Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Not for the Squeamish

Tiny Staples in my knee make them give me pills to make me happy ... to the tune of Tiny Bubbles.

Although I'm home shockingly early, I still have a rough road ahead. The knee replacement surgery is one of the most painful surgeries you can have done and has a hard rehab process as well. Between the constant pain and the pills, it's hard to hold onto a train of thought.

I have the added issue of being on the Coumadin regimen -- visiting nurses will come one day a week to draw blood. That whole clotting ordeal is potentially life-threatening. Even the medication is life-threatening. An in-home physical therapist will come three times a week. My insurance company covers those visits in full for up to 40 visits.

Due to the Coumadin, I'm supposed to eat a balanced diet (but no big amounts of green leafy vegetables and absolutely NO cranberries or cranberry juice.) Guess what's in my stocked pantry? Thankfully, I have plenty of other juices and veggies available. This will go on through 8/15.

The problem is that I have little to no appetite.

The emails at the hospital were a big hit with me. Whenever I saw a volunteer standing at the door timidly saying my name while holding a sheath of paper, I smiled no matter the pain. I brought them all home but haven't tallied them yet.

Why did I come home so early? Well, the original hospital stay itself was supposed to be three days, then into rehab. Rehab itself started on the day of the surgery when they had me stand up with a walker and go sit in a chair. Rehab stopped the second day when they gave me the ultrasound test and found the blood clot in my surgery knee. The only reason I was slated to go to a rehab facility is because I live alone and they were worried about me being able to fend for myself. You actually only get an hour or so of rehab a day at those places. Meanwhile I developed a horrible case of diarrhea from the stool softeners they were giving me to combat the expected constipation from the pain meds. I also became violently sick to my stomach.

No buts about it, I wanted to be able to get up and go to the bathroom! I was sick of waiting for bedpans, the humiliation, waiting for them to come and remove bedpans and all. I wanted BATHROOM. The doctor told me I could, and that was that. I started using the walker Sunday night, getting in and out of the bed and chair unassisted. I sat in bed doing ankle pumps, quad sets, and leg lifts (sometimes less than a half inch, but it counts).

Part of the recovery issue with the knee replacement is that you lose your ACL tendon, your quad muscle is cut, and lots of other nerves and tendons are ruined and have to be rebuilt. As a result, you can't make that 500 pound leg do what you want in addition to pain issues. By Monday, I was scooching it along the bed using the other leg, sometimes using a sheet as a lasso to move it, and when sitting on the bed, I managed to be able to swing it up to the bed (then scooch it in place from there). I think that's what made my OS (orthopedic surgeon) offer me the option of going home. While my other knee surgeries were a walk in the park compared to this, a lot of the techniques and rehab are the same albeit more extreme.

When I met up with the actual rehab people before my discharge, they had me climbing stairs and stuff. They measured my ROM (Range of Motion). I have 0 degrees extension (it will lay flat, good) and 60 degrees bend. I know I didn't push the bend to the point of agony -- I think I may have another ten degrees in there. They were surprised how well I did without any formal PT sessions. But I'm not surprised. I don't think the doctor is all that surprised, either. Both he and his partner said I shouldn't have been mobile based on the condition of my knee pre-op. Yet I walked a mile a day and was on my feet sometimes 7 hours a day.

My personal goal for the ROM is 130 degrees, but that won't come for a while. The swelling and staples hinder it right now in addition to having to build it all back up. It's going to be rough -- the surgery takes a lot out of you in addition to decrepit knees. My sleeping pattern is shot. I've been typing this for about three hours stopping in between sentences.

I really want to thank Zoetawny and Sydney for working on the blog in my absence and for their calls to me. Between them, the emails and cards ... I felt very loved. (An oddly welcomed feeling!) My brother called daily and is planning to come down and visit for a day. My friend Barbara went above and beyond getting me to the hospital on time, visiting me, calling me, dropping by with DVDs, cookies, Coca-Cola, chips, and KFC in addition to picking me up, getting my prescriptions, my bread, milk, eggs, and cat.

Speaking of the cat ... when I called there they told me she was okay healthwise, but not a happy cat. Another call there garnered the information that everyone thinks she's such a beautiful cat but she only likes Debbie. Heh. Since getting home, she has explored the apartment apparently to make sure I didn't move in any other cats. If I'm in bed, she's curled up purring. If she's alone sometimes she just lets out a cry. I talk to her and she quiets down. She's a bit unsure about the walker.

More eventually.


delee said...

Jackie, we are just tickled pink with your progress to this point.

Actually your knee does not look too bad, amazing what Dr's can do.
I am thrilled you did not have to go to the rehab. The peace and quiet of your own home is needed and you have the daily nurse to check up on you.

I have had 2 wrist surgs and on the 2nd one was sent to rehab after one trip they said you do not need to come. You remember the exercises and how to get the ROM back. Also saves $$$.

Take care-walk softly-and get healed!!!

~Meliss said...

Welcome home Jackie!!!!

Sydney said...

Morning Jackie ==

I had a feeling we would be getting something from you at some crazy hour as your sleep patterns would have to be a bit messed up. Amazing you got a picture up! It looks FAR better than my husband's did. You are right, no black and blue and not too swollen. Miracle!

RBennie said...

Good Morning Jackie. It's so good to have you back with us. Sounds like you've got a long road to travel to get back to 100%, but with your strength and determination you will be there a lot sooner than you might think right now. I'm sure you're happy to be in the comfort of your own home at this point. Hospitals are about the least restful places on earth!

Sydney did a great job in your absence and I really appreciated her updates.

Once again, welcome back.

meb said...

YAAYYYYAAAYYYY! That's supposed to be a double triple quadruple YAY! that you're home! You're knee looks great but I'll bet it looks different on the inside, and that's where most of the healing has to happen. Take real care!

So glad to see you back. Sydney did a fantastic job of keeping us up-to-date and we really appreciate her.

susan in fl... negative biopsy vibes coming your way, and that's a positive.

sydney/joyn... I did watch the Bachlorette, but couldn't comment during the show... I'll put my two cents worth in a little later.

nana in the nw/joyn... unbelievable that you both have the name Joyce Elaine... my name Elaine is a coincidence... your's is amazing, only because neither are common names. Too neat!

nana...Did the home remedy work ... if not, what did the doctor say?

Sydney... I counted staples, not stitches, so I think I won... sorry Lynn1. LOL

Jackie... You must be thrilled to be home with Scerzo and vice-versa. I know you're going to have home care, but when do you have to go back to see the doctor for follow-up?

I look forward to seeing some of the pictures you took while in the hospital. We joked here a little about what you might have thought was important enough to capture on film while you were in la-la land. Did you get any "good" ones that you're willing to share?

Take care of yourself... get better and better soon. Look forward to your posts.

Zoetawny... thanks again to you too for your contributions. They were all so appropriate!

Sydney said...

Meb -- Jackie told me 31 staples, it's in her ballpark now, lol! I know there are stitches INSIDE that will dissolve, but the outside are staples. Looking forward to your take on Bachelorette

RBennie said...

Kristi and Mark were fabulous last night. Having the 3 go against each other really made it stand out how much better Kristi is! I liked Christian's freestyle, but thought Jason's was weak. MEB, I thought Sabrina and Mark were still going strong - when did they break up?

Anonymous said...

Wow, I got an education in knee surgery. Had no idea it was so bad. Makes me want to take good care of mine.

Jackie, I'v enjoyed your blog for several years, we definately have the same taste in TV. Praying for your speedy and not-so-painful recovery.

sue said...

Hi Jackie, glad to have you back where you belong.
Jackie wrote: "No buts about it, I wanted to be able to get up and go to the bathroom!"
You still got it, kid! Witty as usual.
I was hoping to hear you would have some drop in nurses. Also, help of any kind is only a click away for you. You could ask for something and one of us...from anywhere in the country...could get it done. Don't hesitate to ask, or command, or plead. We are here for you.

Long day ahead here, I think it will go well. But, who knows.

Nana in the NW said...

Jackie--the knee doesn't look too bad--bet it hurts a whole lot more than looking bad!! Just remember pain meds are your best friend for awhile! LOL Good thing you are organized and had your house ready before you left. Having PT come to you will be a great help.

JOSIE UPDATE: The stitches came out yesterday and the infection is healing nicely!! YAY I was able to move the barricade in my family room so she can walk around w/o the sling(still need to use it on stairs and no jumping). Her leg is bowed and she has quite a limp. The vet suggested physical therapy! I nicely said, "No thanks, she can walk with a limp!! I've spent enough money on this knee!" She is happy just to have more freedom. I actually think there's a light at the end of the tunnel.

I watched Bachelorette last night. I had read Syd and joyn comments so I was watching certain guys...one of the only advantages to being on the WC. My fav. is Jason, but I think that's because he's a single dad(there has been no reference to his ever being married and the child's mother) and he lives about 45 mins. from me. Deanna seems to really like Richard and Jeremy. I agree that she kept Jesse and Paul because they make good TV.

Deanna has definitely been working out and losing weight. She was not that "fit" with Brad. Sounds like the show is making some changes this season. 3 guys each week get to live in the house with her?! I think that will allow her to get to know them better. Well, they got me hooked for the season...will we be commenting here or on a sidebar?

Off to school with the munchkins.......

meb said...

rbennie... I commented a few posts back that I read where Mark and Sabrina had decided to call it quits. I think Mark made the comment that Sabrina's traveling made a relationship difficult.

It surprises me to see her and Mel B. at so many of these shows, considering they must have a hectic schedule of their own.

By the way ... I have resigned my second part time job. I wrote about it on my own blog if you're interested in the facts... just the facts. Teehee.

Tom`S said...

Thank you for sharing your experience, bone pain is one of the most difficult areas to seek comfort, my heart goes out to you, my entire Family sends our prayers for you.


joy n said...

Jackie, your knee looks better than I expected it would, but I realize that looking good certainly doesn't mean feeling good. The constant pain has to be, among other things, so very annoying.

Thank goodness, you seem to have excellent health insurance which is one less thing to worry about.

Sorry to hear that the Coumadin regime means a special diet for almost three months and blood being drawn, but I'm sure you realize how important all that is. Hopefully, your appetite will return as the pain begins to ebb.

VERY happy to hear that you enjoyed all of our emails and that getting them made you smile and feel loved by us. That's exactly what we'd hoped to accomplish.

I feel so bad for you that, as if the pain, excercising and loss of appetite weren't enough to suffer through, you have to "run" to the bathroom, too. Life is SO unfair sometimes!

I'm a very independent woman myself, but I am amazed at your tenacity and ingenuity in figuring out how to scooch that quarter-ton leg around to do your bidding. That obviously helped get you home so much more quickly.

Full recovery may seem like such a long road ahead at the moment, but we have no doubt that you'll make it happen because you NEED it to happen.

How wonderful that your very good friend, Barbara did so much and was there for you. Your brother's visit should cheer you up some, too.

Poor Scherzo, whose world was also turned upside down for awhile. Thank goodness you have each other now, even with another routine to get used to in the months ahead. Still, as several here have said so well, "There's no place like home". So glad you're back!

sue said...

Jackie, you should creat a pain scale for us. You can post it every once in a while and we can gage our comments accordingly. For example, is it more or less painful than hearing Sheila decorating her life for a pity party? It is more of less painful than having to watch Flavor of Love? You get the idea.. Smiles

Anne said...

Way to go Jackie! Super J defies all odds and gets sprung - gotta love the way you do things!

And I ate lunch through the whole report - nothing comes between me & my food!

Seriously though, soooo glad you're home safe & sound. Rest, relax and bask in the love that envelopes you from all of your fans. I'm so glad this part is over - you'll come through the rest with flying colors - I just know it!

Nana in the NW said...

meb--I have left you and e-mail so watch for it. And yes, I tried baking soda/water paste and it helped with the itching and stinging. The swelling is down today and it's not as red......of course, her mom is coming home today!!

AI finale tonight and I'm hoping Kristi/Mark will be crowned the DWTS champs. I knew in the freestyle round Christian would suffer because of his injury.

I was wondering about Mark/Sabrina, too. Seems odd that she would be in the audience....

Anonymous said...

WELCOME HOME, JACKIE! Just got home & trying to catch up with all of last night's & today's posts. Oh, I don't know if I could go through all you are dealing with. Hope you will be through it all soon and up and out on that bionic knee.

Zoetawny - what a cute graphic!

Nana in the NW - glad your granddaughter is better. I am allergic to bees & wasps, but not to the point of having anaphalaxis. I had to hold ice on mine all night . If I tried to get away from the ice I was in agony & it would swell up immediately. The doc told me to take liquid Benedryl as it gets in the system faster. My husband is EXTREMELY allergic and has to carry an EpiPen. Subsequent stings can result in worsening reactions, so please have her be careful of any future stings. (I used to teach an immunology lab and it is really interesting how this allergy stuff works. You would think you would build up resistance to them, but it tends to be the opposite in most people.) Hope all is well with her and Josie!


Zoetawny said...

OUCH! OUCH! ((((Jackie))))

It's so good to see you back. I'm sure it wasn't easy sitting at the pc but your determination and tenacity prevails. I can see a few staples and intense pain isn't going to hold you back...much. I can't believe you were up and posting with a photo no less. I expected to see some photos of your room at the hospital or something you saw out your window but there it is in all its glory...your poor assaulted knee. Actually, it looks a lot better than I had envisioned, especially for a new surgical incision. I was asking if the surgery was MIS (minimally invasive) or traditional. I think I have my answer after seeing the incision.

I admit I had to giggle when you said it took you 3 hours to type up your update. You're doing remarkably well, even though I'm sure you probably don't feel that way. Yes, it's a rough road ahead but you only have to take it one step at a time.

I was very concerned when I read about the blood clot but it's good that the medication is working. I'm sure your doctor will monitor your blood closely. I read on WebMD that clots are very common and expected with knee surgery. Just stay away from that cranberry juice. ;) Loss of appetite is also common and to be expected after a major surgery. I'm sure it will return gradually. Just eat small portions but more often than the usual 3 meals a day. It doesn't actually have to be an whole meal.

I'm surprised they started you on stool softeners so soon. My husband didn't find out he needed it until he had been on pain meds at home for several weeks. Yes, pain meds can bind you but everyone's system reacts differently. I have deep empathy for you dealing with the humiliation of it all. Privacy and modesty are non-existent in the hospital. That's the part I dread the most. You were very brave trying to use the bathroom.

It's interesting how we take ordinary daily activities like showering, personal hygiene and getting dressed for granted. I wouldn't allow my husband to take a shower for week after he got home even though he was allowed. I was so fearful of him falling and being my petite size unable to help him get up. So, I bathed him sitting in a chair and used some dry shampoo that the astronauts use. ;) Right now everything is an ordeal for you but you will deal with it in your usual undaunted manner and it will get a little easier each week.

Just think of it this way, your life in the fast lane has just slowed down for a while. You will reach your goal eventually and we will forever think of you as our RL bionic woman. YOU ROCK! :)


I'm hoping for negative results on your biopsy. I'm sure it's a very stressful time for you. Hope you can come here and get a little friendly support and comic relief.


On to doggie knees now...what no pictures? ;) It's good Josie's staples are out as I'm sure they were itching her really badly. She sounds like she's being a good girl. Please do keep us posted on her progress.


Please tell Barbara that she's a saint and we appreciate all she has done for you. Being on your own was one of our biggest concerns.

BTW,I hope your visiting PT is a good looking stud. LOL

I'll be looking forward to your next update but hope you were able to get some needed rest today.

Take good care~

sue said...

Zoetawny, I forgot to tell you how much I liked seeing the Get Well card you made.

Jennasmom: Interesting what you said about allergies. I have had them my entire life...both parents had them before me, so it isn't surprising. But, many of the foods I could tolerate, just knew they gave me a headache or some other reaction, I continued to eat them. Many are of the healthy variety. I kept telling myself it just wasn't right to be allergic to foods that are good for me. : ) In the last year, though, they have all begun to attack me. Yes, I am taking it as a personal attack by my food against me. I really like food, too, so I would think it would return the favor. During tomato season, for example, I was eating fresh, home grown, vine ripened ones all day. I loved them and the season is so short that I wanted to make the most of it. But, as you mentioned, the more was not the merrier. Now I cannot have any tomatoes...cooked or raw. I had a reaction with my hands itching. Didn't realize it was the tomato and had another tomato which caused a scary enough episode to make me a believer in not eating them. So, I agree that additonal exporsures worsen the reaction.

Anonymous said...

I should say your knee looks good, but it looks like it hurts like hell. :-) Take it easy, you have to heal. Kiss the kitty, sounds like she missed her momma.

joy n said...

Kristi and Mark won DWTS!

Anonymous said...

Can Zoetawny make that picture pretty please?

monty924 said...

Wow, Jackie. I have to say the knee looks better than I thought it would after a complete replacement, but I know you have to be in pain. I've had one, and only one surgery during my lifetime and I can hardly remember it. Tonsils out at age 6. I remember the hospital and coming out of of anethesia (not fun... throwing up and throat pain) but not much more. It was more than 40 years ago.

I'm glad you and Scherzo are back together again AT HOME. My kitty hates it when I take her to my mother's for extended work trips. She takes about three days to make up with me on the extended out of town trips. Sounds like your kitty just wanted her Mommy home with her.

DWTS tonight was great, but I was a Kristy fan all along. I've read so many negative comments on the outcome and her unfair advantage, but I just don't see it. She was used to skating (figure skating, not ice dancing) and even showed that it was hard to put the heels to motion like she did the blades on ice. I think the critics are being too harsh on her success. I knew she would go far and had the ability, work ethic, and competitive nature to win it, and she did with an amazing partner. Kudos Kristy.

Hang in there Jackie!

dla said...

Welcome home, Jackie!! You were missed!

And thank you for the education... I had no idea, and kudos to you for your determination to get home! :)

Patty said...


Just wanted to stop by and welcome you home.

I hope you have better days ahead. Sorry to hear you are not feeling so well, but hopefully it will pass very fast.

Take care.

Anonymous said...

I'm a big fan, love your blog and usually agree with you most of the time. First time writing you.
I hope you the best on your road to recovery. I injured my knee when I was in high school ( I am 58 yrs old now. I Went through surgery alot of times and finally 6 years ago I had knee replacement I was not a good patient and didn't listen to the doctor and go to rehab. now I am pain free at last but can't bend my knee very much. LISTEN and Do what they tell you. It's rough but will be worth it. God Bless!Thanks for all you do.
Judy in Florida

Darlene said...

Welcome back Jackie!

Take your time and do your exercises....we want you healthy, wealthy and wise! LOL Two of of three's not bad! Your choice!

Oooh that knee looks painful!!


TerryinCA said...

Hi Jackie, sending you hugs and love and so happy to read your progress. It sounds so awful and painful!!!
Laurie and I docked in Seattle this am at 7..walked off at 9...took a car to the SEATAC airport...walked right up and requested earlier flights....all three couples got them! We were home at 1pm instead of 10pm, so that was very welcome!
I went and picked up my dog,Cruiser, and he was happy to see me, but had a blast living with his two girlfriends Zoe and Chloe. He even slept in bed with our friends (Zoe and Chloe's parents) and made himself totally at home.
My living room looks like a swap meet!
The galciers were awesome, the whales and eagles..we had perfect sunny cool weather. I did the Zip line (10 lines,two suspension bridges) I did very well except my glove slipped and I burned my wrist..then on the last line (after the 800 foot one) the guide decided to tandem me down because of my wrist.....bad idea. He was the "catcher" and no one was there to catch us...I totally heard the song "George,George, George of the Jungle...look out for that tree!)We crashed into it--it was padded with a thick pad but I was sandwhiched between it and him, I hear a pop...thought the worst but really just sprained my knee and ankle a bit. They let me repel down the platform by myself...they iced me and I went back to the ship. It was fabulous and Im so glad I did it...I want my grandkids to think Grammie is pretty cool at almost 64 !
Its good to be home...gonna hit the hay...missed my bed and my snuggly doggie...but wanted to check in with you alll!!!!