Its been a day over a month since my last post and a month since my surgery. I’m going to get you caught up on all the festivities. This whole 3rd times a charm thing.. Well, it’s been strongly contested.

Flashback, my surgery was on Wednesday, February 20th, 2013. The surgery took longer than normal my previous surgeries lasted only an hour or two. This surgery had me going in at 11am and leaving at 930pm. The surgeon said that was normal with the amount of “problems” (ACL repair, medial meniscus repair, lateral meniscus repair) I had going on in my knee.

The pain this time around was AWFUL. The more surgeries you have on a particular area, the amount of surgery all add up to more pain, and then add in the quad graft and you’ve got the perfect pain storm apparently. The pain was AWFUL I can’t say that enough.

Okay, back to my story.. The surgery was on a Wednesday.. 3 days later on Sunday I noticed a pain in the lower part of my calf. The pain felt like I needed to stretch my calf so I didn’t think much of it so I just kept doing my physical therapy. On Monday morning I mentioned to my physical therapist that I was having the calf pain. I could tell she had some concern when I told her just by looking at his face. She went on the other side of the room for a minute and brought over another therapist. He was older and seemed as though he could possibly be her boss. He asked me about where the pain was, then turned to my therapist and said… “If it was he’d be jumping off the table in pain.” My therapist came back over and said it was pain due to my extension not being to zero degrees. I came home feeling a little better, but a few hours later when the pain resurfaced I started “googling” “pain in calf after knee surgery” and well self-diagnosing is never a good idea, but in this case.. It might have saved my life. The search results showed this:

Needless to say I was freaked out but I knew most Docs get real annoyed when you tell them you’ve WebMD’d yourself. I discussed it all with my wife who started doing some research of her own, and we determined it was best to call the doctor. My surgeon told me that it was probably nothing, but for piece of mind spend the $50 for my co-pay and head to the emergency room. My wife and I decided to take the trip to the ER for both of our pieces of mind after I told her this was my 3rd surgery and this pain didn’t feel right. When we arrived my wife dropped me off and went shopping (I don’t blame her, we both thought it would be nothing) The doctor in the ER payed me a visit introduced himself, and told me that the pain was just achilles pain from the surgery and I was too young for a blood clot. After about an hour of tests and waiting (more waiting than testing) the doctor came back in and stood in the doorway and his exact words “Well how about that?” I gave him a blank stare, and he waited a minute and said, “You have a blood clot.” I was worried at first but the doctor assured me that DVT’s are containable and controllable. They would need me to stay overnight for monitoring and put me on blood thinners ASAP. They gave me a shot in my belly, an IV, and a room.

The next morning my primary care doctor showed up and started discussing treatment options with my wife and I. He said I had two options the first being Ol’ Reliable Coumadin/Heparin and would require me to stay for 5 days in the hospital to get my blood right, not allow me to eat anything green, and weekly/possibly daily shots for blood work. When you take blood thinners they must monitor your INR (International Normalized Ratio). The second option was Pradaxa a pill that you can take daily that thins your blood, doesn’t require the hospital stay, doesn’t require the shots, and works the same. The catch? There is no antidote. You start bleeding? You could bleed out. The doctor downplayed the risk. My wife asked the doctor what the chance of the clot breaking away and going to my lung was and he replied: “Not likely.” The blood thinners will keep that from happening and with how small and deep it is in his calf it won’t happen. We chose Pardaxa (the wife wanted Coumadin) and went on our way home.

Wednesday and Thursday were normal days.. Friday morning I woke up excited because I was going to my first post op visit with my surgeon. First I had to attend my physical therapy session which was normal.. did my exercises without problem. We went to my doctors appointment and waited for awhile in the waiting room, and then were called back.. After meeting with my doctor and his physicians assistant they sent a lady in to teach me how to use my stimulation machine. While she was teaching me I became very anxious, irritated, and felt like I was going to throw up. I told the woman I needed to leave and she quickly finished. On my way out the doctor asked me if I was okay, and I told him just nauseous and that I didn’t eat anything probably over worked myself. My wife and I stopped to make my next appointment and I kept getting worse. I crutched my way to the elevator when my wife asked me if I was okay. I told her I felt like I was going to throw up, and I needed to sit down. Obviously, being at the end of a long hallway and a giant bandage and immobilizer brace that wasn’t going to be possible. Then I started to lose my breathe and nothing I could do to catch it. The rest of the story will be told by my wife. I proceeded to lose consciousness. My wife stated my eyes rolled into the back of my head, and all she could think about was if I hit my head while on this blood thinner I could bleed out. She grabbed my jacket with both hands and slowly guided me to the ground as best as she could. When I woke up my entire body was tingling and I still couldn’t breathe. My wife had ran down the hall back into the doctors office and I had a team of nurses and PA’s working to help me. The put me on oxygen and wheel chaired me to the emergency room. They ran a ton of tests and found out that the clot had done what I was told was near impossible. The clot had broken away and went straight to my lung. The reason I’m still alive? It stopped on the left side of my lung. They admitted me to the hospital for observation, switched me off the Pardaxa and put me on old reliable Coumadin.

According to the internet (Google) and my doctor 15% of people die from Pulmonary Embolisms. Most of them being elderly. Although, Its very rare someone my age and younger people get them so I doubt there are many statistics out there for this. The doctor assured me that I was going to be okay, but with everything going on and everything being so rare with a low risk chance of happening I was skeptical. Scared. Skeptical.

My next posts will tell the tale of adventures of an 8 day hospital stay… Stay tuned for Part II…

Tomorrow is the big day.. Knee Surgery #3 for a guy who has now said twice he never wants to go through this again. I have now been laid up for a week exactly. I decided before I go under the knife tomorrow and sleep 95% of the day away I would write a post about the Top 10 things to expect from knee surgery. I’ve found over the last few surgeries that humor helps pass the time, and instead of feeling down and negative about everything it is good to try and find the humor. Well.. Here they are.. My Top 10 Things to Expect.. When you’re expecting… Knee Surgery.

Just ask Lindsay Vonn about what to expect with Knee Surgery.

#10
I’m putting this one #10 because it’s more than likely the first thing you’re going to have to do when you get out of surgery. GETTING UP. That’s right the first time (and every time) you get up you’re going to look like that wimpy doe in that Disney movie. Bambi. You’re entire body is going to shake and buckle like your 100 years old. The key is ensure there is always good and sturdy objects around you to help you up, once up you will need to just chill for a minute and get your shit straight, and then you should be good to go. The good news? At least I didn’t have any stupid animals running around my feet while I tried to get up.

#9
STEPS Yes the dreaded Mt. Kilimanjaro of your home. At the summit of every steps you go to tackle you will think “Is this the time?” meaning is this the time you will fall? The best advice here is to attack it as if you were actually going to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro have a knapsack to keep anything you need to carry with you in on your journey, climb a few (rest) climb a few more (rest) and be very careful once you get to the top when you celebrate it’s a long ways down especially backwards.

Kili-Man is right!

#8
Imagine this… You’re alone. Starving. You bambi style your way off your couch, you hobble over to the fridge (hopefully you can avoid Mt. Kilimanjaro) you reach in and grab yourself something to eat when… YOU DROP IT ON THE FLOOR My #8 you may think thats no big deal but think about not being able to bend over to pick something up. Imagine having a leg the size of two legs and not be able to bend it. You’ll end up having to pull a Kristi Yamaguchi move to pick it up… Good luck.

#7
One of the hardest chores you will have with your recovery will be PUTTING ON PANTS Yes, something as easy as putting on pants becomes a hard task. You have the complexity of actually putting them on (can only stand on one leg) getting up after putting them on, and then you have figuring out how to get your brace on after you’ve put on your pants. My suggestion? Invest in several weeks worth of basketball shorts. :)

I put my pants on just like you.. One leg at a time. Except once my pants are on I make gold records.

#6
Something that I never realized how impossible it could be is PUTTING ON SOCKS it’s literally one of the hardest things to do, and its damn frustrating because it should be so easy. Hopefully you live in a warm climate during your surgery so you can go the flip flop route, but if not, gooooood luck. Test my theory.. Sit on the edge of your bed, dont bend your leg, and try and put your socks on. Make sure the following video is playing while you do it.

#5
Prepare yourself for ultimate BOREDOM you can only survive so long. Mt first surgery I thought was going to be awesome. No work just sit at home and watch TV, play video games, and I even thought I could read some books. The only time you’ll leave the house is to go to physical therapy. You’ll probably hallucinate and think of all the things you want to go do, but you can’t because YOU CAN’T DRIVE. You’re at the mercy of others and the limited ROM you have.. You can only watch so many hours of TV before you are stir crazy. HBO Go, Netflix, On Demand are some great ways to attempt to pass the time.

boredom – your worst enemy!

#4
Taking a SHOWER is towards the top of my list because it’s one of the scariest things you’ll have to do. Imagine a soapy, slippery, and wet area thats just waiting to claim you as a victim. MY first set of advice would be to ensure that the water is turned on BEFORE you get in. Otherwise you will be forced to suffer through the worst 30 seconds of your life EVER when the water is about 15 degrees. My next set of advice is to ensure you have somewhere to SIT DOWN. You won’t be able to stand so I highly suggest one of those shower seats your grand parents had in their bathroom that you made fun of your entire childhood. Be as careful as possible or else you’ll look like your on an ice skating rink and find yourself back in the O.R.

Splish, Splash, don’t fall on your A$$

#3
PISSING It goes from such a great feeling to such a weird situation. You will hop your way in front of the toilet with all your weight on one leg while the other leg hangs in the balance. Without going into much more detail as I was hoping to keep this at least a PG-13 rated blog. You will have to find a unique balance of actual balance and aim.

Notice this “thing” has one leg and pee’s out of his arms.. He may understand what it’s like to pee after knee surgery.

#2
While we are on the topic of exiting “waste” from our bodies that leads us right into my #2 which just so happens to be about #2.. POOPING I don’t know if you’ve ever had to pull off a straight leg poop, but its near impossible. Not to mention a side effect of the pain meds they will be giving you is our good old friend constipation. As you sit all weird like with one straight leg and then strain to get out the little deer turds you’ll have from all the constipation makes for one hell of a time. I’m sure if it wasn’t completely weird to watch many people would get a kick out of seeing it. I highly suggest “PLANNING YOUR POOPS” which means prep yourself and investigate your pooping area. You’ll need an “Oh Shit Bar” to use to prop yourself up and down (be careful of towel racks and toilet paper holders as they can easily break off the wall) and make sure there is plenty of room in front of the toilet for your straight leg. LOL

It took me about an hour to go from #2 to #1 because googling “pooping” had me cracking up..

#1
Drumroll.. The #1 thing to expect is how horrible SLEEPING will be. First of all initially your leg will be throbbing, you’ll have it propped up, and you can only sleep on your back. I’m some one who tosses and turns all night changing the way I sleep, and I almost NEVER sleep on my back so It’s literally the worst. I love sleeping in my “normal” life so during “cal surgery” life it’s the worst. Take your pain meds and just tell yourself its only for a couple weeks. Outside of that.. Youre screwed on a restful nights sleep.

Zzzzzzzzzzz.. I just want to Sleeeeeeep.

Well there it is.. My Top 10 things to expect.. when you’re expecting.. Knee Surgery. Remember one of the best ways to keep your sanity during your knee surgery recovery time is to try to find the humor in all your situations. If you’re laughing it will keep your mind off how crummy the situation may be.

On Tuesday February 12, 2013 (which ironically was 5 years to the day for my first ACL surgery) I injured my right knee for the 3rd time. The first time was December 28, 2007 when I was playing in a flag football league. I took an end around pitch to the goal line where the safety was crouched down waiting to step up and pull my flag. I made a right foot plant with the intention of going left when I heard (and according to everyone else around so did they) a popping sound. It was the kind of sound you would hear when you took the lid off a jelly jar for the first time. I knew something was immediately wrong and I instantly couldn’t bend or put any pressure on my knee.

The 2nd time — well it’s a much better story. The date? March 19, 2010 it was 2 years after my ACL surgery and I was feeling real good about my knee. I had been playing pick-up basketball, running on the treadmill, and generally feeling like my old self again. My wife decided that we would take her mom, her moms boyfriend, and her younger brother to Seven Springs mountain resort for some tubing and skiing. I am not a very good skier to begin with so I wasn’t that excited, but like I said I was feeling confident. I however, didn’t realize that her mom had never been skiing before and we would spend the majority of the day teaching her, watching her go a few feet, fall, go a few feet more, and then fall again (can’t blame her I think I was the same way starting out) I was getting a little antsy. While sitting at the cafeteria my mother in laws boyfriend (who I could tell was getting a little antsy as well) announced he was going to take a run down the hill on his own. Without hesitation I announced I was going with him. My wife, her mom, and her brother all declined to attend. A little back story about the day — It was the end of March and was unseasonably warm. A lot of the slopes were closed due to having no snow, and some of the slopes that remained open had giant ice spots where the snow was packed down pretty good. As I stood at the top of the hill I felt very confident about how my knee had held up going at a snails pace all day. I swiped and took off down the hill still feeling very good about myself. I started to pick up more and more speed just has I hit a bend that shot me out into the main slope of the hill I hit a patch of ice (as I flew passed the ice spot a sign read *Danger Slow Down*) I started to “Pizza” as that is how I was taught to slow down, but I was going so fast that my ski’s crossed and as I went full speed head over heels my ski stuck into the ground and I heard a snapping sound. When I finally tumbled to a stop I knew I had blown out my knee again. The good part? I skied down the rest of the hill torn ACL and all. I still to this day wish I had video of this tremendous fall.

That leads me to my current situation. I joined a badass fitness/strength class called Fit 2 Fight. I believe it was the start of week 3 for me and I was really starting to get the hang/technique of it. We had just finished a conditioning circuit when we started another conditioning drill. The objective was to line up on each side of the room in a straight line and run down the line jabbing several swinging punching bags. As I ran through the first time my knee gave out a little (which has happened several times over the past few years) it didn’t hurt or anything so I kept going. The next couple times through were okay, until I got to the last bag and had to swing around to run back to the end of the line and my knee completely gave out and locked up.

Turns out after visiting the doctor a few days later I have a “Bucket Handle” Medial Meniscus tear which basically means my meniscus tore in half and flipped over underneath my joint. That means a lot of pain and not a lot of moving of the joint.

It’s called a Bucket Handle tear because the torn part of the meniscus flips over like a bucket handle.

The surgeon believes he will be able to repair although meniscus surgery is tough because there is limited blood supply to the meniscus so sometimes repairs are not possible. The MRI doesn’t show a problem with the ACL but he won’t know for certain until he is in there. (Although he seemed pretty hell bent on re-do’ing my ACL revision) So as I prepare myself for my 3rd knee surgery the reality of my boredom for the next 6-8 weeks is starting to set in.

We’ll see how far I get and how serious I take this blog, but hopefully I am able to continue it as so many other blogs have helped me make it through my previous surgeries. I’d like to pay it forward for someone else and kill at least an hour of boredom a day. ;)