Just Another Blog
Friday, September 15, 2006

I moved home on Monday afternoon. Dealing with all of the ups and downs of the stairs isn't too bad as long as I am careful. They're not something that I'd want to trek while heavily medicated. My Mom has moved in with me for the time being. Besides ensuring that I don't fall down the stairs, she seems to be capable of doing more chores in a day than I manage to accomplish in a year. The woman is a whirlwind of cooking, cleaning, fixing, and organizing. It's amazing, and it makes me feel like a worthless slob. But, man, did this place need it, and I surely do appreciate it.

I'm a little less medicated now too. I've been working to stretch my four-to-six hour percocets nearer to the six hour end of the range than the four. I'm managing five or five and a half hours in most instances. Additionally, I've skipped the sleeping pill the past few nights. The main reason I was doing so was because I thought that it may have been playing a role in these restless freak-outs that I've been having in the mornings. They're like a panic attack of some sort mixed with more energy than I can get out of my weakened little body. I end up kicking my good leg about twenty times a second, shaking around, and flapping my arms and hands like some sort of spastic maniac. I'm still not sure what the cause of these morning episodes are, but I don't think it's the sleeping pills. Still, I've slept without the help, so I'm setting them aside for now. I'm still not sleeping great, but it's better.

Last night I did nearly, if not all of, my sleeping on my sides. I only stay asleep that way for an hour or so, but it's a little easier on my back, and I seem to enter a deeper sleep. I'm generally able to fall back to sleep quickly too. Well, at least until 3 AM or so when I often have little, minor freak-outs. Weird. I think they'll pass as my legs get stronger and I have more muscle to utilize the energy that's building up.

I'm starting to see just the slightest definition return to my left thigh. When I flex, it no longer looks like a sickly log of cheese. I'm told I won't get real definition until strength training and weight bearing exercises come into rotation. That won't be until the week before Thanksgiving in all likelihood.

At physical therapy today, the therapist bent my leg to 96 degrees. As I'm sure you read in that standards or care paper I linked to, it is important to get to 90 degrees by the fourth week post-op. I beat that timeframe by five days. I'm much relieved and a little bit proud to be this far. A week ago, I was pretty nervous about hitting this milestone. The therapist continues to think that my progress is excellent and tells me that the joint feels really good from what he can feel. I'm busting by butt and doing my exercises and not cheating hardly at all. Everyone tells me it will payoff, and it looks more and more like you're all right.

I now face the challenge of building my strength and stamina on the crutches. Wednesday, I went downtown for a haircut. Afterwards, I figured I'd walk the three and a half blocks to my office, sit outside and eat a hotdog from the vendor, and let my co-workers come down and say hi. I had to rest two or three times during the walk, and by the end of the few blocks, I was sweaty, out of breath, and sore from where the crutches rub against my ribs. My mother was wondering why so many guys were smiling at me along the walk. She thought at first it was just the really good haircut. It took her a while to realize that it was Stu's cutesy t-shirt that I was wearing that had everyone smirking.

Being home means the loss of the wireless and laptop usage that I had at my brother's house. I'm spending less time on the computer as I can't just surf, blog, and email while I ride the bender. I'll get caught up on the emails and posts soon enough. Now that I'm home, I should be able to start working on getting some pictures up here pretty soon.

Saturday, September 09, 2006
Bathed and Rested

I had the staples removed from my leg on Thursday morning. Actually, I had all but one removed. I just happened to notice last night that somehow they skipped one. Not quite sure how that happened, but it will mean another trip out to Golden to have it removed on Monday.

With the removal of the staples came clearance to wet myself or, rather, to get myself wet. Last night I took my first shower in four weeks. After my very first surgery, they had bagged my leg and helped me take a shower before I left the hospital. I didn't get this opportunity during either or my other stays. I've been subsisting on sponge baths and moistette wipe-downs since then. Yesterday, my mother bought a shower stool for me, so now I can spend less time being stinky and offensive, well, stinky anyway.

With the limited range of motion in my bad knee, it's a bit tough to throw the left leg in and out of the tub. Once I get inside though, it so nice to be warm and wet. Once again, I had almost forgotten the feeling. The weather here yesterday never made it to 60. I was cold all day long, and a hot shower helped on so many levels.

Yesterday was day two of physical therapy. He only saddled me with one additional exercise to add to my routine: wall walks. I lay near a wall and use the good leg to lift the bad leg high up. I let gravity and muscle control slowly bring my leg down the wall while the flexion capabilities of my knee are tested. At the bottom, I let it stretch out for a couple of seconds, and then bring the good leg in to raise it back up the wall. All the exercises are a variation on the same theme: bend your knee, teach your leg muscles how to work again.

I spent the remainder of the day after PT being fairly uncomfortable. It only just now strikes me that it may in part have been due to the weather. Other folks with metal in their bodies routinely tell me that it won't be long before I'll be a great weatherman. Supposedly, the barometric fluctuations that accompany weather changes here in Colorado are wide-ranging. This in-turn supposedly translates to noticeable discomfort in the bionic areas. Yesterday brought rain and a nasty cold front. I'm wondering if that isn't part of the reason why my leg was just sore all over yesterday. I'm certain that part of it was that I'm only a few days into the new PT exercises and that I had a rigorous PT session. It will be fascinating to me to find out how my rebuilt tibia works as a barometer.

After my shower and a back massage, I finally made it to bed a bit before midnight. I slept all of the way through until 3:30 AM. That might not seem like much to you, but, frankly, I was ecstatic. I haven't slept more than 90 minutes or maybe 2 hours consecutively in weeks. Then, after waking at 3:30, I was able to promptly fall back to sleep until 5:15. Took some drugs, and slept again until 6:20. Was awake for a bit, so I decided to get on the bender and do a round of my exercises. I actually fell asleep on the machine for the last 15 minutes or so. After doing my exercises and putting some ice on my knee, I again fell back to sleep for another 90 minutes. All in all, it was the best night's sleep I've had in ages. I woke up feeling very refreshed even though my back is stiff and my knee is achy.

Today's the big CSU-CU game. Go Rams! (Yeah, technically, I'm a CU alumnus, but I went to the Denver campus for a degree that has not served me well, and my brother and many of his friends are CSU alumni, so for whatever reason, I just always cheer for the Rams.) Real football tomorrow. I'm looking forward to a good weekend. I can handle the pain with the ice and the pills. Still, I'm pissed that I'm not in Chicago. I should have been rockin' out with my cock out this weekend.

Thursday, September 07, 2006
A Long Time Coming

You knew that this day was coming. Children will soon not be allowed to do anything without wearing a helmet. This proposed law in Denver will require all children aged 15 and under to wear bicycle helmets. Note well that nowhere in the story does it say that the helmets will only be required while riding bicycles. Presumably, children will be required to wear these safety devices at all times. It is unclear whether they will be allowed to remove them for nap time or bed time. It's ridiculous that it has come to this.

Sunday, September 03, 2006
Standards of Care

While researching my injury on the net today, I found this paper
(in .pdf) that does a good job of describing the nature of the injury, possible complications, and the general treatment method. The first page describes the Schatzker scale that is used to rate the severity of a plateau tibial fracture (though the language used here is pretty dense medical terminology). The scale goes from 1 to 6. In the hospital, I was told that mine was a, "big six."

I was also interested to learn that 1 in 10 people with this injury develop deep vein thrombosis. Those are the same type of leg clots that people get from sitting in one place too long on airplanes. Those odds are a bit scary. I am on an anti-coagulant regimen though. Twice a day, I give myself a 30 cc shot of Lovenox in the fat of my stomach to help prevent clots. I also frequently flex my calf, apparently the most common site for these clots, in an attempt to maintain good blood flow throughout the surgical sites. A friend from work developed a clot after a recent surgery of hers when they had put her clotting chances far lower. It left her off hand a little bit numb and dumb. Hopefully the meds and exercise will keep me protected as I'd greatly prefer drugs to keep me numb and dumb.

Out and About

Since I've been so cocky about all of my recent progress and have been going on about how I think I'm getting better quicker, I thought I'd try and venture out into the world today. After lunch and after my second hour on the bender, I washed my hair, got a sponge bath, shaved, and got dressed. Today's the first day I've worn underwear since the paramedics cut them off me the night of the accident. I had been getting by alternating between two pair of baggy shorts.

After getting all cleaned up, we decided I might be able to handle something relatively tame like a book store. I loaded into the car and even sat in the front seat instead of sideways across the back as I've been doing. We went to the new Tattered Cover location where we got a primo parking spot thanks to my new handicapped hanger. I hobbled on in using my crutches. I was able to walk around for maybe 7 or 8 minutes before I was sweating and had to sit down to rest. I was up and down browsing and resting two or three more times before we left. We probably weren't there more than 35 minutes, and it exhausted me. It made me realize how out of shape I am and how far I have to go before I could handle an 8-hour work day.

I bought a book of interviews with various experts from various fields on the nature of consciousness as well as the latest version of What Color is Your Parachute? and its companion workbook. I need to use at least part of my remaining recovery period to think more about a job that would be a better fit for me. I mentioned to someone the other day that it's hard to want to get better knowing what I'll be returning to at work. Hopefully, I can come up with some viable ideas.

I find that the muscle relaxants no longer knock me flat. There's a bit of residual tiredness that comes many hours after I take them, but they've stopped getting me high. My sleeplessness is back too. I managed 3 or 4 hours in total last night even after taking an ambien at 3 AM. My leg is getting stronger, but I'm also more stiff more often lately. I'm not quite to the point where I'd call it a setback, but the challenge does appear to be growing. Still, I'm trying hard to do more for myself in terms of getting in and out of bed and moving between rooms and carrying stuff myself. I've largely quit using the bedside urinal and am making myself get in and out of bed each time. I'm cheating a bit with that one in the middle of the night and when I'm riding bender.

Friday, September 01, 2006
Common Sense

There will surely be quite the firestorm over this common sense guide to drinking for underage drinkers. It's too bad as the advice offered is generally sound.