Sunday, May 22, 2005

We Were on a Break

Rogue and I? Well, let's just say we were on a break. But we're back together now, and our relationship is going quite well. I've reached the point where the side cables end and you switch to flat knitting.

Too bad I haven't been knitting for a few days, thanks to this:

Oops, there I go again, over-shrinking my photos...

Knee surgery ain't for wimps, yo.

That is me on my first day home, leg elevated, electric powered cooler for water-flow ice pack thingy attached to my knee, pain pump in place (delivering regular doses of something like novacaine), and not very happy.

And here's a shot of my view:

*Warning: lengthy post-operative tale devolving into occasional ranting follows. Feel free to just scan ahead and look at the pictures if you're not up for that sort of thing*

I've got a full-leg brace, locked into the straight position, which I wear at all times except when I'm doing my battery of exercises. Stitches, bandages, crutches -- check. Percoset, an elaborate series of pillows and blankets for propping, and even a anti-embolism circulation stocking for my good leg - check.

Surgery was on Thursday the 19th, and it's been non-stop fun since then, as you can imagine. I seriously had no idea that this was going to be so painful and challenging. I hadn't even realized that I'd be on crutches after the surgery. But I'm hanging in there, and my condition has improved steadily.

Thanks to several snafus and side-effects, the day of surgery and the following day turned into a bit of a comedy of errors, through which I soldiered in a haze of pain. I'm pretty sure I was not very pleasant to be around, and so for that, I thank those that were around me anyway.

Both of my hands are bruised, because after I told the nurse I had a history of difficulty in receiving an IV, she proceeded to try twice before getting a second nurse who was better at it. The surgery itself went well, as far as I know, though I vaguely remember someone telling me that it took longer than usual because they had to share equipment with a second operating room, or something bizarre like that. ACL and miniscus repair, and luckily not the more serious LCL repair that I'd feared the doctor might decide to do.

I had a much more difficult time coming out of the anasthesia than I have had in the past. I woke up shuddering and nauseated. As a result, I couldn't even manage to successfully eat a cracker all day, and they kept waiting to give me my pain medication. Finally, the nurse wanted to give it to me anyway, since she wanted to go home, and when I asked what she was giving me and learned that it was Lortab, I pointed out that I had told them I was allergic to Lortab, which was on both my chart and my wristband.

By this point (no surprise) the doctor was gone for the day, and his office couldn't get me a Percocet prescription, because it is a narcotic and can't be "called in" to a pharmacy. Instead, they shot me up with some demerol and called in some weaker pain medicine, which we picked up on the way home. Along with the crutches that I didn't have in the first place because nobody at the doctor's office told me I would need them.

I'm pretty much disappointed in the amount of preparatory information I was given, and I plan to make some recommendations to my doctor -- it seems like it would be very easy to give patients a sheet of information and precautions before surgery, so that they can fully understand what they'll need to have ready and what they'll need to do. Explaining it to a combination of a drugged, confused patient and her family members who may or may not catch all the precautions and instructions does not cut it. A checklist might be handy -- get crutches, plan to pick up pain medicine prescription, have lots of ice on hand, make physical therapy and follow-up appointments in advance. Sure, they asked me if I had any questions, but how was I supposed to know? I guess I should have researched more on the internet.

Anyway, I may be on a narcotic-induced rant, but that's mainly because the day immediately following my surgery turned into a bit of a nightmare. Why? Well, the water-flow ice pack system seemed to have leaked in the morning, and my bandages were all wet, so the doctor's office told me I needed to come in to have the dressings changed. Then they told me I needed to drive to the surgical center to get a new ice-water pack. (It turns out that the problem was probably just condensation, and I should have been periodically removing the water pack and drying it, but nobody told us this, at least not that I remembered.) Of course, I wasn't the one driving. So, we headed to the doctor's office, and of course had to WAIT, which sucked, but I got dry dressings and a Percocet prescription.

I was also told that I needed to go to physical therapy THAT DAY, so I went down the hall to try to get in to my physical therapist. Oh, I'm sorry. He's not in, there is nobody in who could see you. Er. But my doctor insisted I should go today, so what should I do? Go to this other clinic at 1:00 PM, it's located by such-and-such a grocery store, near Hollywood video. So we proceeded to drive all over hell and back, first to pick up the ice water pack, then to get some lunch to kill some time, and then to the physical therapists. Which we couldn't find. And which we coudn't contact by phone for a while. Turns out in my haze, I'd thought of the wrong such-and-such a grocery store, which is indeed also by a Hollywood Video. So we had to drive clear across to the other side of town yet again. By the time I got to my appointment, I was completely at the end of my rope. When the physical therapist asked me what I was doing there so soon after my surgery, had to change my dressings again because all the running around had caused me to start bleeding around my pain pump, and told me that I shouldn't be out at all and needed to just go home and take a pain pill and rest, I pretty much lost it. She was just so sensible and helpful, I really wanted to kiss her. She helped me adjust my crutches correctly, gave me more information than anybody else had, and made an appointment for me to come back on Tuesday.

So I'd been running myself ragged in pain on crutches from like 9:45 AM to 2:00 PM, during all of which time I was supposed to be at home, with my leg elevated and iced. Aargh. Let's just say Cheryl the physical therapist and Percocet both saved me from complete and total nervous breakdown.

Yesterday was a better day, though still difficult. A nurse came to my house and removed my pain pump, though my leg is still numb today in one spot, the way your face feels if you've been to the dentist and had too much novocaine. So hopefully that will go away soon, and if it's not gone by tomorrow, I'll have to call the doctor yet again.

Anyway, when I'm not engaged in my most taxing and strenuous activity of the day (i.e. getting up and going to the bathroom -- it's crazy when something you never even think of becomes one of the biggest challenges in your daily life), I'm pretty much supposed to be spending my time elevating, icing, and most of all, performing very simple exercises, such rolling my ankles, straightening my leg and flexing my foot and quad, stretching my hamstrings, propping my leg up as straight as it will go,and lifting my straightened leg a measly six inches. Some of which I have at times been unable to do (especially lifting the leg).

Oh, yeah, and let's not forget, I get to spend four to six hours per day in this contraption:

This torture device exercise machine helps me to regain my range of motion by bending and straightening my leg for me. I need to get up to 90 degrees of motion as soon as possible. This morning I went up to 75 degrees, so I'm getting close.

So what does one do when strapped into a machine for four to six hours per day (besides sleep)? Why catch up on knitting blogs, of course:

At least I got some lovely flowers out of the deal, from my kind friends, Bonnie and Rhonda.

Still Life with Crutches

I'm off work for the next week at least, and since I'm starting to feel a bit better, here's hoping much Rogue knitting will ensue, if I can squeeze it in between physical therapy.