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Saturday, March 21, 2015

Knees and Damn Knees!

I think it's obnoxious of a Doctor, who has just seen my x-rays, to enter the consulting room saying: "Wait! Don't tell me. Let me guess where it hurts". In reality, it is something I might do, were the roles reversed. I have bone rubbing on bone, arthritis in one knee, certainly exacerbated by having a young and active foster dog, in need of miles of walks each day. I'd been hobbling around for a week or two, hoping it would get better on its own, but no luck.  My smartass Orthopedic doctor gave me a shot of cortisone and advised some rest; especially no hills. Hmm? 
I've been sitting out several weekends of cancelled rides, due to my knee, as well as work projects that were time sensitive and ate up whole Sundays. Some were creative, such as working through a huge set of blue-prints, tweaking and making design suggestions for carved stone elements, such as door surrounds and fireplace mantels, on a client's new project near Santa Barbara. Some were deadly serious and laborious, such as searching for receipts and justifying papers to answer a tax audit. I swear that the four hours standing in front of the copy machine were probably as bad for my knee as anything else I've done lately.
I tried to ride last week. Our Friday evening lessons have been reinstated since the clocks changed, giving us daylight. I made it down the hill to the arena, groomed and tacked up Dublin, then found I couldn't do much once in the saddle. I had to lengthen my stirrups to take out the bend in my leg and just walk around, like a kid on a pony ride. Even that felt weird. 
Yesterday's attempt went much better. They brought a horse in for me so I wouldn't have to hike out through the pasture. Apples was a cooperative partener and I was thrilled to be functioning at a reasonable percentage of normal. I did quit before the other riders but am happy to report no ill-effects in the knee department. I'm riding again tomorrow morning.
Not to be outdone, The Artistic One had also been complaining about knee pain. His is an ongoing and worsening problem and he'll have knee replacement sometime soon, now that he's wrapped his head around the idea of one more surgery. 
On Thursday morning at 5am, TAO woke up in a lot of pain, with a knee that was red and swollen to the size of a large cantelope. It hurt to move it in any way and it took some maneuvering to get him to the bathroom, as his other leg is significantly shorter and not weight bearing. I got him back to bed, gave him a pain pill and called the 24 hour line for an appointment at 9:30am. We go to medical offices near our work, as we are there more often than at home. The morning commute is an hour so TAO had some time to rest and I fed the cat, made coffee and did two scale drawings that I'd promised to a client. I also pulled my car around, as close to the door as possible.
Getting TAO out of bed, dressed and into the car took forever, punctuated with groans and sharp intakes of breath. We have both crutches and a walker from previous unremembered incidents, but neither were a real solution to help him ambulate. Thank goodness our house is all on one level now. Reaching the car was fraught with the danger of a fall and getting his legs inside caused him more pain. 
I commandeered a wheel-chair on arrival at the hospital and got TAO to his appointment with his usual doctor. Dr S. asked about any recent injury and pondered the possibility of gout or an infection. TAO has had three cortisone shots in that knee, in a few short months, which is a lot. She sent us over to the orthopedic department to have fluid drawn from that offending knee, to relieve pressure and to analyze it. The Ortho doctor warned it was a big bore needle for this, then he was visibly shocked when the fluid he was withdrawing was dark red blood, not clear liquid, as expected. 
70cc's of blood removed helped reduce the pressure so TAO was feeling better. I asked Ortho Doc how far out they were scheduling knee replacement surgeries and he replied that TAO was off that list until he got sorted out with the coumadin clinic to better regulate his blood thinners. 
For now, Ortho says that it can't be the knee causing the bleed and the coumadin clinic say that it can't be due to the level of blood thinners. We have slightly diminished his dosage for now.
Did I forget to mention that we already had another appointment on the schedule that day with a pulmonologist? TAO has extreme sleep apnea, which, although we first found out about it when he zoned out while driving, crossed two lanes of traffic and hit the center divide on the freeway, is a good diagnosis. I have a husband who has had deteriorating memory and concentration and who has to lie down and sleep in the middle of the day. We now have an explanation (other than Alzheimers) and there are things we can do to fix this. Yay us!

19 comments:

  1. Good luck to each of you!

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  2. No fun once you're over thirty, is it....

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    1. Helen, only so much wear and tear before something goes "owie"

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  3. oof. Not fun for either of you. Bon courage.

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    1. Tails, sometimes it's hard to fit in earning a living, around all the other stuff:)

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  4. You both have my heartfelt sympathy . We're all getting to the age when it becomes obvious that human legs weren't designed to last this long ( one of my knees gave up before I was fifty .)
    I hope you're able to to get plenty of help and that you make the most of it ...

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    1. S&S, a documentary we saw yesterday was jubilant that the tribe in question had extended their life expectancy to 55 now. That sure gave me some perspective:)

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  5. Wishing you both some better health. I had bilateral knee replacements about 4 years ago. Unfortunately, while my knees are now stable, I still have pain. It is very unusual, though as dozens of others I know have had wonderful results.

    That being said, I may be allergic to something in the replacements so I am getting tested. Might be worth allergy testing before.

    I am having real sympathy pains for the both of you. Bad knees are a real hassle and people who don't have knee problems just don't understand how debilitating it can be.

    Prolotherapy and PRP (platelet rich plasma) therapy can help but insurance companies don't want to pay and it can be expensive. My sports med doctor kept me on my bad knees for years with those treatments.

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  6. Hi Jean, Thanks for the good thoughts and the info. We're greatly improved. The biggest outcome is that TAO is on board to try knee surgery. I'm going with my instincts and changing his orthopedic surgeon. We'll see what happens next.

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  8. This is why I want to take up sky-diving at 80 - hoping that my memory fails to nudge me into pulling the cord.

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  9. Nice post, things explained in details. Thank You.

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  10. Does he have a CPAP machine? I have one and can't live without it.

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    1. Birdie, they tried him with a CPAP machine for a week. Unfortunately, the readings showed that the machine was not fixing the problem. There's more going on than just muscles relaxing and closing the throat. TAO is scheduled for two over-night sleep clinic evaluations, by month's end. We'll know more soon.

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  11. I hope they find a solution. The human body can deal with a lot of things but chronic sleeplessness is not one of them.

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  12. UGH! I was planning knee surgery before cancer derailed me. I, too, have bone on bone pain. Mine is caused by RA. That is now on the back burner. But...boy do I sympathize!

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  13. I don’t know how should I give you thanks! I am totally stunned by your article. You saved my time. Thanks a million for sharing this article.

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