Marvels of modern medicine

There is more to me now than there was this morning. Where I once had a missing ACL and two frayed menisci, I now have an ACL and two shaved down menisci.

I would like to take a moment to talk about the tendon they put in my leg this morning. This tendon was a donated by an organ donor – someone who marked their driver’s license, or talked with their family. I have every hope that the man or woman who is giving me the ability to walk, run, jump and move died at a very old age surrounded peacefully by their family.

When we think of organ donation, we think of the big life saving donations: the heart, lungs, kidney. You might think, “I’m not healthy enough for any of my organs to be of use.” But for other things that make a huge impact on quality of life – knee tendons, corneas etc. – it makes a tremendous difference. I am incredibly grateful for the foresight and generosity of spirit of the donor who has given me a leg to stand on.

That said, let me fascinate you with a discussion of my morning! (Note: if you are faint of stomach regarding medical procedures, please feel free to stop reading now!)

My surgery was originally scheduled for noon. Yesterday, I got a call asking me to come in at 9 instead. On one hand, this was very good news since it’s hard to wait and think with no food, drink or (GASP) coffee! On the other hand, I had to be there two hours early, and Grey cannot be dropped off prior to 8 am. Putting all that together, I drove myself to the hospital.

My procedure was done at the same hospital where my sons were born. I took the same road, just as the sun was rising to burn off the morning mist. It was a lovely day. There was remarkably little waiting around, it seems. I was questioned, prepped, pregnancy-tested (negative!), written on, informed and advised. It seems like a very long time ago. I was wheeled in to do a nerve block before my husband returned. After they had put in my IV and added the block, my husband and my pastor both arrived in the recovery room. We prayed together, joked, talked logistics and waited. It seemed like only a few minutes after that when they kicked the guys out to finalize my preparation for surgery.

One of the last things I remember was telling the nurse how fascinating I found one of the drugs they gave me. I was given a tremendous number of drugs for this procedure. But just before pushing me into the OR they gave me a drug which would allow me to interact and react perfectly normally with them but which would not permit me to remember what happened. Sure enough, that conversation is my last memory. I know that I was awake after that. I assisted and followed instructions. I probably asked questions. I remember none of it.

So Sci-fi!

Anyway, the procedure went well. I came up from anesthesia extremely concerned about whether I had been polite under its influence. That was my first question, not “How did it go” or anything. Apparently I was at least unremarkable under the influence.

I did not have a chance to talk to my surgeon (consciously) after the procedure. He did talk to my husband, though. Although the surgery was a success, not all the news is good news. More of the meniscus was damaged than he had expected, so he had to remove more cartilage than he expected. I have pictures. They look like white stripes. Also, my knee shows some very early signs of arthritis. He said we would discuss this more in my follow up, so I’ll wait to find out what the implications of these two things are. I’m guessing, however, that the Boston Marathon is right out for 2012.

Then I came home! I’ve got some cool gear – for example a neat ice-pack-like device that circulates ice water under my brace. Oh, and an epic brace. But I am already limping around on my crutches, and bearing some weight on my leg.

I’m a little concerned about my big time painkiller. I’m still (I believe) under the effects of the nerve block, so the whole weight of the pain hasn’t hit. However, my reaction to my pain pill is a) throwing up anything that might be in my stomach b) falling dead asleep. While there are ways to mitigate nausea, this is less feeling queasy and more “OMG Bring a bowl NOW!”. This is particularly a problem since the last time I ate anything was last night during the Pat’s game. HUNGRY!

I just did manage to keep something down, but I have a hunch it’s because my last round of vomitus included my pain pill. Not a sustainable model, folks. So I plan on calling tomorrow to see if I can find something less problematic.

Tomorrow I start needing to move and do exercises. I suspect that even that minor effort will wipe me out. But I find hope in that this is, if all goes well, my last knee recovery. I’ve been up and down all summer, but when I make this recovery, I’ll be at the best I can be.

So that’s the news with me. My thanks to everyone who sent prayer and good thoughts, and to all those who decide to share their bodies with others once they are done with them.

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Brenda currently lives in Stoneham MA, but grew up in Mineral WA. She is surrounded by men, with two sons, one husband and two boy cats. She plays trumpet at church, cans farmshare produce and works in software.

3 thoughts on “Marvels of modern medicine”

  1. I recommend a brown paper bag inside a plastic bag. Carry it around until you need it. Use it. Then it can be disposed of easily in a nice tidy package. That way no one gets to wash the bowl.
    Speedy recovery, Brenda.


  2. I was thinking of you and your surgery this weekend when my brother-in-law mentioned needing something similar. You delivered at a Hallmark Hospital, correct? I recognized one of the photos from your room after the last babe (I work for them). Hope they take great care of you. I’ve heard great things about or Orthopedic program (I don’t live near here, otherwise I’d also be getting care here). Good luck with the pain meds!


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