Tag Archives: arthroscopic knee surgery

Surgery Log 2012 – Weak Leg a bit stronger

12/22/12 – Saturday night – Today started out the usual way. Maybe, just maybe, my weak leg felt a wee bit stronger. It seems that lately when I drive, it is not so much of an effort to lift my leg up. At first I thought my response times were slow, but actually it is my leg that is simply hard to lift up to the petal. I feel a little bit less nervous when driving because of this. I got discouraged yesterday when my knee started giving out on me yet again, especially since I just had the cortisone shot. But, then I put a brace on and it felt a lot better. Even someone in the meeting at Midday told me I seemed to be walking better. Of course I still have the problem of losing my balance easily, which is very upsetting. After I’ve been sitting a while my balance is way off. Also, when I was sitting for an hour today, my legs were literally burning which was so uncomfortable. I spoke with Ruth after the meeting and she suggested that maybe that was a good sign that meant that the nerves were “coming back to life”. That gave me hope and it almost sounds plausible so I posted that question on line and we’ll see what others have to say. Apparently I’m not the only person who has had this type of trouble after getting a laminectomy. Who knows how long my spinal nerve was compressed before the pain became so bad that I finally sought help. So, if you figure the pain started almost a year ago, then the numbness started back in the summer, this has been going on for quite some time. There had to be damage that now needs to repair. Nerves take a long time to heal and I think that the longer the nerve root was compressed, the longer it will take to heal. Maybe the burning is a sign that the nerve root is starting to heal. Dear God I sure hope because I need hope; hope is everything! By the way, I watched Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol, which I had not seen since I was a teenager. Apparently they fixed it up and it is now back on. I loved that!

12/23/12 – Sunday – Ruth invited me to a prayer service at her Church. She said it was a healing service and sure enough at some point, anybody needing healing was asked to come up and have the reverend lay his hands on us. It brought back visions I’ve seen in movies of people being miraculously healed who were in wheel chairs. It was very moving and I almost started to cry. Yet, it was a very peaceful feeling and that lasted the rest of the night. After the service, we drove around to look at the Christmas lights and I actually felt “happy” or as happy as I am capable lately. I came home and The Sound of Music was on and of course, even though I’ve seen the movie a gazillion times, I had to watch it again. What a movie!

Surgery Log 2012 – Discouragement

Discouragement – 11/28/12 – Wednesday – 2nd entry – For some inexplicable reason, after doing the PT, going to a meeting, and walking in Target, my legs, abdomen, and back are unbelievably numb and tingly. I had to go back to the house suddenly because I felt so terrible I couldn’t really stand up too much longer. It is so upsetting and discouraging. I actually felt halfway decent today, but as of right now, my body from my waist down is totally numb. I’m back to thinking in a negative way again. I told myself to be positive but I’ve had it for the day. I think I will get the chores done early and retire to my bed to read. At least if I enter a world of fantasy, I don’t have to think about myself. At this point I really am wondering if this will ever get better. One day I seem to be making progress, and the next day I feel no better than I did before the damn surgery. Sometimes I wonder why the hell I even had the surgery in the first place. I actually feel worse than I did a few months ago. I am having trouble finding a reason to go on with this whole thing. I hope I feel differently tomorrow!

11/30/12 – Friday – I resolved to be in a more positive state of mind because I know it does affect the healing process, or so I’ve been told. But, as usual I awake with stiff and numb knees, quads, abdomen, back, etc. The only good thing is that the cortisone shot in my knee seems to actually have helped so my knee does not get “stuck” in one position when I sit causing me to limp until it straightens out. I must be at least grateful for something and I truly am. But, my right leg is just so damn weak that I am constantly off balance and must limp. At first I thought my limp was due to the uneven hips but actually it is because my damn leg will simply not support my body. I am very self-conscious when I have to use the cane, but I limp less and don’t feel scared of falling as much. The fear is still there though. I rant and rave today and finally decide that there should have been at least some sort of improvement so I call the doctor’s office and speak to the nurse (of course) who seems somewhat concerned. That surprises me because I am sure she will say, “Oh, it is too soon so don’t worry.” But she decided to put me on a steroid pack to help relieve inflammation. It is day 3 and there is really no improvement so far. Actually I thought I was walking much, much better on Saturday but by Sunday that progress seemed to have disappeared. Maybe it was just wishful thinking or maybe there was an initial improvement, but I don’t understand why sometimes things seem better and then I wake up back to square one. When I get up and I have trouble walking, with the same numbness, I get discouraged.

Surgery Log 2012 – Positive Mindset

Positive Mindset: 11/27/12 – Tuesday – Today I went to the orthopedic doctor I’ve seen numerous times for knee injections. He is the surgeon’s partner and actually I like him a lot. He ended up giving me a cortisone shot which will help with the stiffness and pain. I was in a better state of mind for the rest of the day. I went to a meeting and felt so much better.

11/28/12 – Wednesday – This is the first day of my physical therapy. I am in a good state of mind because I will hopefully get the OK to do some more exercises. He says I am more flexible than the average person, which is a good thing. But, of course, he cannot give me any time-frame for my nerve root to heal. Until that heals, all the therapy in the universe will not bring my dead leg back to total function. It is a slow process, as I’ve been told over and over. But, on a good note, he said in about 6 months or so he thinks I should be back to normal. Six months is a long time, but as long as I continue to see progress, it is OK with me. He said to walk slowly so the nerve pathways can learn again—if I walk too fast (which is really not even an option at this point) my nerve becomes “confused” so keep it slow! I went to Target to walk around with the shopping cart (buggy down here) but for some reason, my legs felt like someone had injected an anesthetic agent into them and I was walking on dead tingly legs; very discouraging. I decided to go home and work on the computer. It is an effort each day to stay in a positive state of mind but I am going to try. I cannot guarantee that I will be successful. I’m scared that I will never be able to return to the life I knew; I am scared that I will be permanently disabled. You can’t play the “what if” game. My biggest problem is between my ears. Life constantly changes but that is the nature of life. I don’t know what the future will hold so I have to just take “one day at a time”.

Surgery Log 2012 – New Reality

New Reality – Sunday – I decide to clean my bathroom, even though I am still unsteady. My knee feels slightly better because I am not doing so much bending and flexing during exercise. Even the backwards squats, holding onto something, irritates my knee. I go to the gym and work out in the woman’s section so I won’t be so noticeable. I am acutely self-conscious about my limp and having to use the cane. But I guess it would be even more embarrassing if I fell, hence the cane. Maybe I need to get a distinctive walking stick for some flare! I do the treadmill, some biceps, triceps, shoulders, etc. using light 5 lb. weights. I also try the thigh and hip machine on an extremely low resistance. I am careful not to do anything that pulls on my back at all. All of a sudden I notice my damn knee is back to being painful, probably due to my small squats to strengthen my knee. Again, I am very discouraged. I am laying low today in the house, writing and taking it easy. Yes I could go out again, but I decide to just chill since it is Sunday. It is amazing how I actually wish I were working tomorrow because I am losing my mind with boredom. I love to write but as always, I lack structure in my life, which I so desperately need. My goal is to actually get better enough to start traveling, taking pictures with a new digital SLR, and getting paid with the pics. I am a good photographer and this is what I want to do. But, everything in my life is on hold until this incredible numbness in my legs gets resolved. My left leg is not so bad and not weak, but my right leg sometimes does not even support me at all. I am walking in fear all the time, and so slowly that it makes me feel extremely old. But I have to stop looking at my past and reliving my former self. I find myself saying, “Oh, I used to run marathons and be in great shape. I used to work out every day for an hour. I used to look good. I used to have gorgeous shapely calves, etc.” That does me no good whatsoever. I heard Stacey say that she would tell people that she used to make 100K and have a beautiful spacious home. The reality is that she lost all that and now lives in a nice apartment. My reality is that I no longer run, my right leg is atrophied a little due to weakness, I cannot work out the way I used to and my body does not look the way I want it to anymore. I have to accept this and move on to the next phase in my life. Hopefully, and God willing, my leg will improve as the numbness subsides, but as of now, my life is changed. I do not know when or if there will be improvement, although I’ve been told there will be. I have to latch onto that prognosis and try hard to notice even the most infinitesimal improvements. I never thought that I would take so much pleasure in such small things, but maybe that is why this is happening. My mood can turn around in an instant with just one small improvement in my walking, my knee, less numbness. But, conversely, it can go the other way when there seems to be no improvement or even a setback. I have to learn to roll with the punches and realize that ultimately it is my attitude that will save me.

Surgery Log – 2012 – Thanksgiving

11/22/12 – Happy Thanksgiving, I guess. It is traditional for me to start out running in the morning but that is not happening today. So, I decide to walk on my treadmill, upstairs. I ask “permission” from my tenant upstairs and she agrees. But for some reason my knee and leg are very painful and stiff today (more than usual) so I abandon that idea. I am already discouraged so I go to a 12-noon meeting. I was not planning to go anywhere today since Janet’s Thanksgiving celebration will take place on Friday. I didn’t want to have two pig out days in a row. But everyone at the meeting convinced me to go to the AA festivity at Baker Avenue. It was decent but I would’ve preferred going to the Jet’s house. I still have no idea when I am supposed to grace the Jet with my presence on Friday. When I come home I do chores and start to get more and more agitated and upset, complete with crying, at my (you guessed it) knee’s lack of progress and even regression from the day before. That’s when I luckily decide to go to the Evans meeting at 8:00. That is a good decision because it gets me out of my head and saves me, as it always does. For some inexplicable reason, my stupid knee is not too bad. I jump on that good feeling and it helps me for the rest of the night. I am freezing in bed due to my numb legs; something that is a recent occurrence. David calls me to tell me that everything was really nice at his cousin Teresa’s house for Thanksgiving and that Joe looked good. It is a shame that his son, Aaron, could not be there with the other kids. Henry, of course was a big hit because he is super duper adorable. I am feeling glad about Joseph being part of the family for the day yet I am sad again about being apart from my family. I begin to think that moving so far away was a curse, but that was my decision so I have to live with it.

Surgery Log 2012 – Regressing

Regressing – 11/18/12 – Sunday – I think I am programmed to be depressed on Sunday because that ray of sunshine I had the day before did not last too long. It just seems that I am regressing, rather than progressing. I woke up with very bad knee pain. Definitely on the Pity Pot today. My knee is unusually stiff and sore. I went with Joyce to the Church today and felt OK afterwards, except that my knee is still stiff and sore and I had to use the damn cane. I worked myself into a real STATE this evening. I decided that I would exercise the garage option if I don’t get better or at least have some hope of getting better in the somewhat immediate future. I cried hysterically and then called the Jet. I spoke with her and John, two people who I can really let it all out with, and they both get upset when I tell them I don’t want to live anymore. I was so upset that Sunshine would not stop SCREAMING—something she seems to do more often when I am upset—and I slammed the bird food plastic bin down on the counter and it broke. Then I went over to her and literally waved my grabber stick at her. I am truly out of control. God forbid I actually hurt her; I would never forgive myself. I am just so depressed and frustrated I can hardly bare it. Please God; give me HOPE for a recovery. My back is getting better—at least the incision is—but my right leg and knee are regressing.

11/19/12 – Monday – I wake up feeling hopeful because my knee seems stronger and I have an appointment to get the staples out of my back. I have intentions of speaking to the surgeon but of course I see the nurse and then the PA. I am annoyed but she is nice and takes lots of time to address my concerns about my knee. She explains that because of the back surgery, my knee’s progress has been put on hold and the muscle leading into the knee (the Quads) is becoming weak so my knee is weak too. It makes sense so I will accept that explanation. I make an appointment for PT with Kevin and a follow up surgical appointment to speak to the actual surgeon—amazing. She says I am doing well and my stupid knee will get better in TIME; no telling when that will be. The numbness will resolve in TIME; no telling when that will be. I will be back to work in TIME; it will be addressed after seeing the doctor in a few weeks. In the meantime, I will do my PT, my limited exercises (some treadmill and maybe recumbent bike) but not much more. I am feeling hopeful again. It is amazing how your outlook on life can change from one day to another. I have no idea how I will feel tomorrow so I might as well enjoy a day of hope. I am now able to drive although it takes a lot out of me and I am still very tired. I am going to a meeting tonight alone.

Surgery Log 2012 – Beginning

Beginning: Background – About 8 months ago I became aware of a chronic back and overall ache, mostly in my back and hips. Thinking it was due to my new mattress I returned the mattress 4 times trying to wake up not feeling like a Mack truck had hit me overnight. I would shake it off, pop my 4 Ibuprofens, take a hot shower, and go out for a run or to the gym before going to work. But, it soon became apparent that my right knee was painful and I probably had a ripped meniscus. But It also became apparent that I was having limited ROM on my right side and had constant pain all over—not just the knee—even while working out in the gym. At first I ignored it and just tried to put it aside, but I knew I had to see a specialist. Regarding the knee, I have had that surgery before and just assumed that I would recover completely within 2 or 3 months. However this has not been the case.

As of right now I am also trying to recover from back surgery (laminectomy) which also affects the knee. My “recovery” has not been what I expected—from both the laminectomy and knee surgery. Because my right leg is so weak, due to the injured spinal nerve, it has prevented the quadriceps muscle (thigh) from being strong and this affects the knee recovery. I am now using a cane because of my weak right leg and knee. My knees are so stiff and my right knee so painful that I can barely walk. This is probably due to having two anesthesias and surgeries back to back, or so I have been told. As a form of therapy, I decided to document my ordeal in the following posts.

Chronic Pain

Unless you are experiencing chronic pain, you have no idea how absolutely all-consuming and debilitating (both mind and body) it actually is.

I have always prided myself with being very physically active and fit; I was not going to be one of “those” people who walk with canes, limp, and generally have trouble getting around. I would be forever “young” regardless of my age. I think God has a great sense of humor and he/she loves to give us lessons in humility when we are too damn cocky. I have been a runner for about 26 years and regularly accepted the chronic pain in my knees, but it was basically achiness due to some arthritis. I have had numerous knee arthroscopies throughout the years, but apparently it was not enough to take up another sport. I just kept on, ignoring my poor, deteriorating knees due to my obsessive nature. Then about 8 months ago, I bought a new mattress and suddenly it was my back and hips that began to ache. It started out with just some stiffness but after a while, it was constant when I worked out. I noticed that when I ran it was worse. Then my right knee began to give out and when it rains it pours, because then everything went wrong. I went for Supartz injections into my knee with the hope that I could return to running, but there was no improvement. But, it became painfully (no pun intended) obvious that I was dealing with more than just a torn meniscus. Gradually, my right foot and toes, my low back and hips, my thighs and belly have become numb. The pain in my back has been non-stop and I was living on ibuprofen. I saw my primary doctor and he blew me off, in addition to my orthopedic doctor, who was only concerned with my knee. Since the injections in my knee joint did not work, we did an MRI, which showed a torn meniscus, which has now been repaired with arthroscopic surgery (5 weeks ago). But the back issue remained and what most concerned me was the numbness. Finally, due to any lack of caring or just procrastination on the part of the aforementioned doctors, I took the bull by the horn and self-referred to Augusta Back. After telling my tale of woe, the osteopath ordered and MRI, which shows bulging disks, as well as some spinal stenosis. I just went through the first round of epidural steroid injections and will have more for the next level of the spine that is affected. But, I have run the gamut of emotions due to severely limiting my physical activities, although I am still working as a massage therapist. Yesterday I woke up in such bad pain (both knee—which is taking forever to heal—and back) forcing me to literally hobble to the bathroom, that I had a total emotional meltdown. Some days the pain is not that bad, and other days it is more than I can take (probably emotionally more than physically). It does not help that I am still limping on my bum leg, which throws my back and gait off. It also does not help that I am on my feet constantly at work and went back to work only 4 days after surgery. I always thought of myself as “superwoman” when it came to my body and overcoming aches and pains but God has other intentions, apparently. They say that things happen for reasons, and I am still waiting to discover what the reason is. Perhaps it is just to slow down and smell the roses and realize that I am human. Or, perhaps it is a way for me to be more compassionate with other peoples’ suffering from chronic pain or debilitations. I have to say that when I see people walking slowly I can now relate. I would appreciate if anyone going through something similar would please add a comment and let me know your story.