More than you ever wanted to know about: my knees

I have weird knees. I know, you’re thinking, meh, so what, everyone has weird knees. And you’re right. Knees are sort of universally weird. But mine . . . well, mine are weird in a bad way. In a fairly rare, bad way. A way that is extremely painful.

For a very long time, years and years, none of the doctors I consulted had any idea how to fix my weird knees. They said the standard knee replacement wouldn’t solve my problem. In fact, an orthopedic PA told me that from time to time they’d take out my x-rays and look at them and just shake their heads. Like they couldn’t even believe I was walking around with knees that weird, in that much pain.

Want to see a picture? Of course you do.

WARNING: Graphic pictures of weird knees ahead.

For comparison, this is a normal knee. It’s actually my daughter’s knee. I got permission to post it over here. [That was an entertaining conversation: “Mom, this is weird even for you. And that’s saying something.”] See how the kneecap sits right there in the middle even when the leg is bent? Such a well behaved kneecap.

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This is my left knee. It’s neither normal nor well behaved. My finger is pointing at my kneecap. Really. When I bend my leg, the kneecap grinds a path over the bone and hangs out over there off the outside edge. Not occasionally. Not sometimes. Every time. It moves back when I straighten my leg. This hurts. A lot. My meniscus is long gone, a distant fond memory.

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This is different from dislocation, but my kneecaps have done that as well. Many times. So many I’ve lost count. At least four times each, probably more like five or six. That hurts a lot too. You do not want to see a picture of a dislocated knee.

Yes, I believed all those doctors when they said there was nothing they could do, other than occasional cortisone shots. I mean, why wouldn’t I? They were doctors, good ones. Sadly, they simply had no experience with my particular problem.

But I don’t want to dwell on that Dark Time, because I finally found a doctor who not only has seen weird knees like mine before, he knows how to fix them. And there was much rejoicing.

This fix, of course, involves surgery. And maybe also magic. So, this week I’m having magical knee replacement surgery. On just my left knee, for now, because apparently even magic has its limits when applied to weird knees. We’ll do the other one later (sooner, if I have anything to say about it).

This is what my knee will look like after surgery. Well, if you took away all the skin and tendons and blood and stuff. And, you know, if my bones were plastic.

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Pretty cool, huh? Once I get the other knee done, I’ll be starring in the next Avengers movie: Age(d) Knees of Titanium

You’ll notice there is no kneecap in that model. That’s not because they remove it. It’s because the kneecap is sort of a floating thing attached to tendons and that’s not what they’re trying to show in this model. My kneecap will still be there, with a layer of that flat white stuff attached to the underside.

WARNING: Graphic squicky descriptions ahead.

The term “knee replacement” is a bit of a misnomer. Contrary to popular belief, they do not replace the kneecap. What they do is slice off a layer of bone from the underside of the kneecap and chop off the ends of your femur and tibia (those are your big leg bones, for those who fell asleep in anatomy class). Then they attach the stuff you see in the model.

Okay, so “slice” and “chop” aren’t the words they use. They call it “shaving” the bone. Probably to reduce the incidence of patient hysteria.

Since my knees are weird, they’ll also do a bunch of other stuff that I understand but am not sure how to explain. It involves scaling a formidable ridge and releasing the kraken and muttering incantations. Or something. To quote my surgeon: “It’s a pain-in-the-ass surgery.” He said this with a quietly confident alpha hero smile, as if he relished the challenge. It was reassuring, that combination of blunt honesty and arrogance. [reassuring = are you fucking kidding me?]

As you might imagine, the aftermath of chopping off the ends of bones and then attaching stuff to them is painful. Or so they tell me. In fact, there have been Dire Warnings of Extreme Pain. I’m sure this is a good faith kind of thing. They want patients to be prepared for the worst, so they emphasize the pain thing.

But . . . there’s pain and then there’s pain. You know that scene in the movie Crocodile Dundee? They’re walking in the city at night and a guy threatens them with a knife and Dundee says, “That’s not a knife. This is a knife.” And then he pulls out a monster Bowie knife.

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Yeah. That scene. It goes through my head every time someone tells me to expect “extreme pain.” I think about the sadistic monster that has been living in my knees for so very long, years and years, and suspect the doctors and I define that term differently. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’ll discover that my pain has been a paltry kitchen paring knife all along. But I doubt it.

Regardless, there will be narcotic pain meds involved. Two weeks of them, I’ve been told. I don’t like narcotic pain meds. I don’t like how they make me feel. This is why you won’t hear from me for a while. I mean, provided nothing goes horribly wrong, that will be the reason. I don’t have much of a filter on the crazy in my brain even while completely sober. You don’t want to know what I’m capable of in a state of spaced-out narcotic loopy-ness.

Speaking of the potential for things to go horribly wrong, this past week I had my attorney draft a new Will and various other legal documents. No, I don’t think anything is going to go horribly wrong. Not to that extent, anyway. But you never know.

[Creative types: You must go read Neil Gaiman’s post on this topic. My attorney had never before drafted a Will dealing with Creative Property and she used the language in the sample. Thank you, Neil.]

I had intended to do this pre-op legal overhaul all along. But I was prodded by my daughter, delicate flower that she is, who threatened that if I ended up in a vegetative state and attached to life-support because I didn’t make my wishes clear about that sort of thing, she’d come stand over my hospital bed every single day, forever, and yell at me for not having my affairs in order. I suspect the hospital might have something to say about that, but she had a point. She also knows how much I’d hate being hooked up to machines indefinitely.

In retaliation, I appointed her trustee of my Creative Property. She got a bit flustered until I explained that her job would basically be to say NO to anyone who wanted to do something with work of mine that wasn’t finished. Because I’d hate that. Not that I think this is going to happen either. But you never know.

“I’m really good at saying NO,” she assured me.

“I know you are. But if some of my Imaginary Friends really really REALLY wanted to read a story and didn’t care that it wasn’t finished, your job is to tell them NO.”

“I can handle that.”

“And if someone decided they wanted to buy an unfinished story and offered a lot of money, your job is to say NO.”

“Not a problem.”

“Even if they promise they’d have someone else finish it and it would sound just like my writing, your job–”

“Mom, I understand. I tell them NO.”

“People can be very persuasive.”

“Hey, I learned from the master of saying NO. I’ve got this.”

I have no idea what she’s even talking about.

So I’ve done all the research and asked all the medical questions and have all my legal affairs in order. I’ve done the laundry and emptied the dishwasher and cooked and frozen enough single-serving size meals to feed the entire 82nd Airborne. I’ve even packed an overnight bag. I am SO ready.

Now there’s nothing to do but wait. And write too-long over-sharing blog posts. Apparently.

I hate waiting. But I’ve been waiting for a very long time, years and years. I think I can endure a couple more days. And I’ll be back before you even miss me.

 

EDIT TO ADD: I’ll have my daughter give you all updates in the comments on this post. Provided I can convince her it’s not all that weird for her to talk to my Imaginary Friends. Not as weird as asking for a pic of her knee, anyway.

 

36 Comments

Filed under health and well-being

36 responses to “More than you ever wanted to know about: my knees

  1. McB

    Not all all weird, nope.

    Don’t worry about the imaginary universe. We are on the job. Yep. No problem. Got it covered. Heh heh heh.

    Seriously, you are much in our thoughts today and tomorrow there will be so many good thoughts and healing mojo heading your way, people will start wondering why the air is so sparkly.

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  2. Merry, who is hoping for pain free days and damn quickly!

    Oh yes, please do keep us updated. You know how we worry. And yes, we want to read the stories, but we respect the power of No, even if it does make me think of Nancy Regan.
    And I just keep thinking that once you get past this, you’ll be able to travel more and come visit. I’ll take you to Powells and hold your wallet for you 🙂

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  3. We’re behind you the whole way….way behind you. Good luck with the surgery, we will keep your space warm while you attend to things at hand…or knee as it were. Pop in once in a while and update us over at the Sharque Tank. Cheers Hank (French Sojourn)

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  4. Anne Gregory

    Good luck on the surgery. You are in my thoughts & prayers.

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  5. KdotLdot

    Since tomorrow is my DH’s birthday, and it has always had good karma, you will do just fine. It is pre-ordained. Even though pain meds make you loopy, take them as needed. It is proven that people in pain don’t heal as well as those with well controlled pain. Behave and take your meds.

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  6. rss

    “NO?”. Aw, you are so mean. Kidding. (Yeah, like you believe that.)

    Smooth surgery and rapid healing vibes flying your way. Glad your DD is going to keep us updated on how you are. We’ll go easy on her.

    Appreciate the explanation of the surgery. Even the icky bits.

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  7. MinO

    Positive thoughts and prayers. . . the extended play versions.

    Better is in sight.

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  8. Thank you, everyone, for the good wishes! Hank has the right idea– stand back a bit so I don’t get any splatter on you.

    AG! So good to hear from you again. I’ve missed seeing you around.

    The worst part, of course, is the anticipation. I’ve had waaay too much time to stress about… everything and nothing. I keep trying to focus on what it would be like to have a day without pain and I can’t even imagine it. Just a few more hours now.

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  9. CBPen

    The force (of the CB’s) shall be with you. 🙂

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  10. That’s no small thing, Pen. I’ve seen what the CBs are capable of when they set their minds to it. That’s more comforting than you all know.

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  11. gatorperson

    You really need pen(cil) and paper to write down your narcotic hallucinations so’s to entertain us while you float over your pain!

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  12. Y’know, GP, there’s a chance my writing will be much improved by narcotic hallucinations. THEN what?

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  13. Hey, it worked for Coleridge.

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  14. Lou

    Thinking of you and wishing you a speedy recovery! May you have a pain free life from after the surgery until. . . forever!

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  15. DD

    Mom is doing just fine and the surgeon said everything went really well! Mom was even able to walk down the hall to the window and to the bathroom this evening, with the help of the PT people (yes, I know you were all very concerned about bathroom logistics; you’re welcome for putting that worry to rest). I’m sure you’ll hear from her before too long when she’s feeling up to it. -DD

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  16. McB

    Thank you! We have been worrying, about bathroom logistics and other things. Give her our love. On second thought, that it might freak her out and undo all the surgeon’s good work. Just tell her we are very pleased with the report. And thank you from all the imaginary friends.

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  17. KdotLdot

    We appreciate the update. If you get a chance, you can draw a picture of a stick figure with a band aid on her knee. Caption it “CBs wishing well for BCB’s Knees”

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  18. Just a Trace

    Thanks DD. We are first class worriers over here. I knew all along she would be an over achiever. Tell her no running in the halls.
    I second the ideas of pain med induced writings and stick figure recovery pictures.

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  19. They’re threatening to send me home early for good behavior. That’s a first. If they only knew…

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  20. McB

    Good morning bionic woman! So happy to hear your voice!

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  21. MinO

    ((((((((((((((((((((((BCB))))))))))))))))))))))))))

    Like

  22. Merry, whose motto is 'just give me the coffee and no one will get hurt'

    Wow! That’s encouraging. Either that or you’re being so difficult they want to get rid of you… naaah. I think it’s a good sign. They think you’re a super-fast healer 🙂

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  23. And I’m home! Who knew they’d object to me asking questions about the best way to kill a patient in a hospital and get away with it. I mean, really. Doesn’t everyone want to know that?

    Seriously, they were quite impressed with my post-op progress and, even though the hospital food was awesome (not even kidding, it really was), I agreed with their assessment that I’d be more comfy — so far as pain is ever comfy — at home with just MY germs for company. Plus The White Ninja missed me.

    I’ll still be offline for a while. Feeling a bit loopy. Mis-spelling most of the words and tediously fixing them. *sigh*

    Thanks for all the good wishes!

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  24. Lou

    Such good news, BCB!!! Just think of what you will be able to do with pain-free knees!!

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  25. rss

    Great to hear you are doing so well. Sending continued wishes for rapid and complete healing

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  26. MinO

    (((((((((((((((BCB)))))))))))))))))))) – extra ones just for today! It sucks, you know it would suck, but it seems the worst while the reality is presenting itself. Slow deep breaths, get back ahead with the meds, and ASK FOR HELP when you know you need it. Asking for a little help now, will be way easier than having to ask for it later when you have a setback because you tried to do too much too fast.

    Sorry – that was in my MOM voice. Seriously, hugs, thoughts, prayers, and makeshift wand waving from the middle. IT WILL BE BETTER, eventually.

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  27. McB

    Great “MOM” voice, MinO. Convinced me. Maybe even her.

    Like

  28. Best wishes for a speedy recovery and a good forecast for the next knee!

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  29. I am suitably impressed by your MOM voice, MinO. You do that very well. 😉 I really am taking it easy, as the pain doesn’t leave me much choice. Pretty rough couple days here, home from the hospital. But I’ve done PT before (many times) and I know you just need to power through it, slow and steady, and it’ll get better. Eventually. In the meantime, my DS and DiL are taking great care of me.

    Looking forward to the day when this will be just a faint memory. Then I’ll get the other one done.

    Thanks for all the good wishes. Oddly, it really helps.

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  30. McB

    Well if it helps, you should have several helpings! 😉🍻🍹🍷

    What?

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  31. Just popping in to send my Get Well wishes and to make sure you are still behaving! Although I’m rather stunned to hear that good behavior or not they sent you home one day after surgery!!!

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  32. Richard Maguire

    Hi KD. I hope the recovery is going well. I’m sure it is. Soon you’ll be back on the trampoline, and tap-dancing like crazy again. Best wishes.

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  33. rssasrb

    I’m thinking when the knee heals you’ll be invited to DWTS. It’s about time they put a writer on the show. Thinking of you, and sending vibes for less pain and very quick healing.

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  34. Between Richard and RSS, I’m snorting ice water on my laptop. Yeah, tap-dancing and DWTS are definitely in my future. Maybe if I live that future vicariously through a character in one of my stories . . .

    McB, I think I’d better hold off on the more potent libations until I’m done with the narcotic pain meds (see Theresa? VERY well behaved). But it’s been way too long since we shared a celebratory drink over a seven-hour lunch.

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  35. McB

    Way, way too long!

    Like

  36. Merry, who is practicing the subtle approach to hinting delicately

    Hmmmn… It’s awfully quiet ’round here. I wonder if anyone would notice if I threw a party…

    Like

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