Saturday, January 31, 2009

Happy update

Two days after my surgery, I cried. My knee was...well...rather grotesque. Three times the size of the other knee, stitched up, immobile, painful. I thought, "What have I done?"

17 days later, I'm thinking, "When can I fix the other one?" Amazing what a little time can do.

I don't need my brace anymore - and I only use one crutch when I go out. At home, I walk around fairly normally. My knee still has a fair amount of swelling (especially after I do my exercises), so Jim M (PT extraordinaire) gave me a compression sleeve for my knee. He also has been "massaging" my lower IT band (near - but not on - where the release was done) during each PT session. OUCH is all I can say. While his massages cause me to grip the side of the table so I don't scream, they have loosened up whatever is causing tightness in my knee. Yesterday (drum roll please) I was able to ride a stationary bike normally. Yes - I could make a full revolution with my surgically-repaired knee. I couldn't do that on Wednesday.

Today, Rick is bringing me my bike and trainer from Maramarc. I'm not allowed to use my biking shoes (no clipping in yet) or any tension on the trainer, but the simple cycling movement is supposed to be excellent for my knee's healing.

Soon, I'll be able to walk Josie again - that is if she'll ever leave Rick's side.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The latest..

I'm wondering why Richmond is never quite cold enough for snow. I'm watching some kind of sleetish-stuff falling from the sky. Yuck - snow is much prettier.

Anyway, I met with Dr Higgs yesterday. It turns out that, yes indeed, that was a piece of cartilage I saw on the pictures. He was quite pleased with how nicely my patella popped into place after the lateral release procedure. But, he did tell me he wishes that I'd had this surgery on my knee years ago (who knew?). I do have a spot that has no cartilage - which means my bone is exposed in one spot. He told me that steep hills and stairs would probably always be a problem for that knee. On a bright note, the rest of my knee is very healthy - no signs of arthritis, etc. Based on how much popping my knee made before surgery (combined with pain & swelling), WebMD diagnosed me with osteoarthritis, too. Dr Higgs trumps WedMD every time.

Anyway, I'm being quite a dutiful PT patient. I'd like to ditch the crutches and brace asap. The crutches have knocked over more than one glass of water (maddening) and the doesn't go with most of my outfits. It's also a wee bit cumbersome hoisting it (and my leg) into my car.

Most of all, I miss walking Josie through my 'hood.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


Knee surgery was not in my grand plan for 2009. In fact, I ignored the doctor when he first told me it was what I needed. Luckily, my prognosis looks pretty good. I'll get all the nitty-gritty details of my knee's health next week when I return to Dr Higgs. That's when I'll have him explain each picture he took of my surgery. I think two pictures show the before and after position of my patella. Another picture shows (again - I think) the piece of floating cartilage that was giving me fits all fall.

Okay - that stuff isn't what's so humbling. What is humbling to me is how much I've had to rely on the generosity of my friends to help me get to where I need to be (Lynn, SanDee, Deanna B, Cathy F), feed me (Kate O, Grandison, SanDee - Annnn-in the future), send treats (Cyndi, Annie, Mom), visits (Lynn, Karen H, Kate O) and boost my spirits with emails, calls and text messages (a slew of good people). And Rick - well, he has just been simply amazing. Don't be fooled by his occasional smart-alecky remarks, he is a softie and has been so good to me.

It brings home the realization that even when you feel alone, if you have good friends or family (luckily, I have both), you are never alone. And if you have a neurotic dog (like mine), you are literally never alone. Luckily, Josie fears my crutches, so she hasn't tripped me yet.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Crutchin' around

Before surgery, I was completely focused on the procedure itself - and the potential successful results. I didn't consider post-surgery.. and things like adapting to crutches and a knee brace.

Ignorance is bliss?

First, I am doing well and do feel better every day. But, just as TG Maggie (who happens to be a physical therapist) predicted, my knee is so swollen that my quad has essentially shut down. I actually have to lift my right leg to move it. It's weird. I also felt like I should be "tough" and not rely on prescription painkillers. Silly, silly me. My doctor reminded me that there is a reason he prescribes percocet post-surgery - and that I'm not being a wimp. I have taken the minimum dosage - and hope to be totally off it today. Fingers crossed!

I have grown to love my super-cool ice machine that provides constant coolness to my knee. What a fantastic invention. I am the proud owner of another device -I forgot its real name - but it provides electrical impulses to my quad. It cuts down on pain AND helps to prevent too much atrophying of my quad muscle.

While my training partners are out running repeats in the arctic cold, I will be contemplating which bathroom will be the least problematic for showering. Do I attempt to climb the stairs to get to the big shower? Or do I use the downstairs, more accessible shower that requires I somehow hoist my leg over the tub (without wiping out)?

Decisions, decisions...

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Lateral Release:debriefing

When I learned that I needed knee surgery, I obsessively read everything I could about the two procedures I needed: chondroplasty and lateral release. The first involved cleaning up damaged cartilage and the second involved cutting the lateral-something-that-I-can-not-pronounce-so-forget-about-spelling-it part of my knee. I heard very mixed reviews about the latereral release procedure. Apparently, it was often used incorrectly. It's only recommended for those lucky people (like me) who have patellas with an extreme tilt.

I also did research on the various knee surgeons in town. Richmond has several exellent ones - including mine (Dr Higgs) who rocks.

However, even though I knew I needed the surgery (have you seen me walking up and down stair lately? Disturbing) and I knew Dr Higgs was excellent, I was still nervous.

Until I got to the surgical suite. I just have to give a little shout-out to all the nurses in the world (and especially the ones @ advanced orthopaedics). My nurse, Carla, was so kind, patient and funny. She immediately put me at ease. I even took a little nap while waiting for surgery (and I did have to wait and wait and wait). Dr Higgs stopped by to answer my never-ending questions and check out my knee again. Meanwhile, sweet Rick was right there by my side.

Before I knew it, I was being wheeled off to surgery. One minute I was talking to the nurses and the next...I was waking up. I think I asked them something like, "Why didn't you do my knee surgery?" They laughed because my knee was wrapped and braced and iced.

Dr Higgs met with Rick while I was in recovery. He took pictures while operating on me - and showed how he moved my patella (via the lateral release) back in position. Sadly, I can see where I've done some damage to the cartilage. But, I also have a fair amount of healthy cartilage left, too.

For now, I'm on crutches and my leg is in a straight brace. I won't lie and say I have no pain - because my knee is actually quite tender and swollen. I do begin PT on Monday. I think I'll be put through my paces for 6-8 weeks by Jim Miller. But I do see myself biking and running again. Yippee!!!!!!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Waiting... can I keep my mind off my impending surgery?

Change the layout of my blog, of course! Let's see what else I can do before they knock me out....

p.s. I was inspired by Deanna & Bethany.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Hello again

It's been over a month since I've written something on this blog. Lame, I know. I have been busy with holidays, travel, etc. etc. But, that's not why I've been absent.

I think I've been in a bit of a grieving period. I miss my (somewhat) healthy knees.

Heavy sigh.

I have gone through denial (way back in August), sadness (the blue period = Sept/Oct), anger (November & December) and finally...acceptance.

I am scheduled for knee surgery on Wednesday. I am not expecting miracles. I know my knees won't miraculously become the way they were when I was a youngster. But, I do have hopes that I can bike relatively pain-free again (although that my require some work on my other knee, too) and maybe even run a little.

It helped to have coffee with two of my original Trigirl training buddies (SanDee J and Carmen). We reminisced about doing the ACAC sprint tri in sub-freezing temperatures and competing at Naylor's with hangovers (I never said I was hardcore, people).

I loved doing those sweet, fairly short triathlons. And - I wasn't in bad shape, either.

And so, SanDee J and I are hoping to do the Pink Power sprint tri in August. It will be like old times again.

And that makes me smile.

Life goes on....thankfully.