April 13, 2011

I'll Match that Carpal Tunnel Operation with a Menisectomy Thanks!

Well, that was one heck of a weekend - and certainly not one I'd like to repeat!

Just 2½ weeks ago I had a carpal tunnel operation on my left hand. And then last Saturday I was walking upstairs when my left knee went "Crunch!" and became locked and I ended up in a considerable amount of pain. 

The ambulance took me to the local Gladstone Hospital where they gave me lots of drugs including morphine so they could try and push my leg back into a straight position. No amount of drugs though could stop the pain and eventually they realised that I had something seriously wrong and needed an urgent operation. (Although the same knee had been operated on 12 months ago, it had been causing me pain and making life a general misery since that time.)

So then I went on a very uncomfortable trip from Gladstone to Rockhampton in the back of an ambulance, where every bump in the road added to my  pain. Arriving early afternoon, I was placed in the Accident and Emergency Ward where I was told not to eat or drink anything because I might need to go in for surgery. Finally about 9.30pm on Saturday night, around 24 hours since I'd eaten and drunk anything, they finally fed me some sandwiches and a cup of coffee. It wasn't until around 1am in the morning that I finally got a bed in the orthopedics ward and spent a rather miserable night in pain, despite the pain killers they gave me.

All day I waited again, with no food or water and the staff had to continually monitor my blood sugar levels as I am a diabetic. Finally around 6.30pm on Sunday evening I was wheeled off to surgery where they convinced me that a spinal anaesthetic was the safest option for me, especially since I have severe sleep apnoea. It wasn't as horrible as I imagined being awake during the surgery, and one of the nurses continued chatting with me to distract me from what was going on in my left knee and to keep me alert and awake.

The next afternoon I was up and about and the physiotherapist checked out my walking ability and my capacity to walk up and down steps, especially since I have 14 at home! The physiotherapist, pharmacist and other medical personnel deemed that I was ready to leave and I was back home in Gladstone by Monday afternoon.

So that made it 2 operations in 2 different hospitals in 2½ weeks for 2 different health issues. Not a bad record I thought.

The surgeon let me know the morning after the operation that I had quite severe arthritis in my left knee, more than someone of my age should have, which was something I already knew. He told me I should probably lose some weight (gee thanks for the tip). From what I understand, they had performed a menisectomy to repair or tidy up the damaged meniscus tendon in my left knee. The added arthritis is certain not going to help my knee problems. 

I also made another discovery after chatting with one of the doctors: because I was born with a congenital defect in my left hip, and my left leg is shorter than my right, the fact that I was born with no arches in my feet and had knock-knees as a toddler, and because I had scoliosis (Scheuermann's disease) as a teenager, this has probably all contributed to the problems I have with my left knee.

Well anyway, that was my exciting weekend! And just the day before I had been planning to complete my homework assignments for my current course over the weekend - another exciting option!

But the most interesting experience that I had (other than the great staff and 3 other lovely patients in the room with me) was the after-effects of a spinal anaesthetic. While your legs go numb, so does your entire bum. Yes, I literally had a numb bum! It was the weirdest sensation, and when I'd sit on the toilet or back in bed, it felt like I was trying to sit on a hole and that I was about to fall through it! Then when the sensation started returning to my buttocks, it was just a small area at a time that started returning to life, and I cannot (or should not) describe the strangeness of it all!

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