Time Passes When You’re Having Fun!

It has been several weeks since I was told by the doctor to start physiotherapy and I have to say that I have been through many emotions since it started. I’ve been like an oddly aligned pendulum, swinging back and forth, up and down between excitement that I can walk again, frustration that I can’t walk yet, annoyance that I can’t go riding, fear that I’m going to re-damage the knee, and occasional pain both just walking around and at the hands of the physiotherapists.

OK…let me start at the end of Part 9 when I received the script to start physiotherapy. It was the happiest and most exciting day since finding out I needed surgery. As Doug, my boyfriend, was driving me back to my apartment I called and booked an appointment with the physiotherapist. It was Wednesday and I was told that I couldn’t start for 10 days…TEN DAYS!!  OH, the Frustration!!

Emotional Turmoil

Emotional Turmoil

For the next ten days I practiced walking without my crutches. I went to the flea market and walked for probably a mile, I went to antique malls and walked up and down stairs, I drove my car around and went grocery shopping. I couldn’t straighten my leg all the way up, and I couldn’t bend it more than 90 degrees, and my buttocks–especially the left one–were so sore I couldn’t sleep for the first two days, BUT I was getting out of the apartment. I no longer had to wait for someone else to bring ice, I could just hop in the car and go get it myself. I had my freedom back!

Who Needs Physio?

Then I went to my first physio appointment and went through four pages of questions about my condition and what could I do and what surgery did I have and did I have other physical issues or illnesses. ARGH! It took longer to complete the form that to have the therapy!

Once the forms were complete (and my credit card information was on file) I met the physiotherapist. What a nice guy! He was super professional, knowledgeable, just a really nice guy. I’ve had friends who went through physio sessions and barely lived to tell the tale, but I had every confidence after meeting him that my physiotherapist would never hurt me. Oh how naive I was!

The first session was very gentle. He tested my flexibility over my entire body to see how much the knee was affecting me and where. He watched me walk, bend, stretch and balance and made notes about everything. Then he massaged my injured leg and loosened all the muscles that I didn’t even realize were sore until that time. OUCH! but it was a good hurt. In short order I was back in my car and wondering what I needed physio for. Except for massaging the back of my thigh and calf, I could do all those exercises myself. But I decided to keep the next appointment and see if more would be done when I wasn’t spending the first half of the appointment filling out paperwork.

The day after my first physio appointment my knee swelled so much I thought my toes were going to explode. It took two days of ice and propping my leg up to get the swelling back down. Of course, spending an entire day sitting in a restaurant with old friends, walking through department and grocery stores, and driving for two hours probably caused most of the swelling, but I really didn’t want to believe that just plain normal activities could make my leg look like I had connected an air hose to it. In fact, if you saw the Harry Potter episode when he blew up his horrible Aunt and she floated off, then you know just how my leg looked.

Decorative Knee Tape

Decorative Knee Tape

My second session started off with gentle stretching exercises, then the massage and taping my knee to help work the skin over the fascia and control the swelling. This was important because my knee wouldn’t bend if the joint was filled with fluid. At the first and second appointment my left knee was about 1.5″ bigger than my right knee. Also, this time when the measurements were taken to determine how much flexion I had my knee was forced to flex as far as it would go without pulling the ACL. OMG!!!!!! To give you an idea of how that felt, Mr. Nice Guy Physiotherapist told me to breathe like I was in Lamaze while he tried his best to pop my new ACL loose! I’ve never had a baby or been through Lamaze, but I’ve seen the movies. This was NOT a fun moment in my life. Especially when I was told that even with ‘help’ bending my knee I only had 63% flexibility.

Well, so far I’ve had about 5 weeks of physio and I’ve learned to ‘bridge’, ‘crab walk’, ‘reverse stride’, and both flex and straighten my left leg. I’m now within 1 degree of straightness and within a few degrees of matching the flexibility of my right leg. It still hurts to walk or to push the wheelbarrow, but Mr. Physio has told me that the pain will fade as my leg gains strength. When pressed for some kind of timeline, he protects his reputation by just saying that each person advances at the speed they are capable of handling and he won’t say if I’m coming along well or not. Although his assistants did tell me that few people have to be watched because they overflex the bridges or overstep the crab walk, so I guess I started out in better condition than most who have ACL replacements.

Recently I’ve been emailing a friend who had knee replacement surgery a few weeks after my ACL was replaced. Although the surgeries were both done on the knees, there is almost no other comparison between them. Her surgery was far more extensive than mine, and her scarring as well as the length of her hospital stay is proof of that. However, while I was not allowed to touch toe to the ground for almost 3 weeks, she was walking on her crutches in less time and outside working on things. Maybe I’m just a wimp, but I know for sure that I would never have been able to do that in such short time.

I would love to hear from others who have had knee surgery. What was your recovery time? How long is it REALLY before you walk without even thinking about it? Was it ACL replacement or full knee replacement, or some other knee surgery?

Am I a wimp, or am I doing OK? Enquiring minds want to know.

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Woo Hoo again!!

Ok, this is the Real McCoy, the full glass, the Pot of Gold at the end of the Rainbow…. This was my first REAL doctor’s appointment and I was REALLY going to see the surgeon and he was REALLY going to look and my knee and tell me if everything was OK.

But, before I get into that, there’s a whole five days worth of updating to do….

Mark talking to me

And remember….Smiling makes you feel better!

Poor Mark was stuck with me, complete with my depression and letdown after the last appointment fiasco, but he is nothing if not positive and his upbeat attitude, like a gold nugget on the other side of the balance scale and kept my side from dipping into depression and feeling sorry for myself. I really think this third week would have been a major disaster if not for Mark. On Monday, the day before he was heading back to Canada, Mark finally got a break from nursemaiding me with the arrival of an invitation for an afternoon visit to a friend who lived in a nearby town. So, off he went with my blessings and the sincere hope that he would have a good time.Meanwhile, Doug had arrived back in Florida and was planning a visit that afternoon. The plan was for Doug to arrive in the afternoon and the three of us to have supper together, but I’m sure you have all read the book about plans and mice and men. Seems they never work out as they should.Anyway, Mark’s visit lasted much longer than expected. This turned out to be a fortunate turn of events because it gave Doug and me a chance to catch up on news from Connecticut and the events of the past few weeks here. But the day started to get late and Doug lives two hours to the south so finally he decided to head for home and Mark was still not back.

Photo of me recording introsWe put our heads together

and, since Mark’s plane was leaving late the following day, Doug made plans to return just after noon so we could all have time for a chat and dinner together. Since I was still not cleared for driving, Doug would drive Mark and me to the airport after dinner, then he would stay the night and drive me to my doctor’s appointment the next day.

The next day Doug and I headed off for the REAL doctor’s appointment and once more my nerves were at cracking point.

Have you ever felt like you were stuck in an Abbot and Costello movie?

Once more the GPS took us in the totally wrong direction. ARGH!! Can’t someone do something about that?? This time we had two GPS’s and BOTH of them took us to the wrong location…on opposite sides of town!


Oh well, we finally made it to the correct location and I had a new x-ray and saw the REAL doctor. He spent several minutes pulling and twisting my leg, checking flexion, tightness of the joint, and the ability to straighten the leg then, wonder of wonders and miracle of miracles, he told me that every thing felt great, wrote me a script for six weeks of physio, and sent me on my way with a new appointment in 6 weeks.

OH! And did I mention that he said I should start using only one crutch and wean myself off them completely within a week? After holding my foot off the ground completely for almost three weeks I could finally start at least THINKING about walking again.

Doug and I stopped on the way home to have breakfast and celebrate my new ambulatory status, and I felt as if a 100 pound weight had been lifted from my mind and chest. Until that moment I had not realized how concerned I was about the possible repercussions of the fall. But suddenly the world was a brighter place and, once more, the future was filled with endless possibilities.

This experience is not over, but already it has been a turning point in my life. If you’ve had a turning point in your life, I hope you will leave me a note about it in the comments section and tell me how it turned out. Thanks for sticking with me through this story, it has meant a lot to me.

Knee Haiku

May 22, 2013

It’s so amazing what they can do with modern surgical proceedures. My knee feels like an alien grafting, but with 5 small bandaides you can conceal every incision. As Spock would say, “Fascinating!”

Good Knee

kneesBend, stretch, step, crawl, leap,

no matter what you’re doing

you need a good knee

Knee Meaning

Hot and fevered joint,

why do you torture me now?

I treated you well.

Bad Knee

Heat builds to boiling;

Ice pack elicits shocked squeals.

Oh no! A bad knee?

Swelling

Skin stretched shiny taut

bulges out where dents should be.

Swelling binds my knee.

You can find the first and second episodes at:

Of Dogs, Knee Surgery, and Large Horse (Part 1)

Of Dogs, Knee Surgery, and Large Horse (Part 2)

Of Dogs, Knee Surgery, and Large Horses (Part 3)

Great! I was a widow living alone with six cats, a blind and deaf dog, and four horses. The aftermath of the surgery would leave me unable to touch my toe to the ground for almost two weeks. How many favors was I going to have to call in to get all this done? For a minimum of two weeks?

Vickie's Camera 006 (2)I was an active person! I rode horses, walked my dog, wandered around flea markets,  blogged (OK, so I can blog while laid up, but I only sleep about six hours a night because my back hurts if I lay in bed longer than that.) How on earth was I going to make it two whole weeks without moving faster than …….I couldn’t even think of anything slower than what I would be. AND he scheduled the surgery less than two weeks away….ARGH!!

OK….I took a deep breath, at that moment ‘Hitch Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy’ popped into my head, and I whispered, “Don’t panic….!”

Then I put my thinking hat on (yes I do, too, have one!): boyfriend had just flown to California and from there heading off to Connecticut for three weeks, brother was at sea for two weeks, sister was in South Carolina with too short notice for her to get time off…..I called Dad.

The invitation was from the heart, Dad and my very sweet new step-mother, Carolyn, wanted me to stay with them, but lived on a busy corner and didn’t want my deaf/blind dog (that smells like an old dog) in the house. I wasn’t willing to put the Rally Dog in a kennel because the last time I did she panicked and tried to eat her way out resulting in a broken tooth and twisted jaw.

Thinking hat on again…No one with a farm was willing to take the responsibility for having her because she couldn’t hear, could barely see, and they were afraid she would get stepped on by a horse, or run over. Some had other dogs that were territorial, some lived on busy streets and worked through the day… well, it looked like I would just have to stay home and take care of myself. What’s the big deal? After all, I AM SUPERWOMAN, damn it!

So, the race was on and I made my lists:

  • get big hay bale for field horses (so helpers will not have to take hay to them every day)

  • buy enough feed to last until I can walk (had to guess at this)

  • stock up on dog food

  • stock up on cat food

  • clean my apartment (I know it won’t last, but I really like living in a clean space)

  • set up the computer and printer in the bed

  • box of food in the bed (all the best stuff, cookies, granola bars, water, peanuts)

  • phone charger in the bed

  • (too bad I couldn’t put the toilet in the bed—more about that later)

  • clean the fridge and throw out everything that will go bad

  • buy groceries that I can prepare easily or that are ready-to-eat

  • gas up the car to drive myself to the hospital

  • make arrangements for a pick-up

Wow! So much to do, so little time, but I managed to get it all done, and off to the hospital I went.

Normal procedure is to be at the hospital two hours before surgery for all the prep work, the surgery lasts about 30 minutes, then an hour in recovery and away we go….NOT!

photo 2I was there only a few minutes late and everyone—nurses, doctors, anesthesiologist, and hospital staff—were wonderful. They were all pleasant, efficient and helpful, and I spent the extra time working on my small laptop in between interruptions for divesting street clothes and donning the excuse for a garment you wear for surgery, being stuck and fitted with a port, and meeting with surgeon, anesthesiologist and surgery nurse. Each of them checked my name on the cute bracelet they gave me, asked me which surgery I was having done and where, and what my name was. The doctor even wrote YES! in large letters on my leg just above my left knee. By the time they came with the roller bed to take me to surgery I felt pretty confident that they all knew who I was, how old I was, and that they were doing surgery on my left knee.

Since there was a surgery planned ahead of me, and day surgery started at 9:00, I did end up delayed by about 45 minutes, not too much in the general scheme of things. This actually worked well because Dad and Carolyn arrived to sit with me for a while and take me home after the surgery. I thought they would have been better arriving around 1:00 in the afternoon, but in my heart I have to admit that I was happy to see them both before going into surgery. As soon as they sat down the nurse, (how sadistic!) brought a coffee for Dad, who appeased me somewhat by making faces and telling me how bad it was as he slurpped it up. Eventually the nurse put something in the IV and the transporter came to get me. I barely remember getting rolled out the door.

To Be Continued….

So….my horse was fine and my knee hurt like hell. Am I on Candid Camera or something? Or a victim of one of Murphy’s more sadistic Laws?

superwoman

Can You Find Super Woman?

OK, it didn’t hurt like hell all the time, only when I walked, or rode, or tried to sleep. The rest of the time it was a strong and active ache. For about a week I was hobbling around like a 100 year old woman with arthritis, and for another two weeks I was not hobbling, but it was only because I am superwoman and I refused to show signs of weakness. After all, I had places to go, people to see, things to do. I couldn’t stop, or even slow down, for an injury. Animals depended on me. But, when no one was looking I lifted my leg into the car with my hands because I couldn’t get my leg to work that way.

Meanwhile, Olivia went lame again. What was wrong with that horse? A call went out to the vet, who spent three hours at the farm blocking, ultra-sounding and x-raying. Diagnosis: she will not get better (more about that in a future blog). No more riding Olivia. Fortunately, she was gorgeous, had fabulous movement, and was a good age for breeding so away she went on lease to be a mommy. A great life for her; one less horse to worry about with a bad knee.

photo 02Finally, in the dark and secret hours of the morning, when no one could see me, I took an aspirin …I ….TOOK ….AN ….ASPIRIN. I, who NEVER take pain medication unless on death’s bed, took an aspirin. That’s when I decided it was time to see a doctor. Well, I thought defensively, I just spent hundreds of dollars to find out why my horse is lame, and the results were somewhat frightening. Was I not worth that? That thought was immediately followed by: Doctor??  What doctor?

Dear Me…I had been in Florida for five years and had not been to see a doctor once. Or to a hospital. Or a clinic. I didn’t know any doctors. As a disgustingly healthy person, what need did I have for doctors? So I called around and, after speaking with several friends, I had an appointment—in a month—with a well respected doctor. Isn’t it funny, once I made the appointment my knee felt better. I almost canceled several times but, just as I was making that decision and reaching for the phone I would step slightly wrong and the knee would hurt again. I somehow knew that if I canceled the appointment Murphy, with his fist full of wretched Laws, would raise his evil head again and my leg would fall off. So, after about a year, that month passed and I met with the doctor. Following the Torture Of 1000 Questions and a cursory exam, she gave me instructions and off I went on my merry way.

From the doctor’s office I was sent to the vampire house where (pleasant surprise) I really didn’t feel a thing, and from there I drove to the MRI/X-ray building. It was quite amazing to me that everything was right on schedule. I waited less than five minutes at each house of small horrors, then had the joy of waiting for the doctor to call with the results.

To my shock, the first thing I was told was that I had high cholesterol—both ‘good’ and ‘bad’–and that, no, they don’t balance out. This is something that I don’t understand. If one is ‘good’ and the other ‘bad’ isn’t that like plus and minus. If you have similar amounts of plus and minus you end up with a very low number. NOT! I, who normally prefer to eat chicken and fish, was told to cut back on my red meat. I wondered how I was supposed to do that?

Oh well, that wasn’t my big problem, the big problem was that I had a new appointment with a specialist. Why? Because there was a tear in my ACL. Naturally, the appointment was a month away.

Another year that lasted a month passed and the great day arrived. And I spent all of 15 minutes with the doctor. He pulled my knee this way and that, told me it was swollen, the joint was loose, and that the MRI and X-Rays showed that I needed surgery. Why? Because I had torn my ACL almost in two, and a section of the meniscus was pulling off the bone. And, guess what? They don’t get better without surgery. Then he asked me if next Friday was OK.

WHAT?   Who was going to look after the horses? The Rally Dog? The cats? ME!? How long would I be off? How long before I’d be normal? (Ok…I do realize the ‘N’ word is not one that is normally usually associated with me, but to me I am ‘normal’.) I had almost a week to figure all this out.

To be continued….

Well friends, it seems that this month has been a very slow blogging month for me so far, but I think this will make up for it.

Of Dogs, Knee Surgery, and Large Horses (Part 1)RIMG0110

If you’ve explored my blog site you’ll know that I have horses. I look after some of them myself and others are with a trainer. The horses I have on this farm are broodmares and occasionally a horse that is recovering from injuries and just needs light work or stall rest. I could write stories about them every day of the week, but this story is more about me than about them.

A few months ago I was working with a huge gray mare that had lameness issues but was finally trotting out sound, so I started bringing her into the stall in the daytime and putting her out at night. This was convenient because I could bring her in and feed her–some trickery here–so she loved coming in, then ride her a little later after her breakfast settled.

I tried cleaning her stall with her in it, but invariably I got hit across the face like a whiplash by her long gray tail. So, rather than taking a chance on losing an eye, the program was changed and in the late afternoon/early evening Olivia would get her pellets first then I would make the rounds of the outside horses, doling out feed along the way and checking them all for booboos, lameness and swellings. By the time I was finished with that chore, Olivia was waiting at the stall door for her walk to the paddock and it was time to clean her stall.

Vickie's Camera 015Rally, my totally deaf and mostly blind dog, would follow along, sniffing her way from here to there, and generally be underfoot until I was finished and ready to go in. She is the kindest, gentlest old soul you would ever find, and normally stays pretty close to me; sometimes so close that I trip over her when I turn around.

Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever had horses or cleaned stalls, but the amount of manure produced is in direct proportion to the amount of feed the horses eat x their size. Since Olivia is 18 hands, which is almost a foot taller than the average horse, she produces a lot of manure.

One afternoon in the late spring there was a group of other boarders standing around talking when I pushed the overloaded and awkward one-wheel wheelbarrow out of Olivia’s stall so, being the incredibly social person and brilliant conversatonalist that I am, I parkd the wheelbarrow and stopped to chat with them. Meanwhile, Rally decided to take a nap in the shade.

A few minutes later I turned back to the wheelbarrow, rolled it about 6 inches and heard a yelp from Rally. Fearing that I had crushed my poor dog with 1000 pounds of horse manure, I attempted the impossible act of reversing the momentum of all that weight, got the whole thing overbalanced, and the wheelbarrow, as if possesed by a demon, tipped over with me between the handles hitting my left knee and flipping me to the ground….right into the pile of manure. This would have been one of those incredibly hilarious slap-stick moments if it wasn’t for the pain in my knee at the time. Even so, I have to smile now at the mental picture of me flipping into a pile of manure and shavings…..yuck!

Fortunately there were a few people still round so in short order, and amid the usual bathroom jokes, I was helped up, Rally was checked (just startled), the manure was shoveled back into the wheelbarrow, and since I was having a hard time standing up, one of the other boarders took the wheelbarrow to the manure pile for me.

I was almost finished for the night anyway so, rather than filling water buckets and putting out hay. I hobbled back into the apartment to nurse my dignity, feed Rally and myself, take a shower, and watch my knee swell.

To Be Continued…..

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