Doug's Blog

Helping out

Just a quick thought on the fires wreaking such havoc at Fort McMurray. Helping out is actually quite easy and really doesn’t call for much. For example, if 50 people donate $5, that becomes $250, and there are ways to contribute that much to the Red Cross Society by simply having it added to your cellular bill. You could do it more than once, making it quite simple to give more. In an interesting fit of mathematical nicety, giving that $5 makes it becomes $10, because the federal government has agreed to match contributions to the Red Cross.

No cell? No problem. You can donate using the Red Cross Alberta Fire Appeal website.

I think most of us could live with $5 less, and many of us wouldn’t miss a much larger amount, either. If nothing else, think of it as an easy way to double your money. Who could turn that down? And, it’s a tax deduction (remember doing taxes recently?)

Do be careful about some particular aid campaigns. For example, one “media” representative is suggesting that donations to him will be passed on the Red Cross as well. Perfectly fine, I suppose, until you consider that the donation will qualify him for the charitable donation deduction on his income tax, rather than those who actually contributed the money…

Regional hockey blackouts suck

In four minutes, the channel I’m watching will go black. Why? Because there’s a hockey game on it covered under the NHL’s regional blackouts. In case you don’t understand how it works, try holding the following conversation with the NHL:

Them: You can’t watch that channel.

Me: But, I pay the cable company to watch that channel.

Them: Yes, but you can’t watch it. You don’t live in the right province.

Me: But I paid for that channel and the shows on it.

Them: You paid to watch the channel but you didn’t pay to watch our content.

Me: (insert rude expletive here)

Them: You could pay us more money and watch it on a different channel.

Me: What’s the difference?

Them: We get more money. Then, it doesn’t matter what province you live in.

Me: So I can see every game?

Them: Yes. Except some are blacked out…

I have begun to firmly believe that the NHL’s motto should be: The fans only count when we can suck money out of them.

Camping considered: the first road trip

The weather is turning nice. We have a new car. It was time for the first short road trip of the year.

I wanted this to see if I could get a few pictures. It’s also time to see how long I can drive with my knee recovering. And, I wanted to know, now that we’ve hit the break in period, how the car would be on a longer road trip. And then, there is the final reason. It’s time to start preparing the cats for the road.

Everything worked out the way I expected. The short drive, about 45 minutes, was fine for the car and my knee. I didn’t get any pictures, but that happens. Darcy, as usual, approached this with the attitude of, “Road trip. They’ll wake me when it’s time to eat.” Furball, however, is not my little road warrior. The mournful meows started in the driveway. He sounds like you’re pulling his soul out of his body through the pores of his skin. The good news is that he settled down after about half an hour. But, he was a pretty happy kitty when we came in the house…

The knee chronicles

I apologise to Ray Bradbury for a potential title plagiarising issue.

It’s been a bit over eleven weeks since my surgery and I figured it must be time for a progress report. And, I have been making progress. Last week, I graduated from physiotherapy, meaning I am now fit to be doing my rehab exercises on my own. That being said, I do have to go back in for an assessment to ensure I have been getting along without the physiotherapy version of adult supervision.

I can bend my knee 110°, which is far more than I could before surgery. This is kind of neat considering that the surgeon said I would probably have a little less than I had after surgery. I ride my stationary bike daily, up to 30 minutes twice a day. This is fun since I wasn’t able to bend my knee enough to do that since shortly after I started building the house in 2004. I’m looking forward to taking my old road bike, a 10-speed I bought about 20 years ago at a yard sale for $10, in for a tune up and hitting the streets. No, I’m not considering the Klondike Road Relay yet, but who knows what next year may bring.

My main physiotherapist wants me to try and get the bend up to about 115°. As a note, there actually is a stop built into the metal joint that prevents you from bending it more than 120°. This is to keep you from bending further than the joint surfaces, an issue you may not want to picture. I still need to work on this, since there is apparently a rather small window of time to work on this before it closes. I`ll admit that I`m amazed I have this much range of motion, but am greedy enough to take more if I can get it. I will spare you have much I “enjoy” my range of motion exercises. People who have been to physio have no fear of going to hell.

I still have some pain and still take over the counter pain killers. I also still have a few issues getting into the cab of my truck, although I have no issues getting in and out of Clara`s new car if I push the seat all the way back. It`s still way better than trying to get in or out of the Escape, and I don`t miss trying to sardine myself into it (is that really a verb, or am I just verbing something I shouldn’t?)

I still take my cane with me when I go out, although it really is just for dealing with the snow. I’ve been walking without it for weeks now. My borrowed equipment (crutch, walker, etc.) went back to the Red Cross two weeks ago.

Next month, there are two upcoming milestones. On April 4th, I go back to work. I’m looking forward to it, although it will take a little pre-training to remind myself that I have to get up in the morning. And, the same date is the first day the insurance goes back on the camper for the summer season. Given how early things seem to be this year, that second milestone is probably pretty important. There are some lakes open here already.

 

knee picture

So, here’s a picture of it in all its glory. I figure most of you will get to see it when shorts weather arrives. The incision has healed quite nicely and the scar is getting paler and less obvious. I didn’t want to post an earlier one with the staples, since I looked like I’d been involved in an office supplies accident that would be hard to explain in the emergency ward…

Four weeks in

Time seems to move on and my latest progress report is probably due. It’s been 4 weeks since my surgery and things seem to be moving along nicely.

I still have plenty of pain and if someone knows a comfortable position that allows you to sleep for more than 30 minutes at a time, I’ll take it. Physio is where they send evil souls to repent for lives badly lived (twice a week with with equally hellish exercises twice daily.) I am thoroughly skilled at doing math based on 4 hours (T1s) and 6 hours (ibuprofen) simultaneously and knowing to the minute when the next increment comes due.

There are good sides to this, however. Although one of my physiotherapists seems to think I’m making no headway, I have greater range of motion in my knee than I did prior to surgery. I can almost make a full rotation on the bike pedals, something I have not been able to do for almost 10 years. I have more than 90° of bend in my knee, which I did not have prior to surgery. This is in spite of the surgeon pointing out that one usually does not have the bending range in a replacement joint that one did have prior to surgery.

I have graduated to a cane indoors, although with the snow and ice, I tend to use my crutches outdoors. I can go longer periods of time without elevating my knee. I still avoid frequently using the stairs and sleep downstairs on the sofa bed. I was a little worried about the lack of height it had so we bought a memory foam mattress to put on top of the existing one. This is quite comfortable and I suspect the one currently in the motor home, which is the same size, is destined to spend this summer in the basement while we camp.

The really interesting reaction to my surgery, though, comes from the cats. When my leg starts to really hurt, both cats are there. Darcy snuggles, while Furball has to snuggle right up to my incision. If you need feline companionship in my house, all you have to do is wince.

If you’re wondering whether or not I recommend this, I will throw in the fact that I don’t know anyone who’s had a knee replaced and didn’t like the final result. I’m looking forward to the finished product six months or so down the road, considerably more than how I got to that point. I will tell you this much about the process. This is certainly one example where it’s not the journey. It’s the destination…

Progress report

It’s been almost two weeks since my knee replacement, so I figured I should fire out a quick line on where I am right now.

I still have quite a bit of pain. When you consider that the surgery involves cutting the ends of the bones off, hammering and gluing metal replacement mating surfaces on the end of the tibia and femur, and cutting one of the largest muscles in the human body and stapling that back together, I’m not really surprised. My biggest problem these last few days is my left hip and left hamstring. Both scream at me constantly and I don’t really sleep much at night because of it. I suspect it comes from learning how to walk properly again and I assume it will go away eventually.

I may have avoided a nasty infection in my knee. This is a bad thing, but after three days on antibiotics, I’m feeling much better. This is important, since infection is the worst case scenario for a knee replacement. At the really bad end of the scale, it requires removing the new joint, waiting until the infection clears, and then reinstalling it.

The infection has me behind on my exercises, though. Rehabbing a joint involves mixing pain and frustration and scheduling this regularly. I do want to get back on track and go back to my regular physio appointments Mondays and Wednesdays. These were to start Wednesday, but my physiotherapist thought visiting the emergency room and dealing with my infection was a better idea.

I can’t wait until I’m allowed to drive again. This should be any time now, and it’s not like I’m going anywhere specific. I dislike not being able to get up and go when I want to. And, as you can imagine, I probably suffer from unsurvivable boredom.

One more thing for the progress report. I still have a sizable number of staples in my knee. These come out Monday and I’m looking forward to getting them out. Actually, it’s probably more accurate to say I’m looking forward to having them out. The “getting” part is not my favourite past time. I could post a picture, but a rather long incision picture with about 40 staples doesn’t appeal to most people. Suffice to say, I look like an office supplies accident, and leave it at that.

 

Busy, busy

I’ve been more than usually remiss with posting in the blog. I didn’t get a chance to do much during the election, whose results were an improvement. How much of an improvement remains to be seen, but an improvement nonetheless.

My issue is that I was finally approved for knee replacement surgery in June and have been working with the date for surgery I was given then. This was approximately the end of February, or possibly, early March.

This resulted in a number of issues, such as dealing with my classes scheduled for next semester and finding a replacement instructor or instructors. The question also arose as to whether I would teach the first part of the semester and have my replacement step in when I went for surgery.

This got turned around a bit last month when I discovered that my surgical date would be early January rather than later. Suffice to say, I’ve been trying to finalise things in a huge hurry. I need to do a bunch to things around the house to get ready for the winter, as well as now needing to be prepared for work things to be arranged before that point as well.

This does clarify how my teaching schedule will pan out next term. From a budget standpoint, it does mean replacing me for the full term. However, several classes I was scheduled to teach were cancelled and this does provide a cheaper solution.

This also means a spate of more or less last minute medical appointments to prep for the surgery.

Now, after six repair jobs, there really isn’t much to do with what’s left of this knee beyond replacing it. Four of those, by the way, were during the 1970s, when knee surgery was a thing of cold chisels, pry bars, and big hammers. This is very much like that, although with a far daintier end result. And, I am really looking forward to that end result.

I was told In 1985 that I needed a replacement knee. The surgeon I saw at the time did offer the additional comment that I “might want to wait until they got better at making them.” I didn’t know the wait would be quite this long…

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