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28 June 2003 — Knee Update #37 (3)

Both my physical therapist and my doctor are pleased with my recovery. The knee is healing well, and my muscles are beginning to develop, though slowly.

At physical therapy last week I was able to obtain 101 degrees of flexion unassisted, 114 degrees of flexion with the aid of my therapist. Normal flexion is 135 degrees, so I’ve got a ways to go. Also, my therapist gave me permission to start going to the local gym, riding the stationary bike and performing non-resistance exercises on my own. This is a big step, and I’m hoping that this freedom will help me increase strength in the quadriceps more rapidly.

(Also, I may finally be able to join Dave and his brother, Paul, for their morning workout. I’ve only been promising to do so for six months.)

At my five-week checkup on Friday, Dr. Black indicated that the stationary bike was a great idea, but that I ought not get on an actual road bike for at least another month. Obviously, the big concern with a road bike is planting the foot as the bike comes to a stop; any miscalculation on my part is likely to cause stress to the knee.

Dr. Black also okayed the move to a functional brace. I made a point of walking around the room outside my brace so that he could see how well I’m doing. The functional brace, though expensive, will allow me more freedom of movement, will be less restrictive than the brace I’m currently wearing.

(Or, as the case may be, often not wearing. I think this may be another reason to get me into the functional brace: presently, I’m shedding the restrictive brace any chance I get. I wear it in public, for driving, or around children. I take it off inside the house or office. I ought to be wearing some sort of knee support, so it’s important to get me into the functional brace at all times.)

Dr. Black noted that I still have some swelling in the knee, and he encouraged me to continue icing it several times a day. It may seem unnecessary, but it helps the healing process. (Joe Ruwitch, who has had similar surgery before, had just extolled the virtues of ice the night before. Joe swears by it.)

Before I left, the doctor asked if I needed any more pain medication. I told him no, that I still had a few pills left, and that since I hadn’t experienced much pain in the past few weeks, I was probably fine without a refill.

You can see where this is going.

Thursday, before physical therapy, I strained my back when bending to pick up my cane. Yes, I was bending incorrectly, even though I know better. (You try to follow proper lifting procedures when you’re leg is locked in extension.) My back hurts.

Then, yesterday afternoon I walked a quarter mile, without the brace, to the bank and home again. My pace was slow and methodical, but even so I could feel my leg tiring by the end of the walk. I iced the knee, but still it was a bit sore when I went to bed. I took a painkiller.

This morning, both my knee and my back were quite sore, and poor Kris had to cope with a cranky J.D. When I looked in the bottle, there were only two painkillers left. Yes, I’m basically pain free, but every time I do something remotely exertive (sitting in cramped quarters for several hours watching a musical (which I’m doing again next Saturday), walking for a half mile or more (in or out of the brace), etc.), my knee hurts. Also, when it’s hot, as it has been, my knee is more inclined to hurt.

The bottom line is: I’ve decided that I’d rather have the painkillers on hand for when the knee hurts than to be Mr. Brave Strong and Stupid and not have them around when I need them.

Kris and I are enjoying a pleasant, though sweaty, weekend. I’m finishing the Harry Potter book (much better than I thought at first — much better). We’re watching episodes of Homicide: Life on the Streets from DVD, and the occasional junk television show (“Bargain Hunters”, “Trading Spaces”, “Ground Force”).

On this day at foldedspace.org

2004MF Bomb   I'm working along, minding my own business, when the dot-matrix printer runs out of paper. I have a box of another box of printer paper ready to go. But when I carry it into the office, I notice that it's crawling with ants.

On 29 June 2003 (06:35 AM), Craig Rosenfeld said:

You turned down painkillers!?! Unheard of in these parts. (And by "these parts", I mean my house.)

Glad to hear the knee is getting better.

On 29 June 2003 (07:46 AM), dowingba said:

Can you do a good John Wayne impression? "I don't need no stinkin' painkillers, you turkey!"

On 29 June 2003 (10:49 AM), Tiffany said:

What musical are you going to see?
I agree that you should never turn down pain killers, sometimes it really helps to have a few around the house for some reason.
We went to see ’28 Days Later’ (movie) last night and really liked it! It was a British film, which earns it extra points in my head already. But it was a very good portrayal of a biological hazard in a confined space. (In this case Britain). Do not let the word ‘zombie’ in the plot description stop you from see this film.

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