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Knee Surgery | Blount’s Disease Correction – The First 30 Days

Athena Perez
by 

May 23, 2019

Day 860. 231 lbs lost (as of May 14).

It feels weird to be able to write again. I have missed it dearly. A few days before surgery, I was quite optimistic that I would have lots of downtime to catch up on blogging, creating recipes, working on the podcast, and all of the initiatives I have swirling around. Admittedly, I severely underestimated my ability to do much of anything. So here we go, let’s talk about the first 30 days.

24 Hours To Surgery

The nerves were sky high; let’s face it. I was scared shitless. Somehow, even after everything I had been through as a child, I escaped my jaded upbringing without a single broken bone or even stitch. I had tons of bruises growing up and lots of scars, but most of those were from bleeding welts that left permanent marks. I had never had anyone cut into me, so I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I always had to deal with Blount’s disease, but when you’ve always had it, it’s normal.

I guess you can say I was ill-prepared for the aftermath. I knew I would be getting most of my “supplies” before discharge and I knew that I would be confined to the main level of my house, but what else was there? I figured I would have the surgery, come home and that would be that. A bit naive, yes, indeed.  I had done a bit of shopping to make sure I had comfortable clothing to wear and things that would be easy to get in and out of, but I couldn’t think of anything else I needed. I had my family with me – what else was there?

The Day of Surgery

Knee replacement surgeryCheck in didn’t take that long. They quickly brought me into a surgery prep room where they had me undress and get into a heated hospital gown and within a few more minutes had me hooked up to IVs, heart rate monitors, and oxygen. All I kept thinking about once they had me hooked up was, “what if I had to go to the bathroom.” I asked the nurse several times, in fact. “What happens if I get in there and I have to go potty”? She kept laughing and said I wouldn’t need to worry about it.

Within an hour, the surgeon had come to check on me, and he put a big initial on my right leg. He told me it was to make sure they got the right one when they went to cut me open. Okay, that was a bit terrifying LOL.

Once I was ready, I got wheeled down into the surgery room. It looked just like the ones I had seen on TV. There were all kinds of staff bustling around, and one was even walking around in what appeared to be a space suit. I couldn’t stop laughing because I was convinced they were about to send me to the moon and the airbag lift across to the surgery table cemented that belief. I was already feeling pretty damn good by this point, and I remember saying, “Apollo 41… that’s what I am”. That’s about all I remember….

When I awoke, I was still in the surgery room, and there was a big blue sheet in front of me. I could hear clinking around, and my legged getting tugged about through a bit of vibration. “We’re almost done, Athena.” Wow, that was fast. It only felt like a couple minutes, but we were getting close to 5 hours from the time I left the prep room. I remember bits and pieces but the next thing I know I am in my private room looking around, and I saw my family sitting off to my left. I remember smiling. It was all done! In my head, I remember saying, “that wasn’t so bad.”

Within a few hours, I was taking my first trip off the bed to visit the bathroom. It was very slow and labored just getting off the bed, but I moved on my own two feet. They had me on a slew of drugs, including oxycodone that made me feel unbelievable drowsy and woozy, and that would be my state of mind for most of my hospital stay.

I was discharged after 2 days. I couldn’t wait to get back home.

The First Week

I was home for about a day or two when I felt intense pain. The nerve block wore off, and it was my first taste of justknee replacement surgery week 1 how extensive the surgery was. I cried something fierce it hurt so bad. It was grueling having to wait to the next 4-hour pill disbursement, and there were times as I lay there crying I wondered if I had made the right decision. Why had I put myself through this? Why would ANYONE put themselves through this?

I lost the ability to do everything that first week. I couldn’t go to the bathroom, take a shower, or even get dressed without help. Nevermind driving or getting to leave. To make matters worse, I felt as if I was carrying around a 50 lb jug of water strapped onto my right leg. I made the mistake of stepping on the scale and noticed it had shot up nearly 21 pounds in less than a week. I was HORRIFIED!

Let the tears roll. Gaining weight wasn’t part of the plan.

Lets not even talk about physical therapy. The exercises seemed simple, but they hurt, and I wanted nothing to do with them. The leg bending machine that was delivered to my home that week was even worse. At one point during that first week, I contemplated trying to cut the leg off.

I had to go out and purchase a leg lifter, toilet stabilizer, shower grips, non-skid slipper socks, geez was I underprepared. I disliked all of them at first and nearly had a mini fit when I saw the toilet stabilizer get installed. Talk about a punch to the pride. I knew I needed it, but it wasn’t easy having to rely on all this equipment and my family to do everything. I tried desperately just to get a cup of coffee on my own, but when the hot liquid started pouring down the front of my shirt, I knew I would have to wait on that as well. The struggle was real. #cantevencarrythecoffee.

The first week was mostly sleeping, straining in agony as I tried to move around, whelping anytime I tried to move my leg, praying for pills; I wanted this whole nightmare to go away. Gosh, I was miserable.

Weeks Two and Three

By the end of the first week, I was moving around a little better. I had in-home physical therapy for weeks two and three, and they came to the house every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. As I neared the end of week two and I was getting ready for my first post-op check in with the doctor, my physical therapist told me I was behind. Behind? What did that mean? She was referring to the bend angle. They want to see most patients around 90 degrees I was still struggling in the low 70’s. I was mentally crushed when she told me this. I wanted to be excelling and working towards 130 degrees, and it seemed like I was so far away. Not only that, but I wasn’t where I should be. Where had I failed? What was I doing wrong? I was desperately trying to get more angle on my bend, but the massive swelling was preventing me from doing that.  If it wasn’t the swelling, it was this very restricting tape down the center of my legged that pulled in a way that hurt! From a seated position, I still couldn’t lift my right leg. It was so discouraging.

Welcome to my first meltdown.

knee replacement surgery week 3At my first appointment, I was relieved to hear I would be able to remove the bandaging and allow my leg to get wet. The doctor confirmed the goal on angle bend would never be 130 degrees like most patients. The best my legs might ever get is a 108-110. I never cared what the number was as long as I had something to shoot for. But now I had the “magic number” for the first three months. However, the relief was brief. The doctor wasn’t overly worked up, but mildly concerned that I still was not able to lift the leg. He reminded me that my surgery wasn’t just a simple knee replacement and showed me the pegs that now went down into my tibia via the x-ray. He told me sometimes the nerves just take a while to “wake up,” but he also mentioned there was the slightest possibility that it might not.

Might not?!>! This was the first time I heard this. What do you mean it might not wake up. Are you telling me there’s a chance it might not ever fire the way it’s supposed too? I might have to use this leg lifter the rest of my life? Yes, indeed that’s exactly what he was saying.

Welcome to meltdown number two. Oh, this one was quite bad, followed by huge bowls of ice cream and things not on the nutrition plan.

I cried for a few days but knew I would need to deal with whatever came down the path. I told God I would always try my hardest no matter what life threw at me and now was not the time to throw in the towel.

I was determined to get that leg firing and found myself doing foot pumps and leg lift drills anytime I was just sitting there. I was also determined to move around well enough to get back in my car. All I wanted was to be able to drive my butt down to Starbucks and get an iced coffee. That’s all I wanted to do and damned to hell if anything was going to get in the way of that.

Four days after this appointment, I marched out to my car with my walker, threw it in the backseat, used my leg lifter to throw the right leg up in the car. I was going to drive. I was going to go get my damn coffee.

And I did….. {{laughing}}. I had someone in the car with me, of course, but it sure felt good. My leg doesn’t like the driving angle just yet so travel must be short distances (couple miles at a time), but I was back in the driver’s seat. It was enough to make me feel like I hadn’t lost complete control. It wasn’t control I craved, rather it was the independence I had known my entire adulthood.

Feeling so loopy all the time prevented me from writing, creating recipes, and just about everything. I didn’t like the oxy, so I requested a move down to hydrocodone. I was relieved not to feel so loopy, and aside from the fact I was always drowsy, it was something I could better manage.

Week Four

And here we are week four; one month today exactly! I still use the walker for stability as I try to teach myself how to walk with my new straight leg. I do use a cane frequently, and I do walk independently here and there but try to make sure I’m one or the other.

Speaking of this straighter leg, it has created all kinds of ancillary issues. An entire lifetime of neurological wiring has me still wanting to pull my leg up from the side (following the bow). It requires a very conscious effort to not do that, and I struggle.  Because the leg is in a new “place” my lower back and hips hurt when I walk. I’m not sure that my body likes this new “straight” position just yet. Walking doesn’t feel right yet. It feels weird, it’s hard to describe.

Can I lift my leg yet on my own? *sigh* not yet, but I’m still trying and hopeful it won’t be long. I can see the muscles trying to move, so I’m just going to keep working at it. Every day I try not to think too far into the future. I’m just focused on trying to get the leg to lift today. I’m not thinking about next week or month. I gave it to God, and that’s about all I can do. Now, I just wait. Waiting has been the ultimate tester for me. I’m not a very patient person, and I think God knew I needed a lesson in humility. I’m sure of it. Well, I definitely got it.

I’m driving short distances solo now and spent my first week back on my own. It felt so empowering!

Now, to deal with the drowsiness. Being tired all the time sucks because I just don’t get anything done. I forgot to take my pills one day and realized that I didn’t need them as I thought. I had successfully worked myself off of them. I took Tylenol all day Tuesday and Wednesday and realized I was doing just fine. I could kick the narcotics! 😊 This was crazy good news. I feel awake in a way I haven’t felt in a month and if you ask me? That’s progress.

 

Love,

Athena

Comments

  1. Ellen Pearson

    May 23rd, 2019 at 11:08 pm

    Thank you for your post. I needed your insight just now. Your trust in God is inspiring. I’m praying for you.

  2. Athena Perez

    June 4th, 2019 at 12:18 pm

    Ellen – I can’t tell you how meaningful it is for your time and prayers. I thank you so much

  3. +mara

    May 24th, 2019 at 1:00 pm

    You are inspiring and strong AF <3 way to fight through Hell and back.

  4. Athena Perez

    June 4th, 2019 at 12:17 pm

    Thanks Mara!! That’s a hell of a compliment. Thank you…..

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I’m Athena Perez, a Christ-loving dog mom and CrossFitter who has lost over 200 pounds on a long journey of self-discovery. I’m obsessed with sharing everything I’ve learned to help you too!  

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