Saturday, January 19, 2013

"That didn't hurt a bit" Well, not exactly

The surgery to replace my left knee with a chrome/cobalt device on Wednesday went very well, even though the surgeon said the original  knee joint had been reduced to bone-on-bone and was in dire need of replacement.

In fact, I was up and moving about with the aid of a walker the following morning, including time spent in the hospital’s rehab torture room. That's the one where the rack and the whip are exchanged for colored strips of a synthetic rubber or some other seemingly at first innocent room decoration.

Part of the reason for the jump-up from the always-uncomfortable hospital bed ( a good deal, actually) was the use of something called a nerve block, a radically new approach to operative pain management.

By strategically placing a thin tube nearest the major nerve that runs down the leg the system tricks that nerve into thinking everything is a-okay. With the aid of some form of fluid that drips from a bottle hanging like some Christmas tree ornament from a stainless steel hook-em-up "coat rack."

Fully 80 percent of the leg’s pain is transmitted by that nerve, too.

Only problem: With the nerve’s transmitting ability effectively shut down, signals to do things like “move leg,” “bend leg,” and “cross your other leg, leg” also don’t get through.

It’s a weird sensation for one’s mind to order a limb to do something only to find it’s become a petulant child who refuses to obey.

This nerve block was left in place for about 48 hours, the most critical time for most post-op pain.

In any event, once the nerve block was removed Friday morning the leg largely  reawakened.

Even better news, the physical therapists, the doctors and the nurses are all thoroughly thrilled with how I’ve been able to get around. With the aid of the walker, of course.

Yeah, the walker makes me look like some old codger. It's that or find myself flopping around on the floor like some beached whale.

So good is the progress being made and the prognosis so upbeat that I do not need to go to a resident out-patient care facility for 10 to 12 days of rehab.

Instead, I’m slated to go home Saturday, have a visiting PT/nurse specialist come to the house, be smothered with affection from our two Labrador retrievers and then provide a couple of therapy sessions.

This work will be augmented by a series of visits to Lake Health Systems’ satellite rehab unit next to FitWorks and PetSmart, located off Mentor Ave. in Mentor.

As for post-op pain, the nerve block took care of that up until its removal, though now I do need supplemental assist from Percocet for a little while.

I can live with that for sure.

And the faster I heal and the more I do my exercises the quicker I can jettison that so-and-so walker.

Reason enough to be motivated.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
Twitter: @Fieldkorn

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