Tuesday, May 5, 2015

"Life's funny sometimes"... but Life is also a jerk sometimes

So, 'sup? Been over a month now. Any news?


*waits more*

Oh, wait, that's right. This is my stupid blog and I'm supposed to be sharing news.

I wanted to write some stuff a week or two ago, but I was putting it off because I had a problem. My problem was this- my human knee started to hurt. At first, I couldn't tell if it was a "fibro hurt" or if something more was going on. So, I did what I do best- I tried not to think about it. Guess what? If you guessed "nothing happened", you're right. The pain in my knee varied in intensity. Some days were just a mild ache. Some days were so blindingly painful that I cried from it. Driving became a horrible chore. Pressing down on the gas pedal wasn't so bad, but holding down the brake pedal because so painful I'd white-knuckle grip the steering wheel and contort my face into some pretty epic expressions in an effort to not scream: "OW!MOTHERFUCKINGSONOFABITCHCOCKSUCKER!" (because swearing helps ease pain).

Last week, my daughter asked me to come to her college (a 90 minute drive, made mostly with cruise control and a few cooperative stoplights) to take production photos of the play she's stage managing. So I did. And it was fun (and the play was cool). But, I was up and down and standing and walking for several hours. I didn't really feel the full impact of all that till the next day. The next day when every single moment was agony and I cried and I was in so much pain I couldn't even sit here to process the RAW files. And if you know me, you know that I never let a photo sit without processing. It ended up taking me almost four days to do what should have taken two days. Because of this goddamn human knee. It was that day that I called and made an appointment with my knee doctor. I didn't bother to go through the VA first. If I had, I'd still be waiting for that appointment.

I hate using a cane. It pisses me off. I used a cane for three years and a huge chunk of that time was spent with two canes (I named them "George and Gracie"). So, because I was doing this more often than I wanted, I made that appointment.

My worst fear was that I'd have to get another knee replacement. I had my left knee replaced in 2009 and while it was the best thing that ever happened to me (because it opened up my life and I got to go "out" and do "stuff" and have "fun" like "all the normal people do"), I don't ever want to go through that again. I've given birth to three babies. Without drugs. Two of them in Army hospitals (the middle one was at a civilian hospital because the Army is a dick to families). Three babies, no drugs, and one of them was 11 pounds even and 22 1/2 inches tall. And the knee replacement pain was worse. Much worse.

How much worse? Well, allegedly, women "forget" the pain of labor to go through it again. My kids have 2 1/2 years and 1 1/2 years between them, so I guess in my case, that's true. I had my knee replaced SIX YEARS ago and I STILL remember how much it sucked in the three weeks that followed. Pain and agony and so much work to just get normal enough to get out of the hospital. I stayed for two weeks for in-hospital physical therapy and then I spent two weeks at my parents' fully-handicap-accessible house before coming to my own house. Well, I don't have that luxury anymore (since my parents passed away).

So, I did not want another goddamn knee replacement. I've gone through scenarios in my head on scheduling it after faire season because I'd have six months between Teslacon and Janesville Faire. I only needed five months the last time (I had my knee replacement five months before my first trip to Bristol). But... instead, this is what has happened.

I took two photos of my X-rays. One from pre-replacement in 2009 and one from today.

You'll notice that they're leaning (I did them backwards, they're leaning in, not out). That's partly because I'm so overweight that my thighs are pushing them and partly because I hyper-extend my knees, well, all my joints. Christine hates it when I hyper-extend my fingers, it grosses her out. Jason likes it because he can do it to his elbows and he used to do MMA (mixed-martial arts fighting) and his opponents couldn't make him tap-out with an arm bar. I'm not sure how my oldest- Kat- feels about hyper-extended joints.

So, let's zoom in on these bad boys and I'll show you some things.

Here's the right knee. The yellow arrows are pointing to two bone spurs that have started to grow. The blue arrows are pointing to the bright white line, which indicates that the bones are rubbing and starting to wear down. The purple arrows show the gap between the bones, which means I still have a little bit of cartilage in there.

This is my left knee, from 2009, about a month before my knee replacement. The difference here is that the gap is much smaller. The blue arrows are pointing to the white line (which was all around the entire bone, not just those bits on the edges). The yellow arrows are pointing to the bone spurs that were growing, including a third one on the edge (I could feel that one. I remember that quite vividly).  Those bone spurs were worn down, and one of them may have been broken off. The green arrow is pointing to a folding-over-like edge. Like an ice cream cone is just melting a little, the edge of the ice cream is just holding on. That was all around the bone as well. I have a plastic model of my knee joint around here somewhere and it has all the flat spots and overhang of bone. I didn't point out the gap. As you can see, there's a lot less gap there.

So, it is obvious to me (and the doctor, because he explained it to me) that my right knee is in no way as bad of shape as the left one was. Probably because I saw him within a month of the pain starting. When it happened to the last one, I had to wait for almost two years before I was given the consultation letter to see the surgeon away from the VA. (I can see this doctor now, because my knee replacement was done by him, so everything that happens to my knees now falls under his umbrella of care- that umbrella thing is my own analogy, not the insurance's).

Instead of terrifying me with another total knee replacement, we're doing the cortisone shots. I have "significant arthritis", but not enough for a total knee replacement. He said if it works out, I'll be fine for up to six months. So, what's happen next is a photo of a two-inch long needle. And the one after it is a photo of him pressing the syringe into my knee. I didn't feel it at all. He just jammed it in and there was no pain, no anything. I felt a little tingle when he hit the plunger bit down, but other than that, nothing. And, I know if I end up not feeling any relief in the next week or so, to come in again and we'll do something else (I assume the next step up would be "rooster injections", which are so named because they're made out of rooster waddles. Yes, your "what the fuck?" reaction is entirely appropriate).

So, here's the warning, if you don't like needles or what it looks like when a needle is inserted into the knee to the point you can't see the needle anymore, don't scroll down.

This is the end of the blog for you, as far as your needle hate is concerned.

I'm not going to add any photography stuff to this post because it's already laden with photos. So if you stop now, you won't miss anything but needle stuff.


Last warning. 


One more warning. 




Okay, you were warned. Here are the two photos-

And this one- I might use this as my 365 for the day.

1 comment:

  1. I hope you've caught it in time for the shots to do you the most good.