11 April 2009

I Need that Pint Back

Really, I could have just stayed on the shore and done about as much as I did in the water today. It wasn't until the end of the session that I figured out why I was so tired. It wouldn't even be so bad except that there were actual consistently head-high waves out there. I've waited all winter for that. I made the paddle out without much effort. After that the session went downhill. I just wasn't feeling it. I felt like I was moving in slow motion. My reflexes weren't working at all. I know I read that it takes about two weeks for your body to replenish the loss of that much blood. I'm only two days past giving up that pint.

I suppose this means my intention of surfing hard until surgery is no longer a realistic one. I'm now going to revise that goal and only surf a few days rather than every day until surgery. I'll still workout. I just won't surf every day. I'm not up to that task at this point.

It's funny, some people have felt like I'm deserving of pity, what with Soul Brother #1's layoff, his cancer and now my knee. There is nothing about which to be pitiful. As I approach the day of the surgery, I get more excited and relieved. I'm thankful we still have insurance throughout all of this. There are people who have lost their jobs, their homes and their insurance. I've read about people discontinuing cancer treatment because they can no longer afford it. Others stopped taking medications they needed for the same reason. I'm sure there are others who also need joint replacement and must now endure the pain of osteoarthritis until they are once again, if ever, insured. I certainly am not feeling sorry for myself. I'm one of the lucky ones.

With that said, let me say thank you to everyone who has sent me good vibes. I'm especially thankful for the pep talk from Worm, the tweaked x-ray from Paul and Kirk for telling me about others—younger, athletic folks—who'd had the surgery. Those three people in particular helped to get my head straight. I just heard from Julie too. She sent a link that I find very encouraging:

So what is joint replacement? When cartilage wears down and the bones begin to rub on one another, it causes both pain and deformity. One side of the knee wears out faster than the other and the bones become lopsided. For most, we wear out the inside (medial) portion of our knee joint and the top of our hip joint first. This is why you see many people becoming bow-legged as they age.

All joint replacements, therefore, are meant to decrease pain and realign joints straight again. Joint replacement is performed by making an incision over the involved joint and removing the ends of the bones that no longer have cartilage on them. Special jigs are used to measure and align the cuts made on the ends of the bones to make sure the new joint is anatomically aligned like the natural joint was before arthritis wore it down. Now we are even using computer navigation in the operating room to more precisely align the bone cuts back to their natural anatomic position.

Once all the bone cuts have been made, the ends of the bones are replaced with metal replicas. Prior to surgery, X-rays are measured to ensure the proper sized implants are available, and during surgery the surgeon measures to determine what size joint replacement is needed. When the surgeon confirms the proper size and alignment of the implants, they are cemented into place. This is why you can walk on joint replacements immediately.

The implants are made out of cobalt-chrome, ceramic or titanium alloys and are polished to a highly shiny surface. They reflect light like a polished chrome bumper or a mirror. Between the two polished steel implants, a very tough piece of plastic, called polyethylene or poly, is inserted. The two bone ends move over this poly surface like your natural joint moved over its cartilage.

Rehabilitation after a this operation can take three to six months depending on the kind of shape a patient is in prior to surgery. The post-operative results, however, are generally excellent with significant relief of pain and return of function. More than 90 percent of people continue to have good or excellent results more than 10 years after joint replacement.

I'm ready, spinal anesthetic and all.


At 4/14/09, 3:41 PM, Blogger tres_arboles said...

Choosing the saddle block rather than the general? You're a tough chick. Personally, I wouldn't want to hear the sound of the, er, cutting work. Wishing you the best and thanks for your email. I see my orthopod in three weeks.



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