Tuesday, May 21, 2013

One of These Things is Not Like the Other

It was four weeks ago yesterday that I went in for my first arthroscopy and lateral release. As I recorded in a few previous posts, the days and weeks that followed were simply about healing and resting. Recovery was moving rapidly and I was feeling like Superwoman. But that was then...

And this is now... I had the arthroscopy and lateral release done on my opposite leg 6 days ago. Even though the surgery was smooth and predictable like before, recovery has been much different this time around. The change began almost as soon as I was awake and coherent out of anesthesia. My assigned nurse started rattling off my post-op orders, which unexpectedly included "no weight bearing" on my operated leg until my follow-up appointment ten days later. If I asked her once, I asked her a million times to confirm. Are you SURE??!, I whined. She never could tell me the reasons why, but only that those were the orthopedic surgeon's instructions.

Since then I've been bearing full weight with the help of crutches on my 4-week-post-surgery knee that is still very tender and sore. And that means that this recovery week has been so very sloooooooooooow and frustrating, completely opposite of my first experience. And to add insult to injury (literally), yesterday I severely strained my IT band (iliotibial band, which is the tissue that is "released" in the procedure) while trying to stand up from a motorized cart after grocery shopping. The pain I felt in that moment was on a scale that I'm not sure I've ever experienced in my life until this point. Absolutely excruciating. That injury-- combined with non-weight-bearing orders on my left leg-- has pretty much left me sentenced to stay in bed. Five feet to the bathroom is as ambitious as it gets until Friday morning.

*insert a really sad, depressing song here for background music* 

I've also been paranoid about taking Oxycodone this time around after a scary spell of having my blood pressure plummet when getting out of bed too quickly (which can be a side effect of the drug). Another terrible episode that I don't ever desire to experience again! But the otc meds unfortunately don't mask the pain the way narcotics do, so I'm having to cautiously continue them for now.

So, I sit...
and wait...
and sleep...
and binge on Netflix and Pinterest...
and ice...
and medicate...
and elevate...
rinse and repeat...
all the while praying that the longterm outcomes of these two surgeries will be worth the present difficulties.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Three Steps Forward, Two Steps Back (2 Weeks Post-Op)

It has already been two weeks since my arthroscopy and lateral release knee surgery. I'm glad to report that recovery is still going incredibly well. After coming off of crutches last week, some soreness and minor swelling set back in so I had to go back to relying on one crutch and Oxycodone for a few more days. That was a tad bit discouraging when I had been pulling off a rockstar status at physical therapy. We've also had a lot of rain and humidity in our area of the world this month, so I'm convinced that I am a total granny it has been contributing to the achiness. But good news is that I was able to go back to full weight bearing without crutches (and a little Advil) yesterday and have been doing great since.

At the end of each day, my knee continues to be pretty sore and stiff. I imagine that will be the case for a while since the lateral retinaculum that was cut is a delicate tissue that takes a good while to heal. I'm trying to find a healthy balance between not doing too much (cleaning, standing, lifting, driving, etc) and pushing my knee a little more each day in order to prepare for my next surgery in 8 days. My currently-operated leg will then have to bear full weight for several days, which ain't gonna be easy! (Eight more days... WOW!)

On Friday I'll be seeing my orthopedic surgeon once more before he does the same procedure on my other knee next Wednesday. Hopefully healing will continue to go smoothly and consistently until then.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Time For a Checkup (Post-op Day 10)

It's so hard to believe that a week and a half has already flown by and it was time for my post-op appointment with my orthopedic surgeon. This whole experience thus far has been relatively comfortable and quick... Which is completely opposite of what I read beforehand during late-night google sessions... And which also tells me one thing that must be told to everyone:

Don't believe everything you read on the internet.

I know, I KNOW!!! Shocking, right??!

Anyway, nothing but great strides took place today in my recovery process:

• The doctor says I'm healing incredibly well and fast and is impressed with both the minimal amount of swelling and strength of my leg already.
• He declared me finished with the leg immobilizer (brace) and mostly finished with the ace bandage wrap. Will keep it on hand in case swelling increases. This step also officially cleared me to drive again!
• Stiches came out and steri-strips were placed for the next few days.
• I was able to come off the crutches completely this morning.
• Biggest take away from this morning's appointment: Knee #2 is on the books for an arthroscopy and lateral release in TWO weeks. So glad we'll get this in right before my kids get out for summer break!

Tomorrow will include another session of some physical therapy to keep rehabilitating these leg muscles to keep my knee cap in the right place. Hopefully each day will continue to bring a little less soreness and swelling.

Friday, April 26, 2013

She Stinketh No More (Post-Op Day 4)

Hooray, hooray! 
Today was "you get to take a shower" day!

• Goodness, a simple little shower is such a wonderful thing after laying in the bed for 4 days! So glad the smell of funkiness radiating from my body has ceased. I even sat in a chair and fixed my hair! It's the little things, folks...

• Completed my 2nd physical therapy session this afternoon. The PT has said that she is "very impressed" with my progress so far. I'm bearing the majority of my weight with the aid of crutches and even made full revolutions on the stationary bike for several minutes. My range of motion is returning quite rapidly! Even though I was kicking butt and taking names at physical therapy, my knee reminded me very soon afterwards that it had only been four days since surgery and forced me to get back in the bed, ice, elevate, and pop some happy pills (read: rockstar status was short-lived).

• Had an unplanned visit to the OS office yesterday due to some weird circulation issues going on with the foot on my operated leg (turning red, tingling, feeling hot). Good news is that the ultrasound they ordered came back all clear which ruled out the possibility of a blood clot. In the midst of that itsy-bitsy setback, the doc was incredibly pleased to see the minimal amount of swelling present around my knee. One of the particular procedures he performed (a lateral release) apparently has a reputation of causing incredible amounts of swelling for weeks, even months, at a time for some patients. It's definitely encouraging to hear from both the OS and PT that my knee is grasping for an "overachiever award" at this point.

• All of these "wins" have confirmed further my reasoning for documenting my post-op journey. Before my knee surgery, I spent a lot of time doing internet searches of people's experiences with arthroscopy and lateral release. What I found was that the majority of people who took the time to record their experience publicly were the ones who had the worst (and sometimes bizarre) outcomes. My hope through this is that I can contribute to the many stories in internet world and document both a positive experience and outcome from a procedure that has been given a bad rap.

We shall see! So far, so good...

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Just 36 hours ago... (Post-op Day Two)

...I was being wheeled into the operating room for my much-talked-about knee surgery (Arthroscopy and Lateral Retinacular Release, to be exact). It was actually a great morning that went off without a single hitch, despite its lack of my two favorite things: coffee and food. Seriously, the whole process was so incredibly smooth and quick. My procedure was scheduled for 7:00am and the first thing I remember from waking up from anesthesia was a clock hanging directly in front of me that showed 8:15am. An hour after that, they kicked me out and we headed home. Well, maybe not as extreme as "kicked out." They did tell me they were very impressed with all of my post-op schtuff, so they saw no need to keep me around. After a last pump of Dilaudid and Zofran, we were on our way. And this has pretty much been my view ever since we arrived home: