Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Is this going to hurt?

As most of you know I had knee surgery on October 28th.  But I know you also want the full scoop.

September 18th was a typical day off for me.  I rode my bike to a special place and spent a few glorious hours writing poems, including a multi-tiered haiku called ‘Joy.’  After writing, I hopped on my bike and headed to tennis and played a few nasty sets of doubles.  It was a fierce game that left me drained.  Robert had stopped by to watch the last of it, and afterwards, took me to lunch across the street.  I felt fairly drained, but after a bite to eat I was ready to conquer the world again.  I hopped on my bike, and in order to avoid hills, took the long way home.  It was a happy ride.  When I got home I had enough energy to play ball with the dogs before a shower.  I spent the rest of the day reading and writing.  My right knee was a little cramped, but other than that I felt excellent.  For the past few years I combined both biking and tennis in one day several times a week with little or no aches. 

The next day I woke up with a sore left knee.  Furthermore, I was filled with a sense of doom whenever I tried to bend it.  I wasn’t concerned.  As an athlete, I have lots of aches and pains and typically I just badass my way through them.  After a week and a half, however, the pain did not go away, and I could no longer do stairs, let alone tennis or biking.  I decided to see my doctor, who ordered x-rays.  After the x-rays were taken the pain decreased and I began to make plans for yoga and tennis, but just as the plans were finalized I received news that the x-rays showed something awry.  An MRI was ordered, and it showed a tear.  An appointment with an orthopedic surgeon was made, and during the two-week wait I forgot I had a whoopsie in my knee and one night, attempted to tuck it beneath me as I sat down like I have for 28 years.  It felt like a water bottle was being crunched inside my knee.  The pain was fairly intense, not poison sumac between your toes painful, but somewhere between breaking your nose with your knee and ear infection painful.  After that incident, I could barely walk.  When I finally saw the orthopedic surgeon on October 27th and found out I needed surgery, I didn’t hesitate when I told him I wanted it done ASAP. 

I was a little surprised when he said he had an opening the very next day.  But surprise was erased by discomfort and pain and I was ready to get beyond that and get back to tennis and leaping around like an idiot again. 

The surgery went well.  Frankly, I wasn’t worried about that.  It was like taking an awkward nap.  Pee in a cup, put on an immodest gown, let someone stab me, fall asleep.  Easy.

After the surgery I was hooked up to an ice machine, which pumped cold water into my bandages 24 hours a day.  I could not reach the plug that connected me to the machine.  If I needed to pee someone had to unhook me.  At one point Robert had a job in another city and I was left alone for several hours.  Two friends came and unhooked me and let the dogs out.  One of these friends brought bread pudding, and after I declined a piece and the friend left it dawned on me that the bread pudding was in the kitchen and I was trapped in the living room. 

After the ice machine was removed Robert and I ripped the bandages off with glee.  Ok, carefully… But with glee!  Underneath the bandages I discovered a very strange message just above the offending knee.  It said ‘yes’ with possibly a signature beneath it and was circled with gusto.  By gusto I mean that the line kept going after the circle was finished.  Whatever marker this message was written in is taking its sweet time being removed, which has given me ample time to question what this yes was answering at the time it was written on my leg.  The most obvious question is, “Hey, is this the knee that’s being sliced?”

But I can think of other questions as well like, 

1. Is this going to hurt?
2. Will this be expensive?
3  Which side do you want your IV on?  Oh, sorry, that was a rhetorical question.  You want this in the smallest vein on your body, right?
4. Did you get an improper crutch fitting before this surgery?
5. Did you know your doctor’s nickname is Dr. Zigzag?
6. Do you like Pearl Jam?  No??  Too bad! That was also rhetorical and we’re still going to crank it right before we knock you out. 
7. The last time you ate was at least 72 hours ago, correct?
8. Would you like some applesauce?
9. You do know that, after surgery, your pee will smell like something burning inside a vacuum cleaner, right?
10. Do you have to go up steps before you enter your house?
11. Yes?  Ok, do you know how to sleep in your car?

I also have speculations that the initials just below the ‘yes’ weren’t really initials.  They might be something radically different, like:

1. hahaha
2. muahahaha
3. the Starbucks order the doctor was trying to remember for his surgical team so they weren’t thirsty during surgery
4. how much money the doctor was hoping to make for every strand of menisci that was repaired
5. how much money the doctor still owed on his student loans
6. a grocery list
7. the letters “U Owe Me”
8. a comic relief button that, when pressed, activates the ‘can-can’ muscles in the leg and instantly puts a smile on the face of anyone on the surgical team who is taking the surgery too seriously
9. a treasure map
10. a diagram that either showed where the tear was or how to dance the Robot

After the bandages were off I was ready to get a move on.  Unfortunately, after taking off on the crutches for a day my armpits felt like two raging forest fires.  I decided that crutches were put on this earth to make the original owie disappear.  I vowed to ditch the crutches ASAP, and tossed them aside on Friday.  Sure, I have to use all of my telepathic powers to propel myself up and over a curb, but it is better than listening to my pits scream at me. 

I have another appointment soon, plus physical therapy, plus I get to go back to work.  After two weeks of healing, aka watching Robert attempt to clean house by vacuuming a single line down an area rug and lining up baskets of dirty laundry in our living room like soldiers too tired to make the trek to the basement, I am ready to get back into the library and maybe soon match Robert’s clean patch of rug with another swipe. 

But I don’t want to get carried away.  So far, the road to recovery has been smooth, and according to the strange message on my knee, the answer to a complete and speedy recovery is Yes. . . gobbledygook.   

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