Tip for the day

Isn't it strange that evolution would give us a sense of humor? When you think about it, it's weird that we have a physiological response to absurdity. We laugh at nonsense. We like it. We think it's funny. Don't you think it odd that we appreciate absurdity? Why would we develop that way? How does that benefit us? I suppose if we couldn't laugh at things that don't make sense we couldn't react to a lot of life. I can't tell if that's funny or really scary. Calvin

Don’t struggle to change. Struggle strengthens what you are trying to change.
- Cheri Huber


A day without laughter is a day wasted.
- Charlie Chaplin


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Thursday, June 21, 2012

SURGERY


WALKING TALL BUT SLOW


      I took the dogs off the street, I fed the dogs, I walked the dogs, and I took the dogs to the vet, yet they insist on booby trapping the house with tennis balls and chew toys. I wonder what the vets did to them in their back room to make them so angry. Dogs are supposed to be man's best friend. The dogs probably figure friends don't let friends get fixed. A few weeks ago I stepped on one of their tennis ball booby traps and hurt my knee for the thirtieth time.

     I initially hurt myself playing basket ball at the age of seventeen. I won the "Scream like a girl contest" in gym that year. Eventually the pain degenerated to abscess tooth level and my knee soon attained soccer ball size.  The surgery that ensued was botched and I have limped like Chester on Gun Smoke and lived with pain and a huge scar on my leg for several decades now. Saying a knee injury is painful, is like calling Hiroshima urban renewal. If you've seen the new James Bond movie where they put him in a chair with the knocked out bottom and swing the ball under the chair hitting him in his privates? The male readers will understand the analogy.

      The time before I last injured myself I was told to use crutches for six weeks. I ignored the doctor so I was again on crutches looking like a Star Wars battle dork. Some times the crutches hurt so bad I only used one crutch. Crutches cause armpit problems. They hurt and chafe. After a while you don't even want to hobble into the kitchen to eat. If you're a girl the upside is that you won't have to use much Nair for a while. You will  develop calluses to the point you will never have to use a baseball glove again. You get good at reaching things by hooking them, and it is easy to trip people and make it look like and accident. I feel like putting a patch over one eye and growling "Arrrg" at idiots that asked what happened but I just smile and tell them it was a head injury so they can relate. Currently I've upgraded to four legs and two wheels with my walker.
    
      The discomfort precipitated my decision to have double knee replacements. My regular physician got sick of me using up all his knee wraps so he referred me to an orthopedic surgeon.
      I talked to an orthopedic PA (Physician assistant) and after seeing my x rays he said I probably needed both knees replaced. The one that didn't hurt was in the worst shape. The first visit is like talking to a cheerful, reasonable sounding Jedi knight. "You will love having your knees replaced." You then stumble out of the office with  googly eyes  saying, "I will love having my knees replaced." Just kidding, actually these guys are very honest and frank with the risks. It's just scary that they can do it while smiling. You are given a reassuring list of risks that is comprised of trivial side effects like death, anemia, aids, and about fifty more reactions down to having irregularity. You are encouraged to fill out a living will telling them how long to let you vegetate and a form giving your wife power of attorney.

      I was sent to an imaging clinic so they could measure what size of knees they would put in. A person who in my professional and candid opinion, looked tall,  stuffed me inside a tube that was much narrower than a coffin. I never had claustrophobia before then. The tec had me put in earplugs and then placed earphones over them so I could listen to soothing soft rock while the MRI made noises like a jackhammer that was loud enough to stun cattle. The first song was Highway to Hell. The jerk that operated the MRI grabbed my leg and put it in a clamp so tight it hurt. It made me involuntarily pass gas resulting in fragrance rays visible to the naked eye. I wonder if it showed up on the MRI. So much for his protection. I was asked if I had any metal parts in me or if I recently gotten a tattoo. Tattoo ink has some metal in it. Turns out I had a big staple from a previous operation I never knew about. He asked if I had previously had an ACL done. I have no Idea what an ACL was and in those days all they told you was "You need an operation." I think the exact words were "It's the same one Floyd Little just got." He was an awesome running back for the Broncos in the early 70's. Little did I know my knee would soon look like a hemi engine soon.

      I had to have an EKG, blood tests, X-rays, physicals, and a dentist visit to check for infections before the surgery. After that an interview was conducted with an anesthesiologist. I told him about a hernia operation when the surgeon was late for a visit to his hooker and he had started my operation before I was completely out. I insisted I wanted a epidural and enough anesthesia to put me on Pluto for the duration of the operation. I wouldn't mind if I didn't wake up till my son was out of college.

When checking into the hospital about seven people poke around and ask you the same questions about your medical history. Every time they asked if I had problems hearing, I said "huh?" I'm sure no one had ever been clever enough to come up with that one before. I was fed up with medical people poking and prodding. I am now violently opposed to animal testing.

     Finally it was D day. I had to be there at 8:30 AM. I was shown to a gurney to lay down on and was given a gown that tied up the back, so to speak. It looked like a giant community handkerchief. I had a blast mooning people.  I waited there anxiously for an hour. I considered making a break for it but before I could, a nurse came in to give me a shot to relax me and soon I was a drooling idiot. Shortly after, the performing surgeon, whom I'd never seen before, came in and asked which knee was being replaced. Most doctors know these minor facts about their patients. I'm all for the encouragement he tried to demonstrate but the fact that he didn't know which knee to operate on and apparently got surprised frequently, didn't exactly instill a sense of confidence in me but I heard he was the best of the best. I'd recommend him. I think they tell you that to make sure that you know and won't wake up with a different limb from a monkey. I told him that to my knowledge I was having both done. (My family all ready have arms so long the drag on the ground.) He drew a happy face on each knee and gave me the pen, like he was Mick Jagger signing a tee shirt at a concert and then hurried off. 
Attendants wheeled me into pre-op and a nurse that looked like he missed his calling as a motorcycle mechanic swabbed my back with a local anesthetic. He was balding and had a short pony tail and a sweet voice that made him sound like your typical child molester. I sat up, leaned over and hunched my shoulders. I felt a cold swab, a small pinprick and then woke up in my hospital room. Two hours later a chubby happy-butt nurse came in and made me stand up. I was surprised that it didn't hurt much. I had more drugs in me than Keith Richards after a Stones concert. Sitting back down was like watching a train derailment in slow motion and I almost fell off the bed. After a while the pain killers started wearing off and I felt like a shark had been chewing on my legs like a pair of giant Slim-Jims. After about an hour of screaming they reminded me that some where in the rats nests of tubes and wiring I had a button connected to my epidural that dispensed morphine. After I discovered that, I pounded on that button like a woodpecker on a termite mound and soon was so mellow I would have had to take more narcotics to wake up.  

      At least eight times a night my oxygen tubes got knocked of my nose and a loud, high pitched noise made sure I was beeped back to insensibility. Nurses constantly woke me asking how I was doing. I found out that morphine makes your lungs want to quit breathing, hence all the beeping. They wrap an odd sensor around your toe or finger that glows red that measures your oxygen level. If it's on your finger you look like ET. If it's on your toe you look like Billy Bob ET.

 Every time you see a nurse, doctor or therapist they ask what number from one to ten represents the pain you are in. There are ten happy face type pictures with different expressions by each number that go from happy to unbearable. I learned SOB are letters not numbers. I later found out I had pseudo gout that was activated by the trauma or it wouldn't have hurt so much, so don't let that keep you from getting knee replacement.
      A couple times I snidely commented that I was now walking so fast that the G forces were killing me so they took out my catheter.  They started stealing blood about nine times a day after that. I rarely got more than a ten minute doze. 

      My edema was so bad that if I pushed my thumb into my leg the dent it made recovered very slowly like a mattress of a memory foam bed commercial. I looked down, I think the second day, at my knees and noticed I had enough staples in my knees to keep Office Depot in supply for a month. I bet I had more pierceings than any of my son's friends. I was there four days, that's eleven months in hospital time.

      I would like to give tribute to the patience and professionalism of all the staff, RN's, LPN's, therapists, and all the selfless care givers. They took better care of me than I would. Even the custodial people were kind and helpful. I mention this is just in case  they are reading this and I have to go back in there someday. It's not everyone who can work in a wing called the Death star.

     They give you great drugs when you go home. I rarely slept nights and I would wake my wife with my groans and whining so I usually just stared at the boob tube in the living room. I watched so many Gene Autry movies I started calling my wife Champ, his horses name. One night I couldn't stand TV or the trash all over the living room I couldn't pick up anymore and with feet swollen to the size of watermelons, I staggered down the hallway to bed. Befuddled, I went into the wrong room where my junk, hunting stuff, and clothes were. Opening the door I turned left where our bed usually is and walked straight into my open hanging closet. I got all tangled up and confused in clothes. I remember thinking "Oh crap! I hope I don't get stuck in Narnia." and started yelling for my wife hoping a faun with an umbrella didn't show up.
      I was administered Cumiden all the time I was in the hospital to thin my blood. Ninja nurses sneak up and stab you in the stomach with it when your not looking. When I went home I had to take it in pill form and check with a clinic once a week to see how much to take. I guess it's something that takes a lot of regulation as some days I was told to skip it and other days to take between 1/2 to two. Apparently even my blood is fat. Blood thinners make you cold. I could put on my PJ's, a sweater, my housecoat, a winter coat, lay on a heated pad with a heated blanket and two more blankets and still shiver so bad if I held a glass of water it would have whitecaps on it.

      After a month I was shuffling around pretty good, after two months I could drive but didn't tell the therapist because there were episodes of NCIS and Bones I hadn't seen yet and I didn't want to go back to work.  It's been six months now and the pain and swelling is still too bad to say I'm glad I did it,but that was caused by the pseudo gout.  Oddly most of my current pain is in back of my knees where I'd guess they reconnect ligaments. It slowly gets better every day and I've switched jobs so I can stand and walk more in hopes getting strong enough to hunt in the next year or two. (My style of hunting mostly consists of taking naps in the forest. I just throw rocks at pesky elk that bother me.) 
      This all occurred in November. So during a follow up visit in February I asked a receptionist  what she got for Christmas. (I'm not saying what color hair she had.)
      "A new baby" she replied excitedly.
      I had noticed she was no longer as pregnant as the last visit but didn't mention it. One never wants to mention a woman looks pregnant unless you see an actual baby sticking out. I put on my most excited yippy-skip face and said, "What did you name it?
      "Piper!" she squealed, like she had won a car on the Wheel of Fortune show. "What did you get for Christmas?" She inquired out of politeness.
      "I got new knees!"
      "What did they name it?"
      "Puzzled at the strange question I mentally shrugged and said, "I call them Bob and Ted."
      She looked confused and said "I thought you said you got a new niece."
      "Nooo, knees!" and I pointed to my walker. Then I remembered the happy faces the Dr. drew and immediately started worrying that Bob and Ted might grow eyebrows and start wearing Groucho glasses. They make enough noise to be sentient. The receptionist was embarrassed when she realized her mistake. I just thought it was hilarious.
      Someday I may even feel as good as I did before my operations. I must bear in mind there's always a silver lining if you look for lemons or something like that.

Curmudgeon out. 

Really! do not let what I have written discourage you from having knee replacement. I was the exception. As usual with me, if it could go wrong it went wrong. Most people are tap dancing in a month. This article was done in Nov.2010. With all the complications, it took me almost 12 months to get to be as good walking as I started. I had a patella tendon stretch on my right leg and had to have it redone and the calcium crystals from the pseudo gout caused no end of pain to my left leg. It will for the rest of my life if I overdo it, and had nothing to do with the surgery.


5 comments:

  1. Kind of hard not to laugh, especially since I know it's just you making light of a very serious condition. Glad you recovered.A mate's dad has had the operation (both knees) done about 10/12 years ago, and now recently, at 81 years old, had both knee's done again - in the past 3 months, and is up and away like a newborn!
    Hope you are well.
    Salagatle!

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  2. Sorry, but I just had to laugh! The way you told it was too funny.

    I had a knee problem in the past. I didn't go to the hospital. I did research and became 99% certain it was patello-femoral syndrome, basically "runner's knee". You can walk, go up and down the stair, really do anything. But if you just think you might jog to the bus stop not to miss it, the knee ligaments will mind-read you and start hurting so bad you can barely bend your leg. Which is, I guess, nothing compared to the kind of knee pain you went through, but still...

    Well, hope it's getting better!

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  3. Wow. You went through a lot. I know a couple people who had this, but didn't have near the trouble you did. I hope you're feeling better now.

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  4. THAT was hysterical.... I have guilt saying that but it was. I was either cringing or giggling (at your expense).

    I have a left knee issue but I am currently ignoring it. Back in the 80's (?) I had scar tissue removed from that knee and I still consider that pain worse than giving birth (naturally) or my double mastectomy.

    what is pseudo gout? oh hell, I'll google it.

    Heal my friend HEAL! xoMonkeyME

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  5. If you call your two new knees Bob and Ted, what two body parts are Carol and Alice?

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