Day 4: Progressing

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February 8, 2005 at 2:47 pm

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I am progressing, and in good (but not great) spirits.

I had my first setback last night, if you can call it a setback. After taking off my pressure stocking and bandage/wrap to further clean my left leg and air it out, I noticed a softball-sized area of numbness on the front of my left leg, below and to the left of my knee. Since my largest incision is just inches above the area of numbness, I’m hoping this is normal.

I’ll ask my physical therapist at tomorrow’s PT session (2 PM), and if she expresses any concern, I’ll call my specialist/surgeon.

The numbness is isolated to that area, thankfully… it’s just a little unnerving (pun not intended!)

I am sleeping well every night, although I am waking up earlier than I normally would. By 2 to 4 AM every morning, I have to extract my leg from the CPM machine and strap on my immobilizer to crutch over to the bathroom. The pre-dawn bathroom visits are due to the copious amounts of water I’ve been drinking since the surgery. The nurses quickly trained me to drink plenty of water, in part to alleviate my excessively hoarse voice, and also to prevent nausea due to the oral pain medications and I.V. antibiotics. They even sent me home with a large, well-insulated mug, complete with a flexible straw; of course, it’s branded with the hospital’s logo and slogan — “free” advertising (I’ll be pissed if I find out they charged me for the mug!)

Aside from Friday night in the hospital, last night was the latest I’ve stayed up: 11 PM.

My usual (pre-op) bedtime was anywhere from midnight to 7 AM, depending on how deeply immersed I was in various projects. Now, around 9:30 PM every night, I strap in to the CPM machine and relax with my eyes closed or use the computer for awhile. Today is the first day I’ve managed to find a workable way to use my laptop while lying on my back in the CPM machine; it’s still awkward, but at least I can use the computer for more than twenty minutes now!

This morning after eating breakfast (something else I didn’t used to do prior to the surgery), I enjoyed a morning chat with Justin as he laid next to me on my bed before heading to work. He took Monday off to ferry me to my first PT session and just generally make sure I didn’t do anything stupid around the house.

Despite spending the past several days together, we’re missing each other since the surgery’s forced me to sleep downstairs in a borrowed Queen size bed. Justin and the cats sleep upstairs in the master bedroom, on our King size bed.

Oddly enough, I’d just bought sinfully luxurious new sheets for our bed prior to surgery. I’m not sure how I thought that’d help me after surgery!

After Justin left for work a little after 6 AM, I drifted back to sleep until 8:30 AM. I was using the CPM when I fell asleep, so when I awoke I’d completed one of my three required 3-hour-minimum CPM sessions for the day. I responded to some work emails, read some news, and then began my first exercise session of the day. I now have nine exercises to do a minimum of three times per day!

Today has gone by too quickly. I know it’s only 2:30 PM, but every day is speeding by without me being able to accomplish anything beyond my physical therapy requirements. Can you believe it took me 2 hours to do all of my exercises this morning?

I’m not doing them at a snail’s pace; in fact, I’m probably rushing several of them because they no longer hurt. Three of the exercises were quite challenging and painful, at least for the first of three sets.

All three involve bringing the knee to its maximum flexion or extension, two while seated in a chair and one while sitting with one’s back against a wall.

I don’t know if my flexion’s still at 115 degrees today — if it is, it took a full set of 30 repetitions of each exercise before the knee (and I!) were ready to go that far.

Still, I should give myself some props since I did not take any pain meds prior to the “marathon” exercise session.

I did, however, take 2 Vicodin afterwards — it was that or lie around in agony the rest of the day, and likely wimp out on my second exercise session (generally, in late afternoon/early evening). I have three Vicodin left. I was given a prescription for just 20 Vicodin pills on the day I was discharged from the hospital, and the first 2 days I took them like clockwork — 2 pills every 4 hours, as prescribed for pain management.

I’m trying to stretch my remaining pills as long as I can — Vicodin pills are scored down the middle, so they can be taken in 1/2 doses as pain levels diminish. At this point, it really depends on how painful the exercises I’m given at each PT session are. I can tough it out through pain pretty well, but I have my limits!

I’m getting around well on the crutches now, although steps are still my nemesis — I have an almost visceral fear of the two concrete steps up into my front entryway, such that I’ve only entered the house once that way (on Saturday, when I was released from the hospital). I prefer

coming in through our garage, avoiding steps altogether! I still wobble now and then on the crutches, but I’m doing well. I cooked a microwave lunch and drank a Coca-Cola C2 at the kitchen table while reading National Geographic, fed our three cats some Fancy Feast and filled up their dish of solid food, and made sure my plants were watered. Our kitchen’s fairly handicapped-friendly, thanks to the island. I can crutch over a few steps, pick up what I need to move and place it on the island, then crutch over to our kitchen table, pantry or sink and move the item there. I even managed to clean up a puddle of water on our kitchen lineoleum without incident. The scary thing is I’d just crutched through that area prior to realizing the water puddle was there.

That’s why I’m taking things slowly, and am ever-alert to any available handholds I can use in the event I lose my balance.

I still need to wash my hair, which is getting… well, ratty.

We don’t have a shower downstairs, and I have no intention of going up the two flights of stairs to our master bedroom anytime soon. Afterall, that’s why I have a borrowed bed set up downstairs and am living like a hermit down here!

Prior to surgery, I bought “Wet Wipes” and some HUGGIES disposable baby wash wipes, the latter I’ll be using to sponge bathe myself this evening after my last exercise session. Washing my hair will be a challenge: balancing on one crutch while leaning over the kitchen sink, trying to avoid throwing any water on the lineoleum around me. I moved a throw rug in there this morning (by throwing it a couple feet and crutching forward until I got it where I wanted it.

), so it shouldn’t be that bad.

Everything I do right now takes twice as long and strains more muscles than I was aware I had, and washing my hair won’t be any different.

If it weren’t winter, I’d have gotten my hair cut short again so I didn’t have to fight with the long hair during my recovery period.

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1 Comment

February 9, 2005

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Maybe you bought the sheets so it will be an extra special reward when you are able to make it up those stairs. Ya gotta celebrate all the baby steps and little milestones. I would nap with the cpm machine on as well..kinda relaxing! Looks like your doing great though. Keep it up!

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