Monday, September 28, 2015

Briefly Boring: Scars and Beer

My knee recovery is coming along.  Still no running until around Thanksgiving, but I’m doing more and more without remembering that I had surgery exactly a month ago. To that end, tonight for the first time I’m going to go for a very short swim.  I had to wait until my knee incision closed up before I could get into a public pool – longer than normal because it wasn’t all laparoscopic so I have a 2” incision.  Lord knows what kind of e coli or herpes I would get if I swam with an open wound.  That said, I will be the first to admit that I don’t mind the big incision on my knee. Gives me some street cred… “What is up, ladies? Want to see my knee scar? Ignore all of the stubble on there from where the surgeon shaved it.

Ignore that this is totally a picture of my crotch

Actually, while it is getting better, my knee is a bit sore today. I brewed 15 gallons of beer this weekend and pushed my knee to the limit with all of the heavy lifting.  But again, I think that can only add to my street cred, right?  “Yeah, I screwed up my knee again but it was while I was brewing beer. Yeah, there was fire involved…no big deal.  So, just ignore my limp while I chop wood and spin these mad beats” (I assume that is what hip/cool guys do now?)

100% sure my neighbors thought that I was making meth

The fruits of my labor!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Briefly Boring: Soccer practice

Laura and I were talking about how we both want to blog more but seem to be rather….verbose with our posts. The problem with that is that (as if reading something I wrote could be bad!?!?) they take a bit of time to put together. As such, I’m going to start a series of random posts I call “Briefly Boring”. Enjoy! 

My son started his fall soccer season a few weeks back. I’m the assistant coach which means that I still get to wear the coaches shirt but don’t really have to do much of the work. (Just like our favorite assistant-president, cool uncle Joe!)  While it isn’t a super huge time commitment now, one practice a week and one game on the weekends, I can absolutely see how after school activities could spiral out of control in a hurry.  That is exactly why my parents let me drive by myself starting around 13…. Who wants to cart a kid around to a billion activities when he can just drive himself?  My dad was #LifeHacking before #LifeHacks were a thing.

Stay cool, uncle Joe!!

Anyway, it is fun to see over the course of 8-10 weeks how the kids actually put things together….such advanced skill as “kicking the ball in the CORRECT net” and “not stealing the ball away from your own teammate”.  Okay, I’ll be honest.  We’re still learning both of those skills.  But, I’m sure they’ll come soon enough. Until then? There is no crying in soccer.  Just kidding, there usually is. Juice boxes and granola bars for everyone!

From this spring, but whatever

Monday, September 21, 2015

Post surgery post

We can rebuild him. We have the technology. 

For those unfamiliar with my knee pain odyssey, feel free to read back to some of my other posts about it. This one or this one are both good. The cliff notes version is that I hurt my knee in February and had surgery on it August 31st.  I had a number of things “wrong” including a torn meniscus (except not torn, but only frayed), a maltracking kneecap, and a torn patellar tendon – the latter causing most of the pain.  The recovery has been MUCH slower than I originally thought it was going to be, so this post is a bit delayed.  I wanted to be a bit more positive with the post so I thought that I should wait until I actually had something positive to say.  While that isn’t totally the case, I figure I’ve waited long enough!

So, before I go into the details of the last two weeks since my surgery, I feel like I should mention how much I HATE surgery.  Like, tearing up when they put in the IV hate. Like, write an “if I die” note and put it in the safe hate. I am honestly not sure WHY I am afraid of it. I’ve had surgery once before and it went fine (other than fainting while they were putting in the IV).  It is sort of how I’m afraid of little baby snakes – the worst that could happen would be I get a little tickle and MAYBE a weird sensation when he tried to bite me. (aka: Saturday night at Adam’s house!  Heyoooo)

Oh, how far we have come...

The morning of surgery went off without a hitch. I have to admit that I had to force myself from going through the routine of stumbling to the coffee maker and making myself a hot cup of coffee. As Laura knows, this is almost an automatic instinct response at this point. Of course, this was strictly against the pre-surgical rules - lest I drink a cup and barf all over my recovery nurse. I have to imagine that coffee does NOT taste as good on the way out as it does on the way in.

When I checked into the surgical center, I noticed right away that I was a solid 30 years younger than anyone else in the waiting room.  Socks and sandals paired together flowed like the River Nile from the door to the check in desk.  But, before I knew it I was changed into my assless gown and hairnet and was reminded by the nurse that I didn’t actually have to take off my underwear.

Stand back, ladies. Sexy is coming through

Probably the worst thing of the day was getting my IV put in.  Unfortunately, I have a bit of a weak disposition when it comes to those and may have had a bit of a “moment” while the nurse was putting it in.  But, with a short peptalk from her and lots of eye rolling from my mom, we got through it.  No fainting! I’m a big boy!!

Clutching my phone to try to hide my terror of the IV. A good heroin addict I would not make.

I don't know why women complain about shaving their legs. It was sooooo easy!!

My surgeon is one of the best sports med surgeons in Phoenix – he is on staff for the local NFL, NHL, and MLB teams in some capacity. (Read: I’m going to have to sell my son into child labor to pay for him.)  So, while the anesthesiologist and I shot the shit for a while, he was in and out like a flash….being very careful to answer every single question that I had fully and directly, but not wasting any time to talk about the weather.  I found out from him that I couldn’t do a whole lot until the stiches were out (no swimming, lifting weights, etc) and regrettably something like HGH or Testosterone were not likely to help. Yes, I asked.  Bummer.

"So, you're saying you can't make it bigger?  What about making it just LOOK bigger?"

Either way, before I knew it, after a 30 minute quick surgery I was waking up in the recovery room. My knee didn’t hurt TOO bad as long as I didn’t move it (famous last words). At the time, I thought that I was pretty coherent, but as I think back I really can’t remember how I got my clothes back on.  Mom has a LOT of explaining to do on that front.

Dad's little helper

The rest of the day was essentially spent laying on the couch complaining about the pain. I filled a prescription for a type of Vicodin, but I am not a huge fan of those and mostly tried to just take Advil. The only exceptions to that were the first few days to help me sleep.  It was hell on my stomach, but now that the pain has subsided, I’m glad I went that way.

Disclaimer this is gross just kidding you already looked. Sucker.
About 24 hours post surgery. Still super swollen

I have no idea why I gave the thumbs up here.  My mom asked?

Week 1:
Like I mentioned in the first paragraph, the recovery has been SLOW.  I went back to work the day after (yeah, yeah… I know... believe me, Laura let me have it about that decision too), but was essentially sent home by my Physical Therapist after meeting with him mid day. The issue was that I had almost no mobility in my knee and my quads had shut down. The lack of mobility was causing me to limp pretty bad which could screw up my hips and my mess up my other leg.  The prescription for that is a cane and shrieks of “GET OFF MY LAWN” every hour.

Learning how to walk with my cane at PT.  Lovely.
After this pic was taken, I learned how to shake my fist and talk about the "good old days"

The next time I met with the Physical therapist was even more humbling. The “test” was for me to lay on my back and lift my leg.  Nope.  Couldn’t do it. That was met with a bit of a “hmmm” from the PT guy and a bit of reassurance that we’d take it day by day. Of course, I took that as a personal challenge and worked as hard as I could to get it working again over the coming days.  Honestly, most of those attempts failed which was incredibly frustrating.  Not being able to even lift my leg was a tough pill to swallow. It felt like I was going SO far backwards.

3 days post surgery. Still lots of swelling, but less puffy for sure

Week 2:
A little over a week after the surgery, I got my stitches out.  I had a few more than I thought – either 7 or 9 by my count….not that it matters I guess. Counting stitches is sort of like how guys like to measure everything else. Unfortunately, the incision along my knee for my patellar tendon still hadn’t healed fully so I was still stuck with doing a whole lot of “not much” until that took place.  That said, PT that second week was starting to get better.  I could lift my leg AND bend it! Miracles do happen.  By this point the swelling was coming down more and more and flexibility was increasing leaps and bounds.

Rolling on 20s!! Seriously the best part about surgery thus far.

Any time I flexed my quads, I could feel my platellar tendon pulling…so the PT said not to do that. Easier said than done if you’re used to having free range to doing whatever you want.  But, that tendon healing is what is going to enable to me to run again someday, so I am doing what I’m told…albeit reluctantly like the crotchety old man I am.

Starting to look really good about a week after surgery

In the middle of week 2, I stopped taking all Advil.  Much like most things with my recovery, I did it a bit too early and paid the price.  I went from being able to walk pretty well to wincing with each wrong step and accidental pivot of my knee.  The days after doing this were probably some of the hardest to get through.  I was thinking that I was doing well with recovery when in fact I still had a very long way to go.  Certainly a crushing blow combined with the 12-16 week timeframe the PT gives me on running again.

Went to watch the ASU game a week after surgery... Ryan wanted to do another photobomb pic

Week 3:
It seems like the weekends are when I make the most gains in my recovery.  I assume it is because I’m up and moving a lot and keeping it loose. As such, little over two weeks after surgery I not only went to a beerfest but stopped using my cane for the most part. Both were probably plenty early, but the questions about the cane were starting to become more hassle than the cane was actually worth…. God forbid I start smacking people with the cane.

These are my people. GET OFF MY LAWN

No seriously, the beerfest made it feel SO much better

The third week was mostly focused on walking without the cane and trying to regain as much quad strength as possible.  It still pulled when I flexed my quad, but I was able to walk by using forward momentum to swing my leg forward.

Week 4:
So, where am I now?   I’m going into my 4th week post-op (it was 21 days ago today). I am just now starting to go up / down stairs very slowly and can walk a bit on my toes where my quads activate. The issue is that if I retear my patellar tendon I not only can’t run but also likely have to have the surgery again.  NO THANK YOU.  The overall plan is to see the PT for 8 weeks, do a month on my own, and then see him for a final 4 weeks.

If I can't have running, at least I can park my ass and enjoy time with family

He thinks that I should be able to do a test run 3-4 months post surgery which would put me right around Thanksgiving or the weeks after.  This is way longer than I thought it was going to be which is all sorts of frustrating. But, I suppose if I’m just now starting stairs 3 weeks after surgery it does make sense that I’m not going to be running marathons any time soon.

Going forward:
I think that the hardest part about all of this is the unknown combined with my unrealistic expectations.  I honestly don’t know if I’ll be able to run pain-free again (something that my doctor confirms isn’t 100% guaranteed so it isn’t just me being overly negative). Combine that with everything moving so slowly, myself included, and I've been pretty down in the dumps about the whole process.  BUT, I do know that it is indeed a very long process and I have a pretty long road ahead. The good thing is that I'm willing to put in the time and the effort it takes and accept whatever outcome that gets me!  Until that time, I'll be the one focusing very intently on each step all the while muttering about the good old days.