Day 28: 1 Month Anniversary!

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March 4, 2005 at 8:27 am

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LONG ENTRY (Sorry about that!)

8 AM: Just

at this time, I was in an O.R. undergoing the final stages of my knee surgery.

In many ways, this month has raced by.

I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the relative ease of my recovery, particularly in terms of mobility. Ever since I was cleared to walk at , I’ve grown increasingly mobile and active. Although it will still be awhile yet before my feet see a real , it’s been terrific to get outside and walk one or two miles a day as often as I can.

Milestones this Week:

I have PT this morning and my one month post-op checkup with my OS in the afternoon. Right now, I’m stressing about how to get my OS to slow down long enough to actually talk to me.

He practically sprints for the door during my checkups! I feel like I’m a customer at a “drive thru service” window.

I know I can’t untrain habits my OS has formed over thirty or forty years, but still, when he’s in the room with me for my checkup that’s my time and I expect to get the most out of it. I called his office on Wednesday and again (twice!) yesterday, but so far all I’ve gotten is an extended game of phone tag.

I have two primary reasons for calling — 1) I want copies of all of my medical records, including x-rays, MRI films, and arthroscopy photos; 2) I want the OS to explain exactly what procedure(s) he did on my knee, since there’s

between the procedure he told me he’d perform (patellar autograft), and the one I now think I received (hamstring autograft).

Cat News: In the interest of my sanity and everyone else’s, I’ll not mention that one of our other cats, “Amiga,” now appears to be ill.

She had what can only be described as a “seizure” last night, but within ten minutes or so she was back to normal (breathing, eye-tracking, behavior and activity level).

We’re in a “wait and see” mode right now.

Neither Justin nor I are quite ready to have to head back to the vet again so soon after

from his ordeal!

2 PM: Can you believe that after two calls to the OS’s office yesterday, and one the prior day, no one from there has returned my calls?

Ah, I’m preaching to the choir here — of course you can imagine.

What is it with orthopedic surgeons? I swear even my former gynecologist has a better track record, and he was previously the winner of my mental “worst physician” award. Every consult with him began with him bad-mouthing my then-current employer because he had a grudge against them for changing health insurance carriers years ago!

At some point I’d like to have a vacation from doctors for awhile. Physical therapy I don’t mind at all — it’s staffed with fun folks, it’s exercise, and I can see and feel the progress every week. Doctor’s visits? Nyah, not so much fun.

Today, for instance?

Poke and prod and manipulate my leg for a minute and sprint out the door after I’ve waited for 30-50 minutes. Again, not much fun! I’m not leaving without some answers from the OS today, though, even if I have to resort to standing in front of the doorway to obstruct his escape.

5:40 PM: Guess what? I’m a hammy!

That’s ACL rehabber lingo for a hamstring graft recipient. That explains my quick flexion gains, and my still slow-to-recover hamstrings (the weakest of all the muscles in my left leg right now).

I’m glad the

came up in PT to rekindle my gut reaction

that I’d had a hamstring graft. It’s a little annoying to spend my first month post-op under the mistaken impression that I’d received a patellar tendon autograft, rather than a hamstring autograft, but at least that’s resolved now. I’m still a little irked, since I distinctly recall talking to my OS during our initial consult about what he was going to do, and he traced the middle third of my patellar tendon on my leg as we talked about the patella tendon autograft procedure.

{shrug} Who knows.

Also, the OS did not remove any of the lateral meniscus, as I thought he’d told me the morning after surgery. At least in that instance, I’m inclined to believe I misheard him since I had less than 3 hours of sleep that night, interrupted by frequent nurse visits and bathroom bladder-relieving trips!)

As of today, I finally have a more complete picture of what happened inside my knee — a picture I feel I should have had since my first checkup with the OS, but better late than never.

My OS must have taken “happy pills” today because he was downright approachable.

Maybe his ears have been burning, because he brought along an assistant who (I think) was the same fellow who acted as the attending OR nurse during my surgery — at any rate, his name’s Brian just like the OR nurse.

So instead of one harried, hurried OS who practically sprinted out of the room , I had my OS (cheerful, even!), Brian the attending nurse, and a female nurse whom I’ve seen each visit. I had all three of them in the room with me while I quizzed my OS, and whether it was for my benefit or my OS showboating because he had an audience, he actually took time to answer in complete sentences this time, and clarify when I inquired further.

I asked my OS to explain exactly what meniscus injuries he’d found and worked on in my knee, and his first response was simply that he’d “made repairs to both the medial and lateral meniscus.” So I followed up with, “When you say ‘repaired’, can you describe, exactly, what that means in terms of what you did to each meniscus. I’d like to understand exactly what was done.”

So that’s when I finally learned of the bioabsorbable screw in my lateral meniscus. I still need to read more about that method of meniscus repair for my general knowledge, but I feel better knowing the lateral meniscus is intact (0% removed). I reconfirmed that about 40% of my medial meniscus was removed due to a vertical circumferential tear of the medial meniscus near the posterior horn, which was diagnosed via . I also had my OS point out exactly where my three titanium screws are located — 2 are fixed in my tibia near my shin incision, and the third is in my femur on the lateral side, near that incision.

I was a little surprised by his answer to my inquiry regard what percentage of patients have any issues with the metal screws. His answer? “Ten percent.”

I repeated it because I was rather surprised it was that high. Nevertheless, I’m quite happy with titanium screws in my leg (it must be a geek thing

) as opposed to bioabsorbable ones.

I have a suspicion an equal or greater percentage of people have issues with bioabsorbable screws, as well. Anytime you put a foreign substance into the human body, whether it’s man-made or from a donor, there’s always some risk. However, I figure my job isn’t to worry about all the “what-if’s”. Instead, my role is to follow my rehab protocols to the letter, keep myself physically and mentally fit, and ask questions as needed.

For the clinical portion of my checkup today, the nurses and OS first checked my incisions. Apparently, I have a minor inflammation in my large incision (shinbone, below the knee) but nothing that requires anything beyond the Bacitracin Zinc antibiotic ointment I’m already using. The nurse did suggest I switch bandage brands, since the 3M “Active Foam” type I’ve been using is padded (that’s why I chose it) and tends to attract and hold moisture.

Now that I’ve been wearing my brace for two weeks, at least I’m used to the pressure it exerts on or near my still-healing incisions. Prior to then, I felt I needed the padding as protection.

My OS also pried some suture material out of my lateral incision. I had complained of some itchiness/sensitivity there, and the OS immediately identified the white material in the wound as sutures; I’d thought it was simply dried/dead skin that was about to slough off.

He pried a little chunk of suture out, but I still see more that will have to gradually work its way out or dissolve. I asked about sutures in my large incision, the one that’s slightly inflamed, and there are internal sutures in that one as well. It’s probably reacting to the sutures the same was as the lateral incision — trying to get rid of them!

Also during my checkup, I received two , one from Brian the nurse and one from my OS.

That was actually my third Lachman’s test today, since Bob checked it in PT this morning while doing his progress report on me. These tests are performed so quickly, I may have missed additional tests they performed. My knee is much improved and far more stable than pre-op, as I’ve reported just from my experience walking and exercising lately. I remember during my initial consult, my OS ran me through the gamut of knee stability tests: , , , .

All of the links in the above paragraph are to SportsDoc.umn.edu, which includes photographs and instructional videos of the tests being performed, including “symptomatic” versions which show how an injured/unstable knee reacts in each test.

My next checkup with my OS is in four weeks’ time. Until then, I continue my PT sessions three times a week working on strength, stability and proprioception.

UNRELATED: Rant about Drivers — Traffic today was a nightmare. Is it a full moon or something?

I had a lady in a Ford F-150 4×4 drive me off the road today — it took three good blows on my horn before she woke up and realized it was me, in my little red Corolla, she was about to send at 50mph into the grassy median between the Interstate and the access road we were both supposedly sharing.

It’s a good thing that (1) my horn works and (2) that I got her attention before my two left tires got any further on to the grassy, still-wet-from-rains median!

My adrenaline was going for a good 20 minutes after that, and my Irish temper had me living out scenarios in my head of following her, pulling her over and performing a field sobriety test and an I.Q. test, followed by inflicting bodily harm! Why is it that my red car is INVISIBLE to other drivers?

I love my 1992 Toyota Corolla, and I firmly believe it’ll never stop running, but living in Texas I increasingly wish I could trade it in for a larger, more visible vehicle — at least a Ford Escape or a Toyota Tacoma Pre-Runner (4×4 size and height, without the added expense and maintenance of 4×4 mechanisms).

When I’m really dreaming, I’d also “settle” for a Corvette — something that, while small and equally invisible, has the engine to both get me out of the path of oncoming moronic drivers and make a point as the engine growls and the tires squeal in a final, “You IDIOT!” farewell.

Yes, I have an active imagination. It’s held me in good stead for 31 years, so don’t knock it!

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