Thursday, December 19, 2013

Off Crutches....But I Got Work to Do!

For those interested in the knee status…….

It hurts.  It hurts something fierce.  It pretty much feels the same way it did at mile 18 of the marathon back in Hawaii, which I recall was paired with a pretty ugly grimace.  I came off the crutches a week ago.  I was a little wobbly at first as the leg muscles tried to remember how to walk again but by the next day I was pretty stable.  If I stood for too long it would get to quivering a bit since the muscles were so weak but that didn’t last long.  I didn’t feel much pain in the knee those first two days back as a biped, but the calf muscle and Achilles were really aching as they struggled to make up for the shortcomings elsewhere.

I went for an easy 1000 yard swim the next day and just refrained from pushing off the wall with that leg.  Last weekend I also went for an easy bike ride: 80 minutes at about 16 mph.  That bike ride was the only time I felt no pain.  Therefore, biking equals therapy.

It hurts to walk.  It hurts to stand.  The inside of the knee is painful to the touch.  And I’m not gonna lie…….it’s been pretty discouraging.  But Dr Hasty and Charlie Kresho the PA both said the knee would be irritated for a while and that I need to be patient.  I’ve also read from others online that have had microfracture surgery say that the first 2 weeks of load bearing were miserable.  So, there’s not really much I can do but cowboy up and take ‘er easy.  As long as what I’m experiencing falls within the realm of “normal” I suppose I can deal with that.

I’ve got a good start on a roll of fat around my midsection, and I’ve already retired two pairs of work pants until further notice.  I haven’t seen hair on my legs in years, so the fur is an unfamiliar look for me.  And the knee is a bit swollen and mis-shapen……..but for the sake of functionality I don’t mind most any bit of disfigurement as long as I’m not scaring kids away or nothing.

It’s good to be off crutches though and not have to plan ahead how I’m going to get my soda can from here to there, or how to get a hot baking dish out of the oven with one hand while balancing on one foot.

I guess this is progress in some fashion!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Having an Ablation? Here, This Will Help......

So, you were just scouring the internet to see what you could find regarding ablations, huh?  I did the same thing.  Good luck with yours......

Mine was for something called Wolff-Parkinson White Syndrome, or WPW Syndrome for short.  Which is really unfortunate that this dude gets the credit because his name is just awful even if you abbreviate it.  Wolfy White Syndy flows a bit better, but it's not my call.  Anyway, so there's this passageway in the heart that electricity is supposed to fire to make the thing work.  I'm a little skeptical because I've looked at a lot of anatomy charts over the years and I've never seen where we could keep a battery for such things, but then I'm not a doctor.  With Wolfy White Syndy evidently I was born with a second passageway, which makes the heart capable of short circuiting basically.  This explains my high school cross country episodes and the ones I had at the Washington Tri and Goldsboro Tri in 2011.  However, it wasn't properly diagnosed until I was under anaesthesia for my knee surgery 6 weeks ago.  Oh well.  I guess I couldn't expect my baboon heart to work perfectly forever.

So, here's what an ablation is like (at least the kind I had since I've heard from other experienced folks that they had more involved kinds - like weenie catheters and breathing tubes and stuff - yuck!).  It's an outpatient procedure - not surgery really.  They go in through your groin, find a great big artery, and snake their way up to the heart, stimulate the "short circuit" (in my case up to 245 bpm) and then either burn or freeze the extra passageway shut.  I suggested using duct tape but the doctor said he was kinda clumsy and couldn't do it without the tape sticking to itself on the way in.  I hate that too.

 It was early in the morning.  I wasn't yet in the mood for an ablation.

I was nervous about being sedated and not completely knocked out.  I really had no interest in being a part of the gang during this procedure.  

A girl named Shakira shaved my mess first.  Think of your wildest dreams in which Shakira gets you naked and shaves your mess and it's.........not anything like that.  It was actually very demeaning.  When she was done it kinda looked like a poodle.  I still wonder what she was snickering about when she left the room.  Then they put an IV in you and take some blood.  Because you probably showed up with too much to begin with.  Today I seemed to be in the mood to be a bit of a squirter.  It looked like she had smashed a bunch of mosquitos on my arm when she was done.

Then you wait a pretty long time until it's your turn.  They need you to wait because the quicker you go through the process the less likely you are to "use other stuff," and therefore they can't charge you for as much.  In my case, in addition to the procedure they got me for some Vaseline for my lips, use of the tv, some blankets and some cute yellow footie socks.

When they finally came to get me I was ready to go.  Pee.  I was ready to go pee.  So, I hobbled (still on crutches, here folks) to the bathroom with my white rear end hanging out of my gown before getting back on the gurney.  I gave my love to my wife and they wheeled me off to a room full of EKG screen things and video and machines that go "PING!"  I think this room was the hospital refrigerator as it was really, really unbelievably cold in there.  They started putting all kinds of sticky frozen EKG-type patches on my back and chest, which evidently were to ensure that I was completely freezing.  Once I was trembling uncontrollably from the cold, I think the nurses were satisfied enough to hook up the comfy juice to my IV (Versed and something else that is more for the pain).  And then the cold went away immediately, enough that I offered them my blankets in case any of them were cold.  They must have been really tough since they all declined.  The guy with the skull cap and goatie was the important one in this group, since he was the Drug Master.  He told me if i felt anything all I needed to do was ask and that he had plenty of drugs.  I tried to get his cell phone number.

I have to skip some stuff now because this part is all really fuzzy.

There were 3 big machines right in my face blocking my view of anything, but I could just barely see Dr Frazier (he looked really far away!) and the edge of a tv screen or two.  Judging by the show on the screen, he likes incredibly boring tv shows, but he was really into it.  "This is awesome!  Look at this!"

I didn't know who he was talking to but he had my interest peaked.  "What's awesome?!" I said and here came skull cap dude sticking something in my IV.

Sometime later........Dr Frazy again: "Oh this is so cool." 

"Hey, Dr Frayfray, what's cool?"  And then skull cap dude comes out again from behind his desk and knocks me out again.

Later......Dr Fre says something else and I barely get my mouth open as I look towards skullcap guy's desk and, bam, he's juicing me up again.  Lights out.

I don't know how many times that all went on.

These are the probe-zappers in my heart.

And then it was done!  I was getting wheeled back into room 13 where Angie was and I was feeling good but a little hungoverish.  The procedure was a success.  After they zapped the secret passageway in my heart the first time they evidently decided they hadn't got it all so they went back in and zapped it again.  I guess that's why I ended up with a hole on each side of my groin.  There was some confusion in between zaps as evidently they had told Angie they were wheeling me out prior to the decision to go back in, but all is good.  I got a twofer.  I'm sure that will show up in the bill as well.

This is a picture of a bunch of squiggly lines.  The doctor works himself into a trance, and then starts doodling lines like this until he works himself into a frenzy and the lines become uncontrollable.  At that point it's time to zap the heart.

I had to lay still in the bed for 4 hours before they would let me stand and walk, pee, and discharge me.  That was kind of boring.  I tried to make up hospital jokes.  "You will pay for your insulin!"  I thought it'd be cool to be the one to get to say that in a menacing way.  Obviously, I was still under the influence.

 The post procedure test: can you walk around the block?  Fail and they've gotcha in their clutches and get to force you to buy lots more stuff, pass and you go home.  Never been so nervous in my life!

Pretty simple procedure really.  And I was glad that they didn't determine my heart was 2 sizes too small since here we are right before Christmas.  I was nervous about that.

I went home and ate some Chinese take-out, which is always good for the heart, and then hit the sack.  I got a good look at my junk when I was taking off the bandages.  It looked like the poodle had been shot with an arrow in the head and you could see the bloody entry and exit wounds.  This is not a good look for me.

But all feels great the next morning.  I can't wait to try out my new ticker!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Light at the End of the Tunnel

This evening I planted the foot hard going up the garage steps and broke a mess of stuff on top of a cabinet during the process as I tried to catch myself and keep my body weight off of the healing knee.  That marks the 4th time in 4 weeks that I've slipped up on that, and the 2nd time that it happened on those steps.  I go up and down flights of stairs at work but those damn 4 garage steps continue to intimidate me.

What a great feeling that welled up inside me today as we drove home from a day spent in Raleigh.  I was hungry to ride my bike again, and I'm very hopeful that after next week's visit with the doctor I will be able to remount my beloved Merle III the P3 and get to work on this pathetic mound of a gut I've acquired during this process of growing cartilage anew.  But it is a deeply hopeful feeling and I'm energized in the thought of riding again.  Oh, and swimming too.  But yeah, riding moreso.

I'm exhausted of the crutches, and I've nearly worn out my welcome using them as an excuse to lay around in utter laziness while Angie puts up with it.

Anyway, I'll live.  Happy holidays, everyone!