Thursday, October 13, 2011

My owie

It's no secret that I have less-than-desirable knees. Beyond being in a family that seems to breed bad knees, 10 years ago, I completely blew out the ACL in my left knee. I had surgery to get it all fixed up and did lots of rehab to get back to almost 100%. I had some nerve damage due to the surgery and never fully regained the strength in that leg. No biggie. This spring, I started noticing how loud my knee was getting, especially on stairs. It started out as a "gravel in the knee" noise when I went down the stairs. It evolved into a "gravel in the knee" sound both directions on the stairs and end-of-the-day throbbing in my knee. Eventually, I had enough and got it looked at by the great people at UW's Sports Medicine clinic. They took x-rays and ordered an MRI. It was decided that I had a cartilage flap and a bunch of scar tissue from my previous surgery and both needed to get cleaned up. Arthroscopic surgery was scheduled for early October.

The day of surgery, Eric and I went to the hospital and I donned the ever-fetching "here's my bum for the whole world to see" hospital gown, no-slip socks, and fancy-schmancy hair net hat thingy. We chatted with a variety of health care professionals (nurses, doctors, MAs, etc.) and confirmed and reconfirmed what was going to take place that day.

I was nervous about being put under general anesthesia because I don't have a good track record with it ... AT ALL. Before surgery, the anesthesiologist and the anesthesiology nurse said they would give me their holy grail of anesthetics, which left me with only a 20% chance of becoming ill after surgery. I put my trust in their capable hands and it paid off. I wasn't sick once ... this is the first time ever that I haven't puked my guts out after being put under. Those people are my heros!! The trick was the combination of drugs and the fact all drugs were given via the IV, no gases were used.  My IV was in place and before I knew it, I was feeling loopy from the meds in my IV, was wheeled into a very cold OR, and was out within about a minute. I woke up however long later in a recovery bay with a nurse and Eric next to me. 

I discovered that the surgeon found more damage in my knee than the MRI revealed; in addition to the scar tissue and cartilage flap, I also had pieces of cartilage (aka loose bodies) floating around and had torn my meniscus. A bit more repair was needed, but nothing over the top. Amazingly, I didn't even needs crutches after surgery. Lots of ice, but no crutches!
The recovery has been fairly easy for the most part. That's a huge perk to this kind of surgery - it is minimally invasive: only 3 little incisions... 5 stitches total! I've been uncomfortable, swollen, and sore, but it hasn't been anything like my ACL surgery recovery, which was really hard. I got my stitches out on Monday, which was wonderful - they were starting to itch! Next steps: PT and a one-month follow-up with my surgeon.

Thank you to everyone who has pitched in during this time.... especially my wonderfully compassionate husband. My love, you are a rock star through and through!! Thank you, too, to the amazing care givers at UWMC and our friends who provided some frozen meals. Two weeks after surgery, I still have a limp and am sore and do a lot of icing, but feel pretty darned good .... that is, until a well-intentioned child or dog or husband runs into, hugs, grabs, or head-butts my knee. ;)

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