today it has been three weeks since my surgery to remove a tumor from the inside of my femur. three long weeks of crutches. three more long weeks of crutches to go. boy do i hate crutches. i fantasize daily about being able to jump up from the couch and grab something from my room in a matter of seconds. but that's not reality. reality is grabbing my crutches, standing up, getting my crutches situated under my arms correctly and then hobbling into my room where the something i want is most likely out of reach (meaning down low) so i have to put my crutches together to use them as balance as i crouch down on my good leg to reach the something. and as strong as my arms have gotten in the last three weeks, they still hurt when i try to go anywhere where i have to crutch for more than five minutes. amazingly the only time my good leg hurts is when i'm in the shower for longer than five minutes. my foot cramps up so bad. i think because i'm balancing on one leg the whole time.
i had a million questions for my sister (who recently had leg surgery too) about recovery times. but her memory was not very good and also the surgeries were pretty different, so i thought i should jot down some things so someday if someone asks me, i can go back and remember. but i am not good at keeping a journal (like four years not good) so i'll write them here. also before my surgery i searched google for hours trying to find information on my surgery but to no avail. so maybe someone will find this information useful to them someday. so...
bone graft surgery recovery:
day 1: surgery. since they dug into my bone i had to stay the night in the hospital. i have very vague memories of the recovery room. basically the nurse there is trying to get rid of you as fast as possible. as soon as your pain level is down to a four or five they're allowed to send you to your room. i was pretty out of it that whole day. i only remember tiny bits of things, little pieces of conversations, a few instructions. not much. morphine morphine morphine. no matter what anyone says, don't let them take the morphine away. i'm fairly certain that the three hours in the middle of the night waiting to get the morphine back were the most painful in my life. no, i AM certain. people shouldn't let you make decisions about things like pain killers when you're on morphine.
day 2: another day drugged up on morphine. another night in the hospital. my surgery was on my leg so i had to use a walker to get to the bathroom. also, using the bathroom is really difficult when your leg is stuck in a straight position. the doctor came really early in the morning and i don't remember a thing about it other than i'm pretty sure it was still dark out. a physical therapist came that day to start me using crutches. taught me how to climb stairs if i remember right.
day 3: the doctor came really early again that day and asked if i wanted to stay another night. i did not. the physical therapist came again that day for like ten minutes. i was discharged.
day 3-8: horrible horrible horrible. i couldn't take the brace off. i couldn't bend my leg. i couldn't shower. we went to the great clips and had them wash my hair so i wasn't so greasy. i couldn't sleep at all. i'd lay awake for hours and hours. ugh. day five was the last day i used the heavy pain killers, for two reasons. one: they made me really really sick. two: i didn't need them anymore. ibprofen worked just fine. by the time i went to bed at night i couldn't even lift my arms because they were so tired from crutching around everywhere. i was hot all the time from the bandage and brace. also, bored bored bored. if you're going to watch three movies a day for a week, make sure they are ones you haven't seen already. it will help with the insanity.
day 9: this was the first day i really started feeling better. my head cleared. i started being able to sleep again. other then leg pain and shoulder soreness i was feeling pretty good. i saw the doctor and got to take the brace off and have the bandage taken off. before the surgery i was told i'd be on crutches for four weeks and i wouldn't even need a brace. yeah...sure. right before the surgery (and i mean RIGHT before) my doctor informed me that there was a chance they would cut a nerve and i'd lose feeling right below my knee. well, they cut the nerve so now i have a four inch circle below the incision where my skin is numb. i still have to wear the brace when i leave the house, but i can keep it off when i'm at home. i can't put any weight on my leg because after putting in the bone graft i am left with a broken femur and any weight could cause the bone to break even more. the best part of the day was being able to take a shower. if you've ever gone a week without showering you will know what i mean. the most disappointing thing was that even without the brace on i couldn't bend my knee. this was also the first day i felt safe being left alone. i was able to get my own breakfast (which is more difficult then it sounds) and do simple tasks for myself.
day 11: i had physical therapy for the first time. it was not as painful as people said it would be. by the end i could bend my knee 45 degrees, which is not as far as it sounds. they measure the angle from a straight leg, so 45 degrees is about one half the way to a 90 degree sitting position.
day 12: i drove for the first time. it was hard getting in and out of the car (especially since the brace keeps my leg at 10 degrees, which is almost straight) but i had surgery on my left leg so driving was a breeze.
day 15: i went back to work. if i had a job where i sat at a desk all day it would have been a breeze. but i work with fifteen 4-6 graders who have serious behavior problems. i learned quickly that the trick is to sit sit sit. when i get up, i only stay up for five to ten minutes. then i need to sit. the kids come to me. they don't seem to mind though. and they've been really good. well, relatively speaking.
day 16: physical therapy again. got my leg to 60 degrees. my therapist said that each time i come to physical therapy my angle would be smaller than it was the when i ended the last time, but this hasn't been true. i've managed to keep the angle each time, meaning i started at 45 (where i ended the previous session) and by the end of the session had gotten to 60.
day 18: pt again. started at 60 and got to 74. this had made getting in and out of the shower a lot easier. instead of my leg being mostly straight, now it can bend pretty well, so i can lift my leg up and into the shower instead of getting tangled in the shower curtain each time.
day 20: the doctor said the steri-strips (the little pieces of tape going across my incision) would fall off themselves. they did not. they didn't even start to peel. so i took them off. i wanted my leg to really be clean. now it's just my incision and some remnants of the superglue that don't seem to want to come off. there's also some ink that i have really scrubbed at but seems to be pretty permanent. i can't see the stitches except at the very end where my skin is numb.
day 22 (21 days after surgery): today. my arms don't hurt much today. not at all right now. i'm going to have to come up with some exercise program so i can keep up these muscles i've built even after i ditch the crutches. my knee still aches sometimes, mostly after i've been stretching. i take ibprofen once in the morning and once before bed each day still. the most annoying thing, other than the crutches of course, is the tingling on my numb spot. my therapist said that as the nerves heal they will itch or hurt, but for me it's just tingling. all. day. long. sometimes it kind of tickles but mostly it's just annoying. i'm supposed to do my stretches 6 times a day. in reality i do them one to three times every day. except today i've been doing them all day long. i can get my leg to 90 but not one bit farther. no matter how much i stretch. i guess it just needs more time.
i'll update this as i remember things and as i continue recovering.