Just What I Kneeded

What happens after a life-altering knee injury?

Mama said there’d be days like this

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Or weeks like this. I’m finally able to look at a computer for more than 5 minutes, so I thought now would be a good time to catch up here.

Today marks the 6th post-op day. Things seem to be progressing well, but I still have quite a bit of pain. Which means I’m still fairly high on pain medicine. Which means what follows may or may not be completely accurate.

Surgery day was rather uneventful. My sister took me to the surgery center (actually, I insisted on driving since I won’t be behind the wheel for a while). We barely got checked in, and the nurse came in to say that my surgeon was running ahead of schedule and was ready for me. Less time to worry, I guess. I talked briefly to the anesthesiologist, long enough to go over my history of nausea and discuss the femoral nerve block. Then I talked briefly with my surgeon, long enough to confirm I wouldn’t be getting staples and for him to remind me that this surgery is “one that hurts.”

I walked back to the OR with one of the nurses and settled in on the bed. They used oxygen this time to help me pass out, so I was waning even before they hit me with the white stuff. I don’t recall anything after that until I “woke up” in the recovery room. I’m using air quotes because I wasn’t truly awake; I was in and out. I do remember having oxygen, and I thought that was weird because I don’t remember ever having oxygen after a surgery before. (A nurse told us later this was because I was only taking 5 breaths a minute, and they didn’t like that. I figure I was just resting after a long day.)

The next thing I remember was being taken to the room where I would stay overnight. They wanted me to transfer onto a new bed, but I was too nauseous. I couldn’t keep my head up or my eyes open without intense waves of nausea. So I sat there for a while (my sister says about 30 minutes) before I could transfer to the new bed. It was way more comfy. As soon as I was in the new bed, they started me on the CPM (continuous passive motion) machine. I’m going from -5 to 30 degrees for the first 10 days.

I had a rough night, but not because of the pain. My leg barely hurt at all; it just felt stiff and swollen (thank you, nerve block!!). But the nausea caused problems all night. During the night, I had 2 major shocks. One, I found out that I had to use the CPM 24/7 for the first 10 days (I thought that I’d be in it about 8 hrs/day). And two, I had to use the bed pan. Say again?! If I had known that I would have to use the bed pan, it would have been a deal breaker. Seriously. I was adamant that I needed to get up to go to the bathroom, but the nurse was even more adamant that I not do that. I argued until I thought I was going to wet the bed. I might be making it out to be worse than it was, but at the time, I thought it was the worst. thing. ever. Actually, I still do. It was traumatic.

My overnight nurse was phenomenal (except for the bed pan part). Truthfully, all the nurses there are pretty great. A huge thank you to them for making a rather unpleasant experience slightly less unpleasant!

The morning after, I woke up to my surgeon’s PA coming in to take the drain out and to tell me the surgery went really well. My sister had already informed me that the surgeon told her afterwards that the defect was larger than they had anticipated. So I wasn’t surprised to hear that they used 2 packs of the DeNovo NT tissue graft, even though the PA said they usually only use one. Apparently, I was a hot topic for discussion because she said that during surgery other doctors were coming by to see what was going on. I don’t know whether to count myself lucky that I had the opportunity or to be scared that I was only the second DeNovo transplant for my doc. I guess the rest have been ACI.

After the PA left, PT came in to get me up. This was a slooooow process because I was still extremely nauseous. But I had to get up to make it to the bathroom (I’m not ashamed to say that’s because I refused to use the bed pan a second time). The PT guy also made me walk over a step to make sure I know it’s “up with the good, down with the bad.” I flopped back into bed after that. Whew. The nurses were kicking all the other overnight patients out, but I still couldn’t control my nausea enough to sit up, much less take oral pain meds and go home. They finally hit me with a ton of fluids, another bolus of pain medicine, and another dose of nausea medicine. That seemed to do the trick. I got up and out as fast as possible.

Not completely sure how we got home, but I do remember going up the stairs. Made it to the couch and didn’t move again for a good, long time. I don’t remember much of the rest of that day or the next. I finally got around to (sort of) taking a shower on post-op day 4. The pic below is the dressing after the TED hose came off. My mom (the nurse) and my sister (the nurse) both think they can see fingerprints in the bruising. I can’t.

Surgical Dressing

That’s all for now. More to come.

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Author: Laura

I have a fern I named Frankenstein. I like leprechauns, practicing kung fu moves on my dining room furniture, and pretending that one day I will move to Fiji. I dislike my neighbors' kids, anything that is chartreuse, and Ben Roethlisberger.

5 thoughts on “Mama said there’d be days like this

  1. Thanks for the update, Laura. I am so sorry to hear the nausea was even worse than you had planned. That makes it hard to enjoy the good pain meds. That also stinks about the 24/7 knee machine. Maybe they are trying to turn you into a robot. take care! Susan

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