Surgery Recovery Part Two: Australian Christmas without Aircon

Hi!

So, as you might have garnered from the title, this is an update on life, and in particular, since my surgery. First of all, I have to admit I have been rather absent, but that’s intrinsically connected to the theme.

Pain

For a while there, I felt like I was doing quite well. I had to start my next semester over the summer, so I was weaning myself off painkillers, which wasn’t hard, because I didn’t feel like I needed them anyway. However, the surgeon was very disappointed in my lack of progress and muscle atrophy, although I hadn’t had any physio rehab at all, so I started going back to a Brisbane-based physio that specialises in hypermobility (one which has helped me more than any other physio I have ever been to – not just in terms of progress, which is incredible, but in actually understanding and being knowledgeable of what exactly is going on – instead of just pushing me to do thousands of full squats [insanely bad for my knees] or shaming me for not doing more heavy cardio or box jumps [wtf?!?!]) and started improving my mobility and range of motion (rather than having my leg straight out all the time). Okay, this has been extremely tough. So tough in fact, that I’ve had to get another prescription from the surgeon for Gabapentin, an anti-convulsant, because it seems to be the only thing that helps with widespread pain, and especially the nerve pain I’ve been getting, since there is a huge area with loss of sensation. Lately, I’ve felt like there isn’t even half of a day that’s gone by where I don’t have almost crippling pain, to the point of distraction. It exhausts me, but then I toss and turn all night, because my legs ache so badly.

Rehab

In spite of what I’ve said above, I’m quite happy with recovery overall, at least superficially. My scar is healing fantastically, thanks to Klairs Vitamin C Serum, and massage and stimulation has been helping the scar tissue and numb area. I’ve been bending my knee and walking a lot, which is a huge relief, because I was beginning to feel like a blob ordering everyone to wait on me, hand and…knee (yes, I hate myself extra for that one).

I suspect that it’s because of how the bones in my legs grew (long story short: weirdly), but I find that I simply cannot build up the muscle adequately in my medial quads – on both legs. I gain muscle way too easily in my calves and the lateral quads, however for some reason, nothing seems to be helping, and I’m not at the point yet where I can safely do squats or leg presses. The fact that it’s on the other side too makes me think there’s some weird way I’m walking, or my posture, so I guess I’ll have to talk to the physio about adjusting that, too. Hhhh. The reason it’s so important to build that medial quad is because it helps stabilise the patella – my ITB and lateral quads are way too strong and pull my unstable kneecaps to the outside of their shallow sockets – hence my problem with dislocations, and subsequent surgeries.

What Else?

Hmm, I’m pretty boring lately. All I do is study, watch Korean dramas, play the Witcher 3 on my (Christmas present) PS4 Pro (wtf, thank you BB!! *_*) and try to get out of the house and explore when I can. Things are pretty uncertain since we don’t know whether we’ll be moving or where, still.

Oh, and we don’t have aircon and live next to a forest on a hill, so it’s been almost unbearably hot, especially with Dysautonomia symptoms…not to mention the fact that the floors somehow started condensating and wouldn’t dry for days?? It was as if they’d just been mopped, no matter what. Super scary for me, considering on my last surgery, I slipped on a mopped floor and tore my incision open.

Things to be Thankful For

I feel like I’m overwhelmingly negative in these blogs, so I want to balance it out with some positive things.

  • Feeling healthier and lighter with a tweaked diet that I know works for and helps my situation most
  • Being able to get up and be more independent
  • Having time with BB and family
  • My puppy seems to be tolerating instead of hating me lately
  • Able to go to the pool (once…in the seniors rehab pool lol)
  • My Irish skin seems to be tanning without burning for the most part?? Finally!
  • Able to explore the Coast and Northern NSW – super pretty
  • More stable work for BB – yay! *_*
  • Able to start planning our lives more – for someone like me, uncertainty is like a constant stress weighing me down
  • Planning lots more posts and taking things in a direction I want and am passionate about – stay tuned!

That’s about it for now! Thanks for reading 🙂

Love, Lo x

Surgery Nightmare

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.

However.

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!

UPDATE:

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!