Monday, April 14, 2014

Day 12/13

I had my biggest outing (other than doctors/PT appts) since surgery yesterday to see some good friends in town for a conference. Anyone who knows me knows that I'm a huge fan of the UN and of Model UN conferences. I did Model UN throughout undergrad and getting to visit my college advisor and a close friend from my UN internship at the conference was just what I needed. Getting out of the house and seeing different faces made me feel social again, which was much needed.

It is so important to get out and do something other than watching tv, reading, and napping all day, and changing your routine. I may have paid for overdoing it just a little yesterday, but getting to see some of my closest friends was well worth it. It also made me feel a lot more confident and like I'm progressing in my rehab. It is so easy become negative and worried and think that your rehab is going nowhere and getting out yesterday really reminded me that I'm so far ahead of where I was even just one week ago. I know that one week ago, I wouldn't have been able to crutch as far as I did or even have the energy or desire to leave the house. While I am enjoying my down time and getting caught up on reading, it's important to push yourself and your body and try to get some of the endurance back.

I feel fairly settled in on my routine at home- getting up, getting dressed, and trying to fit in physical therapy about every hour. Each day I try to see if I can do something new- picking up clothes, grabbing my crutches, getting out of bed on my own, etc. One piece of advice- after almost two weeks of having your parents dress and bathe you, it's nice to feel a little more independent, so try to push yourself- it'll feel great!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Day 9

I know I have been lacking a bit in updating this, but as my routine until today consisted of food, naps, movies, more naps, bad reality shows and more food, I didn't think I was missing anything :)

I finally got my act together and sent the letter to the family of the donor whose tissue was used to create my new ligament. I was not expecting to have strong feelings pushing me to write a letter to the family. I was afraid of trivializing their loved ones death by stressing how important a ligament was to me, since a bundle of tissue does not carry the same weight as a heart, lung, kidney, etc. I was also afraid of seeming too grateful for something that didn't save my life. Granted, it will improve my quality of life, but seeing as I was able to go on the elliptical the day before surgery, my mobility wasn't too impeded. However, I could not shake the feeling that I owed the family a letter. I wasn't expecting to feel such a strong connection to a person and family that I know nothing about, except for the fact that someone else's tissue is now in my body and giving me a second chance. It's a second chance to run, to bowl, to hike, maybe to even play tennis (hopefully my father's heart can withstand this). While these may seem small or even minute, the last 9 years have been one road block after another and this surgery is my second chance to be active and not think about my knee giving out in almost anything I do.

I do not expect to hear anything back from the donor family- most of the personal information remains anonymous. However, I hope they know the impact they've had on my life.

Another milestone: I started physical therapy today. I really do have the best Physical Terrorist (yes, he calls himself that) ever. He's been with me since my first surgery in 2007 and really is great at his job. It's just trying to do leg raises when your quads and glutes are like mush and your knee hates you is pretty much torture (and he enjoys my suffering a little too much). This is definitely where the hard part starts- I have to work up to 4 sets of 20 leg raises (on my back, stomach and sides) and quad sets every hour. Pro tip- in the weeks before surgery, try to do leg raises or any sort of quad-strengthening exercise as much as possible on the injured leg (the other one will have plenty of work to do while you crutch around). While you will still lose all your muscle function, it will help the function come back quicker.

Overall, though, I feel great and remain awed and overwhelmed by the love I have received, especially from my mother, who despite of her not perfect health, spends every day taking care of me. I am beyond blessed.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Day 4

The fun continues! For those who aren't fluent in "knee speak" as I call it, the basic gist of my surgery was putting in a new ligament connecting my kneecap to my thigh. Sounds about as painful as it actually is. This all stemmed from a dislocation when I was 16, which I didn't realize was as traumatic as it was until about 6 months ago. After a lateral release worked but didn't ease my loose jointness or all of my pain, my doctor recommended MPFL reconstruction. I didn't even know that was a ligament until about 6 months ago either.

Yesterday was my first post-op visit, where I was finally able to see my knee and get a fancy new brace, which hopefully will allow me to bend my knee sometime this week!

Not as scary as I thought it'd look:

My other amazing milestone was getting to shower today (finally!!). After four days, you start feeling pretty gross and even more of a pain on those around you. It was quite a process but I felt like a totally new person and smelled like something other than the hospital! So far, this recovery has been a lot of what I expected, but still very hard and very painful. I am eternally grateful for my amazing parents who are putting up with me and basically doing everything for me (tip- find a great gift for whoever is lucky, or unlucky enough, to put up with you the first couple weeks). I am also overwhelmed and humbled by the love and support I have received by so many people in my life. While this is just the beginning of my recovery, I am lucky to have such motivation and support. I really hope that this blog can be a source of hope and inspiration for people who are going through MPFL reconstruction and like me, are scared, nervous and hoping for the best.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Day 2

The combined euphoric feel of the anesthesia and nerve block have warn off a bit, so the joint pain is sinking in. Oh, I didn't miss that one bit. Yesterday was rather uneventful, just the way you prefer surgery to be. 

Before reality hit

I don't remember much after my new best friend, the anesthesiologist, gave me some "anti-scary drugs", until I woke up in the recovery room. Luckily, everything went very well and I was able to come home a short time later, where I bonded with my new gadgetry...

My other new best friend, the nerve block, came in very handy. I was able to make it until this morning without any pain, until it came roaring back all at once and I had to pull out the pain pills. The only downside I will say is carrying around the fanny pack that has all the medicine in it- I feel a bit like a bag lady. 

Tomorrow is a big day- I get to see my doctor and find out how much longer I get to have my immobilizer and hopefully, I'll get to see my knee for the first time!

Friday, March 21, 2014

2 Weeks Out

The reality that I'm having relatively major knee surgery in less than 2 weeks hit me today- all it took was a lovely packet of instructions from my surgeon's office and the panic attack ensued. Since I left Denver and am now back home, everything has hit me in stages, and today was one of them. It's here, it's real and there's no turning back now (well, I thought about it, until my dad about read me the riot act). While I'm excited for my new gadget and about 8 different kinds of painkillers/nerve blocks, all my memories from past surgeries are coming back and I am very scared. Not only is this the hardest surgery of my three, but I'm actually being opened up, as opposed to it being done arthroscopically, which adds an extra dimension of possible problems. While in my heart I know everything will be fine, it is very hard to mentally prepare yourself for walking into the operating room, only to be wheeled out a short time later unable to take care of yourself. In the meantime, I plan on enjoying the next 12 days- lots of squats, bending my knee whenever I feel like, walking- all the things I'll be missing terribly the next few months.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

My journey, thus far.

I'm not one to usually post blogs, but after being inspired by this MPFL reconstruction blog, I thought it may be helpful for others going through this to have an idea of what they're getting into. My story began as a 16 year old high school senior and avid tennis player, until one day my knee betrayed me. Ever since that dislocation almost nine years ago, I have struggled through five major rehabs, two surgeries and more trips to the ortho surgeon/PT then many make in their lifetime. I was in my usual cycle- working out, feeling good, until I did something most people consider normal and got hurt, bowling of all things. After another few weeks on crutches and feeling completely useless, my doctor broached the idea of another surgery. While I'm a believer in things coming in threes, I also wanted to stay as far away from the operating room as possible. Plus, the whole idea of reconnecting my kneecap to my thigh bone sounded painful and well, awful. However, after numerous second opinions, soul searching and agonizing over my decision, I decided to have an MPFL reconstruction on April 2.

As April 2 gets closer, I am definitely experiencing a version of "buyer's remorse"- will the surgery work? Will I be in less pain or will I be in more pain? Will I be able to run outdoors again? Will tennis be in my future? I am scared, I feel guilty for putting my parents through another few weeks of basically doing everything for me, and I wonder if I'm making the right decision. As I finish up my last full quarter of graduate school, prepare to move back to California, and get ready for all the unknowns ahead, I am hopeful that this blog will in some small way, make a difference for someone else having to make the same decision I did.