Wife’s Back Surgery: Update

So we are now 5 days into January and I was late delivering my 2013 Resolutions posted, haven’t been to work yet and I am getting on a laptop for the first time in nearly 12 days! To tell the truth, I didn’t miss the Internet, my website or social media (namely Facebook). Life took a very real turn on us at the end of December. Along with the move I discussed in Half Mile Away, my wife had major back surgery on December 26th. While I posted a few comments on my Facebook page and about 3 on her account, much else hasn’t been said to this point.

Any time you move it’s a major event, but toss in a major surgery, something as delicate as lower back surgery and it’s been very challenging for me as a husband and a dad. My wife was hospitalized for 6 days following surgery for some complications. The surgery, which was to take about 5 hours lasted just over 6 hours and her recovery was nearly 2 more hours. I spent the better part of 11 hours sitting in John Muir Hospital in Walnut Creek the day after Christmas…waiting. Is there anything worse?

The waiting hasn’t been the worst part, the home recovery has been a real challenge. My wife cannot be alone and must have someone with her to accomplish some every day tasks. As mentioned, I have not been to work since December 23rd and won’t return to work until January 10. This is just a very short window that she has needed me all through out the night and day to take care of her. Hopefully on Monday we can get her doctor to write me a note so I can modify my work schedule to accommodate her morning and night time needs, while still getting to work and putting in an 8-hour shift.

The road to recovery has been painful to date, she was on heavy medication in the hospital for pain and while the dosages have been reduced, still taking meds every few hours for the pain, which is all through out her body. The supposed 3″ scar on her back is close to 7″ or 8″ and we wont know just how it heals. The doctor, when I spoke to him after the surgery was very confident on how it went. Going in he knew it was going to be complicated…and it was. But talking to my wife after the fact, she felt he thrived on this challenge in her lower back. The pain might be more than was expected when she is talking about birthing 10 kids instead of going through back surgery again!

For now my household responsibilities had increased. She takes most of her meals in bed, for good reason, as it hurts to stand or walk for too long. Unfortunately we have a staircase, so maneuvering stairs has been good for her, but slow and challenging. There has been not been a night of “restful” sleep, as the TV has remained on since she came home. The severity of the pain won’t allow her to sleep through the night, so about every 2 hours she is up shuffling to the bathroom, wanting to eat or drink or taking medication. This has probably been the most difficult for me. I don’t have any problems waiting on her hand and foot, for obvious reasons.

Unfortunately the move has really messed her recovery up. She comes home to a new house with stuff still in boxes or not in the normal places. For that I have myself to blame as I just did not have enough time in the day to accomplish everything I needed to do in order to have the house in good order before she came home. Even now I still have countless boxes unpacked and a garage that looks like a storage unit. I don’t even want to talk about my 2 radio antennas that are still in my backyard.

There is just so much work to be done, bit the priority is taking care of my wife and making sure she improves on a daily basis. The rest of the stuff can be accomplished as I have time. Hopefully next time we decide to move we don’t have any medical engagements. And I thought ACL surgery was bad…

Surgery: The Day After

It’s been just over 24 hours since I had my left knee surgery. While the procedure was considered “minor” by the orthopedic surgeon, it was a considerable tear I was told after the fact. Today, I am really feeling the effects of the surgery. My knee is in tremendous pain, but I am trying to hold off taking the prescribed pain medication (Vicodin). I was told to use them as needed for the pain, but the side effects are not friendly and it would really make me worthless at home.

I have a follow up appointment already scheduled for Monday when he will remove the sutures. While I was up and moving earlier this morning, it wasn’t at a breakneck pace. The release paperwork said to get up and walk, if possible so I did that this morning while running a few errands. It might have been too much as the knee is throbbing as I sit here with two bags of peas keeping it cool.

I might looking into a water aerobic class to start next week, depending on the pain. Very little stress on the knee while in the water and it could provide a nice work out. Not sure how this class will work into my work and personal schedule. As for the exercise, I figure I will take the rest of this week off and hopefully get to the gym on Monday for some weights and maybe 30 minutes of easy bike riding.

I figure a few weeks and the knee will be back to normal and I will be doing everything pain free. Until that time, I will be a bit slowed by the swelling and pain that currently hampers me. Thankfully it was the right decision to get the knee fixed and not live with the pain.

“Your doctor screwed up.”

Never thought I would hear another doctor say this about a referring doctor, but it happened today. This just furthers my case I have been building since 2009 and my ACL injury, followed by the statin and Vitamin D prescriptions to the latest in a series of follies that have me very frustrated…check that pissed off as it relates to my most recent injury, my left knee.

Let me quickly recall the folly as it has taken place to date. Sunday, March 4, I play soccer for the first time in about 9 months. In an “I told you so” moment, I hurt my left knee after falling on the outside of the knee. Later that evening I am working on my knees and I hear a pop, suddenly I have a shooting pain on the inside of my knee. The following day I get an appointment with the nurse practitioner since the doctor isn’t available.

After work I stop by the office for my appointment and after waiting 15 minutes I am admitted to a room to wait for the nurse practitioner. About 5 minutes pass and she walks in and asks some routine questions pertaining to what I thought and how I hurt my knee. She spends no more than 5 minutes with and says “it’s just sprained.” Followed by the standard, ice, heat, elevation and an anti-inflamatory medication, which she was too thrilled to prescribe. She also noted on my record physical therapy IF I wanted it. I declined, but the note stayed on my record, so I could call and they would send off the referral.

A week goes by and the knee doesn’t improve, it’s swollen, sore and honestly I am having a difficult time walking. I call and ask for a referral to my orthopedic surgeon. I am told I cannot have that because the nurse practitioner would need to see me for a follow up, but the doctor wouldn’t. Figure that out. So I take the physical therapy since it was the only referral I was granted. I call and make appointments, but the soonest they can see me April 3!

I give it a day and call back and tell them I am in excruciating pain and walking is becoming a difficult. I get an appointment for Tuesday and the nurse’s assistant has me strip to my shorts as I wait for the nurse practitioner to see me. She walks in and right away her demeanor is different. She can see something now with me knee, she obviously couldn’t feel in her 5 minutes with me the week prior. She pulls and yanks at my knee and says, “your meniscus is torn.” She then writes up another prescription and a referral to the orthopedic surgeon.

Today, some 2 weeks after my injury I finally get to the orthopedics’s office. As seems to be customary, I was on time, but waited about 40 minutes before I get into a room, in my skivvies waiting for the orthopedic surgeon. The first words out of his mouth after he greets me, “you know, your doctor screwed up.” I explain my frustration to him, why I don’t know but then he says, there is nothing I can do since the doctor did not request x-rays. Thankfully one of his assistants was nice enough to get me the referral to get x-rays done on my left knee. Unfortunately, he didn’t even ask about the injury and I had to reschedule my appointment for Wednesday.

So that 30 minute appointment turned into a 3 hour fiasco, but I did get the x-rays and I am just livid with my primary doctor’s office. I believe that was the final straw for me. Hell, I might not even go back to get his opinion on what his prescription of Vitamin D has done for my alleged deficiency after I get my blood test in about 2 weeks. I can’t believe I have had such a poor and frustrating experience. I am sure not all doctors are this bad or experiences this frustrating. Unfortunately for me I have just seem to draw the poor luck when it comes to doctors. While I am still looking for a new primary care physician, the list is quite long, some 300 doctors in our local area, all accepting new patients. To be honest it is somewhat mind boggling because outside of reading reviews on the Internet how does someone know if they are going to get a physician they like? So the search continues, but my journey has only just begun, much like resolving this left knee pain. More on Wednesday…

Knee Update

I wish I could say things were progressing well…in a way they are. The two physical therapists I am working with think we are making good progress as flexibility is improving weekly and we are now turning our attention to strengthening the knee. Unfortunately there are still some issues that are continuing to plague my comfort.

Surgery was on March 17 and it’s been approximately 6 weeks recovering so far. There is still a numbness on the right side of the knee that extends down towards the top portion of the calf. The other more annoying pain is still in my right foot. Daily there is a sharp and constant stabbing pain between the big toe and the adjoining toe. At night, after any period on my feet or sitting with the knee bent (work) the entire foot starts throbbing.

I am a few weeks short of my next doctor’s appointment, at that time I hope he makes a decision or provides a referral to a neurologist. Living daily with this pain is very frustrating and painful. I can deal with the numbness, but the stabbing pain is uncomfortable and in my opinion unnecessary. I don’t think doctor’s ever admit they could have made a mistake, even if I would be “the first in 25 years.” There has to be a first, hopefully it is not me, but I still think this is a unnecessary after effect from the surgery.

Pain Continues

Not that the femoral block has worn off I can feel the top of my right leg again, but that also means I can feel the pain emanating from my knee and general area. I am actually recovering from two surgeries. The first was to remove patellar tendon (bone tendon bone graft) from the top of my knee. The other was the arthroscopic surgery to drill two holes in the femur and tibia. and slide the new graft through the tunnel in the bones.

I have not been very mobile the past few days since coming home, as expected. I basically have two positions, sitting on the couch with my right leg raised with two pillows or lying down with the leg raised. For 6 hours a day I spend time on the CPM, which flexes my knee at a setting determined by me. I am trying to increase the flexion by 5 every day.

The pain medication I am on is Oxycodone, known as Percocet and have been taking one every few hours, but it has not really masked any pain. I might be asking for something stronger on Friday when I have my post-op visit with my doctor. Actually having my leg in the CPM moving my knee feels better than sitting on the recliner with my leg propped up. I have not seen much in terms of side effects, although others around me might disagree. I have been somewhat groggy through out the day, which is one of the few side effects I do feel.

I am not sure when I will return to work. I was initially aiming towards next Thursday, but I think it will really depend on my mobility and the level of pain. The doctor said to expect 2 weeks off from work. While I have made some “baby steps” in two days to recovery there is still a long way to go. I won’t be able to use the pain medication while at work and sitting at a desk won’t make my leg feel good, as I cannot bend it 90 degrees.

I do have a few shots of my up on Facebook of my lounging around with the brace on my knee. Check them out. Tomorrow will be the first real checkpoint when I go for my follow up appointment after the surgery.