Thursday, June 24, 2010

Affairs of the knee

Okay, watchers of Rob's health...It's time for an update on what's happening with the main joins on my limbs. Seeing the surgeon today learned me a few things, it did.

First was an inspection of my left elbow. There's nothing quite like seeing a child who is very proud of the picture he drew in class...although a close second is a surgeon who's pleased by the work he's done on a patient. It turns out that my surgery wasn't the simple procedure I thought it was. According to the doc, he usually goes in and frees the entrapped nerve, giving it a little more breathing room by making a slight relocation. My ulnar nerve wasn't that cooperative. Once relocated, he tested the joint, only to find the nerve snapping right back to the trouble spot. Using inner layers of skin, sutures, and a soft sheath of tissue on the outside of the bones, the doc created a sling in which the nerve could move back and forth.

The lack of exterior stitching, he explained, was to ease my healing. My skin is somewhat dry and delicate. Interior sutures meant less torture for the skin. That said, there is one tiny issue, and that's a small part of the incision that's healing...well, more slowly than the rest. I explained that I had the supplies at home to commit to genuine wound care, and this pleased him.

Now on to the knees. Yes, knees - plural.

Back on 4 March 2010, I saw an orthopedic surgeon with all the charm of a cinder block. (You can go find the post yourselves. =P ) Since my current doctor used to be part of the same practice, I was treated to the idiot's nickname: "Chuckles." I found this amusing, since he was about as funny as cancer. The idiot said there was nothing wrong with my left knee, which was my main complaint at the time, but a tear in the right meniscus. I wasn't concerned about the right knee. My worry was on the left side. This was dismissed by the idiot, with him telling me there's nothing wrong with my left knee.

Not what I was told today. The MRI I had on both knees at the start of the year shows wear on the knee, along with a possible tear. Since it's not an immediate concern, we're shelving the idea of surgery on the left knee for the moment. The immediate concern is the right knee.

And the right knee does, indeed, need surgery. I not only have the tear of the meniscus, but the patella may need a little "cleaning up." As the doctor put it, about 89% of the knee cap looks to be in good shape, but he'll assess it more clearly once I'm on the table. Via sight and touch, the doc confirmed fluid gathering in the knee, which is a sure sign things aren't what they should be. Despite my issues, he was rather impressed with the range of motion I had, specifically when I curled the knee to bring my heel almost to my butt. Toward the end, he went about his habit of drawing on patients and took a pen to my knee to show me where incisions would be made, and what would go into each hole.

One of my key concerns was the fear that my knee would have to be opened wide for major work to be done. It's the difference between a month and three months of recovery. I was told that almost never happens anymore. Said practice was more common when the doc was much younger. Now...? Almost everything can be done through tiny holes made at the site.

He left and the nurse came in to start the scheduling process. What I wanted most in that moment was to ensure there would be enough time for my arm to complete as much healing as possible, since I would need to use crutches immediately following the surgery. The debate was whether I should have the surgery on 7, 9, or 14 July. My thought was: The sooner, the better! And since the 9th is my birthday...well, having surgery that day just wasn't a happy-happy idea. We opted for the 7th. And what makes this surgery even better is that there's no need for scheduling pre-surgical testing. My recent testing carries over nicely.

And so, with 20 surgeries under my belt - surgery being anything that required consciousness-altering anesthesia - number 21 is all set to happen on 7 July. Just two more things need to happen before then.

One is the phone call telling what time I need to be at the hospital. That's just part of the waiting game. The other is a visit to a physical therapy practice so they can log my range of motion, various dimensions of my leg, and give me a grand list of exercises to do at home. And should I need it, I'll be on the books for more therapy after the surgery.

*sigh* Then, when all this is done, I get to schedule surgery for my right elbow.

This would be so much easier if we were all made of LEGO. A body part wears out, just unsnap it and replace with new pieces. And wouldn't it be neat to have joints made of various colored blocks?

Hmmm...Maybe not.

Anywho, that's that. Be well, faithful readers!

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