Saturday, February 4, 2012

Operation "Gnu Gnee"

"All I want for Christmas is a new left knee..."
Looks like I must have been a good boy last year, as I got my wish granted on JAN 26th with a Total Knee Replacement.
Total. Knee. Replacement.
Some 30+ years ago, running down the sidelines of St. Louis Park High's football field, I got hit in the knee. Two arthroscopic surgeries over the past decades did the "bandage" work of mitigating some of the pain, but for the most part, I've been in varying degrees of pain for the past three decades.
It was time.
X-rays showed a complete lack of cartilage - gone. Years of use and abuse ground it away to the point of bone-on-bone. I had quite a pronounced limp and it was starting to affect my left hip due to trying to compensate for the missing cartilage. As the saying goes, everything's connected...
I heard lots of "boy, you're pretty young for a total knee..." - which is true - but there's nothing else that would fix my problem vs. just acting as a "bandage" to the issue at hand.
The months leading up the operation were a lot more anxiety-ridden than the actual day-of - funny how the mind works (or at least fools oneself into the rabbit hole of what-ifs...). I have a great orthopedic surgeon (he had done my last arthro surgery some 13+ years ago) and he once again did a wonderful job on the replacement. He even managed to fix a 10 degree slope so that my left leg is once again straight - a strange feeling to be walking straight after 15+ years of crooked!
I opted for the spinal block (vs. general anesthesia - ick...) with some other sedatives to keep my mind lulled during the operation. I do remember being awake at a few points and my doc mentioned that I talked with him a couple times during the procedure (guessing it wasn't too clear or lucid). Went in at 7:30 a.m. for the spinal and was out of the OR by 10:10 a.m. - pretty slick!
Rolled me into my hospital room and gradually the fog rolled out - and the reality of PAIN crept in. I hadn't eaten anything for the past 30+ hours and I had missed lunch. The nurse managed to scrounge up a couple of servings of breakfast food - Cheerios and Frosted Flakes - and through the Power of Processed Cereal, I was back on the road to recovery!
Post-surgery the first day didn't involve much except getting a feel for what the pain meds could do and watching a lot of bad TV (is there "good" TV?!?). Pain was still a dull roar. The next day was a different story. The last vestiges of the spinal block had worn off and WOW, the dull roar had become this raging tsunami of pain. It would ebb and flow with monstrous peaks and muffled valleys. And the funny thing which helped alleviate it to some point was exercise. Motion, stretching, walking (w/ walker) all hurt like hell while doing it but the relief after was immense. And my abilities to move about as I recovered really impressed my nurses and physical therapists. It really helped my recovery that I was in pretty good physical shape to begin with - very key.
My goal was to get-the-hell-out-of-the-hospital by Day 3. I'd had more than enough of the bad hospital food (orange jello was the highlight of one particular meal...), nurses waking me up throughout the night to check my blood pressure and the continuous wails and moans of other patients on the floor.
I had to pass a few more PT tests. One involved walking for 300+ yards. I had the walker with me but on the return trip back to my room, I walked without the walker! Less than three days after total knee replacement and I walking on my own - woo! I was also able to ace the up-n-down the stairs portion. Last test - leg lift. Had a hard time with this on Day 2 but I was extremely motivated and knocked that test out with flying colors. Homeward bound!
Been home at the BrewFarm for about week now and progress is going well. I'm doing physical therapy exercises everyday and getting stronger (no pain, no gain!) and stronger. Looking forward to minimal/no pain doing day-to-day tasks and getting back into brewing soon.



Lanny said...

Thanks for the great run-down David! Sounds like you are on the road to recovery for sure! Hope to see you soon and keep up the good work.

Van said...

Sounds like you're doing great! Give um hell bro!!

AL MCCARTY said...

That final sentence is my favorite.

Anonymous said...

You're awesome Dave! It's gotta only get better from here as you get back in the saddle again! I know you're recovering at the right place at the Brew Farm with your own personal pain management clinic with 8 varieties of medicine easily dispensed! Can't wait to see you and everyone this weekend. Dave

scamborn said...

Work hard and it pays off! My sister had double knees in 2010 and she wonders why she waited so long. Painful but worth it (she says).
Hope to visit soon.