Sunday, January 17, 2016

Knee Repair

Sunrise Ambulatory Surgical Center in Aspen Ridge Medical Center
Friday, January 15, 2016

The day of my surgery finally dawned (and I mean that literally). It was still dark when Dylan drove me to the surgical center at 6:15. I took these two photos outside the building when we left, about 3 hours later. 

The entrance to the medical center.

By 6:30, they had taken me back to get me prepped. Sarah soon joined me, after dropping her husband Chris off at work. She was there for the long haul, my ride home when it was all over (and my next-of-kin if anything went wrong, but we won't think about that!). The surgery was scheduled for 7:00, but it took a bit longer than expected to get me into surgery. In fact, I was getting a bit nervous, starting to wonder if I would be having the surgery that day at all.

Inside the entrance, the surgical center is dead ahead.

Two days before the surgery, I'd unexpectedly developed a urinary tract infection. Everything was fine when I left for work just before 7:30 on Wednesday. An hour later, reading aloud to my 1st period class, I suddenly realized I needed to use the restroom, but the sensation was so uncomfortable I knew what it meant. I've had plenty of UTIs in my day. Then, by the time I was able to take a break at 9:00, I was already peeing blood! I'd never had a UTI progress that quickly before.

My biggest concern was that my surgery would be cancelled. I know that surgery is often postponed if the patient has a fever on the day of the procedure. So I arranged to have my 3rd period class and homeroom covered while I raced to the clinic, where I was their first patient of the day, thankfully, so I got right in (they open at 10:00 and I arrived at 10:10). They confirmed the infection and prescribed an antibiotic. I spent 45 minutes at Walmart waiting for my prescription, but I managed to be back at school in time for 4th period right after lunch.

When I took my temperature the night before the surgery, it was perfectly normal, which was a huge relief.

Pictures of the inside of my knee, with notes by the surgeon.
It looks more like one of Saturn's moons to me!

As it turned out, the problem issue had nothing to do with my UTI or fevers. It was my arrhythmia that made the anesthesiologist hesitate. Sinus arrhythmias and premature ventricular contractions are considered fairly benign, and while I hate how they make me feel, I'm okay as long as I keep my potassium and other electrolytes balanced. However, he decided to do an EKG before proceeding, "just to get a baseline" he said, and then he spent a very long time reading the results. I watched and waited nervously.

Finally, he said it looked like I had an infarct (an area of dead tissue) in one of my lower lobes, although it was inconclusive. I'm knowledgeable enough to understand that means I may have unknowingly had a heart attack sometime in the past few years. (My last stress test, echo-cardiogram, and other cardiac tests were 6 years ago. At that time my heart was healthy and my arteries were clear despite the arrhythmia.) But I also know my stepmom Kathy was told the same thing after an EKG a few years ago and it turned out to be a false alarm. At any rate, the EKG will be shared with my primary physician, and I'm sure another visit to the cardiologist awaits me in the not-too-distant future.

Meanwhile, the anesthesiologist seemed satisfied--despite the apparent infarct--that he could safely sedate me, so they started rolling me back to the operating room. But then I asked if we could stop again so I could use the restroom, since they weren't catheterizing me (thank goodness!), and thus I ended up walking myself into surgery.

The only thing I was secretly dreading was being put under general anesthesia. I hate waking up with a sore throat from being intubated. Even worse, I hate waking up all groggy and nauseous. I hate how long it takes to feel normal again.

So I was pleased to find out that this time they were putting something in my IV that would just make me extremely sleepy, so much so that I would feel like I was asleep the whole time. If I was too twitchy or not "out" enough, then they would go to general anesthesia. I wasn't too worried, though. I'm always easy to put to sleep. 

This pink tape that covered my IV made me think of my pink-loving
daughter-in-law Danielle!

I remember lying on the table while the doctor, nurse, and anesthesiologist were working around me. I was looking at the ceiling and wondering when they were going to inject the anesthesia. Then I started feeling all warm and cozy, and no sooner did I think, "This must be--" than I was out. Totally.

Next thing I knew, someone was asking, "Are you awake?" I thought, "Are you crazy?" but I opened my eyes to see the nurse standing over me, smiling. There was no nausea and no grogginess, although I did feel a little loopy. My throat was a little sore because they did put a smaller breathing tube through my nostril, but the soreness went away within the hour.

They wrote "yes" on my right knee to ensure the correct knee was repaired.
The orange streaks are the antiseptic with which they cleaned my knee.

Despite my loopiness, it seemed like everyone persisted in asking me questions or talking about things that required me to speak. The surgeon showed me the pictures of my knee and took time to describe each and every one. The nurse went over my release instructions in detail. I was thinking, "Don't they realize I can't even think yet? I'm never going to remember all this." It seemed like so much work to think of the correct words to respond with a modicum of intelligibility, but I kept trying.

Just a little bit of gauze and bandages to cover my tiny wounds.

Sarah's perspective of my awakening was humorous. They brought her back to me right away, and I remember seeing her when I sat up. She told Dylan I was so loopy that I didn't stop talking. And here I was thinking I was only saying what was absolutely necessary. She tells me I said things I don't recall saying, like telling the doctor that my eyes were cross-eyed when he showed me the pictures.

I wasn't supposed to change the dressing until Monday morning,
but the bandages kept slipping. I finally gave up and rearranged it all
on Sunday afternoon. Not too bad. Two small incisions with stitches,
and a mildly swollen knee. Still hurts like heck to walk on, though!

I  was sent home around 9:00 a.m. My knee was sore, but it wasn't too bad to walk on. They gave me a prescription for narcotic painkillers, which Sarah had filled for me, but I couldn't imagine I'd actually need them. My pain tolerance is pretty high and, as I told people, the post-surgery pain wasn't as bad at what I'd been enduring for the past few months. I spent most of Friday sleeping, anyway, first in the recliner for a couple of hours and then in bed for the rest of the day.

The only comfortable position these days: in a recliner with
my knee up on two throw-pillows.

And then whatever drugs they'd used to numb my knee wore off late Saturday morning. Oh. My. Gosh. I had to pick up Mark and Jake from work Saturday afternoon, and just walking out to the car and driving was a nightmare. After that, I told everyone they had to find their own transportation. I also joked that I needed a little golden bell to summon them, because they were going to be waiting on me for the rest of the weekend.

Sitting at my desk and working on my desktop is also painful,
so I'm blogging this from my laptop, on my lap.

I never did get a golden bell, but everyone has been good about fetching for me in order to limit my need to move around. Mark and Jake were at work all day today, leaving Dylan to wait on me, but he was marvelously patient and quick to respond. Instead of a bell, I'd just call his cell phone!

Jake, Chris, and Sarah chop vegetables for Sunday dinner.
Dylan had already assembled all the ingredients and measuring cups for them.

And then, for tonight's family dinner, the kids pulled together to make our meal while I relaxed. The nurse said I'd be sore for three or four days, so hopefully this will begin to improve soon. I might need the knee brace for another week, but then they say I should be able to walk normally again and gradually increase my activity. How I hope that turns out to be true!

Navopache Chicken Salad for tonight's dinner.

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