Monday, December 22, 2014

The Deja Blues

                                            The Slippery Slope    © 2004

   I have been in a funk, a major snit.  The "Slippery Slope" above seems relevant to my health.  Eleven months ago, I had a total knee replacement on my right knee so I could kayak, bike and be the active retiree my husband wanted.  Five years ago, I had to have my my left one done.  (Twice, as it happens, because the knee became infected.  It was a very rough patch.  Not just the pain, but IV antibiotics that I had to administer through a pic line for six weeks.)  This time, the operation went swimmingly.  My physical therapist said I had the fastest full recovery he had ever seen.
   Then came the Fitbit bracelet,  measuring my every step.  I was so cocky that 10,000 steps seemed half-hearted.  I went for 15,000. 
   Wham! Last May my knee started hurting very badly.  I think if I could have taken NSAIDs or any anti-inflamatory it would have stopped.  But anti-inflammatories are verboten for the colitis-impaired.  And Tylenol is as effective as eye of newt.
  I spent many hours with ice packs and my physical therapist.   It got better.  I could walk up stairs normally.  But I couldn't speed walk.  This went on for many months.  My doctor thought we should check for infection.  He aspirated fluid from the knee.  Four days later I learned the gram stain came back positive but they lost the culture. Not good.
   Silly me, I panicked, thinking this meant a new knee replacement.    There were the dark moments spent on the internet.  If the knee was infected, it would mean two surgeries.  One to remove the infected titanium knee and insert a cement spacer loaded with antibiotics.  After six weeks of pic-line IV injections, if it was clear, I could have another knee replacement.  Basically, I would be sidelined for five months. Surely Medicare would balk at five surgeries on two knees.  And what was the guarantee that the new knee wouldn't get infected? (The doctor thinks I have some auto-immune issues.)  If it did, the next step would be, according to the internet, amputation.
   The doctor aspirated my knee again.  This time the gram stain was negative but the culture was positive for staph.
   The doctor was unhappy with the lab.  The next week he aspirated my knee in the operating room of a hospital.  Several days of anxiety later, I learned the 24 and the 48 hour cultures were negative.  Today I learned the 72 hour culture was also clear.  
  The best Christmas present ever.
  I still don't know why my knee hurts, but I no longer care.  Happy Holidays, and may all of your surgeries be involuntary.