Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Day 28

Pool time!

Today Mireille got the green light to bring me back to the pool. Not to swim -- we're not there, yet. But to practice walking forward, backward, sideways and to do leg lifts, etc. The whole water exercise thing was very helpful before surgery and is proving to be just as good after.

Swimming had quickly become a pre-op addiction. It was pretty much the only social sport I could do. Social as in there were other people there. Like the old man that just waddled around and squirted people with water. Unfortunately, he wasn't there tonight.

Report on progress: I am bending at 126 degrees and am spending full workdays without any type of knee brace. Swelling was down today and I'm hoping it stays that way. I can't wait to be my thin old self again.

The next goals are to do one-legged calf raises (those scare Mireille for some reason. Hello, you didn't injure your calf!) and to go to the gym.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Day 26

My twin on the other leg is starting to make a fuss (pinching, cracking, etc.) and it's getting worrisome. One injured knee is more than enough. Walking is much easier but far from normal still.

I just can't seem to get rid of this stiffness. I'm getting great range of motion but it's going from point A to B smoothly that's a problem... it takes a lot of warming up and massaging to get to a 122 degree bend. Plus, trusting myself to bend and straighten in a normal fashion while walking is a huge psychological challenge.

My stability is much improved and I'm better at the stairclimber. You'd never guess I was injured looking at me on the exercise bike. The quad muscle above me is building up nicely.

I'm still swollen and wounded but things are looking up.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Day 22

Not much to report today except for my progress. I'm now bending at 115 degrees, doing the stairclimber and working on my stability. Hopefully, the latter will help ease my wobble.

I am now getting much more comfortable walking without any type of brace. The surrounding muscles would sometimes spazz or give out but they are obviously strengthening. Today, the whole morning at work was spent without my dear friend Don, DonJoy the knee brace.

Mireille's next goal is to have me bend more as she walks. Not as easy as it sounds...

Day 20

Back to work Monday!

Luckily, it was a bright and sunny day. That made it slightly more enjoyable. Mireille walked to work and I got a good warm-up to kick start things. Mireille brought a cane to help with going up and down stairs, and in case of any other unforeseen obstacle.

Who would've predicted everyone's curiosity with my appearance. I guess in hindsight it should be obvious. I wish I could have prepared myself but it was too late. I was shown along with the hairy leg and cat socks. There's no shame left.

Overall, the day went well. I was upset and swollen at the end of it but that's understandable. I'll get used to it.

Day 17

The reality of having to go back to work soon is starting to hit. I am now clothed in a custom ACL brace instead of a Zimmer splint. Let me tell you, it feels much better and lighter!

Mireille is making me walk around the block a lot now. Thank goodness for the nice weather outside. Walking is getting a lot easier but I'm still quite stiff.

Also, I'm being conditioned to sit in a chair for long periods of time. Gotta love that office job.

Here's what I'm looking like now.

Day 16

I was feeling quite bad yesterday. It hit me that I saw my surgeon for a follow-up appointment and I (ok, well Mireille...) completely forgot to thank him. Sheesh, the guy fixes me and Mireille doesn't even acknowledge it. How ungrateful!

For a good part of the day Mireille wondered what to do. Should she call his secretary and leave a message? "Oh, hi... Could you please let Dr. B know that I thank him for performing surgery on my knee?" That sounds kinda funny now, doesn't it?

Does she wait until her next appointment with him in four weeks? That seems like a long time. He'll have formed a bad impression by then...

Mireille left it at that but I suppose the powers that be were listening. Today, walking into physio, my surgeon was there! What a strange coincidence. As soon as the opportunity presented itself, she offered him a heart-felt THANK YOU.

It seems there is such a thing as synchronicity... intuition... tapping into the collective unconscious.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Day 15

Now that my wounds are exposed, Mireille has been drowning me in Aloe Vera and vitamin E. I'm subject to a morning, afternoon and evening ritual of cleaning and drops of goo everywhere there's an incision.

If I don't look good after all this, there's a problem.

There are about five little holes that will probably leave a barely visible mark. There is a longer cut that will definitely be obvious.

Oh well, I do kinda want some proof of what I've been through!

Day 14

Exactly two weeks have gone by since they fixed me and now I get to meet with my surgeon. This isn't really the first time post-op because he did check in with Mireille twice in the recovery room after surgery.

He was there as soon as I woke up and asked how I felt. Fantastic, I said. Don't get too excited, he reminded me... Just wait until it all wears off.

He dropped by a little later, just before I left the hospital. Everything had gone well, he assured me. He also gave me some of the best news I could have gotten. My three meniscus tears were clinically insignificant and he didn't have to do anything about them. All of the padding is still in my knee!

So, today I got to go to his office and see before and after pictures of my innards. I saw a shot of an empty knee joint, where an ACL used to be, and then a shot with what looked like a big chunk of steak shoved in.

I also saw cloudy areas over some of my bone structures, which represent damaged cartilage. That was all cleaned up. He also showed me what looked like a line on one of my bones. Arthritis. Just about to turn 30 and already I have arthritis!?

Finally, he looked at my wounds and I asked when I could take off the tape keeping everything shut. The time was now, apparently. He just ripped them all off and Mireille was horrified. Look at how well your skin heals, he told Mireille.

He was right. The scarring won't be so bad after all.

Day 13

Well, it feels great to no longer be that person at physio waiting for surgery while everyone else has it done and over with. No more "when are you scheduled for?" (um, I'm not...), "wow, what's taking so long?" (do you have to remind me...), and "when were you injured" (forever ago!). Now I'm the one showing off my scars and looking at other pre-ops with empathy. Don't worry, your turn will come soon...

I'm bending at 105 degrees now and maintaining full extension. That is right on track with where I should be.

Tomorrow, I meet with the surgeon for the first time post-op. I am very excited and I hope he will be satisfied with my progress.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Day 12

Fast forward to day 12.

I'm biking twice a day, doing high squats and toe raises (amongst a plethora of other things). I will have to get better at walking because I have about a week left before I go back to work.

Walking has been difficult these past couple of days because I have been providing more "feedback" to Mireille than ever. I was pudgy and stiff, and didn't have much to say at first. Now, I'm sleeker and a lot more mobile. I've been cracking and pinching, which understandly freaks out Mireille. As my physio would say, "don't sweat the small stuff".

Back to the word "feedback". Isn't that a clever way to say I've been causing immense amounts of pain? I'm not "causing sensations of unimaginable hurt", but rather "providing feedback to Mireille". Love it. I did not coin that but will definitely use it every opportunity I have.

Day 8

I'm finally demonstrating real progress.

I can now bend over 90 degrees, which means I can comfortably sit in a chair. The wall slides are coming easily and I haven't experienced any pain doing them just yet. I just feel a tightness that prevents me from going any further. Pre-op, Mireille used to hate doing these. Now, they're not so bad.

I can also bike now. Mireille has to prop up the seat real high but still. It took about 4 months after the injury to bike and only 8 days after surgery... Go figure.

So, my physio said I no longer need the CPM machine and can get rid of it. Yay!

However, yesterday Mireille felt compelled to watch the news -- a very rare occurence and totally unusual. The first story was about a fire in a retail building... a retail building that bears an uncanny resemblance to the place from which Mireille rented the CPM machine! Yes, folks. The CPM machine will have to stick around until the store becomes operational again.

Moral of the story: go with your gut. It's usually trying to tell you something.

Day 7

So here I am exactly one week after surgery. A little bruised and swollen but not so bad, I think. Just remember... I've been chopped up, drilled into and sanded down.

I am no longer being hidden under layers of bandages and I feel this fresh air is doing me good.

The first week after surgery, I was being taken care of by Mireille's better half. This week, mom and dad are spending their days here ensuring my total comfort. In other words, I'm being spoiled rotten. Hey, there has to be a good side to all of this.

Day 6

The dreaded day has arrived! First post-op physio appointment... Every pore on Mireille's body was sweating profusely and I was no exception. Who knew knees could sweat so much.

The physio greeted me with a big smile. I had been absent for almost two months now, working on my own to prepare for surgery. I had been coming to this clinic for nearly five months after the injury and it was starting to feel like a second family. I actually missed this place!

Well, he seemed in a good mood so I was thinking maybe I'd get off easy. Yeah, right. The first thing the physio said to Mireille was to take off the bandages. "Are you sure?" Mireille hesitated. He raised an eyebrow and started unravelling it for her.

Mireille's eyes were shut tight and she was gripping the table for dear life. "Take a look at your knee," he said. "It looks fantastic."

Heck, it really did. I looked more like an orange today. A not-so-scary Florida orange!

The first day of physio wasn't so bad after all.

Day 5

Day 5 was also relatively uneventful. Mireille has been working hard and diligently on straightening the leg, engaging the quad muscles and weight bearing. Still can't do a leg lift, though. I'm just feeling numb and puffy, and don't really care.

I'm absolutely dreading the first physio appointment tomorrow. Mireille's been so soft and gentle with me... the physio is surely going to knock some sense into her and to stop being so paranoid. I know I'm going to be bent and pushed to the limit. All this extra care I've been getting surely won't last much longer.

Oh, I hope I don't get exposed! The physio will probably want to see what I look like... How embarassing. Mireille still has nightmares about the way I looked just a couple of days ago...

Day 4

Not much to report at day 4. There are officially no more hard core medications running through Mireille's bloodstream. Woohoo!

Only a bit of Advil to prevent blood clots. The Advil needs to be taken for four weeks. This is annoying, especially for someone that rarely takes any type of pharmaceutical.

The bending continues to progress. I am now at 35 degrees on the (stupid) CPM machine.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Day 3

Well, I'm fat. Big time. I overheard Mireille say I was the size of a large grapefruit (with uncalled for terror in her voice, mind you). Did I need to hear that? Definitely not.

And it appears these wounds are kinda scary. Mireille glanced at me from the corner of her eye and was quick to replace the dressings. I've been gouged in something like seven different locations, which is much more than I was expecting.

Not much has changed today except the pain is still quite minimal. Barely any medications are required. Plus, Mireille is putting a surprising amount of weight on me while walking. Things are looking good.

Here I am with a good ol', reliable bag of ice.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Day 2

(Note: you will notice that the dates these blogs are posted do not match the actual dates the events occured. These entries were all pre-written the old-fashioned way in a diary. Remember those??)

The pain just disappeared today, as though a switch had gone off. As a result, Mireille's spirits were up and I got moved around a lot more. Poked and prodded at. She still didn't have the courage to undo the bandages and take a peek, though.

I was put on the CPM machine and could only bend a measly 20 degrees. I guess it's better than nothing. And, what a bore. Mireille lost patience with the machine after about an hour and a half. I was put through a set of exercises, instead. This was difficult because I (and the rest of the leg) felt like a ton of bricks.

Mireille also swore off the Cryo-cuff. For some reason, half of me wasn't feeling any of the cold. Back to good old ice packs every two hours and elevation to reduce the swelling. This was much more effective for me.

Here's a picture of me before removing the Cryo-cuff. Mireille has been watching a marathon of renovation shows and "nurse Simba" keeping a protective eye over me.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Day 1

Suddenly, the throbbing and stabbing feelings appeared full-force. I jolted Mireille awake and she violently tore off the splint and loosened the layers of bandages. She also reached for a full dose of heavy narcotics.

The pain meds didn't really work all that well. Although, I'm sure it would have felt a lot worst without them. Background pain lasted until late evening. Nothing shooting and sharp; just an uncomfortable and tiring sensation.

So, I was supposed to be put on the CPM machine to help with range of motion and had a list of exercises to do. Ha! There was no way I was moving today. Mireille just slept and I took it easy.

(P.S.: A big thanks to my coworkers for the "get well soon" gift!)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Surgery Day

I was scheduled nice and early. Always good to get something out of the way first thing so there's less time to dwell on it.

I was stretched and exercised quite a bit in the waiting room. A mix of nerves and knowledge that I probably wouldn't be able to move this well for quite a while.

Lounged in front of the OR (wearing a ridiculous hat and hospital garb) Mireille pushed back the sheets and stared at me for a long time. Skinny and flawless. I wouldn't stay that way for long!

As the final preparations were being made in the OR, the surgeon and anesthetist chatted casually and finished their coffees just a few feet away. I couldn't help but overhear the conversation. The topic turned to skiing and my surgeon started explaining why he no longer enjoyed the sport... He has a knee problem. OMFG! I'm being operated on by someone with a bad knee. What does that mean?

I felt pretty good and surprisingly pain-free after the surgery. The nerve-block worked exceptionally well. This would last until 4:30am the next morning...

Sunday, March 1, 2009

A bit of history...

August 6th, 2008 I was out on an Ultimate field and there it happened. My complex workings torn apart as I was forced to go from sprint to stop in a fraction of a second. I was not made to endure such an abrupt motion and, only a few months earlier, Mireille had been warned of this. Who would have thought that running after a piece of plastic could do such harm?

My ACL was completely torn, my meniscus damaged in three locations and my PCL was left only partially held together.

For 7 months, I was stretched, forced bent and prodded relentlessly by various people trying to "help" me get better as I awaited surgery. I went from massively swollen to pretty good looking. Stiff as a board to somewhat flexible. I walked, biked, stair-climbed, swam and mastered the elliptical machine. Heck, I even started doing weight-bearing exercises again.

I am in relatively good shape now but it's been a very long journey. To help me out, Mireille went from crutches, to cane, to major limp (aka Zombie walk) to quasi-normal gait. But no, it doesn't seem to be good enough...

In a couple of days, I will be professionally fixed and I will have the scars to prove it.

Here I am, before surgery.