torn meniscus

Alive!

by grace on July 4, 2021

I lived through my surgery, yay for that!

Gee, it’s been way over a week since it happened. Much has happened, but not so much.

First – two days before my surgery, June 22nd, Les Paul and Riley were on top of their cat house and suddenly there was something out in the yard and I managed to get this action shot of Riley leaping down into the hostas. Of course he didn’t get out of the fence but it was very exciting for both kitties.

Lester the kitty model.

The next night, June 23rd, a lovely moon shot. Have I mentioned that I love the camera on my new phone?’

Surgery morning, after I wrote on here and then took yet another Dial soap shower, we walked out and Spot was lying there waiting for us.

And then the surgery – well, the whole thing went pretty darn quick. We got there by eight in the morning and were on our way home by 11:30.

When they led us into a room a nurse asked me many questions and then eventually the anesthesiologist came in and I told him that I was worried about anesthesia and he had a puzzled look on his face and asked, “why?”

I guess most people don’t worry about it. And no, they didn’t intubate me with a tube down my throat, they gave me some kind of sedative and then put something just inside my mouth so i didn’t swallow my tongue. I think?

I just remember that they wheeled me into the operating room and I tried to look all around since I’d never been in one, and then they put the sedative in my IV and that was it.

When I woke up I was in the second recovery room. They took me to the first recovery room so a nurse could help me get dressed and I’d be more lucid, and in the second recovery room, Kevin said I told him that I was chattering away to the nurse, but I have no memory of that. I lounged there in a recliner for a while and the nurse gave me one of the two opiods; this one was Norco. I’d take them intermittently every three hours, the Norco and the Tramadol. Super duper strong drugs. I had a big gauze bandage from just above my knee all the way down to my ankle, with lots of protective cotton over my knee.

I didn’t spend the day napping. Instead, the narcotics which were supposed to make me sleepy instead had me wired. For some reason I insisted that Kevin needed to go fill my car with gas (was I planning on driving around somewhere?), because my 15 cent-off coupon was going to expire that day. While he did that, Amy came over to babysit me and seemed surprised at how very animated I was.

Sometimes my knee would hurt a little but Kevin assured me that I wanted to keep ahead of it, so I kept up the drugs every three hours.

I was sort of tired late in the afternoon and three of the kitties were very happy to lie in the bedroom with me.

But I didn’t nap. Amy brought us over some delicious taco salads and I continued to be wide awake. Here’s me at 10:20, still wide awake. My right leg had an interesting orange tan from the iodine prep stuff. Kevin had to add some strips of tape around the top because it had started to sag.

We went to sleep; it had been an exhausting day for both of us. But I lay in bed wide awake. I finally got up to pee at about 1:30 and as I was walking back to bed I felt something on my leg – the bottom of the bandage was dragging on the floor. Panic! I hobbled into the kitchen and wound and wound more tape around it to secure it.

And then I started seriously worrying. What if I hadn’t wrapped it right? Should I wake Kevin and have him look at it? And why was I wide awake?

Here’s the bandage at two in the morning, looking very securely secured.

I had read the accompanying dire warnings for the two drugs I was taking and one of the many things they said was that if I took them with a whole list of other things, including Xanax, that this could cause difficult breathing resulting in DEATH.

I take one .5 Xanax every night before bed and it helps me sleep. Since that surgery night I’ve been reading about Xanax and I worry that maybe I’m addicted, but since I always take one to help me sleep, I wasn’t sleeping.

What to do? There was an emergency number I could call, and I finally did that and realized at that point that I wasn’t able to put together a coherent sentence. “I…had..surgery…bandage unwrapped…” I sputtered to the woman at the other end of the phone and she finally said “do you want to talk to a nurse?” and relieved, I said, Yes! She said somebody would call me back in a half hour which seemed way too long to me, and I said, what if I fall asleep? And she said they’d leave a message.

So while I waited I called Bev and sent her the above photo of my knee. Bev doesn’t sleep much and lucky for me she was dozing on the couch so I was able to prattle on to her til the nurse called me back 15 minutes later.

The nurse said she thought I should wake up my husband to show him the bandage and she kept saying, “are your toes blue? Can you move your foot?” And I thought I’d have had to be some kind of moron to have wrapped it so tightly that my foot turned blue.

I told her about the drug warnings and she said she didn’t think I should take any Xanax and I’m pretty sure I then had a conversation with her about the risks of opiods and I know I was talking really fast and I’m not sure how she finally got me off the phone.

I called Bev back and we agreed that I shouldn’t wake up Kevin. After about an hour I finally said “I’d better go to sleep,” and Bev asked, “Are you sure you can sleep? Because you seem a little wired.”

Maybe she didn’t say the wired part, but clearly I was. Well after three I finally hung up and lay in bed but I think I only slept an hour and a half.

The next morning I had a huge list of questions for the nurse at the Orthopedic Surgery Center and the most important answer the nurse gave me was that I could take my Xanax, that goodness. Right there on one of the many post-op instructions it said that I could take everything I normally take (besides Xanax, it’s mostly just vitamins of different types). She said that since I take Xanax every night, I wouldn’t die from taking it with the other drugs.

WHEW.

But the thing is, I took one of the opiods on Friday morning and then started taking Tylenol instead, and then didn’t even take anything after Saturday morning. The horrible pain never materialized and things are going swimmingly.

I was able to take the bandage off on Sunday and shower my leg back to its pre-op whiteness. All i needed was two little band-aids to cover the two little slits. My knee wasn’t swollen for long, and I go back on Thursday and hopefully they’ll say that things are going great.’

But one other thing is that I think the anesthesia affected me for a few days. I did sleep on Friday night because I could take the Xanax, but for the next few days I felt like my brain wasn’t quite right. But then it got better and I wanted to start doing everything again.

I still can’t go up and down stairs normally and I haven’t taken a walk and I get sore after standing around too long, but I think things are good. I’ve been able to pull more weeds and put down more mulch, still mostly scooting around on the ground, which works well. We had a weenie roast on Friday night and yesterday a boat ride.

And here it is the 4th of July and I hope you’re having a relaxing one.

I have many photos of June and I’ll try to select just a few to put up here very soon.

ok then,

mrs. recovering nicely hughes.

{ 0 comments }

No high heels!

by grace on June 24, 2021

Jeez, where has the month gone? Well, oing yard work. Lots of yard work.

It’s 6:18 a.m. right now and we have to leave at 7:30 for my torn meniscus surgery. It’s so lovely and quiet at this time of day, but I doubt that will make me get up this early on a regular basis.

It’s been a month of worry about my knee, about getting the surgery, and of frantically trying to pull so many weeds and put down so much mulch so that things will mostly be done post-surgery. I worked at the side of the house for three hours on Sunday and ended that session with dumping a bag of weeds into the ravine, but it was a bag from a while ago and a wasp shot out and stung my shoulder.

I didn’t think it was so bad, not too red, here’s a picture from Sunday evening.

But in the night of course it got really red and sore and it’s finally getting better, just in time for the surgery this morning. Here it is the morning after:

Ow. Like I said, it’s mostly better now, whew.

Last night while we had a delicious salad nicoise for dinner on the deck, Kevin told me that after his meniscus surgery he was pretty much incapacitated for a month, or a couple of months, or maybe three months.

He assured me that he thought things won’t be that bad for me. But really, who knows?

Deep breaths.

I got a packet of information from the Orthopedic Center about my surgery, including a list of things to do before the surgery and what to bring to the surgery and afterwards.

The thing that made me laugh was when it said to wear loose, comfortable clothes and slip-on shoes, and no high heels.

Obviously they wrote this because somebody coming in with a serious issue that needed surgery was wearing high heels.

In the instructions it said that I couldn’t have anything to eat or drink, not even water, after eight p.m. last night. But when a woman from the surgery center called me for my final pre-op instructions she said I could have 24 oz of gatorade last night before midnight and then 12 oz this morning before six. I felt like I’d won the lottery!

I set my alarm for 5:45 and had a refreshing glass of gatorade and last night Kevin susggested that I could go back to sleep, so I was happy to do that.

But back in bed, I figured that for the rest of the day I’m going to be lying around and sometimes unconscious, I might as well get up and enjoy the morning, one more little bit of time with my fully-intact meniscus.

So now I still have about a half hour before I have to take a shower with Dial soap. Because of the Covid, I was going to gave to get a Covid test on Monday and then quarantine til today plus I was supposed to take a shower last night and this morning with something called “hinibiclens,” a super-duper antiseptic soap. This sounded a little bit alarming because the instructions said DON’T USE ON YOUR HEAD OR FACE BECAUSE IT CAN CAUSE PERMANENT BLINDNESS.

I was also supposed to leave it on my body for two minutes.

Because of the easing Covid restrictions, however, I found out on Monday that I didn’t have to take the test or quarantine because I’ve been fully vaccinated, and instead of the hibiclens I could use dial soap. Score! Last night I took my first dial shower and when we leave for the Orthopedic Surgery Center I’ll be mighty squeaky clean.

Here’s a Friday night weenie roast on June 4th. I’ve been able to still make it down the hill to the dock and hopefully I’ll be able to continue to do that, but maybe Kevin will have to drive me down there. Probably not tomorrow night, but it’s supposed to rain tomorrow anyway.

The next day I babysat Amy and Jim’s dogs and spotted a chipmunk on their front porch.

That evening we took a boat ride and saw a goose ws comfortably nesting in somebody’s flower pot at the end of dock on Long Bay.

When we got home, there was the gaggle of around 23 goslings with their parents.

On Sunday a tiny baby fawn was curled up in the yard. I was going to rush out and take a picture but Amy said DON’T SCARE IT BECAUSE THEN ITS MOTHER WON’T BE ABLE TO FIND IT, so I crept out very quietly to get a picture. I was actually up on the deck taking this, so yay for my new camera phone that takes a great close-up.

The next day a giant limb fell out of our very old and beautiful Bradford pear tree in the front yard. This is a little worrisome because it’s such a lovely tree and hopefully the whole thing won’t come down. Since we have so many very old trees around here, it’s always a possibility.

Here’s Riley, admiring the blooming flowers in the fenced yard.

That’s all the photos for now. I’m starting to feel a little hungry. I have to be at the place at eight and they said the whole thing will probably take four-five hours, so I imagine I’ll be mighty hungry by then. Hmm, it seems like a good opportunity to get some decadent fast food or something, but maybe I’ll be too sleepy to care about that.

Hopefully everything will go quickly and smoothly. Never having had any kind of surgery before, I’m a little skittish.

Deep breaths.

ok then,

Pre-Op Grace.

{ 0 comments }

May, quickly slipping away…

by grace on May 27, 2021

How did that happen? It felt like mid-summer with temps soaring high into the 80s but it’s suddenly cooling off a bit, now that June is almost upon us.

On May 20th we were down at the dock and a goose sauntered by…

Lester, always so happy…

We’ve seen this huge gaggle of geese a few times now – i think there are about 23 goslings! That’s lots of goslings to take care of.

Saturday, May 22nd we took a morning kayak trip down to the end of Long Bay again. This new dock used to be a very old and rotting dock, and it looks so nice now.

Up there, the yellow flowers mark the end of Long Bay.

I guess I enjoy it because it’s like a secret little cove. Here’s a short video of what it looks like.

On our way out of the bay we saw this small goose family.

I like all the trees hanging over the water.

And that’s photos for right now. Tomorrow I hope to post yet again because it’s going to be chilly so I won’t feel the need to do as much.

Because yeah, I’ve been doing a lot even though I got an MRI the week after I went to the Ortho and that was a very weird thing – the person doing it asked what kind of music I wanted to listen to and I said “jazz” so I had these earphones on and they had me lie down on this plank with my leg secured in it and a weight on top of my leg so it’d be very still. The woman said it’d take 2o-30 minutes because they’d take several images but might have to re-do them.

So then she left the room and I slid into the MRI machine, except really only my leg was in there but OH MY GOD IT WAS SO LOUD.

It seemed ridiculous that she’d asked about my music preference because it sounded like they were doing very loud construction right there. The woman said each image would take from three to five minutes and sometimes at the end of each one there’d be an additional even louder pounding drilling construction sound which sounded like it was right underneath me.

And very faintly, underneath it all, there was the sound of jazz. Probably. I’m sure she mentioned that it was Pandora, and sometimes there was an ad but I had no idea what they could have possibly been advertising.

I did my best to lie perfectly still and focus on deep breathing and after a bit my leg really started to hurt but I kept breathing through it and it was a little bit restful just because I was lying down. But at the same time deafening.

A few days later they called to tell me that yes indeed I have a torn meniscus. It’s weird because that’s exactly what Kevin had many years ago…2007, maybe?

I had to go in and see the orthopedic doctor who is going to do the surgery. I’d read up on torn meniscus – it’s a cushion around your knee, and there’s one on either side, and I read that they could sew it up. But the resident who first examined me said that they only do that for young athletes. If you’re over 40, they shave the torn part off.

I just feel that shaving things off can’t be a good thing. Except, say, my inner thighs…

So this is where it gets slightly terrifying. Many years ago Kevin tore his meniscus at work, tripping over some big exposed plug in the floor, so it was a big impact. The doctor he went to acted like it wouldn’t be so bad, but we both have memories of him being in a whole lot of pain afterwards, for a very long time. He’d been thinking about starting a fencing school after retiring, and he was very close to retiring, but because the doctor ended up cutting out 70% of his meniscus he can’t lunge, and if you can’t lunge, you can’t fence. He also can’t run anymore.

So as I’m typing thing it’s making me think that yeah, maybe I won’t be able to run after this. That would be a drag. But maybe it won’t be so bad, and I also know that this doctor I’m seeing is really, really good – he replaced both hips and both knees of a friend whose husband trained the doctor who will be working on me.

Kevin’s doctor, on the other hand, might have removed an excessive amount of his meniscus. When he was a kid he crashed his bike badly and Kevin thinks his meniscus was probably torn then and formed scar tissue and the doctor went in and removed the scar tissue. So that would be bad, not to mention incompetent. There were also some kind of shady-sounding things about his recovery – he did physical therapy but then the doctor told him it wasn’t working, so he wouldn’t be getting any more of that.

Anyway. We did do a huge amount of hiking in Wales and Ireland, but that was several years after his injury. Hopefully it won’t be several years before I can do things again. If not running, then at least hiking and biking and all the weights I’ve been doing a lot more of.

My surgery is June 24th, which seems like a long time to wait. A couple of days ago my knee was feeling better, and I started thinking that maybe I didn’t really need the surgery, but then I did a little too much something and then pain increased. I’m still doing some yard work – it’s amazing how much I can do by scooching around on the ground. I managed to do some weeding and putting down mulch in that manner.

But then I power-washed the deck for a couple of hours a couple of days ago and then an hour yesterday. My knee just feels weird. But today I managed to sit on the ground and put out all the shells that line my front walkway and that made me happy, and I coaxed Kevin into bringing most of my palms down from the upstairs and I arranged them. I even transplanted some shoots of plants that have been sitting on my dining room table for a few months now and have been driving me crazy. I sat on the little deck, digging around in the pots and making a huge mess. But now, the knee isn’t so happy about so much activity.

Ok, sorry, blah blah blah, what am I going to be like in 20 years when I have more serious age-related issues?

But right now I need to ask the people at the orthopedic center if it could possibly tear again, and what about the other knee? And I worry about having anesthesia which I’ve never had before, and what if I’m in pain for a long time afterwards? It’s summer and I need to garden.

Deep breaths.

ok then,

mrs. getting older all the time hughes (but consider the alternative).

{ 0 comments }

Last Saturday, May 8th, it occurred to me that Kevin and I had taken part in what I decided was a biathlon that I’m sure nobody else on the planet did. We’ve created a new type of biathlon! It won’t be in time for the Olympics this year which is just as well because that’s just a superspreader Covid event waiting to happen.

First, Saturday morning we played in a competition in our online game “june’s journey.” I must have mentioned the game before; it’s a worldwide phenomenon and when we compete about twice a week we’re against teams from Russia, Italy, Sweden, France, Japan, most every place you could think of.

Mom, Amy and Jim are also on our team, plus some other people from Springfield and elsewhere. We didn’t do great Saturday morning, coming in ninth out of 15. Sometimes we do terribly but then I think the company puts us with weaker teams so then sometimes we do great. Just yesterday, as a matter of fact, we had a competition where we came in 3rd.

Anyway, that was our first biathlon stage.

The second stage was a black powder shooting competition that afternoon. Kevin started shooting old-fashioned type guns a while ago and competed in some competitions out in Virginia. One year Mollie and I went with him and were going to camp out in our pop-up camper but it rained and rained and we stayed in a very nice dog-friendly hotel instead. We all enjoyed that quite a bit.

So, years and year later, I decided about a month ago to try the black powder shooting. I used a gun that Kevin bought when he was 17, called a Kentucky Long rifle. You have to pour a measured amount of black gun powder into the barrel then put a small cloth patch which you’ve sprayed with lubricant on top of the opening, then you use a special round tool to pound the bullet into the opening. You then use your ramrod, a stick attached to the rifle that slides out so you can use it, to push the bullet all the way down into the bottom of the barrel.

I find it interesting to complete all these steps, and I keep being amazed and distressed thinking about all the poor soldiers in the Civil War who had to do all this stuff, except in the middle of battle, and people were shooting back at them. But Kevin tells me they were actually used in the Revolutionary War so they must have been quite effective back then since we won.

Anyway, this particular black powder competition used a weird kind of wooden target made up of Xs, and you had to try to hit the middle of each X. It involved first shooting at a triangle paper target and then going back to the target to move the paper target over the wooden one. I realized it doesn’t seem to make sense, but when we did it I kind of figured it out. Kevin made our wooden targets and here they are after the shoot.

I can’t remember which was which, but looking at them, surely the one on the right must be Kevin’s because they’s all closer to the middles.

We had participated in another black powder competition in April, my first-ever competition, only the second time I’d ever shot the black powder, and we aimed at round targets. In that event everybody brought a prize and then at the end we all picked a prize, starting with the first-place winner. I knew there would be nothing at all to interest me but I tied for second-to-last place and was happy to claim some kind of flashlight. At least I got a prize! Plus, how poor a shooter must that last-place guy have been?

So it was disappointing at the end of the shoot last Saturday. Kevin had thought it’d be the same kind of deal, and brought a big pack of steaks for our contribution to the prize pool, but instead we all had to show up with eight dollar bills and then the person who shot closest to the first X got money for that, and on and on.

But the thing is that some of these guys, and yes, I was the only woman participating, have been doing this for years and years and three of them won all the money. Kevin assured me that it wasn’t rigged even though the guy in charge of scoring plus counting out all the money ended up winning quite a bit of cash, and the guy’s brother and nephew won the rest. Hmm. When I told Bev about it she pointed out that since there were nine of us shooting and we each put in eight dollars, the total amount was only seventy two dollars. That Bev, she’s a math whiz. Plus it doesn’t seem like that much money, but it did when the guy was counting out all those bills.

In retrospect we didn’t do so great in either part of our Novel Biathlon, but then again, it was the very first year in which we participated, so maybe next time we’ll do better.

But the other thing is I don’t know when there’ll be a next time. I’d been having a little knee pain for a few months but I pretty much ignored it, continuing to run (a very slow jog), and walk and and bike ride sometimes and do lots of weights including squats and lunges with heavy weights.

But Mom and I walked at Lincoln Memorial Gardens on April 27th and I suddenly realized that I didn’t want to do anything else with that knee. I quit all forms of exercise except doing weights using my arms, and I thought my knee was doing OK. Because my brother-in-law Jim has had many sports injuries he advised me that i should completely rest.

I’m not good at completely resting, but like I said, no more lunges with weights or anything.

But right before our second biathlon stage that Saturday, I hopped down out of Kevin’s truck and walked about 10 feet…and my knee buckled. Uh oh. I felt something like a snap. Bad bad bad.

At this point I totally should have taken a pass on the biathlon second stage but instead I was able to continue to hobble around. It didn’t feel good, and we had to walk out to our targets, 25 yards away, about ten times. So yeah, a lot of walking.

I thought maybe it’d be OK but on the way home I couldn’t get comfortable.

Resting at that point would have been a great idea.

But then there was the poor scared German Shepard on the road by our house…

We saw it running down the road and got it into the car, and Mom was right there and volunteered to drive it to the Animal Emergency Clinic to see if it had a chip. We got the very sweet and very strong dog into the back of her car and I sat with her, petting her and telling her she was a good girl, while at the same time figuring out what to do. I called the APL and luckily they were open so we went there, instead. The nice woman on the phone had to ask her manager if the dog could stay there for the weekend if it didn’t have an owner and luckily again, the manager said yes.

Who knows how long the poor thing had been running around – she kept trying to lie her head on my foot, but then she’d sit up again and I’d pet her.

They told me to come into the building without the dog and somebody would come out and get her. I hobbled in and filled out some paperwork and then a nice guy came out and got the poor scared sweet dog.

Here’s a picture of her.

She had no chip, and I guess nobody was looking for her, so APL would take her to the pound on Monday. I posted that picture on a couple of lost pets sites on Facebook and many many animal lovers re-posted it, but I don’t know what happened to her. The APL manager came out of her office to assure me that the pound wouldn’t just put her to sleep, that she was such a good and sweet dog, plus a pure-bred german shepherd, that somebody would want her.

I hope so. Poor puppy.

So, that was my very exciting Biathlon plus bonus Dog Rescue element.

That Sunday we had grilled steak for Mother’s Day.

Monday I went to the walk-in Orthopedic Center where they did an x-ray and a guy examined me and said it was probably a torn meniscus. Oh boy.

That’s now a whole different deal and I won’t go on about that right now. It has been raining here so much that soon the water will probably rise up the hill to the house, which will be something.

ok then

Mrs. will probably be sitting around a whole lot for the near future Hughes.

{ 0 comments }