Thursday, August 27, 2009

Physical Therapy

I've been able to walk around a bit during the day, even without the crutches. I'm also down to about 2-4 Percocet a day, a huge improvement over how I was when I first came home. I decided that if I felt good enough to be up and about that I should really get on my physical therapy.

I found the sheet of paper my physical therapist sent home with me last week and began to look at the instructions. It turns out I should be doing a bit more than I've been letting myself. I no longer have to keep my knee locked straight all day and I'm allowed to walk 30-45 minutes a day at this point. The exercises are all straightforward, basically leg lifts and knee bends. The leg lifts aren't so bad, the knee bends, well those are a different story. It's amazing how quickly muscle atrophies. Naturally there is an amount of pain from within the knee but mostly I feel it in the muscles of my upper leg. It's almost like I'm too weak to actually bend my leg. I've set my brace so that when I'm up and about I can bend my knee to up to 60* of rotation, which is what I am allowed to do. When I'm laying down I lock the leg straight, still a good deal of pain if I bend it, but I'll be working to lock the leg less and less. I have a follow-up with physical therapy Friday and I'm hoping to be on schedule with my recovery by that time. I got a late start but I'm feeling a lot better than I did last week so I'm hoping I can catch up the time.

Not much more than that to update, I'll likely post again after my appointment on Friday.

Monday, August 17, 2009

It's Monday?

I really hate coming up with titles for blog entries. I don't have that much to update but I am bored and I did go to rehab today so I should at least post how that went.

Today's visit wasn't so much to start working on the knee as it was us getting to know each other and setting some goals for the recovery. Being that this wasn't a simple debridement -- look who learned how to spell -- the recovery is a bit different than I initially thought. I'm going to be stuck in a brace (we'll get pictures online soon) for at least 9 weeks while I begin to work the knee. They're not anticipating a full recovery for 6 months. Most of what I'm going to be doing is ROM (range of motion) exercises and leg strengthening. I have a sheet that details what I can and can't do right now and what exercises I should be doing now but I can't remember most of it. It's amazing how much of a cloud the Percoset puts my head in. I only need to take 3 or 4 doses a day depending on how much I'm up and about. Also they took off the wrap that was closest to my skin so the brace I've got with ice water pumping through it is far more effective.

In any event, I'm doing well and they say I should do just fine. I have a follow-up with Ortho on the 25th and another appointment with rehab on the 28th. I'll have Diana snap some photos of the braces and stitches and the setup I've got for myself in the recliner so ya'll know how I've been doing. My head is in a bit of a fog and I'm having trouble sorting my thoughts so I'm going to wrap up. I'm off for 30 days, so 25 more I think, if you wanna chat give me a call or look me up on AOL's instant messenger as jcpahman77 if you're the chatting type. I'll be here and I'd love to talk.

Friday, August 14, 2009

I'm home from surgery!!!

I really should have posted more about this earlier, like Tuesday when I had my pre-surgical consults but I forgot.

A little background for those not in the know... I injured my knee while in Iraq back in September of '08. They didn't know what the extent of the injury was then because medical facilities in Iraq are pretty much limited to life saving equipment. I had been complaining about knee pain after long convoys; in fact it was so bad that after a long convoy I couldn't bend my knees. Each time I went I was told that it was overuse and that I needed to "take it easy". Finally one day in September I was sitting on the side of a trailer with my feet on the tires. The tires on these trailers stick out several feet wider than the deck and pretty much run the length of the deck. Anyway, I went to stand up and turn at the same time to get up on the deck and just as I put weight on my right knee it snapped or popped. The kind of sound and feeling you get when you crack a knuckle for example. The leg gave out and I ended up on my butt on the deck. I couldn't fully extend my knee and I couldn't bend it past about 20 or 30 degrees. I was put on crutches for about a week and they tried to drain my knee once, but other than that not much was done while I was in Iraq.

It took a long time to get taken seriously once in the states but around May I was diagnosed with a pair of meniscal tears in my right knee. There are two meniscuses in your knee and they act like bushings between the upper bone of the leg and the lower two. An MRI showed that both my medial and lateral (inner and outer) meniscus had torn but didn't give enough resolution to see exactly how bad. The meniscus grow out of the tops of the lower bones and because they rely on the bones for blood flow they grow slowly. The plan was to go in orthoscopically de-breed the bad cartilage and then sew the ends of the good cartilage together to make the meniscuses whole again. Unfortunately when they got in there they discovered that one of the meniscuses was torn so badly that it had flapped forward into the middle of the joint. Naturally I don't remember any of this because of all the IV drugs they gave me but they told me and Diana that everything went smoothly. All I know is when I woke up it felt like someone had taken a sledge hammer to my knee and it took 6 mg's of Morphine to dull the pain.

Looking forward I have a fairly long recovery since it was not just a simple procedure like they had hoped. It's going to be three days before I can take off a brace they wrapped around my right knee and both legs have special stockings on them to help blood flow while the IV drugs work out of my system. I start physical therapy/rehab on Monday but they don't project that I'll even be able to drive a car for 6 to 8 weeks.