February 2021

Tuesday 2: After the week in Vancouver, Julie’s work with the Census has continued in Lynnwood, which is a whole lot easier to get to. We went down there late Saturday and met Hamid, with whom she will sharing shifts. He had managed to put the equipment together OK, but didn’t seem to have much of a clue about anything else. When she mentioned that she was scheduled on for Thursday, he kept insisting that he was working that day. I felt like saying something like, “Hey Dopey, check your schedule” but refrained.

Wednesday 3: Back home, I was dropping off a note to our good friend Brad, who was also our neighbour at the Wetmore Avenue apartment, when this squirrel came right up to me. Apparently they do that here, because some people feed them peanuts.

Here’s the close-up.

Thursday 4: Surgery day. Assistant Coach April dropped me off at Overlake Hospital, and the first thing I did was to walk the wrong way! By the time I got to where I needed to be, I was exhausted, as well as feeling a bit of trepidation about going back into the same complex where I lost Doris, all those years ago. Every one of the staff was awesomely cheerful and helpful, which made the situation a whole lot easier. Here’s the end result.

The nerve blocker is the thingie at the top. Come to that later.

Coach returns.

Back at home, under the supervision of Head Coach Julie, trying to get comfortable.

Friday 5: They used the nerve blocker on me. The little pump gradually empties the balloon into a nerve above the surgery site. Me being me, I rigged up a system to hold all of the bits on a belt.

I don’t think it’s working, because the balloon still feels just as solid as it was yesterday.

Saturday 6: Wrong again. It’s deflating. Good.

I wish I could relax like that!!

Big thanks to April and Duncan for helping out while I took a shower. Not that they had to do much, but still… Duncan supervised me in the bath tub while April remained respectfully out of the way. 🙂

Sunday 7: I was talking earlier about rigging up a system whereby I could carry the pain med pump on a belt? I’ve been so out of it, with the combination of intense pain (I swear, some of it is a 12 out of 10), and the inability to accurately remember the instructions from the people at the hospital, that I have forgotten really important things like extra pain meds, where I’ve put things, what the day or date is today, when and how I need to take bandages off. I’m REALLY, SERIOUSLY, off my game here!

Monday 8: I finally got around to reading the instructions about what to do and when. “On day 4, remove the nerve blocking pump.” Yay! That covers the top half of the area. Done! I finally get to see what it looks like, and I’m blown away by how much bruising is in there. The whole area feels like I have a tight stocking on. It’s not, It’s just so swollen that the skin is rock hard, and bruised all the way to the back of the leg.

“If the bandage is messy, change it.” (my words). Yay again! I finally get to see what it looks like. Hmm, some pretty fancy looking markers there.

Put on a fresh bandage and already it looks so much better, carefully avoiding the blood blisters. With that much swelling, it’s got to go somewhere!

Now that I’ve got a clear view of what’s where, I can start on some of the PT exercises.

  • Start slow.
  • Make sure the drug input is adequate.
  • Do what you can.

And finally, another stroke of brilliance. Tape a piece of paper towel to the lower area to capture any dribbles coming from those ugly big blood blisters.

Having a bit of fun “icing” the joint. It’s colder out there than it is inside the fridge. Put on lots of warm layers, including Julie’s red sweater keeping the left leg warm, lean on the door frame and hang the right leg out in the cold.

Tuesday 9: Finally, a single clean bandage.

Amazing, just how tight the skin is here. That’s what’s causing most of the pain.

Wednesday 10: That’s a LOT of pee from overnight!

Less than one week out, I am able to be not wearing a bandage, except for overnight.

Interesting, how the best course of action depends on who you talk to. I received a call from a nurse in Bellevue, following up on the surgery. I rather proudly told her that I was getting lots of walking, to be told that nope, that’s not the answer. When I mentioned that I was concerned about the swelling in the area, she wondered why I was not doing anywhere near enough elevating. We’re talking 30 minutes at a time, at least 8 times a day. Get rid of the fluid and you get rid of the pain. Julie jumped in to do her research, to find that this indeed appears to be the correct path. It’s going to be VERY interesting on Friday, when I ask what the PT (Physical Therapy) people have to say about their “Motion is Lotion” concept. Apparently, icing is important, while elevation is vital.

Just thinking that through, we missed the plot because we don’t have the Coach who was there to collect me, actually living with us. April would have picked that up immediately. So, in keeping with that piece of information, I am now sleeping in the living room. I stole all the pillows I could get and made a stack. Of course, Mr Supervisor had to inspect it first.

Here’s the view from the bottom.

Later in the day …. It’s official – I am now able to perform an Assisted Fall on MYSELF. During parts of each day, I also set myself up with the ice pack on parts of the leg. I needed to slide off the couch and end up with the pack on the back of the knee, which meant falling gracefully onto the floor.

The black stuff on the leg appears to be leftover debris from the marker pen, which I am now cleaning up from all sorts of strange places on both legs with a Bandage and Adhesive Remover.

Friday 12: We have a garden! Looks like daffodils coming up. I remember receiving some advice about gardens – “Wait for a full 12 month cycle, to see what you have inherited, before making major changes.” Good to see that the advice is equally relevant here.

Meanwhile, I went to a checkup with the PT guy, who checked me out and was happy with what he saw, except for a bit that went “ouch”, which he said suggested that there MIGHT be a blood clot down the side of the leg. He consulted a colleague, who shared the same concern. So off we (April and I) went to the Providence Hospital to drop me off at Emergency. I just love it when I have to do battle with the bureaucratic bullshit process. All I needed was a relatively simple ultrasound of the vein running up the side of the leg. A LONG period of waiting, alternating sitting with lying on the floor with the leg elevated, to go into a treatment room, to be immediately forgotten again. When I finally annoyed a doctor, I got some action, ending up with said ultrasound being done, and an all-clear. By this time it was nearly midnight and snowing outside, AND they managed to lose my walking chair.

Even worse, whatever the scan did, or maybe it was holding the leg in one place for too long, the knee had swollen up to about 2-3 times the size. I went to stand up & almost landed on the floor. Here you can see here, taken next morning, that there is virtually NO elasticity there (again), when it SHOULD have had enough time to recover overnight.

Saturday 13: I woke up this morning to Julie saying, “I’m going to work.” Apparently while I was still dead to the world, her boss called to say that Hamid couldn’t get there and she was being called in. Given that the snow had already started, the logistics were rather “interesting”. She managed to get there and back without incident, and once again showed to her supervisor her ability to adapt.

Looking at roughly the same piece of “garden”.

And up.

Yep, it’s been snowing overnight.

The view from our front door, towards the middle of the building.

And the car park.

Footprints, including the foot of the cane, which is now all I have to walk with.

And still snowing.

I rigged up the Gait Belt to hold the cold bag in place, before I realized that it was digging in behind the knee and was, in fact, doing damage.

Some of the changes made in the living to create my temporary bedroom.

  1. Rolled up Towel
  2. Pillow
  3. Cold Pack
  4. Gait Belt (now not used)
  5. Pillows for Elevation
  6. Water Bottle to squirt the cats when they fight
  7. Pain and other meds
  8. Mini Drone for fun
  9. (Next picture) Cane
  10. Webcam (was already there)
  11. Blankets and Jackets
  12. Meds Supply
  13. Urinal

Saturday 13: There’s been a lot going on, and it’s been snowing again today.

Sunday 14: With snow still falling, it’s a good time to get a free cold pack effect. Buddy paced back and forth for the whole time I was out there.

Here’s a piece of the tree that has grown through, forming a nice dollop of snow.

And the view on the other side, looking out onto the stairs that go to the apartments on the two floors directly above us.

I wandered out to check out the car park and beyond. Yep, still snowing.

Right there in the spot adjacent to ours, these people were struggling to move their car back in. I loaned them my snow chains to get that done. Good to be the one who can “be prepared”.

There’s the last of the snow wandering off to the Northwest.

This is a temporary gift from our wonderful new friend Meghan, also a friend of April, who has been through the TKR (Total Knee Replacement) process herself. It’s a Cold Pack that wraps around the whole area and then some, and highly malleable, even straight out of the freezer. As you can see, it wrapped right around my leg and then some. Thank you, Meghan ! ! !

My cane was here.

Meanwhile, April was also involved in a car accident, where another driver turned into her front left side.

Monday 15: A Public Holiday for Presidents Day, and probably just as well, with the amount of white stuff still on the roads. You can see where the folks I helped yesterday have completely cleared their spot.

April and I went today to hire a car for her. At least one of us will be mobile, and we need to rely on her (and Meghan) (and Para Transit) for transport right now.

Tuesday 15: I clearly have a LOT of fluid drainage coming off the knee. Overnight, I pushed out two of these, (yes, that’s 1100ml there) plus more, totaling 2.5 litres of urine.

Once I finally got moving today, and after my first full PT exercise session in a long time, it was time to go for a walk. Remember this from Saturday?

I grabbed the clippers and trimmed the worst of it back.

Again, I am truly grateful that we are on the bottom level. This path is the ONLY access to the upper levels, unless you want to go all the way down the back and follow the goat track up to it. Even harder for people like us, there is no hand rail for it at the front. To get up and down at the front, I had to use a modified version of what Julie does for stairs.

Guess there won’t be too many Golf Bunnies out there today.

Thursday 18: Today’s the day when I get the staples out. The area looks clean and healthy, so I am only mildly concerned about their ability to hold, but I’m ready anyway.

Meanwhile, this is what they medical people refer to as “elevated”.

OK, I’m ready.

Start with an antiseptic swab.

And we’re off, with April filming.

John very kindly allowed me to do the last one.

Glue to hold the protective strips.

Like that.

And we’re done.

Thursday 18: “After a while, they will start to fall off”. Hmm, not just yet, let’s just trim some off as we go. And trim or remove the scabs as well.

Saturday 20: The kids took us for an early birthday celebration for me. Yes, we had a great time, and I ate everything on my plate, including the “sparrows guts”. My mother would have been proud. Actually, they were quite tasty. Thank you, guys.

Sunday 21: The process continues. It’s a bit like trimming a bonsai, and equally as satisfying.

Monday 22: Where there’s a need, there’s always a process. I needed to get an idea of my ROM (Range Of Motion). OK, lie down on the living room floor, with one hockey stick on the foreleg and another on the shin, which is bent back as far as it will go. Carefully leave them in place and take a picture of the 2 sticks (and the angle between them). Looks like about 130 degrees, but then when my leg is straight, it’s sitting at about 30 degrees, which gives me an ROM of about 100. Still happy with that right now.

Tuesday 23: When my track pants started rubbing against the strips last night, it rapidly became obvious that they would rub off pretty soon, so off they came. Now we’re finally heading in the direction of “normal”.

Thursday 25: Amazing how just a few short days can make a difference. Looking much cleaner.

It’s not all sweetness and light though. Every now and then, I get a jab that feels like someone has taken a piece of something in the joint and tweaked it 45 degrees, resulting in a searing pain at 9.9 out of 10. They don’t last more than a few seconds, but it’s enough to temporarily cripple me. No idea what it is, but I do wish they would just bloody stop.

I got Julie to video my walking gait. Looks pretty good.

Friday 26: My birthday, and a great visit with my Primary Care Provider Mark, who was impressed with my progress. The tweak showed itself right on cue, and his immediate thought was that it is a nerve firing off. The first medication he suggested is one of which I still have a heap, so that’s one less that we need to manage.

Because of her colour, and her tendency to disappear at short notice, Holly can be extremely difficult to photograph. This was Julie’s attempt, at an awkward angle, then rotated by me. She is sitting here on a new kitchen mat with (you guessed it) cats on it.

Friday 26: With Julie working today, I was home alone, looking for things to do. Hmm, the vinyl floors all look a bit grubby, let’s give them a wash. Wait, we don’t have a plug for the kitchen sink. Ah, this’ll do. It’s a soft drink bottle, which just happens to have about the right size base. When it fills up, that will only help to hold it down.

Yep, that works. Keep the water running to keep it hot anyway.

The finished product!

… until Holly pukes on it again.