Friday, January 29, 2016

Praise the Lord and Pass the Scalpel

Yeee- Haaaaaa! My first knee replacement is scheduled. Plus, the second one is planned, if not exactly on the calendar yet.

After a week delay because the Orthopedic Surgeon had an emergency, I finally got in to see him. We started with the usual paperwork, of course, followed immediately by x-rays. He wanted to know what we were talking about before beginning the conversation.

I get that. I'd thought maybe an MRI would be scheduled a few days out, but while that happened after my very first knee injury, we're down to x-rays now. Apparently nobody cares any more about which meniscus might be torn where. We're way past that. Like a dozen years or so. It's been so long I can't remember any more, except it was way back during one of those periods when I had actual medical insurance, and it was done in Ramsey Hospital before their major renovation project and before they changed the name to Regions.

Yeah. That long ago.

I've seen my knee x-rays since then. Some were a bit ambiguous. My untrained eye thought there was a little bit of spacing left between the bone ends, since they seem to have a thicker white line at the tip. I got to see the real-time pictures of those cartilage injections as the needle went deeper in and - oops! stabbed the bone, haha, nevermind, sorry, try again. Squeeze some more of that lidocaine in there, will ya? I could actually watch a shading difference as the needle emptied until the contents spread out. Too bad it didn't do much after the painkiller wore off two hours later.

Today's films were, first of all, a royal pain. Seriously. I had to stand during them, and the technician kept having me move my feet this way, no, back that way, now over here, bend them so, and hold....

There were about 5 variations of that without any sitting in between. Her time was important, ya know. Can't take a break. Eventually there was a picture taken while I got to lie down. Ahhhh... Once she looked at the pictures to make sure I hadn't moved or something, she told me I could reload.


She pointed to the pile of necessities I had removed from pockets at the start of the process. Good thing she specified, because, as I informed her, I was about to ask her just what caliber she was going to suggest!

On the way to the exam room from there, we passed somebody introduced to me later as my doctor. He got a real good look at how I was walking in the process, or more like how I wasn't. Armed with the x-rays (which now even I could clearly see involved extensive unprotected bone-on-bone contact, just in case I needed the verification), his own observations, and a fairly short conversation about my history, he was ready to discuss knee replacement.


There is a process you as the patient have to go through first. There's a class to take, answering questions, preparing you for what to expect. There are exercises, an exam by your primary care doc to verify whether you are in condition to actually have surgery, meds to start on and meds to quit on a fairly complicated timetable, ways to prepare your house and its chores ahead of time... and that's just what I read in the first half of the booklet they hand out for us to read ahead of time.

The exercises look pretty easy, definitely doable, lying down on the bed rather than standing or walking. I just need to remember to take the list and how-to pictures into my bedroom with me and perform them after every time I go to the bathroom. After. Not before.

Don't ask why. Not unless you've been drinking the Flint, MI water. Then you might need somebody to explain it to you.

The meds range from simple (adding iron to build up hemoglobin) to insane (stopping ibuprofin days ahead. That's so-o-o-o-o not going to happen!) I don't need to worry about stopping warfarin because last week my cardiologist took me off of it, permanently unless the meds I'm taking for A-fib quit preventing it. It's been six months so far without a recurrence, knock on wood.

So, surgery is scheduled for early March, with the anticipation that I can drive to the airport to pick up Paul when he comes down for a vacation from winter later that month. We're doing the left leg first, but I might still be on narcotic painkillers and not legal behind the wheel. But hey: Super Shuttle!

The other leg is planned for three weeks (prep time again) or so after we come back down from Minnesota at the end of summer. Who cares if I can't drive then?

Hey, by then I'll be hoping to walk!

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