Self Advocacy For The Win

I am home, with my shiny new knee inside a whole lot of swelling and bruising and pain. Surgery was 4:00 Wednesday, and I was discharged 11:45 Thursday. 

Fun fact: I thought the spinal was going to be the most unpleasant pre-op piece. It wasn't, it was the nerve blocks. Good gracious those sucked. But both allowed me to be totally numb below the waist, and to only have sedation to make me sleepy during the procedure, which I clarified MAKE ME ASLEEP PLEASE... I DO NOT WISH TO HEAR ANY POWER TOOLS. My wish was granted. 

And so, I woke up completely lucid with no pain at all. And it lasted forever. JUST KIDDING! It was amazing to actually be able to read after surgery and to gradually become loopy from pain meds as my nerves woke up. Which they did. With a vengeance. The nerve blocks lasted the longest, and when I left I still had "Rubber Foot" as I coined it. 

Imagine my surprise when as my nerves start lamenting what I've done to my body ON PURPOSE, I have to ask for more pain meds. I get put on 10 mg oxy every 3-4 hours, because it starts wearing off at 3 and then I become a purple, contracting, writhing mess. I go to PT and get my green light to go home. Still rubber foot. Progress when I can get my toes to uncurl and touch the floor. 

So when they tell me at discharge that I will be sent home with enough to take 5-10 mg every 8 hours, my jaw drops. They say I can't take my current dose (which is finally controlling the pain) at home because I'm not monitored.


This is what that looks like when I can't take more and my nerve block is gone gone gone:

Bryce wanted to call 911. I thought I was going to either pass out or rupture my incision. Luckily, I got ahold of a human, the on-call surgeon, and he said go ahead and take 2 pills/4 hours (10 mg). Between that doctor and the home healthcare coordinator and the pharmacy, I am good now. 

They always say "stay ahead of the pain" but that's hard to do when not given the proper tools. Ice and Tylenol will only do so much. I get the importance of preventing addiction, but that was BANANAS. And, incidentally, I am down to 30 mg/day from 60 mg, which not even a week in is pretty darn awesome, I think. I just want to manage the balance of pain and PT and movement and icing and stiffness.

I am glad I could advocate for myself so I can have the most effective recovery possible, without feeling like in 2023 the solution is "bite down on this stick."

My friend the walker with volunteer-made bag for essentials 

A happier picture of me post-first-shower. Clearly feeling alright here.

Farewell, Bad Knee

It has certainly been a busy busy time leading up to today. I have my total knee replacement surgery this afternoon (whyyyy afternoon whyyyy, so hungry and anxious!), and I had my last day of school for the year yesterday. I know that I could not get to everything I wanted to in order to wrap up, but I am working on the whole "let it go" piece and so I am going to trust that it will all be fine. 

The end of the year was lovely, I managed to get all my IEP meetings done and the paperwork sent off to the Special Ed office for filing. I got almost everyone to a point where they were just at the proofreading stage of their English essay. I tried to get all the things to my sub, who is very excited but also nervous. My kids were wonderful to me in the last week, but I'm pretty sure they were showing off the last two days when she came in, because everything was over-the-top and a show of "look how bad I can be!" Sigh. 

I got hugs and cards and requests to do a Google Meet (um, maybe once I'm off narcotics, haha?), and I'm hoping that I can do a drive by on the last day of school, which is the 8th grade Beach Party. Kids who really gave me a run for my money said, "Do you have to leave? I am really going to miss you." 

That saying really is true -- the kids who need the most love ask for it in the most unlovable ways. It was a really hard year (one student who has been a regulated rock all year said in her card, "It was a tough year, but you got through it!"), but memorable and I really do love all of my students. I did some reflecting and it's AMAZING how far so many of them have come. The cards from parents and grandparents all thanked me for being so caring and for loving their kids. To me, that is the ultimate in success. 

As far as the knee goes, I am nervous nervous nervous. I was so brave and even watched a video of the procedure (which was, um, questionable in terms of judgment), but then this past weekend I started freaking out hardcore. All the prep around the house (the first floor bedroom! the ice maker! the ice circulating machine! the stack of books I will probably be too loopy to read! the downloaded podcasts! the pillow forts to prop my knee up! the body pillow! the gardening! the laundry! the laundry! THE LAUNDRY!) has worked my knee hard. It is so, so very angry today. Which I think is good, because it reminds me how much I need this and how the pain will be worth it short-term to have amazing outcomes long-term. 

The surgery isn't until this afternoon, which is stinky because while I can drink water until noon, I am fueled only by the gluten free buckwheat berry waffles and blueberries I ate at 11:45 last night. More time to perseverate on all the things they're going to do to me? Oh, awesome. 

Fun fact: they don't do general anesthesia. What they do is give you a spinal and then sedate you so you're asleep (presumably so you can't hear all the power tools and horror show noises). All I can think is C-section, C-section, C-section... and how I have never ever had anything stuck in my spine. I sincerely hope they loop me up for that. Maybe if I say on repeat how my anxiety is through the roof? I hope the IV goes smoothly too. After the Great Colonoscopy Fiasco, I want to make sure they can pump me full of all the drugs and I am aware of absolutely nothing. 

It's weird to have surgery on something not abdominal/gynecological. It's been 30 years since I had the first knee surgery, and I don't really remember that all that much. I'm thinking in some ways it will be easier because breathing/coughing/crying shouldn't impact it so much. 

I remember the physical therapist who explained exactly how traumatic my knee surgery was forever ago saying, "This is going to impact you your whole entire life." He wasn't wrong! But now I can get a fancy new bionic knee. 3-D printed titanium! Cobalt alloy! I will be a cyborg. At least in part. 

I think the hardest part is that Bryce is so, so nervous. He has never had surgery and hates hospitals, and has had to watch me go through surgery after surgery. I'm staying overnight tonight, so I'm sure he won't be sleeping. He is trying to think of every possible thing to make it easier and healthier for me. He bought us radios to use in the house -- we practiced them last night and I felt so silly. I think at one point when he was checking if I could hear him from the first floor, I said, "Roger that, Blue Canary." I can only imagine what this is going to look like when I'm all looped out. 

So, anyway, goodbye evil knee. You did your best, but it's time for you to go. I appreciate your service, and look forward to new management. 

See you on the other side of this! 

Had to pretty up the deck while I could...

Herbs to the left of me, flowers to the right! 

Nicotiana to make the seating area smell sweet in the evening

Container full of lantana, will be so pretty!

What Did I Do To YOU, April?

April  conspired to really make me look forward to having major surgery in May. IEP session is here and I am eyeball deep in paperwork and meetings, which is normal for this time of year. But, in the spirit of a micro post, here is a list:

- Got COVID over spring break, missed Bryce's dissertation defense (silver lining, didn't give Bryce COVID). Bright spot: it went great!

- Not being able to work over break meant I fell wayyyy behind on IEPs

- Behavioral dysregulation at school got to an all time high

- I cracked a filling in my molars and it felt like a nerve was exposed. It was so painful, and of course on a Sunday.

- Got an emergency dental appointment last Monday, an x-ray showed that yep, a molar filling chipped, but instead of an exposed nerve, the pain was because A SHARD OF THAT TOOTH STABBED ME BETWEEN MY TEETH DEEP INTO THE GUM. Are you kidding me? Luckily they didn't have to cut my gum to get it out, but I did have to get TWO crowns today to fix the cracked, horrid filling-filled molars that had been "shaved" to make space for the shard to be removed. EW. Gross AND expensive AND painful. Also, clearly I grind my teeth, and I have a night guard, but apparently my alignment is off and I have a "cross-bite," which renders my guard ineffective. Invisalign here I come...

- This one is hard and getting its own post when I can breathe. I saw my former student this past weekend, and hired her to help me clean and organize my classroom because she needs money. It's a bad situation. We went to get toiletries, and I got her a two pack of pregnancy  tests. My worst fear was realized when she tested in the Target bathroom and we watched the second line appear together. She's 16. As you can imagine, this was a multilayered moment of grief. Insanely hard. I am working to connect her with agencies and organizations that will help her, but it's just so sad. I am so, so sad for how much harder her future is now, and how vicious the cycle of poverty and trauma is. 

- Bright spot: by best friend was able to come visit super duper whirlwindy, about 18 hours, but it was fun and lovely. 

Good gracious, May. Try to be kinder. 

I tried but still not super micro... Want to read more Microblog Mondays? Go here and enjoy!