Unexpected Results



Living with Consequences


Right Knee Replacement

Howdy, folks! I've been scarce, but my life took a radical turn after May of last year. Some of you may have heard a thing or two about it. And others, well, you're in the dark.

Now the dark isn't such a bad place to be. I wish I was in the dark too. I'm being honest! I frankly wish I didn't know anything about lumbarsacral plexopathy, or chronic regional pain syndrome. I definitely don't want to know anymore about Clostridium difficile colitis. I've experienced enough for a lifetime.

Why don't I start at the beginning?

Pain is nothing new to me. It's a rather familiar companion. I've endured severe migraines since childhood and arthritic knee pain for over fifteen years. But nothing close to what I experienced in early 2017. Pain took on new meaning for me, and in the matter of months, I could no longer function.

After a normal work day (10 hours standing behind the pharmacy counter), my knee began to protest like never before. In other words? It felt like sharp spikes digging into the bones beneath my kneecap and behind my leg. It was literal agony as the pain stabbed and worked its way down to my toes. Any turn, reach, or push off of the toes was excruciating.

I found myself searching for breath more than once and barely suppressed the screams as each second on my feet seemed like hours. Each day of my life turned into a cycle of torture or so I believed.

I searched for ways to ease the pain, but nothing worked. I tried heat and ice, ibuprofen, naproxen... My knee throbbed. Pain creams, massage... The longer I waited to fix the problem, the worse it grew. I limped to ease the pressure. Nope. I used a cane, nothing. The consequences of working 8-10 hour days on an arthritic knee for 15 years had finally caught up to me.

I made an appointment with a specialist, and the doctor told me to go to someone "more versed with my age and procedure." So I did and that specialist told me the news I'd worked so hard never to hear. It was time for knee replacement surgery, and he was willing to do it in July. And he even had GOOD NEWS! He believed a Compartmental Knee Replacement is all I would need! Wow, I left the office with my husband in pleasant shock and a surgery date written into the books. God was so good! Faith had paid off!

I returned home to make plans while I worked. I told myself, "You've got this. Your knee will be better in a few months and you'll be back to work in no time at all."  

But I didn't "have this." In the matter of a week, I was on crutches and not working because of intractable pain. I couldn't walk much less stand at the pharmacy counter. It was unbearable to push down on the accelerator or the brake to drive my car down the street to the store so I was housebound.

My surgery date was moved from July to June to May. I arrived at the clinic in the morning and had my surgery. No, I didn't get my compartmental as planned. My specialist decided at the last minute (literally right before he went into the OR) to change his mind and do a full knee replacement of my right knee. He stated that my declination was too drastic. I woke up with a brand new knee of titanium. Things would be a lot better or so I thought.

I began physical therapy as directed, gung-ho to get on my feet as fast as possible. People needed me! My husband, my staff, my readers... I didn't have time to be down. Right? But, well...

My body decided otherwise. I wish I could blame God or somebody else, even life, but no, in the end it was my body. It didn't cooperate with us, our plans. The doctor wanted to fix my knee and that's it. I wanted to get a new knee and go back to work, but no, things don't always work that way. My body didn't like what was happening for whatever reason and rebelled against it.

I did what I was supposed to do, but no matter how hard I tried, things didn't go as planned. No matter how hard I tried, nothing got "better." I couldn't fight it or make it go away. I kept getting weaker, and the pain grew stronger. I had unexpected results to my surgery and nobody believed me.

Since those days, my life has turned into a living hell. Although my knee was "rehabilitated," my leg muscles have shrunk (atrophied). My ankle is so weak, it can't support my weight without a brace. It rolls otherwise when I walk. My lower back hurts continuously, causing me not to be able to stand or sit upright for any length of time. And the nerve pain... I can't explain the sheer torture I endure day in and day out. It shoots up my back, into my hip, down my leg, and into my foot and toes. It never, ever stops day or night. Sleep? Well, we won't talk about sleep.

You'd think life would be unbearable like this but God is good. He's given me the one person who can understand more than anyone else, to walk by my side through it all; my husband, James. Not only does he understand the pain of a knee replacement, but he lives with intractable nerve pain and back pain as well. He knows what it's like to lie awake every night aching with a body that won't turn itself off. Is it easy to live with each other? Two people in perpetual pain day in and day out? I would have to say no. Is it worth it? Oh yes and I thank the Lord with all my heart.

God is the Pillar of Strength I still hold on to however. Yes, even tighter than James. I didn't think I could bear anything else. Then Clostridium difficile came and then came again.

It taught me that, whatever I do, I can't turn my back on my body. I can't let my guard down. She'll kick me if I do. Oh, and then kick me again.

What is C. diff? Is it something special or new? No, it is everywhere. It's not like it's something the body doesn't know about. But mess with the normal flora by taking an antibiotic or two or get the immune system a little out of whack and WHAM! Look out. C. diff will take advantage of the scenario and that's exactly what happened to me. I took Clindamycin and was exposed to C. difficile and that's all it took.




All I can say is be careful out there and learn about C. difficile. It's more common than you may know and a lot of people die from it every year. I spent three days in the hospital this year from severe dehydration and hypokalemia due to the diarrhea and vomiting that C. diff causes. It's not the stomach flu, and it's not limited to the hospital environment. The medical community is behind the eight ball on this one. In other words, they don't know as much as they should about it anymore. So teach yourself because you may need the knowledge one day.

That's what I'm doing. Post-2nd round, I'm learning what to eat now. Some things are okay, others aren't. I've lost around fifteen pounds and consider myself blessed. God has taken care of me. He's watched over me. James and I have learned more than we could ever have imagined about C. diff, pain, and the human body. It's amazing what we can endure. It really is.

If I can still praise the Almighty, you can, too. If I can endure, you can, too. Because I know that God is good...All the time.


Matthew 6:34: "So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

Thank you for joining me on the blog today. I've shared a piece of my past and present with you. Welcome to my world. I'd love to know what yours is like. Please share how you live through your trials and tribulations. Or simply a day at work or at the subway or grocery store. God is good and He is always there with us. He loves us...ALWAYS!


In Christ,

Renee

Comments

  1. You are indeed a blessed woman, though in those many times of pain, you wouldn't know it. tough situation and please know that in spite of these things, you are appreciated by this ol' goat and an inspiration for me to keep going in spite of my pain too. bless you. author Terry Palmer

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Terry. You inspire me as well. If I can help even one person, the pain is worth it. God knows my heart and knows I mean. it. :) God bless you, Terry.

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  2. Renee, I knew some of what was going on but not the whole story. Wouldn't it be lov-er-ly if we could pick and choose our aches and pains. And if I could I'm sure I'd still be wishing for less. I've prayed for you, but you're right I know nothing about the C diffi...stuff. Thank you for giving us the heads up and places to go for educating ourselves. Do they have any idea about the weakness in your lower leg? The weight loss is a good thing...just a yucky way to get there. But like I said in my current Crosswalk article..."...trials and bad times press us closer to God." And to each other. What a great husband you have...and what a great wife he has...you two are blessed!

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    Replies
    1. C. difficile has to be the biggest known "unknown" in the medical field. It's time to educate the educators. I hope I helped. :) I thank God every moment of my life for the man He put in it. James has been the biggest blessing I have ever had. As for my leg, it's "normal" anatomically. Nothing is wrong with it physically at all. My calf muscle is atrophied or wasted away. It makes it hard for the muscles, tendons, and ligaments around my ankle bones to function. They don't support each other and my ankle rolls and twists when I walk. I've also developed bone spurs on the bottom of my feet due to standing on them over the years. It makes for a very dangerous and painful scenario. I could twist my ankle and fall leading to a serious situation like breaking an ankle, leg, or hip. My nerves are already in hyper-drive. If I were to fall, well, my neurologist is stressing that I don't do it. LOL So, I'm using a cane or a staff to help me with my balance as well as a leg brace to take some of the weight off my ankle and support it. :) It works for him and me too. God is getting me through this. One day at a time.

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