Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Hello all TKR folks

I'm amazed that this blog seems to live on. If it helps even just one person get through knee replacement surgery (or avoid it) I'm thrilled. I've changed the process so that all comments are moderated. That's because it has become a bit of a spam repository. Please keep do keep posting. As for me, well, my knee is not perfect but I think it's as good as it's going to get. I can walk pretty far and I can bike. I still have pain and I'm pretty sure I have scar tissue. But do I want to do another scope? Yeah, my point exactly. Who wants that?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

update on my manipulation!

Hi folks. . I keep seeing posts on Manipulation Monday so that means people are finding this blog and reading it. I hope it helps.. Let me update you. It's been more than two years since my tkr. I wish I could say things are perfect. Alas, they are not. However, I am happy to report that I have less pain -- much less -- than I did before my knee replacement. I still have this mysterious pain above my kneecap in the front (obviously). . It feels like soft tissue. My doc things it might be scar tissue. But since metal screws up an MRI the only way to know for sure is to open me up. Yeah, it would just be arthroscopy. But there's no just "just" when your knee has been through hell again and again. I worry too much that it would inflame everything again. Still I might do it if it doesn't get better in a few more months. I need to work more on my strengthening AND get in better shape. Much better. . Now, as far as the manipulation went, I will say it worked like a charm. I can still bend it almost all the way. And by all the way I mean, more than most people can bend their knees. You won't catch me sitting on the ground with my legs folded underneath me, or meditating in full lotus. But the manipulation worked and that was really great. Also, I'm updating my contact info so folks can get in touch with me. And maybe with eachother as well! Happy knee. -- Janet

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Long time.. Please email me with comments..

Hi all. . well, I've been rather remiss in not keeping up this blog. Part of it is daunting. Every time I think of posting, I think of how much catching up I have to do. And I also think I've needed to take a break. It's been a long time. I wish I could say my knee was perfect. It isn't. But it's a lot better than it was. I don't have the arthritis pain any more. I still do have pain above my kneecap. We (the doc and I) think it has something to do with scar tissue and I may end up getting another arthroscopy to check out the knee. But not yet. I want to enjoy the summer. And I've been boogie boarding a few times already.

So I promise to write more. But the main thing I want to say to folks out there who are finding this blog is that if you don't send me your email address, I can't respond. So please send me your email address. And please feel free to post your own stories.

Happy summer,

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Mother ocean and gratitude

So, I took a great bike ride with Oren the other day. We went and rode along Ocean Beach I often look to the water and long to go in. But I know better. It's not time yet. I have a healthy respect for the ocean -- especially this one, where the tides can grab you with great force and pull you under before you know what's happening. I tell people the closest I ever came to dying was at Ocean Beach. I had just gotten my wetsuit, a gift from my girlfriend, and was getting used to the idea that I could go into the Ocean in Northern California. Having grown up in Southern California, I lived to go to the beach. But even Newport, with waves that often hit 8 and 10 feet, was nothing compared to the much colder and much fiercer Pacific of the Northern California Coast. Anyhow, I was an avid bodysurfer then. Didn't really like boogie boarding. Didn't like having something tied to me. Didn't like to have something between me and the water. There's something very zen about body surfing. It's just you and the wave. Hell,I didn't even like the wetsuit, but with temperatures hovering in the 40s, it was necessary. But there's a reason you don't see many body surfers here. It's too hard. So I ventured in the water. This was maybe ten years ago.

It was a cold San Francisco morning. Summer and foggy. Like that's unusual. There was a fisherman on the beach and I could see a few surfers off in the distance, little black dots set against the steel of the sky and ocean. Within a few feet of entering the water, I knew I had misjudged. I was in over my head. The waves, albeit smallish (only a few feet) were crashing every few seconds, forming beautiful tubes that felt like lead blankets dropped recklessly from above. I was ducking every one. But the pull under the water was just as strong. Like someone was grabbing my legs and trying to wrench them toward the deeper water. I was getting tired. Fast. My breath was hard and I felt my lungs expand and hurt like they used to as a kid playing backyard baseball on a smoggy LA day. I looked out for the surfers and the fisherman. They were too far away. They probably didn't even know I was in the water. And I knew right then I had made a bad mistake. I had been too cocky, too naive. I didn't know this ocean. Not like I know it now. I didn't know about the millions of gallons that poured from the mouth of the Golden Gate Bridge just around the bend, or the underwater mountainous terrain. And yes, I didn't know my own skill level. The thing about surfing (and I include bodyboarding and bodysurfing in this) is that you have to know your limits. You have to know with realistic precision, just how good you are; just how much you can take. Yes, you want to challenge yourself. It's part of the fun. But if you misjudge yourself or the ocean, you can pay a price. And the price I could pay was my own death. Yeah, maybe I'm all drama (as my friend Teena likes to say). But I'm telling you, this is how people drown. This is how people die. They struggle. They fight. They get tired. They think they can win. They act on instinct and fear. But the ocean is too big, too fierce, too relentless. It always wins. It's not personal. The ocean just does what it does. And if you fight it, you lose. You get tired. A wave comes that you can't fight and it pulls you under. Or out. Sounds like some kind of bad cliche, I know. But that's the way it is. People die at Ocean Beach. I wrote about one summer where seven people died, making it the deadliest beach in the world. It's lessons like this that make me love the ocean. It's taught me a lot. At this moment, it was teaching me humility. And it was forcing me to be sane in the middle of my insanity. CALM DOWN, I told myself. It was a matter of life and death. Be calm. STOP FIGHTING. So I did. I did the ragdoll thing that I had learned to do as a kid at Newport and Santa Monica beaches. When the wave has you under, go limp. Don't fight. Surfers call it going Zen. Let myself be tossed by the waves. I knew if I could bring my head up to gulp some air I'd be OK. I was afraid. I tried to slow my heart down. Slow my breath.

And I kept thinking one thought: I don't want to die.

I had always thought that in the moment before death, should you know what is happening, you would think big thoughts. Profound thoughts about all the things you wished you'd done and all the things you wished you hadn't. You'd think about your parents and your kids and your lovers and friends. Maybe you'd think about your pets or places you loved. Whatever was important to you. But I realized in that moment, that if I died right then and there, I'd die thinking this: I don't want to die. Sometimes it takes facing death to make you realize how much you want to live. When I'm down I sometimes return to that moment. There was no part of me, not one little iota of me, that wanted to die, that wanted to end it. I have an intense and strong will to live -- and to live well. Sometimes I hide it. But I know it's there.

Obviously, I made it out. And yes, to those of you who know I'm prone to a little bit of drama, I probably wasn't in as much danger as I thought I was. But that doesn't matter.

I was talking to a friend the other night. I've fought with depression some during my life. Sometimes it seems like this demon hovering over my shoulder, this dark presence that threatens to swallow me when times get rough. So far it hasn't. But you know, I haven't always been sure I could escape it. If there was ever time to fall into a depression, it could have happened this time. This surgery. Maybe that's why this ocean story is hitting me. I hadn't planned on writing about this but sometimes the words come out and I figure out why later. Now I think I know why. This surgery has been a lot like that experience. Bigger than me. And threatening. And scary. But the difference is that this time when I was panicking under the water, I wasn't alone. I've had all of you out there pulling me out, pulling me through. I know this sounds sappy. I'm not usually so corny (despite my name). But it's true. When I first started this blog, I had the faintest of ideas that it would become popular -- maybe a few thousand, maybe more. Maybe strangers would come and read it because they were interested in knee replacement surgeries. But as it's gone on, I've seen that my readers are exactly who they should be; people who know me; people who care. And that feels like it should be. I'm still in it. I'm still wet and cold and scared (to use the ocean analogy). But I feel like I'm finally climbing out of the water, breathless and shaking, but realizing that I'm going to make it. That I'm full of life and happy to be here. And I'm going to get through this.

Anyhow, this is not at all what I set out to write. I was going to talk about how I've stayed in bed the last 24 hours with some kind of stomach thing -- maybe even a reaction to the water and bike ride the other day. But I realize this was what I needed to say. Maybe it's a little more personal, a little rougher, than I usually get. But so be it. I'll get to the other stuff later.

PS I took this picture years ago of a small rock at the beach

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

she's alive....

It's really been a long time and I do have so much to say. . . I might even go over some old posts that I wrote but didn't post because I didn't have time to check them over for typos. And so the story is that the manipulation went really, really well. Before I haven't done, I was spending too about 90° -- maybe pushing to 100° or so. That's not very much. Lie on your back and bend your knee to a right angle. That's about all I had. It's not enough to bike or anything like that. But I have to say that my physical therapist, June, from UCSF was really skeptical. She seen people come out of manipulations a lot worse than they went in. Anyhow, I know I've written about this but it helps to start from that point. Because that's the point where everything changed. So when I went into UCSF, they gave me a spinal to numb things out below my waist. And the doctor came in and basically bent my leg. He got it bent about 130°. Then for the next three days I stayed in the hospital. They kept me on an epidural so I was getting a constant dose of medication that was basically taking away the majority of the pain in my knee. They were also heavily medicating me. So the best part about being in the hospital was that I had three days of not being in pain. I was so happy. It's funny because I was worried that I had been taking too much medication. What I realized is that I have not been taking enough. I've been taking it enough just to take the edge off. But I was still in serious pain so I really couldn't push past anything. I'm still taking medication. I'm still hurting but not as much. And I can definitely see the light at the end of the tunnel. But I'm jumping ahead of myself.

Well, not really. Going to UCSF was amazing. It made me appreciate being in a good hospital. And it made me realize how bad the care was at the previous hospital. It wasn't that they were terrible there. But they left me there for days without basically much medical attention. You read all about me having to beg for my pain medication so I'm not going to go through that again. My only criticism of UCSF is that I kept saying that I think I had a bladder infection (they catheterize you after this procedure) and they kept saying that I didn't. I went home that first day and ran a fever of 102°. I had a bladder infection. But that's a small thing. (Yes I took the whole course of antibiotics and I'm fine). Anyhow, ever since the hospital, my knee has been much much better. In fact, I'm able to bend so much that our main concern right now straightening. The other day I was able to bend to almost 140° in physical therapy. That's almost as much as my other knee. And here's the really big news: I'm riding my bike. As in -- outside. I did a 10 mile ride on Friday and a 7 mile ride on Sunday. I'm not going to win any races. I go very, very slowly. But it's pretty amazing that I can do it. In fact, it hurts less to ride my bike than it does to walk. The only problem I'm having now it is I'm getting some numbness and tingling in my hands so I have to readjust my bicycle. My physical therapist said this is a common problem that I can avert by keeping my hands straight. But she also said that bicycling is probably going to be my sport of choice.

My next doctor's appointment is at the end of the month and I expect that I'll be going back to work soon after. So basically, I'm working on riding my bike, getting in shape, and straightening my leg. And soon I will completely be able to wean myself off the pain medication although right now I really need still. I wake up several times a night still in a lot of pain. My knee is still warm to the touch but it's not as hot as it once was.

I will promise to post more soon. But I just wanted to catch up those of you who are still reading my blog. Which I appreciate. Right now, Kali is biting my ankle so I better go feed her. (My cat).

PS These are blossoms from the tree in front of my house. Spring is here!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

One pill makes you ....

better. So, Cesa ran out and got me some antibiotics (and I took some Tylenol) and my fever went away. I feel much better (but of course, now have one more thing to take -- gotta finish the antibiotics, or "biotics" as Aunt Betty calls them.) I managed to do= some bending and stretching yesterday but not much. So today I will be doing a lot of that stuff. I am on stronger pain meds and as a consequence, am in much less pain. Funny how that works. When I was in the hospital, I kept telling the doctors (there were pain docs; orthopedists; pharmacists etc. checking in all the time) that I just didn't want to go home and be in pain again. This hospital was incredible. MUCH better than St. Mary's. I'll write more later, but they were really there; the care was fantastic. And they listened. The nurses were top-notch; every single one of them was nice. And every single one of them knew their stuff. The longest I had to wait for anyone was 15 minutes -- and that's only because another patient had "coded." I'll write more about my experience later (look for a post called popsicles and death). But the bottom line now is that I can bend MUCH more. I finally feel like I'm where I should be -- on the mend, getting better and working with a great team. Just wanted to update this for those of you reading. . . Now, I'm off to take a shower. Scary, but it's my first one in six days.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Back at home

So, I got released this morning. Cesa came to pick me up in the fancy ass BMW (My reputation will somehow survive).. But then we got home and I was exhausted. I mean EXHAUSTED. And chilled. Went straight to bed. Phone rang and rang and rang. It was like being in a bad dream. Then finally I got "up) at about 4:30 p.m. I was delirious, talking to myself (like I always do but more).. . it struck me then that this is not normal. Took my temp. It's about 102. OK. So why am I sick? The knee is burning hot. Like embers pulled from a fire. Not hyperbole. I mean hot. burning hot. . So I call Carly, the physician assistant. Blessedly, she answers the phone. I had a flue shot but this feels like the flue. But then she asks about bladder infection. Just yesterday I started feeling funky -- my catheter did. I said, hey, you guys need to take this out or I'm going to bet a bladder infection. They didn't take it out for awhile. And I'd bet that's what I have. So Cesa is picking up the anti-biotics. I have cramping, pain, the usual. I know my body pretty well. I hope that's all it is. I made myself take some Tylenol and eat a little bit and now i feel a teensy bit better. I'll know in a few hours if it was a bladder infection. . But pretty sure it was. sorry I'm repeating myself. Did I say I'm running a fever? Otherwise, I'm watching the numbers and if they climb too high, I'll go to the emergency room. AT UC. . Other than that, everything is good. the manipulation was a success and i feel like I'm finally going to have the knee I've dreamed about. prayers still in major order here if you feel like sharing.


ps soon i will see all the junk i ordered online. ok. that's scary.