Ready for Surgery

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February 1, 2005 at 9:57 pm

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I spoke to the clinician at my knee specialist’s office this morning to ask a few

and respond to her second call asking if I’d reschedule for the .

The call was helpful, once we moved beyond the initial unpleasantness of

my telling her “I’m sorry, but I cannot reschedule my surgical date of Friday, February 4.” I was a little galled that she’d called our answering machine yesterday evening to ask if I’d “gotten the message” from Friday. Her original message asked me to call if I was willing to reschedule — Hello! This persistence to get me to reschedule sends an unintended(?) message, y’know.

The clinician and I specifically discussed my torn meniscus (cartilage), in addition to the severed ACL. I now have a high confidence level that I’ll emerge from surgery with everything that’s currently ripped and torn thereby repaired or replaced, as necessary.

On Monday morning, I walked 2.15 miles on the paved greenbelt at my parents’ neighborhood. The knee was sore, but not debilitating, for the rest of the day; however, as some swelling returned I realized I’d probably just taken my last unrestricted walk prior to surgery. I don’t want swelling to complicate matters for the surgeon, or worse, force the surgery to be scrubbed.

Which reminds me —

When I scheduled my surgery, the clinician specifically asked that I not shave my legs for 3-4 days prior to surgery. Fair enough. “Makes it easier for the nurse to shave the knee on the day of surgery?” I asked.

While that’s true, the clinician stated, “If you happened to nick your knee that close to surgery, we would have to reschedule.” That was a poignant reminder that they’ll be working inside my body. Surgery is all about maintaining a sterile environment before, during and (as much as possible) after surgery.

I also discussed crutches and a leg brace with the clinician today. We laughed together as I explained my concerns about mobility on crutches, given I’d never walked on them before. She promised they would fit them properly while at the hospital, and that I’d “get plenty of practice walking on them… probably more than you will want to!”

My response? “Good, I’ll need it!”

As for the leg brace, I proved I’m still a newbie ACL replacement patient by asking about the “brace” I’ll be fitted with at the hospital.

Having spoken with the

during my doctor’s appointment, I had a mental picture of this “brace”. However, it’s actually called a leg immobilizer, not a brace. I don’t graduate to a brace until the doctor thinks the tendon graft is secure enough to allow a controlled range of motion.

The brace will allow the doctor or, later, the physical therapist to “dial in” whatever range of motion the knee should be permitted to travel — beyond that, it restricts movement, to prevent damage or overuse too early in the recovery process. With the immobilizer, however, your knee ain’t bending at all, buddy!

Due to the craptacular weather we’ve had in San Antonio for the past 7 days, Justin did not do any flying and I missed out on flying prior to surgery.

In addition to doctor’s orders, which may further limit my flying, I will be grounded until I can bend my leg enough to climb into the passenger seat of the aircraft. There’s also the little matter of how to hoist myself into the aircraft. I presume once I’ve learned how to climb into our Ford F-150 Supercrew 4×4, I’ll also be able to climb into the cabin of a Cessna Skyhawk 172. In both cases, I suspect I’ll have to lean on Justin, literally, so I can plant my “good leg” (sigh) in the truck/aircraft to hoist myself up.

I’ve already decided I need to be picked up from the hospital on Saturday in my Toyota Corolla, though even that may be a bit of a comedy of errors.

Imagine climbing into any vehicle with one leg immobilized at full extension, and you’ve got the picture! Further imagine that said leg will need to be elevated as much as possible to minimize swelling.

Although it may not come across in the writing above, I’ve now reached a comfort level where I can say I’m actually looking forward to surgery. My concerns are alleviated;

is complete except for a double bed we’ll pick up from Justin’s parents on Wednesday night; I’ve done most pre-surgery chores, including food shopping and house cleaning (though I’m putting off the cats’ litter boxes until the last possible moment, for obvious reasons); the weather’s just nasty enough to keep all thoughts of hiking and camping far from my mind for the moment. I’m ready to go!

Addendum: Okay, I lied. I found one thing that still gets my nerves jangled — COST! I just read that a typical ACL reconstruction and , both of which I’m having, can cost $10,000 – $15,000! Ouch.

Of course, now that I’m becoming more aware, I’m sure just having , x-rays (8 films!), and

already tapped out my health insurance’s pre-deductible amount; our deductible’s $1,500, but we’d already discussed that. I had a brief moment of panic, realizing I’d chosen my orthopedic specialist/surgeon based on {blasphemy} whether he was the right man for the job, rather than on whether he was an “In-Network” or “Out-of-Network” physician in my health insurance program. Thank God, he is a participating physician and thus our expenses will be further buffered by that. So after the deductible’s paid, the plan gets good again (reasonable out-of-pocket expenses, all things considered).

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