Friday, June 17, 2011

Explaining Ouchies, Surgery and Recovery

Today is the day of my surgery! And I think a blog post is just the thing to distract myself from my growling stomach and throbbing head due to not being able to eat from midnight last night until my surgery at 3:00 plus the post-op time (about 3 hours left to surgery and I'M STARVING!) I don't do well without food. But it'll be worth it when my knee is better.

Over the last 4 weeks, I've spent a lot of time reminding my 4 year old and now 2 year old to be careful of my hurt/ouchie knee. The Pumpkin has been doing pretty well, remembering to walk around my leg when I have to stick it out from a chair, being patient when it takes me time to hobble over to get her something, and listening/following directions when I ask her to stop swinging her legs because they bang my chair and hurt my bad knee. There was only one time that she threw a package of socks to me which hit me EXACTLY in the worst spot of my knee, and when she realized what she'd done, she said sorry immediagely. (I never realized a soft package of socks could hurt so bad!)

The Pookie has less understanding and memory for these things, but he has also really be good about it and gets better and better with regular reminding. I regularly tell him when he gets near my left leg, "Mommy's hurt knee. Ouchie. No touch." Now he pats my left thigh or shin, looks up at me and says, "Ur knee? ur knee?" for hurt knee. And I respond, "That's right. Hurt knee. No touch." Then he pats my right leg somewhere and says, "Goo knee?" And I respond, "Yes, that's Mommy's good knee." When I put him to bed, he has gotten used to not rocking and he's been more and more careful about where he puts his feet and legs when he's sitting on my lap.

I'm constantly amazed at what kids can adjust to in a short amount of time.

Yesterday, I explained to the kids (well, mostly the Pumpkin) again that I'm going to have surgery and what it is. I told them that something is torn inside Mommy's knee (showing my daughter what a tear is using a piece of paper) and that the doctor needs to go inside my knee and fix it up. The Pumpkin seemed to understand that pretty well, especially since I know it takes a few times of explaining for kids to get things, so I have explained it a few times. Most of it is still over the Pookie's head, but hey, he can tell me that the car is blue!

Yesterday I mentioned to the Pumpkin that I would have to spend a few days after the surgery "recovering." I don't think I had gotten into this with her before, and she asked what "recovering" meant. I explained that recovering was spending time in bed, not moving much and not doing much of anything except things like watching shows on TV or reading and maybe some snuggling so that the knee would get all better after the surgery. I told her that I wouldn't be able to get up and play or do much of anything. But that once I was recovered and I did some exercises, my knee would be all better and that I would be able to do everything I did before!

She seemed to take all this in fine. In fact, she told me that when I was recovering, she was going to go into her room and get some books from her bookshelf for me to read. How sweet is that?!?!

Thankfully, my mother-in-law and father-in-law are staying with us to help Londo with the kids so he can take me to the surgery and take care of me while I recovery. Recovery for this surgery should be only a day or two, but as Londo pointed out to me a couple weeks ago, I generally take almost twice as long to recover from things as the doctors say. So I'm planning on 2-4 days, but I know that I will keep getting better and better until I'm back to normal and can run around with my kids again!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Happy 2nd Birthday to the Pookie!

Today, my baby boy turned 2! TWO! I can't even believe it!

He's not a baby anymore. He's even starting to move beyond being a toddler. And he is completely amazing.

He loves cars (go-goes) and trains and his sister. He playing pretend, racing and, well, whatever his sister comes up with. He gets so excited when Daddy or Mommy come into the room that it warms our hearts. He's great at so many things and learning so quickly. Just today, he was able to tell me the color of the car he was holding was "boo" (although he also said the red one was blue, so colors are a work in progress).

He's able to do so much physically, running and jumping and climbing up and down everything. He is putting together whole sentences! His pronounciation is getting more clear, and he generally is able to get across what he means. And he tells us "ah woh oo" all the time, even when we don't say I love you first!

It seems like just yesterday he was a babe in my arms. And now, he's a little boy.

Happy Birthday, Pookie! Thanks for being such a wonderful part of our family of four.

An aside: My babies are growing up so quickly! In fact, I don't have babies anymore! Two years since my youngest was born? Do you know what this is doing to my ovaries?!? My mom heard a term that describes it perfectly: womb wistfulness. I never thought I would actually miss the newborn/infant/baby stage, but there you have it.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Two Working Knees Are Overrated

Sooooo... I tore the meniscus in my knee. It's my left knee, and it's a pretty bad tear. I've been hobbling around with a cane and a knee brace on, trying to stay off my leg as much as possible. It ranges from sore to painful, it's especially hard to "watch" (all parents know that translates into "chase after") the kids, and I feel old--especially with my "old woman cane."

I'm having surgery on Friday, then I will be laid up in bed for a couple days, on crutches for a week or two and going through physical therapy for about 4 weeks. As frustrating as all that sounds, it's going to be WAY better than how it feels now and how limited I am now.

And doesn't it sound serious? Surely, you are thinking that I had some major accident, like a sports incident like Keri Strug. Or that I was fighting off criminals using some choice Krav Maga moves. Or simply that I was doing my own stunts, when I know there are people who are paid to do them!

Nope. In fact, I didn't even realize what I had done at first.

In the beginning of May, my knee started feeling like it was popping in and out of alignment when I'd try to stand up without first straitening my leg. So imagine you are sitting criss-cross-applesauce on the floor with your kids. Then you go to stand up. Your legs kind of unfold as you are standing, right? Not so much with mine. My left leg wouldn't unfold completely, and I couldn't put any weight on it at all. I had to sit back down, straighten in out, and then stand up keeping my left leg aligned straight.

Yeah, I know that doesn't sound right. But this is the knee I've had problems with since I as a young teenager. The cartiledge around my kneecap started wearing away back then, and I just assumed it was related to that issue. Once I had straightened my leg, it was as if there was never a problem. So no, I didn't go to the doctor then or really think much about it.

A couple weeks later, we went down to my inlaws. They live out in the mountains, with lots of beautiful woods, and it's very much the country. There is a long involved story (which ends with the fact that I am not to go walking around on my own down there), but the pertinent part is that I decided to hike up the steep hill from the bottom where I was to the top where my inlaws house is.

It was a lovely, though very hot, Saturday afternoon. It was so hot, that I realized I needed to walk in the shade. I turned as I was taking a step on the uneven ground to head to the shade over the path. My foot kind of slid or something, I'm not even sure. All I know is that my knee popped out while I was taking a step, and I couldn't take another step.

I don't think I've adequately gotten across what happened. YEOWZA!!! My knee just popped out of alignment! The STABBING PAIN!!! The inability to stand on my leg! I had to sit down, at the edge of the shade, still at the bottom of the hill, in a lot of pain, with NO ONE AROUND!

Fortunately, I was able to kind of massage it a bit and get it aligned right. Once aligned, I stood up no problem and hiked the whole way up the hill without any issues. Weird, yes. But then it was fine.

Until the next morning, when I tried to get up from the floor. It popped out, and did not go back in. I could not realign it again. I could not massage it away. I could not walk on it, and it was painful constantly. There was no more shrugging this knee issue away. Thankfully, my inlaws had a cane that they were able to lend me, which has been invaluable ever since.

Two doctor's appointments, one x-ray and one MRI later, we knew for sure it was a torn meniscus. An appointment with the orthopedic surgeon, another doctor's appointment, a blood draw and lots of paperwork later, I'm set to go for surgery on Friday. After lots of googling, talking with others who had torn meniscuses (menisci?), and conferring with the doctors, and I'm pretty sure I've figured out what happened.

In the early days of May, I was getting the kids set in the car to go to school. I was stretched across the Pumpkin's carseat in order to hand something to the Pookie in his carseat. I was stretched and turned and precarious, and then... the car door shut on my leg.

HOLY SMOKES! It hurt a lot!!! It was a big, heavy door, and my driveway is an uphill one, so there was lots of gravity added to the weight of the door. I had big bruises on both sides of my leg: shin and calf. In fact, I still have the bruise on my shin over 6 weeks later. I thought that was all it was, though, just bad bruises. I did not connect this incident with the issue about my knee popping in and out when I stood up until much later when I realized that the knee issue started about the same time as that.

The popping in and out was because part of the torn meniscus was getting into the knee joint, causing the "popping" feeling and preventing the knee from aligning correctly unless I realigned it first.

When I was hiking and did that funny thing to my knee, it actually made the tear in the meniscus worse and caused swelling and inflamation. I got it aligned and okay before the swelling and inflamation got too bad, so I was fine the rest of that day. But the next morning, when I didn't align my leg before getting up, the torn meniscus slipped into the knee joint and all that swelling and inflamation kept it from being fixed easily.

I've done my best to stay off my leg as much as possible since, but that is hard to do with two young children. Londo has taken on so much, and my family has really been amazing help. In addition, the Pumpkin has been pretty great help too. We call her "Helpie Girl" and she just lights up when she gets to help!

But I've had to cut back on all my plans for weekends, the family beach vacation, household projects, and the birthday party plans for the Pookie (whose birthday is tomorrow!). Luckily, I've been able to work from home. But I'm sick of sitting around the house and staring at all the things that I have to do but can't.

Not much longer until the surgery and hopefully a relatively quick recovery. Then I can jump back into enjoying summer with two working knees and two kiddos full of energy!