Sometimes… Strange Things Show Up in the Mail

When one hits a certain age, strange things start showing up in the mail.  Apparently, I’m not just going deaf but my eyesight seems to be failing too.

CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?

CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?

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I’ve Graduated

Yes they set me free from Outpatient Physical Therapy. No more forced marches, no more time on the rack. Kelly, my therapist, who initially said that I’d hate her but then love her was right. She forced me to get my new knee to a -3 extension but just making me do it. Not minding if I whined or groaned. I’m still shooting for 0 but that’s on me now. She handed me a sheaf of papers full of exercises that I now must do on my own to get that knee to straighten out. And I have to learn not to listen to my whining.

This one below works with gravity. You just hang there as long as you can stand it. Looks easy? Try it, gravity can be your friend or not. Ankle weights optional. knee-stretch She told me to get a strap to tie around my foot so I can pull my leg back and work on the other half of what your knee should be able to do, that is, bend. Can’t you just hear me groaning? and cursing? and swearing?using-strap-for-knee-rehab All I need is a willow switch and I’ll be ready to join a secret society of fitness monks.

Medieval Marginalia. Probably depicting 14th century physical therapy for knee extension and bend.

Medieval Marginalia. Probably depicting 14th century physical therapy for knee extension and bend.

All joking aside, this is really all good stuff. Bending my knee before the replacement, I was lucky if I could get it 45 degrees before extreme pain from bone spurs brought me, literally to my knees. On graduation day I got it to 123 degrees, 125 with a strap, woo-hoo!

So, where do I go from here? Lots of home work and a membership in a health facility. Mostly because it is winter and too cold and probably too slippery for me right now to do much walking. But also they have bikes and ellipticals and weight machines. Cause this baby is going to get straight. After all there are only 94 days till Spring!

You Will Hate Me Now

“but you will thank me later.”  So said my physical therapist after bringing tears to my eyes at our last session. Getting a knee replacement isn’t just an operation, a short stay in the hospital and then painkillers and rest at home. No, it is a LOT of work. A lot of painful work.

rackOnce I was out of the hospital, I spent a week at a rehab center ( I regaled you on their menu choices if you recall ). While there I also had physical therapy (PT) twice a day, every day for 45 minutes each. It consisted of learning how to walk with a walker, then a cane. It was a lot of mobility exercises and it was also how to put on your socks and empty the washing machine while your knee said, “uh no, that hurts!!” It was a good kickstart. But it was just a taste of the ordeal awaiting me.

When I got home I was scheduled for outpatient PT twice a week and with the “luck of the draw” I was paired with Kelly, a young, no-nonsense woman who is determined to get me to bend my knee normally and also get it to straighten out, no bends, when I stand. I like her, she doesn’t coddle me. While I am grimacing as I try to make the stationery bicycle wheel turn we talk about what we did on the weekend and admire each other’s choice in footwear. But don’t be fooled she has no qualms about bringing tears to my eyes.

This is the issue. I need to get to “0” but I am at -5, meaning it bends up, doesn’t lie straight as in this picture. Now on the bottom bend I am at 116 which is pretty good but we are shooting for 120 at the very least.

ai26-tinypic-com_2mdksutTo get to either of these numbers a lot of pushing down of the kneecap or pulling back of my heel takes place. And man, it hurts. There are a lot of bruised, tight muscles in there, sore nerves and of course, metal parts. I am also fighting scar tissue. I have to keep everything moving before it tightens up.

That’s where Kelly comes in. She cracks the whip and says ten more reps, or eight more minutes on the rack and five more revolutions on the bike. On my own there would be one more rep and three on the bike and forget the rack. She is the one who pushes down firmly on my kneecap to force it into a more straight position while I whimper. She can unerringly find every sore and stinging muscle as she probes with her fingers. Yep, no one expects the Spanish Inquisition.*

So right now, I hate her, or rather what she is making me do, but I know when I reach that “0” and can walk downstairs normally, I will thank her and be grateful she didn’t have a real whip.

*Monty Python’s Flying Circus

And the Scores are In!

And to Jeanne, competing in the Total Laproscopic Hysterectomy with a Bilateral Salpingo-oophoectomy:

We have a winner!

We have a winner!

Thank you, thank you all. This is a great achievement but I couldn’t have done it without the help and support of family, friends, doctors, nurses, physician’s assistants, patient navigators and chocolate.

But I hear you saying, “Ones? She’s excited about ones?”

Damn right, I am!

After my “Coming Out Party”, I met with my local pathologist. Well, parts of me did. I can’t help it, when I think of pathology,  Monster Mash starts playing in my brain, ” I was working in the lab late one night, when my eyes beheld an eerie sight…” I wonder if they ever play that on the hospital lab muzac during Halloween?

Anyway, I digress…..things were sliced, diced, microscopes were employed and I got this print out at my follow-up meeting with the doc.

resultsIf you’ve had cancer, known someone with cancer, or have watched ER or Grey’s Anatomy or Doogie Howser: MD, you know that in the C world, the lower the number the better. A Stage 1 is what you want and mine even got an A. Stage 1 is the early stage, the opening act, the first bad note, an amateur!  Get the hook!!

HookSo what now? More rest, more healing. Can’t drive till next week!!! And don’t make me cry, but major housework is still on the off-limits list. Doing jigsaw puzzles, knitting, reading and online games are the current activities I am competing in these days and I am striving for all 10’s in those.

My “Coming Out” Party

There were gifts, bag

party hats, hat

games, puzzeles

door prizes and parting gifts.mug

Well wishers in abundance. Everything a girl might want but geez, why am I so sore on the morning after? I know I did a lot of drinking, that’s about all I did…and there were drugs involved so there’s a clue.

But mostly it is because I have four new entrances in my tummy from having a date with a robot. And I am missing some major lady parts, (that I really have no use for anymore), and the cancer that decided to move in with them. Yes, you heard that right, cancer, the big C, or in this case maybe a little c. As cancers go, this one is a mopey, slow-growing under-achiever. As my doc said (to lighten the mood, no doubt), “If they put a gun to your head and said, pick a cancer, go with endometrial.”

However, cancer is still cancer. Slow-growing or not, it still grows and is greedy, and if you let it, will remodel your whole house to its liking. So it was eviction time and fortunately we got to it before it started picking out curtains. From the first red flag on Sept 15, it was a quick journey to the day of the party on Oct 15. The main man, the gynecological oncologist said I was slender, thus a good candidate for a laparoscopic procedure, that would be a three-way with me, the doc and Mr. Robot. All I heard was “slender” and I was in. Whatever, do it, fine. Slender? Really? Me? Oh you jest.

After that, things are a bit of a blur. The worst part was the two weeks up to the surgery. Your head does nasty things to you while you wait. Even with all of the assurances of a successful outcome, you still worry about possible party crashers.

But I am home now. All went well. The little c had only just moved in and hadn’t even started unpacking his bags yet. Yes, I’m sore, I’m moving slow and will move slow for a bit and who doesn’t want to be told NOT to do housework, not to lift, push or pull stuff for a while? Also if my homecoming dinner is any indication, my Sweetie, being a great cook, will undoubtedly spoil me.

Bean & beef Tostadas

Bean & beef Tostadas

Final note: Cancer is not a joke and I only make light because that’s my coping tool. Mine was caught early. If you see a sign of any kind…a lump, blood, whatever…don’t think it is nothing. Sure it might be but if it isn’t, seeing a doctor in the early stages will make a big difference. It did for me.