Hello! It’s been too long since I’ve written a blog so I thought I would get caught up on why I haven’t written, which most people know is due to having surgery.
The purpose of writing my blog is to share my thoughts and ideas and to hopefully put a smile on your face and sometimes I do write about deeper topics, but I try to come from a place of hopefulness not despair and believe that something can be done about it. So when I’m not feeling creative, or I’m struggling, I’m not coming from a place where I should be writing.
So for starters…
Samantha Boom Boom Baumgardner
The day before my surgery, I had to put my precious Sammy to sleep. She was the best dog ever. I miss her like the dickens and still tear up when I remember those big beautiful brown eyes looking up at me.
On Thursday, January 14, 2016, I had totally knee replacement surgery on my right knee. I have photos to prove it, but they are terribly graphic and once you see them, you’d be hard pressed to erase the mental image picture, and who needs that? So here is a photo on Saturday, January 16, where I’m updating VenturaRocks.com. I look alright because they have some really nice pain meds in the hospital.
My daughter arrived from Portland on Saturday night in time for my release from the hospital on Sunday afternoon. She was my necessary caretaker, otherwise I’d have to of gone into a convalescent hospital for a couple of weeks. As I wrote on FB page, “I’m grateful for Sydney Rose playing Nurse Ratchet, she literally would not let me take my pain meds 1 minute earlier than scheduled. She kept a chart of shots, pills, Metamusial, machine therapy, exercises, PT visits, plus she kept me safe, fed, clean and she let me color in her tattoo on her arm.
You’re lucky I didn’t write during the first few months of my recovery because I had to do everything possible to not bitch and complain and moan and groan about the pain and forced idleness. It sucked. It sucked hard. I couldn’t even stand in the shower on my own!
I re-watched every episode of The West Wing, and actually looked forward to falling back asleep again. I was sleeping at least 15-20 hours a day in the beginning. I would even break down and cry three to four months into it because I couldn’t believe the pain was not alleviating. I was frustrated.
For fun, here’s a little known fact during this time. I continued to write my article for the Breeze. I actually wrote my column that Sunday in the hospital before heading home. It’s been the only time I asked Sheldon (Publisher) to look over my writing for mistakes or inappropriateness. And then on Sunday, January 31, I had to record the Q&A for Ventura Rocks at CAPS Media at W20 at the Watermark. I had to be driven of course (more on that later), but I was still using a walker to get around and I was high as a kite from the pain meds. People say you can’t tell, but if you have a moment, check out the episode, the Q&A comes in at about 7:40:
Now about that video, I look HORRIBLE in the studio, I KNOW!! We’re just now getting the lighting right (five episodes out). I don’t mind the out-of-the studio footage, but man o man!
In any case, did you see Eve Mimiaga on the other side of the bar? She was my chauffeur. And not just for getting me to the Watermark that day, she literally drove me everywhere for a couple of months. To my doctor appointments, physical therapy twice a week, and when I started back to work she would take me to and from work every day. She was a lifesaver and I’m eternally grateful to her.
So I was on a walker for three weeks, and then a cane for another two or so weeks. I learned on the third day in the hospital how to get up and down stairs (up with the good, down with the bad), and I’m just now, this past week taking the stairs one foot on each step (instead of two feet per step), going downstairs.
I started back to work at City Hall on a shorter schedule at three weeks, but returned full time at four.
At about 3 1/2 months I was able to bend my knee to about 102 degrees, they want 120 (I started at about 40). My doctor told me I could continue with physical therapy working on getting it to bend, or he could just put me under and bend it for me. I asked about what could go wrong (other than anesthesia mishaps) and he said he could accidentally break my leg. He didn’t, and he provided a photo to prove he did bend my leg, and I was in physical therapy within an hour and at 120 degrees without pain.
I continued with my physical therapy for another couple of months to get more limber so I could wrap my arms around my knees and to be able to get my leg flat. I started at -10 degrees, then -7, and at my final appointment last week I was at -3; and bending wise, I’m at 133 degrees with my arms around my knees.
About that physical therapy? They say knee replacement is about the hardest PT you can endure, and I agree 100%. It’s painful and I couldn’t have done it without pain meds. I remember the first time I could actually pedal the incumbent bike all the way around with the seat all the way back; it was a major milestone. I started just going back and forth, but eventually I got to where I could pedal without pain rapidly and with the seat all the way forward. I took baby steps and made progress little by little. But the physical therapists themselves have a tough job of inflicting pain, I was reduced to tears on more than a dozen occasions. I even refused to work with one particular person due to his roughness.
I went in for surgery feeling pretty fit, so I don’t know how out-of-shape or older people get through this procedure. It’s harsh! But I’m beginning to feel better and seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. My pain level started (scale of 1-10) at 8-9 and then down to constant 4-5 when not medicated. Now I’m at 1-2 and weening off the meds which is also a hard endeavor as my body is use to having them in my system. I’m riding my bike, able to walk up and down some steep hills (California Street up to City Hall), walking without limping, dancing, and hoops can’t be far off (I’m giving it another month or two to heal).
A couple of nice side effects? Being taken care of by some extraordinary friends. And it may sound vain, but I was afraid of gaining weight due to inactivity. But instead of gaining I lost 20 pounds at one point. I haven’t weighed 115 pounds since before puberty when I got breasts. A friend pointed out that I lost all my muscles I had gained after having been active and exercising the past five years and muscles are more dense. Physical therapy was all about building up my quad and other muscles because they stopped working to protect my knee. So now I’m rebuilding my muscles (legs and upper body) by working out and drinking protein shakes.
I knew I was coming around because I started writing down tidbits to share with you on my blog, “A Couple of Things…” I thought I’d just get you caught up on my status, and be done with it. Like I always say, I’m not looking for sympathy, or encouragement, just understanding.
So there you go.🙂