Thursday, June 27, 2013

One almost down, one more to go... (part 1)

Can we say biggest slacker EVER?!?! I didn't forget about my blog I swear. These last few months have been challenging. Now to put it all in words...

Back in December I had a conversation with my orthopedic doctor regarding my knees. At that point my kneecaps were to high, not fitting into the grove your body naturally creates, shifting from sided to side, and rubbing against the bone underneath. I was in a lot of pain justifiably so. Physical Therapy had helped a bit but in a sense that was like putting a bandaid on a torn artery. Ok maybe not THAT severe. You get the point. Cortisone and Synvisc shots did not work, were painful, and left me walking with a walker for 2 weeks. The next step was surgery. Below you can see a scan of my knees if you were to chop off my legs at the knee and look down into them. See the round ovals on top? Those are my kneecaps and you can see where there is no cartilage so the other bone is touching it.

Jan 31 I went in for surgery. The official name of the procedure is Elmslie Trillat. Say what? I know I can't even say it. I just tell people my kneecap moves around a lot. Basically this is what they did. They removed my tendon from my tibia. Where it attaches is called a tubercle. That little bony bump you feel just under your knee. So the detached the tendon, then broke off the tubercle. My kneecap was placed where it should be. Last my tendon was reattached to hold my kneecap in place. To reattach the tendon they inserted 3 screws into my bone. Here's is an X-ray of my knee. 

I wake up a few hours later in the hospital with a huge brace on my knee. I was to wear this for 4 weeks to keep my knee straight. It ran from my upper thigh down to my shin. It was bulky and black and locked in place. It was awesome.  

I stay 2 nights in the hospital and then I'm sent on my way with my crutches and some pain meds for my 2 hour ride home. I opted for the forearm crutches and I have to say that was a great choice. No wrist pain, no chaffing under the armpits, and they were very easy to get around on.  

I have to say the weeks after surgery weren't so bad. I had received a nerve block in my leg which helped a lot. The doctor was very good at keeping my pain under control so I would stay in remission with my RA. 

When I hit the 1 week mark is when my recovery took a bad turn. One night Joe was helping me out of the bath tub and off of my shower chair. Now not being able to exercise these last few years because of the RA and my knees has caused some extra pounds to find a home on my mid section (either that or my Italian in-laws). Regardless I didn't trust Joe to hold my weight and I went down on my knee the wrong way. I popped 2 of the 3 screws out of my bone. At the time I didn't realize what I had done. I thought I just stepped wrong and did something I shouldn't have done so I was extra sore. The next week at my 2 week post-op I received the bad news. I needed another surgery to repair the damage. If you scroll back up to the first photo you can see where the top and bottom screws are sticking out a bit.

The following Friday, Feb 22, I went to Beth Israel Hospital in Boston for the surgery to repair the damage.  It was supposed to be an outpatient procedure but in true form my body did not want to cooperate.  I couldn't get my heart rate low enough to go home so they admitted me into the hospital.  Below you can see a picture of how they fixed the damage. 

You can see there is only 1 screw left. Wrapped around my bone, under my skin, you see a wire. There is also a wire running up the length of my knee. Below is a head on view of the wire.

If you look at my other knee in the picture you can see how bad I was. 

All day Sat it was a battle to control my pain and my heart rate. Finally at 7pm I had been stable for a few hours so we had to make a decision. Discharge and start the 2 hour drive home or stay. Normally it being so late we would have stayed and gone home in the morning. The problem we were facing was that it was starting to snow and wasn't going to let up until the following evening. We would have had to stay until Mon. Being that I wanted to be home in my own bed and get the drive over with we decided to leave.

Now that I was home I was on strict bedrest. I was only allowed to go to the bathroom. I couldn't even go out the living room to watch TV. My knee had to stay straight so I would not end up back in the OR. So in my bed I stayed. An awesome thing about bedrest is that I was able to watch the entire series of Entourage and Parenthood. Very very good shows. I was in bed for 50 straight days. I know that because Joe picked up 50 heparin shots from the pharmacy and I used every one, in the stomach. They hurt like a SOB I tell ya. 

Now were are up to March and the post op for my second surgery. The staples are removed and I get the green light to start physical therapy on April 1. I'm going to stop right there for now and continue with the PT portion of my recovery in a few days. 

Hahaha by the way I forgot to tell you!. I'm in remission and I stayed in remission through all of this!

Click here for part 2.


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