Thursday, May 20, 2010

I'd Write More If My Knee Didn't Hurt

Ok, so while I was whinging over here in my southern corner of the universe trying to find a comfy spot to sit while typing this post on my desktop computer and at the same time trying to keep my right knee above my heart (go on, you try it..and don't laugh!! :), I found the online info on the surgery used on my knee last Tuesday morning so jazzy that I decided to go ahead and write anyhow. (Distraction - pain relief is all about distraction.)

Really, it's all about ME! Yep! I'm not sick, I'm rehabilitating! And there's a difference, I promise you. The pain at this point is about using ligaments, tendons, and muscles that were manhandled on the surgical table a week ago. I'm certain neither my knee nor my thigh, nor my hips were ever really meant to move in the directions the surgeons managed during that 2 1/2 hour process. (Unicompartmental surgery is more complex than the whole knee replacement; thus the longer time on the table.)

Fortunately, I had a great anaesthetist looking after my welfare and so know absolutely nothing about it - until afterwards when the nerve blocks were removed and my usually strong (if unbalanced) right leg decided to let me know just how abused it felt.

In fact, the pain is breathable and endurable. I have Tramadol at night and analgesic pain relief during the daytime. I could use the Tramadol during daytime too, but it's way too pleasant - better to avoid the addiction.

So, only half of my right knee has been replaced which means the surgeon only cut 25% of the bone that a full Monty would require.

You do realize that means I have about 25% of the pain and recovery issues as well. Hooray for a healthy right side of my right knee.

In 1979 while backpacking in the Sierra (Mt. Olancha) my right knee gave way, the meniscus tore. No arthroscopy back then. I knew I would have to wait. I had no idea just how long that wait would be.

Finally, in 2005 the last of the left half of the meniscus in my right knee gave way - bone on bone for the past 4 1/2 years -no more treks in the mountains and lots of incidents of falling over on busy city streets while walking in conversation with friends and family (Oaxaca, Mexico and Park Road, Brisbane are favourite examples)

However, the most amazing aspect of my situation is that although for the past 22 years, half knee (unicompartimental) replacements have been available in the UK, Australia, Europe, and Asia - they have only been available in the USA for the last two years (and then performed only by a very small number of specialized surgeons in very limited circumstances).

So how lucky do you think I am to be an American living in Australia? Here is my surgeon, Peter Meyers, an old pro at this game, a surgeon who volunteers as team doctor for the Queensland Reds (Rugby Union Footie Team) and smiles delightedly at old women like me who come in and claim, 'New half knee, please. I'm missing my mountains.'

Peter warned that I probably won't be able to trek 15 miles a day anymore - but I never did, so who cares. If I can put in a solid 8 miles a day in my beloved Sierra, trek in Nepal with the upwardly mobile old folks looking for adventure tour groups, who cares.

Prognosis is that I have just extended my healthy life style for an additional two years, that I will be able to exercise pain free to enable me to get my weight back down to a healthy 160 pounds, and that recovery will be relatively short.

I could flash my ex-rays so you can see what my knee now looks like, but the visuals and explanations on line give a more vivid summary. Here's the addy:

I'll keep you updated on my new bionic circumstance. Life is Good and I'm not referring to air conditioners or kitchen appliances.