teresa sliwinski

May 2, 2005 4:45 a.m. I've been tossing and turning for the last few hours. Between the pain in my knee and my apprehension about the surgery sleep is not coming easily to me these past few days. I have to keep in mind that both the apprehension I'm feeling and the pain I'm having are both quite normal. Pain is what tells us something is wrong. We probably wouldn't live long if it weren't for pain. I'm guessing that the butterflies in my stomach will most likely feel more like bats Monday morning. I've been quite fortunate as far as my health goes. What I'm facing now is just a part of life, a new experience.


Surgery & a post-op complication

teresa sliwinski

May 3, 2005 - Well, this is it, the last day before my surgery. Im not as scared as I had thought I would be at this point in the process. I have confidence in Dr. Marc and in God. I got my prescription for Lortab filled so I'm all set to handle the postoperative pain. Everything's in place. My bag is packed, digital camera battery is charged, my crutches are ordered, car is cleaned out, I've rid the house of tripping hazards, there's nothing more to do but wait.

May 13, 2005 - It's a long, long, long road to recovery. There was a lot more damage to my knee than Dr. Marc had thought. He had to perform a procedure called Microfracture. I have five more weeks before I can even start putting weight on my leg.

May 20, 2005 - I ran into a complication from my surgery. I got a blood clot (DVT) in my calf. I'm now on complete bed rest. I have to give myself two injections of LOVENOX every day for ten days, yesterday being the first day of treatment. The shots sting quite a bit and I can't rub the injection site afterwards because it will cause bruising, so I have to just let it sting. Well, these things happen in life.

May 25, 2005 - Today is the third week mark since my surgery. I have seven more shots left, three more days after today. I think I'll get dressed and go outside. It is a beautiful, sunny day and I should not allow it to go to waste. There's nothing that can be done about the past and do not know what the future holds. All I have is this moment and in this moment the sun is shining and there's a gentle spring breeze. Nothing is paining me right now and things seem quite peaceful. Last night Rita and Ken came over and we played a game all evening long. It was a good time and helped break the boredom of being confined. The hardest part of the whole thing with the knee and DVT has been the isolation. It was nice having people over.

My tummy is quite bruised and sore from the LOVENOX shots but I only have a few more days of that left. My real worry is how long it will be before I can return to work and how long it will take for my knee to be back in working order. But it's a fine day, a perfect day for a walk in the woods. I don't think my leg will be healed on time to enjoy such things this year. Many people like to say things like, "Every cloud has a silver lining," and stuff like that. But I don't agree, some things just suck and that's all there is to it.

May 28, 2005 - In a few hours I will be taking my last LOVENOX injection and will be very pleased to be done with that.

May 29, 2005 - It was good to get out of bed today without having to face having to give myself a shot. It is so good to be done with that! It is Memorial Day weekend. Everyone will be having picnics and parties, but of course I'm stuck at home.

Mike and I are not used to this much togetherness. He's really getting on my nerves and I'm getting on his. I'm hoping that Dr. Andrew will not release me to return to work until after June 20th when I can finally start putting weight on my leg. It's just too hard to get around at work on crutches.

May 31, 2005 - It's about 2 ½ weeks before I will be able to start putting weight on my leg. I have to check with Dr. Andrew to see if that's going to be OK. I have a whole list of questions to ask him. So, tomorrow I see Dr. Andrew for re-evaluation.

June 1, 2005 - Dr. Andrew released me back under the supervision of Dr. Marc. Dr. Marc gave me the go-ahead to resume physical therapy and use of the passive motion machine. He did not release me to go back to work and said he'll decide that after my June 20th appointment. I am off of bed rest and am able to drive again which is really GREAT! It was quite a warm day. Under normal conditions it would have been quite enjoyable. However, it was way too hot to be hopping around on crutches. I can't wait to be able to walk without them. I can't believe how hard it is to use crutches; it's really quite painful and exhausting.

June 2, 2005 - So, here I am in PT, it feels really good to be up and moving again even though the PT is hard. It's good to be able to drive again so that I can do thing on my schedule not have to wait for Mike to fit it into his schedule.

It turned out to be one scorcher of a day. It's nice to be out of work and able to enjoy the nice weather. I guess that since my vacation time is being used up by this recovery from surgery thing I should look at this as my vacation. It's probably the closest thing I'm going to have to a vacation this year. It's nice though not to have to worry about work and all that goes with it. It's the longest vacation I've had since High School. I can't wait to walk on my leg again; it seems like an eternity. I'm going to do the best that I can to work my physical therapy and prepare myself to take that first step. I wonder how it will be, how it will feel; will it hurt and how much will it hurt? How long will it be before I can take a walk in the park or will I ever be able to take a walk in the park again? Will I get to see the Falls this year? I guess I have to learn to live in the moment since I can't plan anything because I don't know what's going to happen with this leg. Microfracture is only about 80% effective and the new cartilage won't be the same as the original equipment I was born with. I don't know how much I will be able to do or how much I won't be able to do or how long it will take to get there. I have no other choice but to take it day by day. Even Dr. Marc can't say because Microfracture is unpredictable. I wonder what we do if the surgery isn't successful or what happens if I wear out the new cartilage like I did the original stuff. I can't wait to be able to do laundry again. Getting Mike to do it is like pulling teeth and he doesn't do it right when he finally does do it. I'll tell you one thing, I'll never complain about having to do laundry again. From this point on I will consider my ability to do laundry as a privilege.

Summer is always so busy with running here and running there. All sorts of parties and get-togethers. If there's one positive thing about this knee surgery it is that it has been and will continue to be a good excuse for not attending every party. It looks like a lazy summer for me and for that I am quite grateful.

It's 7:00pm, the sun is low in the sky and sunset will soon arrive. Soon I will be one day closer to the day I can walk on my own two feet once more.

June 5, 2005 - I stayed up until 5:00 in the morning using the passive motion machine. I wasn't tired and wouldn't have been able to sleep anyway. My knee hurts today, more so then at any other time since my surgery. Maybe I overdid it with the machine. I'm sitting here with an ice pack on my knee. I can't take aspirin or Motrin or anything like that because of the coumadin.

teresa sliwinski

It must be terribly interesting to be a doctor with new discoveries happening all of the time. I don't think we will ever reach a day when medical science has it all figured out though.

You know, I've never heard a doctor say, "I don't know." It's almost like they are afraid to admit to a patient that they just don't know, that medical science hasn't found all the answers yet. Maybe that's something they teach them in medical school, to never say, "I don't know."

I remember one time I was really sick. I had a fever and I was really dizzy and just felt really weak and bad. I went to the doctors and he checked me out and then the nurse came in to take some blood. She looked at my chart and said, "Viral syndrome aye - you know what that means?" I shook my head NO. "It means he doesn't know what the heck is wrong with you." I had a fever, which would indicate an infection of some sort, but he couldn't find an infection anywhere. Throat, ears, nose, lungs, tummy - everything seemed fine. Yet there was the fever and dizziness and my color was really bad.

I don't think doctors should be afraid to say, "I don't know", if they really don't know. After all, medical science has not come up with all of the answers yet and probably never will. Still, it must be satisfying when a doctor goes home knowing that he has made someone's life better, has made a difference in people's lives or has improved their quality of life. It must be wonderful to be able to go home knowing that you did something really important and significant for at least one person that day. If I get laid off from work I want to go back to school and take up something where I can go home at the end of the day feeling like I did something important and significant. I could never be a doctor or nurse - 'cause I could never stick people with needles and stuff. But I want to do something that makes a difference in people's lives, something significant. I don't know what though, I'll have to do some research to figure it out.

I used to be a firefighter and am EMT (emergency medical technician) and I miss the satisfaction of doing that. Of course, physically I could never go back to being a firefighter or an EMT but there's got to be something I can do that will be satisfying and significant. My period is coming up soon and I'm concerned about it since all I can take is Tylenol and that stuff doesn't even put a dent in my period pain. I'm also having difficulty with my headaches since I can't take the Excedrin Migraine that I usually take for them and Tylenol won't even put a dent in my headaches. I'll have to give Dr. Joe a call and see what he recommends.

teresa sliwinski

June 8, 2005 - I'm getting really anxious to try this knee out.

I only have 11 more days until my appointment with Dr. Marc. Hopefully he will let me start bearing weight on my leg and I will have a little more freedom to get around and do some things for myself. I hope he says I can go back to work because I'm getting quite stir crazy. I can't wait to take a nice long soaking bubble bath, it's been a long time and bubble baths are one of my favorite things.

June 9, 2005 - Only 9 more days until my appointment with Dr. Marc and I can't wait!

June 10, 2005 - A lady from Benson came and picked up the CPM. I have to find satisfaction in each small step of progress I make. There's not going to be any overnight miracles. My recovery is going to be one small step at a time. I can put on my compression stockings, socks and shoes now without my knee hurting. That may not seem like much to most people but just putting my socks and shoes on was an agonizing task before the surgery. For me it's a big improvement. As my appointment with Dr. Marc gets nearer and nearer I am growing increasingly impatient to start bearing weight on my leg. It is hard to resist the temptation to give it a try but I just keep reminding myself that if it's not ready yet I could ruin all of our hard work. I don't know how hard it has been on the doctor's part but still, let's have respect for the man's work! On my part is has been a lot of patience and quite a struggle. I wouldn't want to mess it up now after all our hard work.

June 11, 2005 - I woke up feeling quite depressed. I've been trying very hard to stay upbeat and positive but it's not easy. My period is coming up and I'm sure that isn't doing anything to improve my mood. I guess it's normal to have those occasional bad days and I'll have to allow them but I can't afford to let myself stay in that mood for too long.

I wonder how bad my knee was. I wonder if I ask Dr. Marc to rate it on a scale of 1-10 compared to all the other microfracture surgeries he's performed where would mine rate - ten being the worst he's ever seen? I'm wondering exactly how bad was mine and will there ever come a day when I can forget I ever had surgery on my knee? And I wonder about my other knee. If my right knee was this bad what does my left one look like? They came as a matched set after all. It's like headlights on cars. The headlights are new and installed in the car at the same time yet, one always blows out before the other, why is that? My knees were installed brand new at the same time but one wore out before the other and I wonder why that is and how many years the other one has left on it. Will I be going through this same thing with my other knee a year or two from now?

June 14, 2005 11:51pm I just finished doing my PT exercises. I really didn't want to go indoors to do them; it's such a nice night out tonight. I'm restless and unable to settle into bed yet. I can't wait for Monday to arrive. I pray that Dr. Marc will be able to give me the OK to start weight bearing on my leg. This waiting is just pure torture. I have a physical with Dr. Joe on Friday, which I am not looking forward to. I always feel quite violated after a physical. And I know he's going to order bloodwork and I already feel like a pincushion because of the weekly coumadin checks I have to have done. These weekly blood tests are really getting on my nerves big time. I'm feeling quite intolerant of them.

June 15, 2005 12:02am I've just crossed over the threshold to another day. After I get through today I'll only have four more days until I see Dr. Marc and hopefully begin on the path toward walking again. I should get to bed in order to get back to a regular sleeping pattern in the event that the doctor gives me the OK to go back to work. Soon a new day will dawn and the hours will drag by until another day of my confinement is over. Time surely drags when one is waiting like this. Today is the 6th week mark from the day of my surgery on May 4th and six weeks have never gone by more slowly.

Seven more hours and another day will be in the past. 8:00pm - It just got too chilly to sit outside and enjoy it. Four hours left of the day. This waiting is making me nuts!

June 17, 2005 2:00am - I have a physical with Dr. Joe today at noon. Two more days after today and I just can't wait! 10:30am.  I'll be leaving for my physical at 11:00. I've discovered that I need to allow 30 minutes leeway for getting places because it takes so long for me to get from the house to my car and from my car into the building. I need to stop several times to rest before I get to where I need to be. Now that I've found a doctor who took my knee pain seriously I need to find one who will take my headache pain seriously and stop telling me to take Tylenol when I've already told him that Tylenol doesn't work, doesn't even put a dent in them. I think a lot of my current troubles could have been avoided or caught earlier if a doctor would have taken my knee complaint seriously years ago. This knee has been giving me trouble for years and years and nobody would even bother to order x-rays until Dr. Joe. What's more, the condition of my knee turned out to be way worse then even Dr. Marc had expected. So maybe now Dr. Joe will listen to me about my headaches now that he knows I'm not some hypochondriac or drug addict.

Why does time drag so when one is burdened with apprehension? I'm waiting for the clock to read 11:00am but it seems to be moving at a very slow rate, minutes seem like hours. I just want to get this physical over with.

It has cooled off quite a bit and is much more conducive to hopping around on crutches; there's one thing to be grateful for.

Once I'm done with the physical I have a long wait until Monday and my appointment with Dr. Marc. I'm sure those two days are going to feel more like weeks than days. Will I be able to start weight bearing on my leg? What will that first step feel like? Will it hurt? Will I get to go back to work? What if the doctor says I have to wait another two weeks? I'll go nuts!

June 18, 2005 - Only one more day to wait after today. I had a really good appointment with Dr. Joe. He took a long time with me and took the time to talk to me for quite a while. That's quite unusual these days. Usually a person sees a nurse or physician's assistant and then they get to see the doc. For a whole two seconds. But Dr. Joe took a long time with me. We talked about my quitting smoking and he gave me a prescription for the patch. Then we talked about my losing weight and he hooked me up with a nutritionist. We talked about my headaches and he gave me a prescription for Tylenol/codeine. Then he brought up the topic of mammograms and why I didn't get one done like he told me to the last time I saw him. I told him that they are just too painful. If course he tried to talk me into it but there's just no way I'm going through that pain and humiliation again. If they want to save women's lives they are going to have to find a less painful method of early detection. At the very least they could give a girl something for the pain ahead of time to lessen the trauma. Heck, before my surgery they gave me medication that made me forget I was even having surgery but they can't do anything to make mammograms less painful? That machine would have come in quite handy during the Spanish inquisition.


icon of patient with helper

"April 25, 2005 - Why is it that when I tell people I'm having surgery on my knee they see that as the perfect time to tell me some horror story about some poor human being whose surgery went terribly wrong?

What makes them think these stories are what I need to hear at this point in my life? People can be so stupid!"