When the nurses wheeled my bed into the operating theater on Monday, one of the technicians asked me if there was a type of music I preferred to listen to, or a particular artist. I said I didn\’t care, because I didn\’t figure they\’d have or want to hear the type of music that makes me feel calm (Matmos comes to mind). The guy disappeared into the back and a few seconds later, the end of Guns N\’ Roses \”Don\’t Cry\” was wailing in the background. That made me smile while one of the PAs was sanitizing my leg with the cold iodine.
My doctor came into the room and they all started talking about how the stock market had just fallen another 700 points in the past hour, so the Fed had closed early. Five or six people in scrubs, all talking about how they\’d have to be working well past their eighties. I did what I\’ve been doing recently when anyone talks politics or the financial crisis — I tuned them out. I fell asleep before the anesthesia was even administered. Three cheers for narcolepsy!
I don\’t remember talking to my doctor after I woke up, so it\’s fortunate that my husband and mother were there to speak to him. Got home to my parent\’s house without incident. I have to wear a giant, hinged brace on my leg; it stretches from mid-calf to mid-thigh. The leg still has to be elevated at all times, which has made the past two days rather difficult to maneuver around. The real challenge has been the pain.
I knew there was going to be pain — I even knew there was going to be a lot of it. But until it actually happens, there\’s no way of putting it into perspective. The pain isn\’t anything like the first time I had knee surgery; it\’s much worse this time. Monday night, the local anesthesia was still in effect, so I was able to hop from the bed to couch to the bathroom and such. But that night, the last of it wore off, leaving an excruciating pain that just kept growing. I couldn\’t sleep because of it.
It turns out that two things sort of went wrong. The first is that my doctor and I underestimated how tolerant of the old oxycodone dosage I had become. I\’m well used to taking fives, and on really bad days taking two fives. He prescribed me sevens with instructions to take one or two every six hours, thinking that would be enough. By Tuesday morning, though, I was in so much pain that I was crying but trying not to cry as the tiniest movements made it hurt even more. Two calls to the doctor\’s office finally resulted in a call back with revised instructions — part of which covered the other part that went wrong. A lot of the pain has been coming from my knee swelling under the gauze (which is under the bandage, which is under the brace, and I\’m not supposed to take any of it off). The swelling makes it feel like my flesh is being painfully constricted to the point where the bandages might be forced to pop open from the enormous contained pressure in the swelling. So on top of the oxycodone sevens we added ib profen 600s: one every six hours. And the oxycodone was changed to two every four hours. I\’m an impatient-pain-pill-popping-patient. Fortunately, the increased dosage and addition of the ib profen has helped bring it all back down to a tolerable level.
Several times, the swelling has been accompanied by involuntary muscle spasms under or around the knee. Once, the bones inside the knee slipped. Each time I have felt the stitches searing into my skin. Until I can go in and have the bandages taken off, there\’s no way of knowing for sure, but I\’m fairly certain that at least one of the suture areas is already infected. When I move around, such as from the wheelchair to the toilet, I feel moisture dripping around my kneecap. It\’s got to be either blood or discharge; sweat feels differently.
I\’ve been keeping the damn thing elevated but it\’s difficult in certain situations. There is no way to keep it elevated at all when I\’m in the bathroom, for example. I took a shower last night with my entire leg in a trash bag, sticking out of the shower and propped up on the toilet (but that wasn\’t high enough) while I sat on a specialty medical chair in the shower stall. I was in there less than five minutes, but by the time I got out the swelling was huge and was even affecting my foot. I can still move my foot around, flex my toes and whatnot, but my foot wouldn\’t fit in any of my shoes right now — it\’s far too swollen. Augh.