Tuesday, March 31, 2009
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
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
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...
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.
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.
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
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!
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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...
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
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.
Monday, March 16, 2009
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
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
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
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.