I’m tired of winter. You are, too.
I am WAY more fortunate than most because I don’t drive to work, park overnight on the street, or work in the elements. My dogs scamper to their dog run, so I do not even have to walk them. I like to snow blow: I never complain about doing it. My exposure to the coldest days is extremely choreographed and limited: I could live on toast for days to avoid the ambition required to shop.
The past few days of sunshine have made the outdoors look deceptively, glisteningly beautiful. Still, I cower indoors, limiting my ambition.
This new self-restriction is related to my failed knee replacement. There is no need for pity: I feel very little pain. What I have is a profoundly unstable prosthesis. It clatters from North to South, East to West. When I lift my leg to go up stairs, I contemplate the possibility that the damn thing will fall out of its screw holes. To the hand, it feels like I have a bag of large marbles under the skin. If I manage to get down on the floor, an ass in the air walk-up with my hands is required. (Mind you, Henry currently requires Grandma on the floor. I hate for him to witness this process) Last week my daughter-in-law had to help me pull off a work boot while I held the upper and lower parts of my leg together. Not cool.
Mind you, I rehabbed with gusto. (too much?) I was off the walker and cane in a nano second, and did 43 sessions of rehab. As soon as the swelling subsided, Gus, my beloved P/T noted that my knee wasn’t tracking . Our best hope was that it was scar tissue, and we turned up our efforts to manipulate and rotate the new joint to stretch it away.
Well, Gus fell ill, very ill, and has been dead for 2 years now. My knee is a loss; my situation pales to his misfortune. Maybe that is why I hesitate to start over- there are echoes of his encouragement that I will have to do without. Plus, no one likes to start over. I hated the pre-hab that insurance demands. The pain after surgery. The pain of rehab. Fear. BLEAH.
But I have to bear down. This leg will not take me to the grave unless the grave decides to claim me early. I wish to go on record as opposing that option.
My surgeon agrees it needs to be revised. Doesn’t that seem like a tweak? With a scope? Well, no.
Where the first surgery was assisted by a CAT scan of my knee, a personal saw blade guide (ew) and an elapsed surgical time of less than an hour, the reconstruction requires visual assessment, sculpting and a much longer time under anesthesia. Longer tourniquet time. Removal of the old equipment, some spackling and planning where new screw holes might go. Maybe bone grafting. Greater chance for complications. (like a fractionally shorter left leg) More art, less mechanics. Michelangelo, as opposed to Black and Decker. Fewer Orthopedic specialists want to go back where failure lives. Who can blame them?
My original doc doesn’t do them. They are inefficient, time-wise. He’ll let the young Turks and the dreamers and teachers play with re-dos. He can do 4 back to back TKRs in the same time period. He’s all about that efficiency.
I saw the Blackhawks’ doctor at the behest of my son, who has seen Dr. Michael Terry perform miracles. He agrees it is a mess, but this is not his field. He referred me to the doctors who recreate leg bones for cancer patients who need fill-in limbs. I think there are less extreme solutions. Orthopedics has become such a specialized field that the doc who does thumbs refers pinkie injuries to a colleague. I need a revision specialist.
My kids are impatient and want me to get er done. I swear, I don’t whine..I just can’t keep up. The absence of pain encourages me to dither a bit longer….but I suppose my bone density is not improving, and the grandkids are going to keep on coming. I had thought about waiting until Medicare would pay some, but Steve and I have paid for individual insurance at a ridiculous price for 10 years now. (Pre- ACA, a prophylactic measure to guarantee we would have insurance in case pre-existing conditions made us uninsurable. Bad bet.) When I had my first replacement they paid zip, nada, zero -because we were still covered by CBS. They were primary,but the CBS was more primary…and they did not have to contractually pay any uncovered costs. Swell. Maybe Humana should have a second run at saying yes. I think it’d be more fair to a surgeon taking this on to at least have him get a decent and timely reimbursement.
I am flummoxed by all the ins and outs. Paralyzed.
Most of all, my inability to exercise is getting to me. My soft tissue gets caught in the gap, so to speak, after I walk a while. And the kneecap pops off if I rotate, so no bicycling. I expect this is playing havoc with my heart health. And my bitch quotient.
And my self image. I am officially THAT person: tentative, walking in mini-steps, wearing clod hoppers. OLD. I whispered that last word, mind you.
The snow that I love to look at disguises slicks of ice that a clumsy girl like me will almost certainly find and fall upon. I have broken my tailbone on the driveway taking out the recyclables. ( You make an ill-fated choice on the way down to protect the prosthesis. My butt is unhappy with my choice. )
I’m pretty convinced that a hard hit would cause the glue/screws/whatever else to just let go.
So I live timidly before my time. I hate that.
That is Part One of my Winter of Discontent. I feel better for unloading, and I apologize. Profoundly. You all are my therapists today.
You are probably wondering why you bothered to read my bitching. Me, too. But I am profoundly, extremely grateful that you have graced me with your company. If you have ideas to guide me, let them rip. Or, to read me on a cheerier day, come back.
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Tags: Gus Flick, Hinsdale orthopedics, Hinsdale Rehabilitation and Physical Therapy, knee replacement, knee revision, Medicare reimbursement, Michael Collins, Michael Terry, Revisions, Rush orthopedics, Scott Sporer