortable going outside without the brace and crutches yet, soon....

I did exercises for about an hour this morning. We've added a few additional exercises to my daily routine so it takes longer; the new exercises are straight leg lifts with my left leg, exercises for my inner thigh on my right leg, and maybe if I feel like inflicting pain on myself I attempt straight leg lifts with the right leg.

Yesterday I asked the Doctor whether I could take some Advil for pain that doesn't warrant the heavy hitter pills. He said I could, but that Advil could negatively impact the reconstruction. He recommended I take extra strength Tylenol instead which apparently will work nicely and since messing with the reconstruction is absolutely the last thing I feel compelled to do I promptly went and purchased lots of Tylenol.

After my somewhat ambitious outing yesterday my elbows are killing me. Way too much crutching around. I made it only to CVS and the coffee place today, that was enough for me. Fortunately, Lee and her daughter Sophie came over to visit me this afternoon. Sophie is 6 weeks old, cute and makes such funny faces. It was great to see them.

I'm still not sleeping very well. I can't get comfortable and I wake up every few hours. I can, however, lay on my stomach and side if I prop the knee correctly on the perfect pillow. My grandma made me the pillow from quilt pieces my great-grandmother made. I feel as though I shouldn't use it so I can preserve it for as long as possible but it's just so perfect for making my knee comfortable. I have abstained from napping the past 2 days in an effort to increase my sleepiness. Hopefully I will be able to sleep more tonight.

Tomorrow I start working again, I am actually looking forward to it....mostly.....

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

One Month Down...

I went to PT again this morning. The bending torture sucked, but Nicole managed to shove the leg to 85 degrees before I attempted to vault off the table to relieve the pain so I guess thats good. The knee remains very stiff unless I continuously do heel slides. I'm waiting to see the improvement which would allow me to easily bend it to 45 degrees and work up from there, hopefully that comes soon. I also did the neuro-muscular re-education thing (when they stick the stim pads on my leg and I attempt straight leg raises). I was able to do the leg raise every time - most thrilling. Right now the only major discomfort during PT (besides the bending horrors) is a sharp pain at the very top of my knee cap when doing straight leg lifts. I have no idea what this is but the Torturer's boss, who also helps me out, told me to suck it up so I guess that's what I'll do.

I also had a doctor's appointment this afternoon. I was debating gimping home after PT but by the time I got out I would have to have left home 30 minutes after arriving in order to accommodate the pathetic snail pace at which I travel (requiring 30 minutes to gimp back from PT and another 45 minutes to gimp to the doctors from my house). Plus, I didn't feel like doing laundry and needed some underwear. So after procuring this necessity I gimped my way to what turned out to be a very successful doctor's visit.

As it turns out I am not weeks behind in rehabilitation. The doctor explained that bending the knee more than 90 degrees in the first month would compromise the reconstruction, so I was right on target with bending. He also gave me the go-ahead to stop wearing the brace unless I'm going to be in a crowded public place. This is more to draw potential moron's attention to the fact that they shouldn't push me because not only do I have metal sticks to hit them with, I have a gimp leg that is forced straight which I could trip them with. He also told me it was ok to start work again as long as I wasn't in pain.

Beth came to visit me this evening, she is almost 6 months pregnant and brought us milk shakes which were DELICIOUS. I'm surprised I'm not sucking down 3 of those a day now and weighing in at 1000 pounds. Fortunately, I am lazy and don't want to go all the way to the diner.

Beth has had a horrid pregnancy - she was on bed rest in the beginning and has puked nearly every day for 6 months. As it turns out, the days when she didn't vomit all over happen to coincide exactly with days when her husband is away traveling for work. I suggested she make him stay in a hotel or the garage until the baby arrives but she didn't think that would work.

Her husband had been away for 2 days when she came to visit me so she was in a good mood, having not vommed
(she has simply shortened vomit to vomm due to the number of times she's had to do it in 6 months) in a couple days. Turns out her luck didn't last. She got rear-ended on her way home from my house by an idiot who couldn't drive and who was so nervous that instead of putting his car in park he slammed on the gas and rear-ended her again. And to top off what must have been a great 3 hours as soon as she walked into the house and saw her husband she had to beeline to the bathroom as she vommed. Terrible.

Monday, October 22, 2007

I Love It When a Plan Comes Together

I tried avoiding the heavier hitting pain medication last night. That was foolish - I didn't sleep very much and the leg was uncomfortable. As a result the 15 foot hobble from the bedroom to the couch prompted a nap.

The PT torture session this morning was very successful -
I was able to lift my leg off the table ~12 inches! Today was the first day I was able to do a straight leg lift since surgery! Very exciting stuff.

I'm also able to gimp around my apartment using one crutch - sometimes with no crutches, though this is still accomplished with a Hunchback of Notre Dame gimp and numerous ricochets off the walls and furniture.

Of course, since I worked hard enough to lift my pathetically atrophied leg off the table a whole foot, I decided I deserved another nap and slept the afternoon away. And lets face it - what else am I going to do? I can't bend my leg or walk, the 6 block crutch to PT hardly counts as exercise so I can't sit around and eat unless I want to return to work naked since none of my clothes will fit.

While Ari and I were enjoying another episode of the mind numbing cartoon Family Guy tonight we decided to identify who should be the cast for an A-Team movie (the A-Team happened to be part of the stunningly well done cartoon plot). So far we have all the main peeps:
  • Jim Carry might seriously have been born to play Murdock
  • Face would naturally be played by Rob Lowe
  • Michael Clark Duncan (that huge guy 'Bear' from Armageddon) would be BA
  • Hannibal, by far the hardest to cast, would be played by Billy Bob Thornton
  • That dick general that always chases them around was also a hard one, we think Jason Isaacs (the guy who places Lucius Malfoy in Harry Potter) would be good
Also, I'm sure there has to be some way to fit that complete lunatic Gary Busey in as a henchman for one of the bad guys. Naturally he dies.

Why this movie hasn't already been made is beyond me, it would be an instant classic.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Where oh where has my quad muscle gone...

I had gotten used to seeing major improvements at least each week, if not each day. This hasn't been the case this week; the knee has been pretty much the same each day. I am still unable to lift my leg off the ground even a centimeter. My quad muscle still hasn't made an appearance, unless you count the fat on my thigh shaking when I try and do an exercise. The pain isn't increasing in frequency or changing location, it's still in the shin and quad with the occasional sharp pains in the upper left of the knee.

The area I have seen the most improvement is in the amount I am able to bend my knee. I went from being able to bend my knee a pathetic 40 degree to being able to work up to a whopping ~75 degrees without significant, vomit inducing pain. I'm also able to get around slightly easier; I can get around the apartment without the crutches (with the brace on of course) with occasional ricocheting off various walls and bits of furniture.

I went to PT 3 days this week. They have extended the torture to include 30 minutes of quad muscle work with electrical stimulation. They put the stim pad things where my quad muscle should be and turn the timer on, when I feel it start I attempt to clench the muscle (queue the fat jiggle) and when it turns off I relax. I do all the other exercises then Nicole, the Personal Torturer, "massages" the scars I have in an attempt to break up the scar tissue, and then the bending begins. This is the worst part and is therefore saved for last, immediately followed by icing.

I made chocolate no-bake cookies on Tuesday and managed to polish off the entire batch by Thursday.

Beth and Ali both came to visit me this week which was great because I am getting really lonely. Beth was craving milkshakes so we went and grabbed them from the closest diner (yes, this was in addition to the cookies, no I haven't tried any of my clothes on).

Today was my friend's baby shower, it was quite nice. One of the girls had prepared a traditional Navajo ceremony which we all participated in. The ceremony included a naming bit and a candle lighting bit. During the naming we all went around and introduced ourselves and named our mothers, grandmothers, great-grandmothers, etc. After the naming the new mother-to-be lit the candle while we all read a poem. It was all very unique, interesting and sweet.

Monday, October 15, 2007

What PT Really Stands For

I am now convinced that PT stands for perpetual torture, not physical therapy. Not only do they torture you at the facility, they send you home with equally torturous activities you are supposed to inflict upon yourself.

I didn't sleep horribly last night, I only remember waking up 3 times which is quite good, but for some reason woke up extremely tired. I had PT at 10 so I had to motivate to get into the shower (yes, I am showering regularly if you can believe it). I also crutched my way to the PT place, so of course I had to leave ridiculously early. Nicole had me do my regular stretching, then she had me flip over for the knee bending torture. Today seemed to be much much worse than Friday, I had to hold on to the table with my fists and shove my face in the pillow to avoid actually screaming out loud. It was horrid - really painful, but also it felt like whatever was holding my knee together was going to give way at any moment and
burst out the sides. I don't think I've ever come that close to actually screaming out loud because of pain/discomfort.

I am still not able to lift my leg off the table, the torture specialists said the muscle was "firing" (which would explain the shooting pain in my leg during the exercise) but wasn't strong enough to lift my lower leg off the table.

As soon as I got home I took some pain medication and a long nap. My knee was really stiff when I woke up, I headed to the corner store to buy some dinner and that seemed to loosen it up a bit. Alison came over to visit so she kept me well entertained.

After she left it was back to the usual couch slug standard for watching baseball and football.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

I Love Sunday Football

But I hate the stupid Patriots. I have determined that I pretty much despise all the Boston/Mass teams in every sport.

My leg is sore and stiff from the outing yesterday. I'm glad I can lay on the couch with the Game Read machine all day and watch football. Ari is making his chili today - yummmmm.

I reached two of the milestones I am tracking!!
I'm able to get around the apartment with one crutch. I can't do this for too long because the knee and leg get tired quickly, hopefully slowly increasing this activity will increase my leg strength. Also, all the bandages are off my leg (notice I didn't say fall off) and the stitches seem to be absorbed!! The incisions don't look like the scars will be too bad, especially the scope ones. The long scar from the ligament reconstruction is 2 inches long, here is a picture:

No More Bandages

As of today the pain has diminished from my shins. The pain can still be quite intense, but is mostly isolated to the left side of me knee, directly under my patella, and my lower quad. These areas
particularly hurt at night still and also during PT.

Ari's dad came over to visit us today, he brought me a delicious cup cake which I thoroughly enjoyed before and after the chili.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Surgery Recovery - Day 16

It's Saturday and Ari and I are going to visit with our friends Per and Lydia in Connecticut. It's Lydia's birthday so we're all going out to dinner to celebrate. Per had to make reservations for 5 people so my leg could have its own chair since I can't bend it at all.

Riding in the car was really hard - I tried to "sit" up front. I had to adjust the bottom front of the seat as far towards the floor as possible and then prop my leg up on my bags so I was basically lying in the front. It was not comfortable. I could have sat in the back, I just got it in my idiot head that I didn't want to. Curse the stubborn genes.

We met up with them at a bar to watch the end of the Rugby game - England and France. It is by no means easy to crutch around drinking people, but everyone was really helpful. I only nearly bit it once - and it was totally my own fault, I just misplaced the crutch and started tipping. Per tried to grab me but I was just out of his reach. One of the waiter stations happened to be close by so I tipped onto that and it stopped me from completely falling over. For some reason I couldn't seem to be bothered to do much to avoid the fall, I certainly didn't move my arms in an effort to stop myself. I must have looked like some stiff tree going timber in the woods - or like a drunk person, that might be more accurate actually (of course, I was stone sober, which kind of makes it more embarrassing).

We made it in time to see the last 10 minutes or so of the Rugby match. I really don't understand the rules so much, but it looked exceptionally hard and painful. I can't believe they don't wear pads or helmets! Ari played rugby, I am going to start investigating the rules so I don't sound like a loser idiot when we watch matches next time.

Getting out of the house and spending time with Lydia and Per was really great. I just wish the leg was bendable - I was in a lot of pain when I got home. Ari set up the Game Ready so I relaxed and iced it. I'm sure it will be pretty stiff tomorrow when I try and do the PT exercises.

Friday, October 12, 2007

On To Week Three

I can't believe its the start of the third week since the surgery. It feels like it has been much longer since I went in, and also that I am pathetically behind in recovery, probably because I feel like I still can't do that much with the leg.

Today I went to physical therapy again. We went through stretching and some other leg exercises when Nicole decided I was compensating much to much with my hip when we were "bending" my knee. She had me lay on my stomach (which was such a nice change!) and she manually bent my leg. It felt like all kinds of things were being pushed and squeezed out from under my knee cap which is, needless to say, horrid. She got it to 45 degrees though! She repeated that 10 times then after icing I was free to go. I thought I would attempt to crutch it home since I am hoping the additional work will strengthen the leg fast and reduce the chance clothes will explode when I force my ice cream stomach in them. It took me approximately 40 minutes to go 6 blocks (which is at most 400 yards).

My friend Lee hosted game night tonight, it was great to see everyone and finally get out of the apartment and do something. We ordered pizza and played Trivia Pursuit so I could participate from my perch on the floor. Lee and Alex's daughter Sophie also made an appearance, she's getting bigger and is starting to smile now.

In an effort to boost my morale I decided to summarize the issues I have had over the last 2 weeks and what the status for each is now (yes, I realize this is exceptionally nerdy):

SymptomCurrent Status
All over really bad painGone - woohooo!
Pain Getting Up99% Gone!
Stabbing pain, left side of kneeSignificantly decreased, existing pain much less
Deep aching throughout kneeGone!
Significant pain while standing with braceGone!
Wobbly, knee parts floating feelingMostly gone, still wobbly without brace but can put a bit of pressure on it
Stabbing pain from twitchingMostly gone
Stuffed sausage link legGone!
SwellingDown to 15" from 17"
Faux Shin splintsStill around, ~25% reduced
Quad crampsStill around, ~25% reduced
Chalkboard torture95% Gone - only crops up when doing bending exercise

Here are some things I've accomplished already:
  • Standing up and sitting down by myself - DONE
  • Showering with help - DONE
  • Showering without help and no brace - DONE
  • Using leg while crutching (with brace on, but still!) - DONE
Here are some other milestones I've decided to track:
  • No more bandages
  • Sleeping through the night
  • Sleeping on my side
  • Sleeping on my stomach
  • Moving around with 1 crutch
  • Moving around with no crutches
  • Brace Free Walking
  • Unaided Walking

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Surgery Recovery - Day 14

This week it seems like I've gone a bit backwards - the leg and knee continue to hurt the same, if not a bit more, each day and last night was worse than the past couple. The sharp pains in the area of the reconstructed ligament were back though it wasn''t quite as bad as it was in the first week. I'm sure the PT exercises I have to do are causing it. Stupid exercises.

Thankfully the nasty disgusting red spots seem to be going away, although it appears they are turning into bruises. And another bandage "came off", yes I was picking at it a bit, but the corner had definitely started coming off. Only 1 more scope bandage and then 7 bandages on the big scar to go. The stitches are absorb-able so I don't have to go back to the doctors to get them removed. The area around and underneath the incisions is really hard - according to my friend who also had knee surgery the PT person makes that go away. My friend described it as a process that feels nasty and disgusting, the PT person called it a massage.
I've stopped wearing the brace as much as possible - I am only wearing it to crutch around in. Hopefully this will increase my leg strength as well as keep the nasty red spots away.

There is seriously nothing good on TV from 3 - 4. Even the food network has crappy shows on at this time.

Ari is headed out for his friend's birthday followed by a boys night out. I am going to be soooo bored. I think I might have to have a movie marathon, maybe I'll start off with Goonies.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Surgery Recovery - Day 13

I'm still not sleeping well, I just can't get the leg comfortable. Last night was particularly bad so this morning I napped for a few hours.

One of my bandages also came off today - it's one of the scope entry points and it looks like it will heal without a very noticeable scar.

I also made the fantastic discovery of
red bump things, similar to mosquito bites but ranging in size from 1 - 3 centimeters, on the back of my thigh and calf today. Super excited about that disgusting find. They feel like bruises when I press on them. I kept the brace and the ace bandage off for a while and they seemed to diminish, thank god.

Today was the first day I had PT exercises to do, stretching is easy, the quad muscle and bending exercises on the other hand are quite challenging. I still couldn't bend my knee very much, I can tell I'm over-compensating with my hip but am at a loss as to how to stop that. I also couldn't see or feel my quad muscle contracting at all. Its quite frustrating and makes the knee really sore.

I took another nap this afternoon, I've been really tired and feel like I'm constantly on the verge of getting a cold. I suppose that's just because of the pain, although I have been slacking off on taking my vitamins. I'm going to have to make sure I take those, I absolutely don't want to deal with being sick in addition to gimpy.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Surgery Recovery - Day 12

My leg was aching again last night. The same shin and thigh discomfort that keeps me up every night. On the plus side I managed to find a position that didn't hurt my back so much: Setting the pillow up so it's perpendicular to me and putting both legs on it really helped. Unfortunately I still only slept for a few hours because of the pain.

I had my first PT appointment today. Nicole, the PT person, did an evaluation and then messed around a bit with the knee. She bent it as far as it would go (35 degrees) which felt absolutely disgusting, then she stretched both my legs.

Finally she had me stretch my legs out on the bench while I was sitting up and told me to try and lift up my leg. I couldn't pick my leg up off the bench even a centimeter! I wasn't able to make the muscles contract one bit(or there weren't any muscles). Nicole said this was relatively normal and that it will improve as we continue to work on it. She also gave me exercises to do - a number of stretches, heel slides to improve the bending range of my knee and quad presses (basically concentrating on pressing down into the floor with the muscles I don't seem to have or at minimally don't have the ability to contract).

After all the exercises were done she put these electro-pad thingies on my knee for electrical stimulation - it felt like very small little jets of water where the pads of the device went and over this she put an ice pack. The electric stimulation lasted for 10 minutes and then I was done for the day.

My knee is really really sore and swollen from PT. I scheduled two more appointments this week because I was supposed to do three according to my doctor, but that means I'm going two days in a row. I don't know if I can do that. I guess I will wait and see how bad the knee is tomorrow before I cancel Thursday's appointment.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Surgery Recovery - Day 11

I slept poorly again last night - pain in the knee and general leg discomfort again. My back is also starting to hurt more and more each night. I tried a new pillow configuration, one hard one and one softer one on top of each other - it didn't seem to help either the leg or the back.

Not surprisingly once I had completed my morning ritual of brushing my teeth, washing my face, fetching my water and situating myself correctly on the couch I passed out for ~4 hours.

There was a Scooby Doo marathon on today, so that is mainly what I watched for the rest of the day. I did venture out to get some cash, lunch and coffee and managed to return without any significant run-ins or toe-stubbing. Its still really hard to go a block, even now that I can put partial weight on my leg. I clearly should have done more arm exercises before surgery so I could at least crutch around.

When I got back from my "walk" to the bank I decided to try and lift my leg. I am mostly able to straighten it, so I thought this would be a good progression. Well, I can't seem to remember how to do that. I tried to lift the leg even an inch and it doesn't budge. I then tried to just clench my quads - again, nothing. My lower leg seems to be operating normally (calf and foot seem to work), but when I try and clench my upper thigh...nothing. I really hope this is normal. Fortunately I have a PT appointment tomorrow, I'll ask them if that's to be expected, lets hope it is. I don't really want to be a permanent gimp.

Tonight will be more Yankees and the Bills - first Monday night game in over a decade! Pathetic I know, hopefully they won't embarrass themselves.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Surgery Recovery - Day 10

Last night was the same - its really hard to get a good nights sleep, I can't seem to get comfortable. Usually I sleep for 1.5-3 hours at a time, then I wake up to a painful leg. Sitting up and stretching over the leg by holding on to the last strap on the brace seems to make the leg feel better.

I can put slightly more pressure on the leg today - just going to try and increase this until I can get around without the crutches. Unfortunately I've also noticed that I can't really hold my leg up on my own, I think my leg muscles have atrophied quite a bit. Tomorrow I'm going to try and work on picking my leg up - we'll see how that goes.

I watched football most of the day today. Then my friend Josh came over to visit and watch the Yankees game with us which was fun and, since they won, both Ari and Josh were happy.

I'm not really looking forward to yet another week of sitting on my butt. I am going to have to come up with something creative to do with my time that doesn't involve intense focus or long periods of being awake, especially since I still nap so much.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Surgery Recovery - Day 9

I slept better last night. I think the trick is to keep the ice sleeve on in the beginning of the night and when I wake up from the pain, I remove the ice sleeve and and put the brace back on. I don't notice that I'm moving the leg around more with just the ice sleeve on, but I guess I must be, because having the stability of the brace helps decrease the pain. I must say I cannot wait until I can sleep in a position other than on my back.

I was able to shower all by myself today, including washing my legs! I can't really stand for that long because I still can't put any pressure on the knee without the brace on, but it all worked out and now I'm clean! I also realized the knee is exceptionally lopsided - its pretty gross looking when I'm vertical, most of the swelling is on the left side so it looks like a huge off center tumor thing topped off with a 3 inch incision.

Today went by in much the same way as the last few days - TV (this time college football) and knitting. Susan stopped by for a quick visit after she ran her half-marathon (yes she is crazy).

This evening I ventured out of the apartment for the second time since the surgery. Its really hot out so I immediately started sweating, which is annoying because now I am going to have to shower sooner. People's reactions as they passed me on the street were pretty funny. One guy with his son stopped to chat and felt so bad he offered me his can of pepsi. All the little yipper dogs seemed to think my crutches were play things and tried to attack them while their owners squeaked and pulled at their leashes in an effort to avoid a take down. I can't go very far on the crutches though - I made it maybe 50 yards at the most.

Tonight will be more of the same: football, cartoons, food and meds. Ah, the life of a gimp.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Recovery Week 2!

Today marks the second week of my post-surgery recovery. I didn't sleep much last night because my leg was aching again. The shin splint/thigh ache were back in full force last night along with a twitching fit that resulted in more sharp pain near the reconstructed ligament. The leg pain significantly diminishes when I sit up, too bad this isn't very conducive to sleeping. I am almost certain I would fall out of bed within 5 seconds of falling asleep sitting up. I'm also pretty sure adding a broken face to my busted knee and torn armpit muscle would really suck.

To top off the lovely night the damn cat tried to get to the flowers again and, in the process, knocked over a whole bunch of stuff making a huge racket and waking both Ari and I up at 5 in the morning. Thankfully no glass or other items requiring immediate pick-up were involved so Ari just yelled at her (she went and hid in her secret hideout under the glass covered coffee table), did a quick pick-up, and crawled back into bed.

I repeated much of the same cartoon watching and knitting today. I also discovered I can put more weight on my knee now when I am crutching around. There is no pain when I do this and the feeling of extreme instability I experienced 2-3 days ago when I tried it is almost gone. Of course I have my brace on and the steel support beams along the side help. Still, its another improvement that I'm very happy to see.

The pain was pretty minimal until around 6 this evening. I think maybe I overdid the moving around today because my knee started to feel horrid. The best description I can come up with is this: Recall the feeling you get when someone scrapes an object down a chalkboard making that nasty noise? Well, it felt like that feeling only jammed into a single location in my body. Nauseating to say the least.

Fortunately a bunch of my girlfriends were over to distract me. Susan, Alison, Catie, Elizabeth and Lydia all came to keep me entertained and well fed. I really is so nice to have people to chat with, plus they cooked me a yummy dinner which was also great!

I think I might try and venture outside tomorrow. I've only been outside the apartment once since the surgery and that was to go to the doctor. Now that I can put a bit more pressure on my knee I think I might be able to make it farther without too much pain.

Here is a picture of the knee now:

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Surgery Recovery - Day 7

Today is the end of my first week of recovery! Its hard to believe its only been a week, it seems like much more time has passed.

I got a package from my mom yesterday - she sent me 'The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe' series on tape along with a walkman and the best cookies EVER. They are delicious, I ate 5 already.

Today was also my first day all by myself. It turns out Starbucks doesn't deliver. I contemplated going out for coffee but I would have to crutch up the hill - I decided I was feeling too lazy for that. Instead I took a nap, then I took another.

While I was awake (for all of maybe 6 hours) I learned how to use 2 crutches with one hand while the other holds my plate of food - this is most useful, though it's much slower going. I have established that Scooby Doo is on each day from 9 - 1 on cartoon network, nothing good is on from 2 - 4 so that is prime napping time, and at 5 Camp Lazlo is on.

The knee continues to improve, although I feel like the recovery has slowed down. It still feels like a stuffed sausage, but there is less painful discomfort and more pressure discomfort. Unfortunately, the other parts of my leg have started to hurt more - my shin feels like its developed shin splints and my lower thigh continues to feel sore, with occasional throbbing in both places. At times my entire leg feels so swollen anbd heavy that I won't be able to move it - this feeling goes away as soon as I move my foot around, so I've been trying to do this more. Tomorrow I will try the compression and ice routine again, maybe that will also help.

The swelling in my knee has not increased which is a good sign. I can tell that my leg and knee get much weaker at night. It started to hurt when I would lift it to put on the ice sleeve post pee break, which wasn't the case earlier in the day.

Alison came over for dinner tonight, she brought yummy pasta and sauce and fresh mozzarella - delicious.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Surgery Recovery - Day 6

Ali came over to keep me company today which was really great of her, she helped me get to and from the doctors and provided entertainment for me while working and attending conference calls.

The doctor's appointment went well. Traveling there was a bit of a challenge - I had to crutch up the street to grab a cab, crutching up an incline is harder than I thought. Then the first cab that was stopped at the corner had this skank driver who wouldn't take me - fortunately there was a cab right behind it whose driver wasn't a loser skank.

At the doctor's office I was immediately brought into a room. Since they didn't have any useful leg props in the waiting room this was really nice. I wasn't going to attempt to get on the high examining table so I sat down in the visitor chair and propped my leg on the rolly chair. I think the Dr. didn't appreciate this that much, although I did make sure my shoes were off the chair. I could tell by the disappearance of his eyebrows into his forehead that I wasn't supposed to be sitting there.

Once I successfully launched myself onto the inconveniently raised examining table his eyebrows returned to their normal position and we started. He cut the bandages off and explained what each incision on the knee represented. He also showed me the pictures that were taken during the operation - those were very cool. He checked how much I could straighten my leg and how much I could bend it (over the side of the table,
supported by the other leg). He said both ranges of motion were good and that the swelling was likely caused by the fluid injected during the arthroscopic process and nothing to be worried about. I asked about the wobbly, floating feeling and again he said that I shouldn't be worried about the knee cap moving, that this feeling would diminish as the swelling decreased. Unfortunately, the swelling is going to take some time to go away, it will likely be into next week or longer before its gone. I am also going to start physical therapy 3 times a week, beginning next week. I don't have to wear the bandages any more, which results in some very interesting and horrified looks from people who glance at the knee (you can see all the incisions).

The knee seems to be doing well - I can tell that it is improving, slowly. The sharp pains continue to decrease (as long as I don't twitch), the swelling doesn't seem to be increasing and I can get up and down faster. This is particularly helpful because I have to chase the hellion cats away from the flowers. The only new oddness is pain in my lower quad and shin, I think this is probably because the fluid in my knee is being spread to these areas. Still, I'm not complaining, I'm doing much better than I was 4 days ago!

Tomorrow is my first day by myself. Currently I am most concerned with how I am going to get coffee. I wonder if Starbucks delivers....

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Surgery Recovery - Day 5

I tried to start cutting back on the medication a bit yesterday - bad idea it seems. I was doing ok until the usual lengthy pre-bed stand-up which made my knee hurt quite a bit again - general aching with small sharp pains, not as bad as Friday but still crappy. I slapped the Game Ready on (or rather Ari did as I squirmed and complained) and waited for the pain to diminish, eventually it did and I fell asleep.

Unfortunately it was not to be a lovely medicated sleep for long - it seems that the continual medication of the last few days also diminished the amount of twitching I normally do, and cutting back on the meds resulted in the oh so obvious twitching increase. I shortly woke up to searing pain in my knee after what was clearly a huge sleep twitch. This only happened once more during the night, but it was enough to result in more pain this morning than yesterday. Ari, the best boyfriend on earth , stayed home again to help me.

Today was the first day I started to feel really frustrated and irritated that I was still pathetically crippled. I had clearly deluded myself into thinking the recovery would be fast - hadn't my uncle been up and around in a week after arthroscopic? How much worse could open be? Well, I'm either a pathetic wimp or its a lot worse - I go to the doctor tomorrow for my post-op so I will find out which it is then.

In preparation for my post-op appointment I am going to attempt another shower, there is no way I'm shaving my legs, but I suppose I can try and minimize the smell. I took off the bandages when Ari was at the gym and confirmed that the knee is ENORMOUS (I think its about 14 - 16 inches around, couldn't quite get the measuring tape under it). The stitches haven't broken open or anything, but its not pretty. I read on some random post that this woman had to have her knee drained - I have no idea how much that hurts, but I can't imagine it being pleasant. Hopefully it doesn't come to that.

I also somehow managed to do something most unfortunate to the muscle under my right arm, turning just so will result in torn muscle worthy pain that definitely takes my mind off the knee for a few seconds. Not exactly the distraction I was looking for but at least I didn't break my arm....

Lee, Sophie and Elizabeth came to visit me today. I wasn't sure if I would be up for visitors given my earlier poop mood, but it was great to see them and also a fantastic distraction. Sophie turned 4 weeks old on Sunday - she has great googly eyes and makes hilarious noises. Having them here also meant Ari was also able to go to the gym without worrying I would clutz my way back into the hospital which was hopefully a good break for him. He came back and made me mac and cheese. Its yummy. I realize I probably shouldn't be eating crap since the only exercise I am doing is breathing, but comfort food is all that sounds good. Maybe I will have salad tomorrow....

Monday, October 1, 2007

Surgery Recovery - Day 4

My friends and family have been amazing through this experience - my email, text messages and voicemail are full of well wishes, my apartment is full of flowers, I have a ton of really yummy 70's candy (Ari really likes the Pop Rocks, though he wouldn't drink Coke with them), my brother somehow procured 3 of the best Nintendo games ever and a game player that will play them to keep me entertained, plus my sister found a copy of a classic Babes in Toyland movie I haven't seen since I was a kid! I already tested out the Nintendo, pathetically I get so into it that small jerks and twitches are a regular occurrence - I will need to wait until my knee isn't so susceptible to these, uh, minor movements for a real Mario Brothers marathon. Babes in Toyland here I come.

One of the super fun things that started last night was that in addition to the stabbing pains (somewhat diminished, but there none the less) and the general aching the stupid friggin thing started itching. Of course, you absolutely can't itch it, which makes it even more annoying. I suppose I should be pleased by this, it does indicate that my twitching spaz moves haven't significantly impacted the healing process - which is indeed a good thing.

When I woke up today the stabbing pain seemed to have diminished even more, now my leg just looks and feels like a stuffed sausage. I'm a bit worried about the swelling so instead of leaving the Game Ready brace off when its not running I am leaving it on all day and using both the ice and the compression.

I also realized I haven't once tried to do the one exercise my doctor asked me to do. Whoopsy. I will start doing that today if I can - basically all I need to do is attempt to straighten the sausage, er, leg. He seemed to think that would be enough to be starting with. I was highly skeptical at the time - thinking that he was underestimating my recovery prowess, alas......does it count as straight if I can't see the space when I lean back and look at the ceiling?

Ari worked from home again today so he could help me - poor guy, fortunately I don't think I'll start to smell again until tomorrow. He is helping me practice getting up and sitting down using various random props other than his shoulder so I can get to the bathroom when he goes in to work.

The other problem I've been encountering is the weight of the brace on the top of my knee. It drops onto the bandages when I stand up resulting in at least half the pain that makes me want to learn how to use a bed ban. Since the last thing I want to do is klutz my way back into the emergency room I am following my doctor's instructions and keeping the brace on whenever I move around. Unfortunately, the pain resulting from this (its not a stabbing pain in a particular area, but it certainly is not dull and seems to permeate through my entire knee by the time I get back to the couch) turns me into a moaning vegetable on ice for at least 15 minutes. I am going to start experimenting with the tightness of the brace - maybe I can cinch the thing into my thigh tight enough so it doesn't slide down. I've also been considering hacking together some sort of suspender system that would attach to the straps on the brace. I'm pretty sure the doctor wouldn't appreciate this modification though, so hopefully the cinching approach will work.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Surgery Recovery - Day 3

Christ - is it really only the third day?


Sunday...well I woke up feeling the knee was slightly less painful than Saturday - progress! Plus, the Bills play the Jets today and we'll get the game on TV so I can watch it! I can't wait for stupid Direct TV to lose the deal on the NFL package so cable can get it too.

I was actually able to crutch into the shower today. Ari wrapped the bandages well in saran wrap and I was able to wash my hair and body (mostly, its hard to bend over - I definitely recommend having someone help you with this part, falling in the shower would SUUUUCK). After rinsing away the hospital and/or sty stench I moved to the couch and proceeded with usual Game Ready/pee routine. The knee was definitely more sore after the shower, however it also seemed to react a little quicker to the ice from the Game Ready.

Late in the day I decided to try getting up and sitting down by myself - after all it was Sunday, Ari couldn't stick around forever helping me stand up and sit down. I was able to maneuver around a bit by using my good leg, holding the band on the knee brace and moving the leg that way also helped a lot. I'm still not stable enough (the knee cap feels like its swimming around waiting for its chance to escape if I move too much) but Monday I am going to try moving around some more.

I also started really working on the projects I had lined up for my stint on the couch. I am knitting a sweater now, I finished a scarf earlier and am looking around for good hat & baby mitten patterns to get rid of some left over yarn. I highly recommend finding some projects before you head into surgery. I also have some books set aside, but let me tell you - its really hard to concentrate on reading when your leg is throbbing and you are kind of drooling...

I spoke to my doctor today as well, I sent him an email on Friday night because they had indicated I should contact him if there was pain that the medication was not addressing. I described the pain to him and he assured me that the pain level I was experiencing was expected given the level of reconstruction I underwent. I guess that makes me feel better....

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Surgery Recovery - Day 2

Its Saturday, here are some things I learned from Friday:

  • My boyfriend is the best. Not only did he wait at the hospital all day Thursday, take me home and wait on me, he has continued to do so since then. He's been outside maybe 5 times with the exciting goal of grabbing ice, diet ginger ale, and various other items I might want at some point. He wakes up in the middle of the night to give me medicine and refresh my ice, encourages me when I'm being pissy and depressed, insists I don't smell (I'm certain he is lying, but don't want to dwell on whether I smell more like a sty or a hospital) and has been really supportive and generally amazing.
  • If you have Game Ready and a brace, when they send you home you will have both on at the same time. This turned out to be way too much for me. The pressure and weight made any attempts at bathroom breaks excruciating. Instead, Saturday I kept the game ready on all day unless I had to pee break. For pee breaks I remove the game ready and put the stabilizer brace back on. Switch em back when you are finished.
  • Supporting your busted leg with your good leg helps a lot when you are trying to move and no one is there to help or when you are switching braces and just need to lift it a couple inches. For me, supporting my right leg by sticking my left foot under it and lifting when switching braces helped a lot.
  • I am using the term pee break for a reason. Check your medication, peeing is all you may be able to do. As I'm sure you can imagine, this becomes most uncomfortable. Stock up on stool softeners (sorry, it's gross, I know).
  • Your back is going to hurt. This particularly sucks when you wake up in the middle of the night with knee and back pain. Why the hell can't it only be the knee? To remedy this I sit on the couch during the day - its firmer and the pillows support my back well. At night I made sure I was using a really low pillow just under my head and that my hips were in the same position, even though my right leg was up on a pillow. Yes its awkward.
Saturday was much of the same - the pain had reduced by a little so I was happy - or at least not as cranky and miserable as Friday. I was still unable to move around - couldn't get out of bed or off the couch, definitely couldn't stand on the crutches for more than a couple minutes. We sat around watching college football while I ate meds and used Game Ready (I love that thing). We also realized the resident who prescribed the pain meds for me hadn't prescribed enough to take me through the weekend. Awesome. Since the hospital was closed and the on call person told us the Dr. was not to be bothered for prescriptions I had to cut back on pain meds, which totally sucks. I highly recommend you have whoever is taking you home check your prescription before you get discharged and make them give you more if you don't have enough to make it through to your post-op appointment.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Surgery Recovery - Day 1


As the Anesthesiologist explained, the goal was to manage the pain - the meds wouldn't take care of it completely. Translation: I still felt pain and it totally sucks. I was up much of the night Thursday trying to get a little comfortable and also because I had to take the meds every 4 hours. Thank god my boyfriend Ari was able to help me so much. Otherwise I would be a pile of knee braces, clothing and pee laying on the floor somewhere in my apartment.

Going to the bathroom: it is completely impossible for me to get my leg out of the bed (or off of the couch) and onto the floor without significant amounts of pain (actually, my knee cap feels like its going to pop out the side of my leg) . Ari helps me by holding my leg straight out, off the bed or couch, until I have the crutches then slowly lowering it. Sitting down to pee is also nearly impossible - I would imagine boys have it way easier. Fortunately my bathroom is embarrassingly small; I can reach the wall, the door, the towel rack and the sink all without moving. I use one or many of those items to lower myself into "position". This still sucks on the knee - but if you keep your crutches close, you can prop the busted leg up on one while you do your thing and the support actually feels better than just leaving it on the floor.

Friday was the hardest day so far - the blocker had worn off and the pain medication, while helping, didn't completely alleviate the pain which unfortunately still felt like someone was stabbing the upper left corner of my knee, made worse by a general deep aching all through my knee. The pain subsided during the day, although it became particularly bad if I had to move to do something (like go to the bathroom, which is literally all I would force myself up to do). Friday night was by far the worst. I was in extreme pain, the pain meds didn't seem to be working, and of course the doctor was not available and the hospital was closed. I kept the Game Ready and pain medicine routine up all night, taking deep breaths sometimes helped take the focus off of the pain, but don't expect much.