Progress Update #8
Friday, March 24, 2017
Yesterday, I met with the orthopedist. I had x-rays after I got there and then had an hour wait to be called back to see the doctor. It was an interesting visit.
The knee's revision itself looks good. Another stitch worked it's way out of my incision and the doctor removed it. This is because my knee was so swollen after surgery, that some of the swelling hid a few of the stitches. That was the second or third one that has just popped out like that.
I told the doctor that I'm able to bend my knee to 115 degrees. He was amazed that I could do this with the still open wound and all the swelling. So, I showed him. He was very pleased with my progress as far as the replacement recovery is concerned. He is still concerned about my residual soft tissue damage that is so slow in healing.
I have 8 spots where the soft tissue is hardened on my bottom. The surface of the skin is totally closed except for one scab that is now the size of a quarter. The skin generally is still swollen and purple and of course there are the big hard spots. They sting and ache and then I get little jolts of electricity through them if I sit for too long. The 4 inch wound behind my knee (all that is left from the two 11.5 inch open wounds that were there originally) is healing but it is still open. That can be a problem for infection and it is still actively weeping so it can get messy. The doctor told me that the one wound that is left was very deep in the beginning. That is why it hasn't finished healing eight weeks after the allergic reaction originally occurred. He also said that in all of his experience as a surgeon, he has never seen soft tissue damage as severe as mine, after a knee replacement.
He asked what I'm taking for pain and I told him that unless I have a big pain flare, I'm currently taking nothing. He was startled because the leg is so swollen and sore to the touch. I was concerned about the swelling. He said that the knee replacement brings with it a lot of swelling but the soft tissue damage brings even more. The swelling tends to leak down to the foot if the leg is down too long. Now I understand.
The doctor and I discussed driving. He told me that I can drive when I can successfully move my foot from the gas peddle to the brake and back again and....I can not take any narcotic pain medicine if I'm driving. I suspect it will be a few weeks before I can drive. I plan to work on that movement with my PT in the coming week. The next topic was home PT vs. out patient PT. Since I have an open wound, will out patient physical therapy even see me? I also still need a home therapy wound nurse to clean out my wound. Because of the wound's location, it is difficult for me to clean it myself. (I have visions of those acrobats who can put their foot up behind their head. LOL) It took forever for the nurse to clean the wound today. I lose that service as soon as I go to out patient therapy. My orthopedist was not terribly helpful in advising me with all of this. I discussed it with my home health PT and nurse today. They told me that someone has to come in and evaluate me in another week or so.
The frustrating things about the doctor's visit were the non specific directions for physical therapy and the fact that my visit, with travel time factored in, took four hours. My knee swelled and hurt, my bottom got hot, swollen and red and was painful. I'm still dealing with all of it today. I feel grumpy, irritable, swollen and sick with pain.
I'm trying to be grateful that I'm doing way more with my leg than the doctor expected. I'm trying to be proud that the doctor is impressed with my achievement. I know it could have been worse. I am thankful for the fact that it isn't worse. I'm finding that when you feel sick, it is oh so very difficult to stop and get to that place where you are feeling thankful. What I really wanted to do last night and today was crawl into bed and pull the covers over my head, but I didn't. Tomorrow is another day.