Jul 20, 2010


Posted by Mary |

Lately my aesthetic has been $8 walmart bike shorts,
a T-shirt and a thigh-high anti-embolism stocking.

I don't understand why I'm not meeting more men.

I've been spending some time chatting online with one of my friends lately. She moved to Cambodia a few years ago, and I've been meaning to go visit her ever since. It hasn't happened yet, and I fear she is tiring of fragile democracies and will move on before I get the chance.

She had her ACL replaced when she was in high school, so she's been listening to me moan about my pain and mobility issues. Every once in a while, she'll throw in a special little tidbit, like the fact that I may get some sensation back in my knee, but it will likely be numb to some extent for the rest of my life.

I've been working on getting over my squeamishness with regards to looking at my knee. I'm fascinated with the bruising and the numbness. Although I feel pain deep inside my knee, I can't feel anything on the surface. It generally feels hot to the touch, even after I finish icing.

This was the bruising on Sunday. Note the lovely brown tones.

Here you can see how the bruises are really coming into their own and spreading out nicely. I recently likened them to a friend as a cross between Turmeric and Puce. I like to describe colors like a J. Crew catalog. Fun fact: Apparently "puce' can be used to indicate two different colors. I've always known it to be a light brownish green, but apparently it is normally known as a reddish purple. (I know it says Victorian Pink, but you're just going to have to trust me that CC8899 is the hexadecimal value for puce!) I can show examples of both of these colors in just one bruise!

And yes, my leg is still ridiculously swollen. Thanks for noticing. Swollen knee + atrophied calf = cartoon leg.

I am planning on going back to the office next week. I will still have physical therapy three times a week. Those appointments have been last about 90 minutes lately. But there's a lot of stuff to do at work, and I'm getting bored at home. I do have concerns, however, about my ability to keep my knee elevated and iced while I'm at work. Technically speaking, it needs to be above my heart. So just keeping it extended in front of me won't cut it. I'm going to have to experiment with propping it way up on the desk and perhaps taking breaks to our rest area to lay down on a couch.

Of course, all this also begs the question of work attire. ARSC and UAF in general are not really big on dress codes. Some people dress up, some people wear old jeans and T-shirts every day. I usually fall into the dress-up category. However, I can't put any pants on over my current brace. I could go buy a pair that would fit over it, but they would be ridiculously huge on the rest of me. But I can't really wear dresses if I'm going to be propping my leg up on the desk, right? I've been living in bike shorts and T-shirts for the last week and a half. I think I might have to go to bike shorts underneath dresses when I return to work. It will be very early-90210 chic.

Jul 19, 2010

in which she realizes the truth

Posted by Mary |

I've never been one for stretching after exercise. It must be noted that I am rather on the flexible side to begin with. Sure, if I was led into some stretching, I would follow along. But I'd just hold the poses and wonder why I didn't feel anything. The closest I could get to a stretch was trying to touch my head to my feet in a seated forward bend. That kind of hit the old hamstrings a bit.

Naturally, some people I talked to exclaimed about the benefits of stretching. and after the third or fourth fitness trainer told me I HAD TO stretch, I decided to start humoring them. So, sometime around the beginning of the year, I started stretching after exercise. I felt nothing. I did it daily. I still felt nothing. I kept it up for months.

Bada bing, bada boom. Tore my ACL. I am now convinced that stretching broke me.

Jul 15, 2010


Posted by Mary |

Not safe for work. For that matter, not safe for those with delicate stomachs.

Think of rainbows and kittens and sunshine and gumdrops. All bright happy things. Do not think about my yucky, yucky knee.

Some people keep asking about it, so I am going to address the issue in this post. But I'm going to preface it with lots of Julie Andrews-type cheer first. So please, if you're at all squeamish, just stop reading now.

Back when I had a healthy knee, MNB and I went hiking at Angel Rocks. This is his Captain Morgan-ish pose near the top.

In May, I purchased new living room furniture. It's a good thing I did, because I don't think I could get up from my old couch in my current condition. Also, the removable back cushions are the perfect size to prop my leg up at night, so one of them is now permanently ensconced in my bedroom.

A new addition to the house is this coffee table that I made. Yep, made, as in cut the wood and put it together with my own two hands. Cutting wood precisely with only a circular saw is hard, so it's a touch wonky. Clearly I need a double bevel sliding compound miter saw. With laser marker. The design was drawn up by Ana White. I somehow found her blog right after she started it, and I've been singing her praises for months. Those swivel wheels are my favorite part of the coffee table, as I can move the table around while in a prone position on my couch.

This is the first hint of carnage in this post. Since I don't have a dedicated woodshop, I built the table on my back porch. Thus, when I stained and finished the table, I did this on the back porch too. One of the perils of finishing wood outdoors is bugs. This one is forever entombed in the final coat of polyurethane on the table top. I believe that his cries for help scared all the other bugs away, keeping them from joining him in the polyurethane grave.

My physical therapist kindly took a MySpace-style self portrait when I asked him to take a picture of my leg. I also made the mistake of peeking at my leg after the picture. I started feeling light-headed when I looked at it. Later on during PT, I said I needed to take a little break, then promptly bent forward at the waist and collapsed across the table. This caused a bit of concern among the staff. It also got me out of finishing that set of hamstring curls.

OK, I've talked enough about it. This is your last chance to look away.

Seriously, you've been warned.

I'm posting the picture now...

Behold my knee, 72 hours after surgery. They removed the blood suction device from my knee on Tuesday morning, and on Wednesday they took out the On-Q anesthetic device. There are small incisions on the side of my knee where the surgeon did most of the real work, but there's also a big slash down the front where they had to harvest 1/3 of my patellar tendon to replace the torn ACL. And as you can see, some blood is still oozing out of something at the bottom of my leg. And in case you're wondering, yes, that is a very sexy thigh-high anti-embolism stocking on the other leg.

To be fair, I gave PLENTY of warning before I posted that picture. I like to think that I'm slowly getting better. I actually got hungry today, instead of just remembering about twice a day that I ought to put food in myself. I managed to sit on a stool next to the bathtub and wash my hair today, which I consider a major victory. An actual bath or shower is just beyond my comprehension right now, so I'm making do with whore baths and baby wipes. As far as the pain, well, it's there. There are times when it's OK, and times when it's very bad. Right now I don't see much of a pattern. But I'm continuing to take all my medications and going to daily physical therapy, and I have every hope that I am going to heal quickly.

I tried calling the insurance company today about the 26-visit cap on chiropractic, massage and physical therapy visits that went into effect on July 1. They were very apologetic, but said that UAF had made that decision, and that I needed to talk to someone at HR to request an exception. Of course I got a message that HR had closed the office for the afternoon when I tried calling at 2 p.m. I'll try again tomorrow.

Jul 14, 2010

post-op report

Posted by Mary |

I made it through surgery. Spent the night in the hospital, didn't need to be on the morphine drip. I could keep the pain under control with percocet, and the passive continuous movement machine was cranking my leg to 90 degrees all night long while I slept. Now that I'm home, it's a slightly different story. My flexibility and leg strength are all but gone. I spend most of the day with my leg propped up, which makes my back hurt. I would like to take a shower but have neither the stomach nor the supplies to uncover and recover my wounds. I plan on bathing with baby wipes and maybe trying to wash my hair in the sink tomorrow.

Jul 11, 2010

it's almost time

Posted by Mary |

My surgery is tomorrow, which means I am spending my weekend running around like a chicken with its head cut off. I had hoped to go see Fairbanks Shakespeare Theater's musical production of Two Gentlemen of Verona. My friend Anne assured me that someone could pick me up in the parking lot and drive me to the outdoor set. Alas, it looks like I may have to miss all the FST shows this summer, because I have a chore list a mile long.

Clean out the fridge.
Take the garbage to the transfer station.
Go grocery shopping.
Clean my car a bit. (Liz needs to get her car fixed, so I told her to schedule the repairs for next week so she could borrow my car as long as she needed.)
Clean up the house a bit more.
Do laundry.
Change kitty litter boxes for both cats.
Put a rolling chair in the kitchen, since I won't be able to move food to the living room to eat.
Rearrange furniture to suit my post-surgery needs.
Pack a bag for the hospital.

To make my weekend more pleasant, I spent more time at the walk-in clinic yesterday morning. I started getting some symptoms Friday, and tests confirmed that I have an infection. Thus I started a course of antibiotics. I hate antibiotics. The surgeon said this shouldn't interfere with my surgery.

I do have several things taken care of already for my convalescence. I have the rest of Star Trek: Enterprise to watch. There's quite a few Bollywood movies I've been meaning to get to. I need to continue studying Hindi. I built a new coffee table on wheels so I can spend some time on the couch as opposed to in my bed. I also entombed an insect with polyurethane on the top of said coffee table, but that's a story best saved for another post when I share pictures.

My friends are rallying to help me post-surgery. I have issues (which they apparently have already discussed) about asking people for help. So they are forcing help upon me. I did take the step of setting up a Google calendar so that we can track all of my doctor's appointments and who is driving me.

My health insurance fiscal year began again on July 1. I've already reached my deductible and my out-of-pocket maximum. However, they changed the plan this year, and now chiropractic, massage and physical therapy are all lumped into one category, with a maximum of 26 visits per year. Since I am already scheduled for 42 visits for physical therapy after surgery, this presents a bit of a problem. The PT office tried to call the insurance company to request an exemption, but got the runaround. So sometime after surgery, I will have to call UAF HR and start the onerous process of trying to get my medical care covered.