It’s been a week since my knee surgery, and I’ve been hiding like a cave troll because not only have I felt like one until now, but I also looked like one (however strangely didn’t smell like one?). It was my sixth surgery overall, and third one on my knees. And it was a chipping nightmare.
I’ve waited five years for this surgery, ever since I was attacked at an Amity Affliction gig in Melbourne in 2012, my knee dislocated for about an hour and a half before we realised the ambulance wasn’t coming and took a taxi to the hospital. They couldn’t pull me out of the cab because I was screaming so much, so they gave me a morphine whistle, and I don’t remember much after that. Also, I’d apparently snapped the medial quad in the process. Strangely, the surgeon decided that my left knee (previously dislocated and operated on) was in more need of surgery, so he opted to do that instead. Apart from a long recovery and a short-lived bout of hives from a recovery IV, there were no problems.
I informed the anaesthetist that after my first knee surgery on the other knee in 2006, I’d had issues with my TMJ, possibly due to position/breathing tube during the surgery, and that I’d had the hive reaction to the IV after my last surgery. Although no one else could find a cause, he pinpointed in my file that it was due to morphine, so decided he’d concoct something that wouldn’t give me a reaction. I told him whatever he recommended, as he was the expert and had taken the time to call and do a pre-op meeting with me. The surgeon said it was a normal histamine reaction, and not an allergy.
As soon as I woke up in recovery, I immediately started screaming. I could feel every single incision point, and it was all burning, and my hands were tingling like crazy – like they were going to explode. The nurses told me to meditate and focus on my breathing and that the doctor would be there soon. Apparently he came an hour later, after telling my parents I’d be out in 40 minutes, and I remember him asking me the same questions and everyone being quiet and telling me I was just panicking and to breathe. I just kept apologising through tears for causing a fuss and scaring the other patients in the ward. After a while, I realised there was one nurse next to me, telling me to wake up and breathe because I’d fallen asleep after a huge cocktail of painkillers, and my breathing had slowed to 4 ‘resps’ per minute. Later, she took me to my fam, waiting in my room.
I had been in recovery for three hours.
When we got to the room, she explained what had happened, while I started feeling extremely hot, and my hands and arms felt again like they were going to explode with pins and needles, now spreading from finger tips to elbows. I was on so many medications that I couldn’t stay awake, even though I wanted so badly to tell them my perspective, but I just remember everyone putting cold packs and ice around my body. That night, I stayed awake after everyone had gone, with two drips of ketamine, fentanyl and oxycodone in my arm and heart-rate monitors every half an hour, annoying the nurses when I told them something wasn’t right or that I needed to go to the bathroom (the drips had to be unhooked and a rollator brought to me to get out of the bed), until they took the painkiller button away from me (that particular time I’d used it twice in an hour – it’s meant for every few minutes).
I stayed in the hospital two nights, saw the surgeon for one minute, during which he prescribed a double dose of painkillers to take home, and awaited the anaesthetist, who never showed. The pain was always there, and I had to confirm to the nurses, through sobs, my name – for the fifth time during that shift – in order to get the dose they were late with. When I got home, I realised they hadn’t given me any painkillers, just the long-acting ones for night, so I had to fight for that, after which they claimed I had ‘left’ it at the hospital, later that night.
Every day since, I’ve been battling with the pain, barely sleeping, barely able to eat, and throwing up every. single. day. I have horrendous nerve pain under the operated area that feels like hot needles being shoved into my skin, and bad pain and muscle spasms under the knee that, again, the painkillers only make me feel drowsy or disoriented for.
To be honest, it’s been one of the worst time of my life, not counting a slew of other horrible things that have happened in the past couple of days, unrelatedly. I thought I was well-prepared, but I guess things like these are impossible to anticipate. I can’t wait for this to be over and to move on with my life already!
Almost a month on from surgery, I’m still battling nausea and vomiting almost a litre worth each time, but only when I eat meat and dairy?! So I’m basically an unwilling vegan at this point – or plant-based, I guess. The stitches have been taken out, and I’m getting around in a wheelchair with a leg extension and crutches, which have been really hard on my shoulders and wrists. I’m really trying to be positive, but at the same time I have to study for a supplementary exam, even though I was advised to take this semester off, and have three medical certificates. So I’ve been trying to cut down on painkillers to concentrate…it’s not been great.
All I want is to be able to walk by myself and get on with my life. It’s so frustrating and lonely, but I have another appointment with the surgeon in a week, so hopefully I’ll be able to start physio. I just wish everything wasn’t so difficult. Even things like showering are so draining and leave me with lasting pain, and my body feels twisted to the point that my back will hurt more than my knee. I feel awful asking people to get me this and that and being waited on, or making a trip out for a couple of hours into a major, planned out endeavour. If it sounds depressing, it’s because it is. I’m trying to remain positive; really, really trying, so I don’t want to even mention the majority of things. Maybe I’ll do an honest post on what to expect some day when I’m more removed from it, but right now it’s just too fresh and painful still.
Anyway, I’ll start posting more again from now on, about actually interesting topics, instead of my personal hardships!