edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
My knee surgery (to repair a ruptured quadriceps tendon) was one year ago today.

I'm almost back to where I was before rupturing the tendon, as far as leg strength and mobility are concerned. My knee isn't quite at full strength (especially when nearly fully extended), so walking on uneven terrain can still be an adventure. On the other hand, with the help of a pair of trekking poles I successfully hiked the two-mile main trail through the town forest this afternoon. (Typical Massachusetts forest trail: granite ledges, exposed tree roots, and random rocks left over from the last glaciation. Not great footing, in other words.)

Also, the last year of walking as much as possible has had a pleasant side effect. When I first went to see my doctor about the knee (back when I thought it was only sprained), I weighed just shy of 275 pounds. Yesterday, at my regular physical, I was down to 255.
edschweppe: (summer house)
I'm back from another fun week on Star Island. Had some fun singing, had some fun dancing, had a lot of good food and some good conversation. I even had the chance to do a bit of photography and will hopefully have links in the near future.

And, unlike last year, I made it through without rupturing any tendons! (Star is wonderful for many things, but is not a fun place to find oneself suddenly on crutches.) My knee held up quite well, despite the seriously uneven terrain of the island (and my room being on the second floor of Gosport House, which meant many more stairs than I would have preferred).

Now it's time for laundry, grocery shopping, showers, and other bits of domesticity before returning to work on Monday ...
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
And I had my final session of physical therapy earlier this evening.[1]

My knee's not at 100% yet, but I can go up and down stairs without holding on to the banister, I can walk on uneven surfaces without the aid of a cane, and I even went for a (short) bicycle ride last night.

So. Yay!

[1] Although I don't think I'll be sending the PT doc a thank-you note. The last time he treated a patient with a quadriceps tendon rupture, the patient dropped dead of a sudden heart attack three weeks later on a Friday. The next Monday, the thank-you card that the patient had sent the PT doc arrived in the mail ...
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
It snowed most of yesterday. Not heavily, but enough to put a frosting on the trees and windshields, and scare the highway departments into breaking out the salt trucks again. Fortunately, the trees haven't started leafing out yet, so there was no damage done (we had a very nasty May snowstorm back in the day which took down a lot of tree branches and, IIRC, ended up killing a bunch of trees completely). Most of the big snowbanks in downtown Boston are gone - but not all of them. There are bare patches on the ground out here where I live - but most of the ground still has a noticeable snowpack.

I'm getting just a wee bit tired of this weather pattern. More below-normal temperatures are expected for the early part of the week, and the six-o'clock news guy said the early indications are that we might get more snow flurries next weekend.

Meanwhile, Keolis says they'll be operating their pre-snowpocalyptic commuter rail schedule starting tomorrow. Unfortunately, they couldn't actually keep to that schedule before all the snow started falling; odds that they'll suddenly get up to snuff seem kind of ... remote. Last week, of the ten rides I took into and out of Boston, four arrived on time. Three more were less than five minutes late (which is the standard Keolis has to meet to avoid fines) and the remaining three were respectively nine, ten and nineteen minutes late. The MBTA contract calls for 95% on-time performance; last week was at best 70%.

(For bonus fun, the ten-minute-late train also didn't have working HEP - thus no lights, heating or ventilation. Or WiFi, for that matter.)

Oh, and my physical therapy appointment on Thursday got cancelled because the physiotherapist was out sick.

There is one bit of good news on the knee-healing front, though. In the last couple of days, I've been able to (occasionally) walk up flights of stairs without having to grab a bannister for support. Still haven't dared to try that going down stairs, mind. But I'll take signs of progress wherever I can.
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
I missed noting this in all the snowpocalyptic excitement of the Second Blizzard of 2015 (not to mention the last hours of Boskone), but my temporary handicapped parking placard officially expired last Sunday.

Nice thing to have when you need one, but it's far better not to need one in the first place.
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
Tomorrow will be six full months since my knee surgery.

Today I had my six-month follow-up appointment with my surgeon. He was very happy with my progress to date, and says that it's now just a matter of time getting strength back. Hopefully I can get back to full strength in another six months or so. Walking the mile each way between North Station and the Current Paying Gig is contributing to that getting strength back, clearly. (My longer-term plan involves bicycling instead of walking, come springtime, and he thought that was a grand idea.)

And he says I don't need to see him again unless something goes wrong. That's a clear sign of progress. My next PT appointment is next Tuesday, and I'll be talking to the physiotherapist about what the plan should be.

In additional happy news, my copy of Elizabeth Bear's Karen Memory finally arrived, and it's as cracking good a story as the reviewers have claimed. Steampunk! Not-Seattle Underground! Diesel-powered sewing machines! Political corruption! The Lone Ranger!

And a submarine! How flippin' awesome is that?
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
It's now been twenty-four weeks since my knee surgery. And I can actually use both knees now in going up and down stairs! Progress!

Not yet fully healed, mind, since I really need a strong bannister or two to hold onto for support while putting a load on my left knee. But fully healed is now in sight.

Still no fancy medical usericon. Blame a local shortage of round tuits.

[1] Technically, twenty-four weeks and one day, since my surgery was on a Friday and today's a Saturday.
edschweppe: Count Von Count of the Muppets (count)
Eighteen! Eighteen weeks! Ah-ha-ha!

Well, technically, eighteen weeks as of tomorrow, but today was the day of my followup visit with the surgeon who repaired my quadriceps tendon.

All gloating from Count von Count aside, things are going well. The doctor was very happy with how the knee looks, how the incision has healed, and how I'm progressing overall.

I'm still not able to use my left knee to actually drive myself up a full step, but I'm up to five inches of step-up exercise (finding a practical use for obsolete programming manuals in the process). And I've survived the occasional icy patches that Nature has thrown at me without damage.

Next followup visit will be in eight more weeks - which will make a full half-year since my surgery. How time flies when we're having fun - or some facsimile thereof.
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
On the one hand, it's kind of hard to believe it's been that long since my knee surgery.

On the other hand, I'm pretty happy with my recovery so far. I'm walking well enough to routinely take the commuter rail into Boston, which saves me money, aggravation, and wear-and-tear on the car. And my physical therapist now has me doing step-up exercises. Small steps, mind you - I just graduated to the two-inch step - but definite improvement. (As a bonus, I finally have a new use for some of the obsolete computer programming language manuals I have lying around!)

Hopefully, by the time I find myself needing to navigate snowy / icy streets, I'll have two good knees to do the navigating with.
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
And I still don't have a clever usericon. I do have continued progress towards a healed left knee, though, which is more important.

I'm doing well enough to not feel the need for a walking stick - on level, carpeted floors, at least. I'm not quite willing to risk the vast marbled halls of the Current Paying Gig's lobby (which are remarkably slippery even when dry) without having the stick at hand, let alone the Adventures in Frost Heaves which are downtown Boston sidewalks. OTOH, I can actually traverse said sidewalks - slowly, mind you - and walk between the MBTA stop of my choice and the Current Paying Gig. Shifting to the commuter rail instead of driving all the way downtown won't necessarily save time, but will save money and will usually save aggravation.

And next week, PT will start to include "gradual stairs" and "gentle incline". I'm certainly looking forward to being once again able to traverse such obstacles unaided.
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
Saw my surgeon today for the ten-week followup; he's happy with the incision and with my progress to date. Then PT tonight included the stationary bike for the first time. Only a couple of minutes, verrrry slooooow, and no resistance - but first time on the bike, none-the-less.
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
It's been eight weeks, now, since my knee surgery, and progress continues to progress. Today, my knee was flexible enough to let me actually tie shoelaces! Up to now, I've been wearing slip-on shoes. It's very nice to have that particular option back.

I'm also hobbling along well enough to handle walking from the North Station train platforms to the bus stop (for the rush-hour-only bus that stops two blocks from my Current Paying Gig) or the taxicab stand (in case I find myself at the station outside of rush hour). This means I can actually take the train into work rather than having to drive all the way downtown - some of the time, at least. Physical therapy days will probably still involve driving in, however, as I don't want to risk being late (a real danger with the T's commuter rail).

The real big thing about being eight weeks post-surgery, though, won't happen until my next session of physical therapy, as that's when "muscle strengthening exercise" will start.
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
It's now six weeks since my knee surgery, and I had a followup visit with my surgeon today. He's happy with the incision, and very happy with my range of motion to date.

Which means ... I no longer need the leg brace! I'm actually allowed to walk around without my knee locked! I don't have to stump from point A to point B! Yay! [1]

Of course, it's still going to be quite a while before I'm back to full strength and agility. For that matter, it'll be a while before I feel comfortable walking without my trekking pole as a balancing aid.

And, alas, I'll no longer have the leg brace to act as an automatic conversation starter. Oh, shucks.

[1] Insert Kermit-flailing arms image here. [2]
[2] Without any corresponding jumping up and down, alas. The knee's not in that good shape yet.
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
And things are going reasonably well.

Not perfectly well, mind. The knee brace is being occasionally recalcitrant, sliding down my leg further than desired and thus not providing the support it's supposed to. And, of course, having to wear the thing at all is an irritant. It's particularly irritating to have to wear it to work, since the Current Paying Gig doesn't permit men to wear shorts and the brace does not fit under dress slacks. (OTOH, the knee brace is an effective conversation starter.)

Having to drive into downtown Boston on a daily basis is irritating, as well; rush hour traffic has not gotten any more fun since the last time I had a downtown gig. The long-term solution will be to take the commuter rail; however, that has to wait until (a) I can walk several blocks in reasonable comfort and (b) I don't have to keep working physical therapy appointments into my schedule. The short-term good news is that the outfit running the parking garage seems to have figured out that, yes, there are now people driving in who use the handicapped-accessible spaces; unlike the week before, I didn't once have to bug the attendants to unchain the accessible spots.

However, my range-of-motion is continuing to improve, as is the strength of my left quadriceps muscle (which basically had nothing at all to do for the whole month of July). Hopefully I'm still on track to get rid of the brace after my next followup (in a couple of weeks).
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
Is actually pretty good. I had my first post-surgical doctor's appointment today (thirteen days post surgery), and the surgeon is quite pleased with the healing to date. He says I can now start flexing my knee up to 90 degrees (instead of the 30 degrees I was limited to for the first two weeks). Of course, my knee is saying "whoa, not so fast there, bub!" since it hasn't been flexed that far since the surgery, but I've got new settings on the mighty leg brace.

Also a prescription for PT. Goodness knows I want my full range of motion back, but I don't want massive ouchies along the way. I suspect I may not get the one without the other, though. (Will call the PT place in the morning and see what they have to say.)

With some luck, I'll be rid of the leg brace in another month or so. I'm definitely looking forward to that!
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
It's been a week (and a bit) since my knee surgery. A milestone, rather than a millstone.

The good news:
No complications from the surgery that I can detect. The post-anesthesia fog cleared up in about a day (as expected).
No excess bruising or swelling.
No sign of infection, leaking sutures, etc.
Not much pain anymore; I don't need the high-power narcotic pain medications anymore, and can usually get through the day without needing even OTC pain medications.

The bad news:
My mobility sucks and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. I need to have my knee brace locked at full extension (leg completely straight) whenever I walk anywhere. Even with the brace, I'm very leery of trying to walk any significant distance. My new Current Paying Gig is in downtown Boston, at least a quarter-mile from the nearest transit stop; this means that I actually have to drive into Boston at rush hour and pay downtown parking rates to get to work.
Climbing up stairs is a very slow process; climbing down stairs is worse. Climbing down stairs with any sort of cargo? Very difficult; I have come to quite the appreciation of the concept of the dumbwaiter. (And I'm really not looking forward to any building evacuation drills that might occur in the next few months.)
Getting into and out of the driver's seat is literally a pain in the ass. My knee does not like bending, even as far as the brace will let me bend it; to get in the door, I have to slide myself into the car sideways and sit on the center console before I can get my left leg far enough into the car to fit under the wheel. Hopefully that'll ease over time, but right now, I'm not only using handicapped spaces, I'm using handicapped spaces with the extra striping by the driver's side door.
Physical therapy has yet to begin, but I can already tell that my left quad is a lot weaker than it used to be (having effectively done nothing for the last month). This will be my first time ever having to do PT, and I'm not looking forward to it. (I'm looking forward to it being done, but that's not the same thing.)

Bonus before and after pics )

Six months is going to seem like a long time to recover.
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
We have unlocked the First Post-Surgical Shower achievement!
Along with the First Post-Surgical Dressing Change achievement!

Alas, we also unlocked the Discover Differences Between the Post-Surgical Instructions and the Actual Treatment achievement, which was not so fun. The instructions said that the incision would be closed with Steri-Strips. "Remove the large dressing, but leave the small white steri-strips in place. The steri-strips will be blood-tinged - this is normal. Apply band-aids over the steri-strips after it is dry." So, imagine my surprise when I removed the large dressing and found a completely streri-strip-less incision! Apparently the good Doctor used surgical glue, rather than steri-strips, for wound closure. (Happily, the surgical glue was not blood-tinged.)

This qualifies as progress. Thus say I.
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
With very large brace for company.
As well as large collection of painkillers. Fortunately, I haven't needed any of the really powerful stuff today, which hopefully qualifies as good news.

So now comes the boring part.

edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
And apparently successfully. Have big new knee brace and very ouchie knee under it. Also lots of mighty painkillers.

More nap now. Thanks to those who were Thinking Good Thoughts in my general direction.
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
About a month ago, I slipped and fell, landing with my left leg folded underneath me. At the time, I thought I'd probably sprained my knee; however, when it still hurt a week and a half later, I went to see my primary care physician, who immediately referred me to an orthopedic surgeon. Turns out I had ruptured my left quadriceps tendon. Ow.

I'm going in for a surgical repair tomorrow morning. (The original 10:30 AM start time has been pushed back to 12:30, for reasons not as yet explained to me.) The doc says the odds are extremely good that I'll recover full strength and range-of-motion, although that recovery will likely take six months or so.

Right now, though, I can't extend my left leg below the knee. I can't push off on that left leg, unless I've locked the knee or have the knee locked in a brace of some kind. I can go up and down stairs - slowly, and deliberately - as long as I do all the lifting / lowering of my weight on my right leg. If I have to walk any distance without a handrail in reach, I need to use a walking stick to keep my balance. And, after the surgery, I'll be on crutches for some not-yet-known period of time.

That last bit qualifies me for a Massachusetts handicap placard (since I can't walk more than two hundred feet without an assistive device). It's a definitely mixed feeling, having one of those. I certainly don't like needing one of them, but I'm grateful that they're available and that I'll be able to legitimately use HP parking while I'm hobbling along on crutches.

I'm even more grateful, though, that this is going to be a temporary deal. I find myself with a new understanding of what some of my less-than-perfectly-mobile friends have to put up with on a daily basis. Which, frankly, sucks; the Americans with Disabilities Act notwithstanding. Don't get me wrong; the fact that new construction has to be ADA-compliant means that most of the places I need to go can be accessed without having to climb stairs or step over high thresholds (which are the things I have had the most trouble with so far). OTOH, not every place has power-opening doors (which will be more of an issue on crutches, I suspect), and many of the accessible ramps are out of the way in annoying manners.


Jul. 16th, 2013 05:13 pm
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
Back from the dentist, just having had two teeth extracted. Ow.

I suppose the good news is that, in about a year or so, I can haz implants?


edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
Edmund Schweppe

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