I wonder how doctors choose the field they want to go into. I mean, what sort of person wakes up one day and says, "I think I'll become a proctologist"? (Eeeeks!!!) There are so many fields of medicine to choose from, how does one decide out of all of the choices, which one is for them? How did Dr. Joe decide he just wanted to be a regular physician and how did Dr. Andrew decide he wants to deal with veins and DVTs and general surgery. And how did Dr. Marc decide that orthopedics was for him? I have so many questions I could probably drive a doctor right out of his freaking mind if I were to ask them all. I've tried to look up and learn as much as I can on the Internet but I still have tons of questions. For instance, in the literature they gave me prior to my surgery it said that the operating room is kept quite cool and it explained why that is. But my question is how can a surgeon maintain dexterity when his fingers are freezing cold? How can he concentrate on what he's doing if he's freezing his butt off? I'm glad I don't remember anything about the operating room 'cause I hate being cold and that would have bothered me a lot no doubt about that. Even in the recovery room, I had this really nice, cozy warm blanket - it was so nice and snuggly. But the arm that had the IV in it had to stay out from under the covers and that arm was really uncomfortably cold. I don't know how surgeons can work in those conditions. And Dr. Marc had on short sleeves the last I remember seeing him before the surgery. I like painting but I can't imagine trying to paint in conditions as cold as an operating room. If someone put me in those conditions and said, "Here, paint" I'd ask them if they recently hit their head really hard.
June 20, 2005 - Dr. Marc gave me the go ahead to start bearing weight on my leg and also to go back to work on Wednesday. I'm going to try to go to church on Sunday. I couldn't get up the stairs before but now that I'm partial weight bearing I may be able to do it.
I've had a headache for about 4 days now. I can't take the Excedrin Migraine, which is what works the best for me thus far. The Tylenol / codeine doesn't really take it away, it takes it away for a few hours but as soon as it wears off the headache comes right back. The Excedrin Migraine takes it away and it stays gone but I can't take that because of the coumadin.
I've decided to try taking a bath, I couldn't before because I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to get back out of the tub. I pretty sure I can do it now that I can put some weight on my leg.
June 24, 2005 - I am really tired of walking on these crutches.
Part of me wants to ask my physical therapist how long he thinks it will be before I won't need them any more. But then there's another part of me that is terribly afraid of what the answer is going to be. The tendon in my left ankle is pretty tight and sore today. I'll ask about that in PT, maybe I'm not doing something right when I'm walking on my crutches! I can't wait to be rid of these things.
June 25, 2005 - It's a beautiful, sunny day today. I'm thinking about all of the things that I used to take for granted. For instance, I was just thinking that I'd like to get a newspaper. Before my knee got bad it was simple and easy to just get up and walk to the corner store to get one. But now, getting a newspaper takes effort and planning. Why, just getting from my rocking chair to the couch takes planning and effort. I long for the day when I will be able to just get up and walk without having to think it out first. I still can't do the laundry myself because I can't navigate the basement stairs yet. I swear, I will never complain about having to do laundry ever again.
June 27, 2005 - I have to get my blood work done again before work this morning; I am so sick of these blood tests I could scream. If I knew before my surgery what I know now there are definitely things I could have done that may have prevented the DVT. If I had known what a pain in the ass it is to be treated for a DVT I would have researched it more and would have found out that smoking increases the chances of a DVT and I would have quit the minute I found out I would need surgery. If I had known what a genuine pain it is to be treated for a DVT and that being over weight increases the chances of one occurring I would have been more diligent about my quad sets and my ankle pumps. The quad sets hurt my knee quite a bit so I didn't do them as much as I should have but I didn't know easy it was to get a DVT and I didn't know what torture it is to be treated for one!it's absolutely brutal! I wonder why I didn't get compression stockings immediately after my surgery to help prevent the DVT in the first place. If I had known then what I know now I would have asked for them. I don't see how wearing them could do any harm and they may have helped.
June 29, 2005 - Today is my first day as a non-smoker. After what I've been through with my knee and the DVT quitting smoking seems like a synch! Easy stuff next to what I've been dealing with. I'm walking on my crutches much better now. I hardly need to lean on them at all, only lightly. I'm hoping that I will be able to go on to using only one crutch soon. At least that way I'll have one hand free for carrying things and opening doors and such.
July 2, 2004 - I started walking with a cane today. My therapist hasn't given me the OK to do that yet but I just couldn't take the crutches any more. I have so much more freedom using the cane. I took a walk in our back yard and it was wonderful. The first time I've been able to do that since May 4th. My lilies are in full bloom, my pink roses are beginning to fade, a week from now they'll be gone and I would have missed it. I walked to the corner store to get a beverage and picked up something to eat from Uncle Sams next door to the corner store. It was so good to have the freedom to do that again. Oh it was grand to go into a store and look at all of the choices and make my own decision instead of just having to accept what ever Mike decides to get me. And it's a most beautiful day out today, not too warm, not too cold. It would have been a perfect day for a hike but I'm not quite ready for that yet and wonder if I ever will be. It is most wonderful just to be able to get around a little better and I really don't think that my jumping the gun on this has hurt me in the least.
July 5, 2005 - It was a most wonderful day. I went out to my parent house in West Falls and swam in the pool all day. Dad made dinner and I had a really great time. After that I joined Mike at a party at Rita and Ken's house and had a grand time.
I'm not quite sure what to do about physical therapy. Should I let them know that I jumped the gun on the walking thing? It seems silly to use the crutches just to go to PT when I haven't been using them at all. Who knows, maybe they are waiting for me to throw the crutches away on my own. Maybe they don't tell you that you don't need them anymore. Maybe they just wait for the patient to tell them they don't need the crutches any more.
July 8, 2005 - Today I had my first appointment with my nutritionist, Jeff. Everything is getting on my nerves today. I'm sick and tired of being sick. I'm sick of this knee and not being able to do what I want it to do. I'm sick of the blood tests, I'm sick of the compression stockings, I sick of the physical therapy, I'm sick of doctors, I'm sick of my life revolving around this knee and the DVT! I'm sick of everything - all of it. At least now I have a diet plan and that's one area of my life and health that I can take control of. So much is out of my control that it's comforting to find something I can take control of and do something about. Most people would think that trying to recover from surgery and the DVT along with quitting smoking is enough and that adding a change in the way I eat to the list is just too much to take on all at once. But the life style changes I'm making like quitting smoking and changing my diet lets me feel like I am doing something, like I do have some control over something. Losing weight will help my knees and it will help prevent another DVT and that's something I can take charge of and control myself. There's so much that's out of my control that I feel that I absolutely HAVE to take control of the things I do have control over.
I purchased an exercise ball and a trampoline similar to the one they have in PT so that I can do some of the exercises at home.
July 13, 2005 - I've thrown the crutches and cane away except for when I get up in the middle of the night and when I first get up in the morning. My balance is not very good during those times and the Achilles tendons in both of my legs are really tight when I first get out of bed. I complained to Mike A. about it and he gave me some stretches to do but it's not helping much. Nowadays if I'm having trouble walking it usually has nothing to do with the knee but most often it is my Achilles tendons that are the trouble.
July 16, 2005 - I can't wait for my life to stop revolving around my knee and the blood clot. I am looking forward to the day when I can forget that I ever had surgery or a DVT and get back to normal. A day when I no longer have to do PT or submit to weekly blood tests. I'm anxious for the day when I can put all of this behind me. That probably won't happen till November at the earliest and November seems like such a long way off. Anyway, I've had enough rest and rest is a fictional thing anyway. Even being confined to bed is not restful and in fact is quite stressful because of the boredom. There really is no such thing as complete rest except in death and maybe not even then. You'd think being in bed and having someone waiting on your would be restful but not being able to do things for myself was the exact opposite of restful.
July 19, 2005 - Today I had no pain or almost no pain in my knee, even throughout my physical therapy session. After years of pain in that knee it feels very strange to have no pain. I keep limping on it out of habit not because I need to. It is the most peculiar feeling having no pain or very little anyway. I hope it stays this way, I hope it's not just a momentary reprieve.
July 23, 2005 - My knee got quite sore Thursday afternoon. When I went to PT Friday, Mike A. was concerned about the sudden change giving my history of a blood cot. He called Dr. Marc but he wasn't available. Later in the day Greg, his medical assistant, called me. He hadn't been able to get hold of Dr. Andrew because he was out of town on vacation. So he told me to go to the emergency room. To make a long story short, all of the tests came back fine. It was just as I suspected I had just overdone it and was understandably sore from it. While I'm incredibly grateful for my doctors and everyone who has been a part of my recovery, I am most tired of my life revolving around this leg and around my health. I can't wait to get my life back.
July 28, 2005 - My knee is coming along well but I'm still a long way from being back to normal, back to the way it was before it started acting up so bad. Near the end of August I'll have another Doppler / ultrasound done on my leg to see if the DVT is gone yet. I hope that it is because I simply can't do another three months of weekly blood tests.
July 30, 2005 - I've decided that I'm done with this knee. I'm going to do everything I normally would do as far as it is possible. I missed the spring hiking season and I'll be damned if I'm going to miss the autumn hiking season too. I'm going to walk as much as I can so that I'll be ready when falls gets here. I'm sick of being sick, sick of being injured. My knee could hurt for months or even years so I've decided that I'm not going to let it stop me from doing the things I love to do. I'm going to start working really hard to get this leg and my life back to normal.
July 31, 2005 - I did a great deal of walking yesterday and my legs are quite stiff today as I expected they would be. Fall is my favorite time of the year. I should do some laundry but I can't bring myself to do anything today except sit here with my ice pack. The tendons in the back of my legs are really tight. Once all of this blood clot and PT stuff is over I need to get to the dentist for a cleaning. I just can't deal with one more medical issue right now.
August 1, 2005 - My knee is feeling better and better all the time. Many of my days now are pain free. Of course, I've still got a long way to go but I'm definitely making progress.
August 4,2005 - I have two more blood tests to endure before my appointment with Dr. Andrew and I get to find out if the DVT is gone yet or not. I see Dr. Marc again on August 29th. I don't see why I have to have these weekly blood tests. Every one has come back fine and Dr. Andrew hasn't had to make any adjustments to my medication - not even one so I don't see the necessity for them. I would think that every other week should be more the sufficient.
August 5, 2005 - I've decided that after my appointment with Dr. Andrew on the 22nd one way or another these weekly blood tests are going to stop. Hopefully the clot will be gone and it will be all over with. If it's not gone and I have to stay on the coumadin for another three months then Dr. Andrew is just going to have to accept my doing the blood tests every other week. Yesterday was 13 weeks since my surgery and my life is still revolving around my leg and I'm running out of tolerance for it.
August 6, 2005 - My knee is feeling great today. I'm actually having way more pain from the tendons in my heel then I am from the knee. I ordered some shoes that I hope will solve the problem with the tightness in my tendons. They aren't very ladylike and in fact, are the ugliest shoes I've ever seen but if they solve the problem then I don't really care what they look like. My new shoes just arrived and I cant wait to try them out and see if they solve my problem.
August 9, 2005 - When I arrived home from work last night I found a voicemail message from my physical therapist saying that my insurance will not cover any more PT sessions. I decided that since I am feeling very strong now and have very little discomfort I can probably continue the PT exercises on my own. I've purchased all of the equipment I need in order to do the exercises on my own and can always pay for a session with Mike if I run into trouble. The shoes have worked great. If the heel of my shoes is too high it hurts my knee but if the heel is too low my Achilles tendons get too tight. These shoes are low enough that they don't hurt my knee and high enough to take the stress off of my tendons - they're perfect.
August 15, 2005 - Today may be my last blood test. I know one thing for sure and that's that I will not be getting a blood test next week. I don't care if Dr. Andrew says I can go to a schedule of every other week or not, I'm making a decision on my own this time. I will submit to blood work every other week and that will have to be good enough. This every week thing is just ridiculous. I see my nutritionist, Jeff, on Friday and Dr. Andrew next Monday. I hope and pray that I be done with Dr. Andrew and coumadin and blood tests then.
August 19, 2005 - I have an appointment with Dr. Andrew on Monday and I can't wait to see if my clot is gone or not.
August 20, 2005 - I am most concerned that my knee will not be ready on time for the fall hiking season.
August 21, 2005 - Well, tomorrow is the big day when I learn if my DVT is gone yet or not.
August 22, 2005 - I just got back from my appointment with Dr. Andrew and it was very good news all around. My DVT is gone and I do not have to submit to any more blood tests. Dr. Andrew wants me to finish the rest of the coumadin I have but I'm not going to. He said that when I get down to the last 3 pills that I should take them every other day instead of every day. I'm considering the pill I took today as one of the last three which means that I skip Tuesday, take one on Wednesday, skip Thursday and take my last pill on Friday. I have to take 81mg of aspirin a day once Im off the coumadin and that's something I will have to do for the rest of my life. Three days after my last pill I can pretty much resume a normal life. I'll have to wear the compression stockings for the rest of my life too but that I can tolerate if it means I'll never have to go through this ever torture ever again.
August 23, 2005 - At my appointment with Jeff, he said that the weight would come off a lot faster if I walk at least 10,000 steps a day. So, I've been trying to do that every day.
August 25, 2005 - I had a wicked headache this morning and am quite grateful that I can go back to taking my Excedrin Migraine pills for it. My headache is already diminishing. I went out to do my 10,000 steps and I can't believe it but I tripped and fell right on my knee. I'm icing it right now and am praying that I didn't do any significant damage. I just can't believe I was clumsy enough to fall on that knee of all things.
August 27, 2005 1:00am I don't know why but I feel very nervous about my appointment with Dr. Marc on Monday. I guess I'm afraid he's going to tell me that I'm not doing as well as I think I am and that I shouldn't be walking 10,000 steps a day and that I won't be able to go hiking this fall. I'm afraid I will still be on very low impact activities when I want things to get back to normal.
August 29, 2005 - Just as I feared, Dr. Marc said that the replacement cartilage is not the same as the original stuff and that I should ride a bike for exercise instead of walking. It's bothering me that I'm only 42 years old and I can't go hiking any more. But, there's nothing I can do about it except adjust. My hiking days are over but a whole New World of biking has opened up for me. The problem being that I can't take my bike everywhere I go. I've been walking during my lunch hours and that has helped me quit smoking. I can't ride a bike during my lunch hour. I think that my next automobile will have to be one that is big enough to carry a bike. But look at me complaining because I can't hike any more when not that long ago I was thrilled just to be able to do laundry again. I need to find bike trails to replace my hiking trails. I won't be seeing Dr. Marc again for six more months, which I was surprised about. The stuff I read on the Internet said that most people could return to normal activity in six months so you'd think he'd want to see me at the six-month mark, which would be the beginning of October. As it is I won't be seeing him until February. Well, the article did say that every case is different and maybe Dr. Marc knows that, in my case, six months isn't going to be nearly long enough. I wonder if I will ever be able to return to normal activities.
August 31, 2005 - I faxed a letter to Dr. Marc and Greg asking if I can do just some light hiking if I used a cane to take some of the impact off of my knee. I also asked them if swimming is OK. Another question I had was if this not hiking / walking thing is just for now or is it a forever thing. I think this is the day of the week that Dr. Marc is in surgery all day so I'm not expecting to get an answer today.
September 1, 2005 - Greg called back and left me a voicemail saying that if I hike on level terrain and don't do any hill climbing or anything I can probably do it but it is risky. So, now I'm trying to decide if it's worth the risk. He did say that I could swim as much as I want because there's zero impact with that activity. He did not answer the question of whether not walking and hiking is a just for now thing or if it's a forever thing. Which tells me that they don't really know at this point. Dr. Marc is very careful about not giving his patients false hope.