Wednesday, December 25

Merry Christmas 2019

Let's start with a Christmas puzzle! I love these things. It's not as hard as you think but look carefully.

It takes the average person almost 3 minutes to find the little dog hiding among the polar bears in this brainteaser. If it takes you longer don't fret.

Just say yes if you find it or no in the comments. I'll post the answer in my New Years' post. Good luck!

Today is Christmas so better late than never with this post. I'm not riding my bike today because it's windy and raining off and on. Instead, I'm drinking eggnog without dark rum (which I adore) because when I had both knees replaced in August Stanford hospital almost ruined my kidneys. It's a long story but they're recovering so I have to be careful. My knee replacements went much better I'm very happy with the improvements. What counts is I'll be fine for 2020.

These are just delicious if you have them in your area. I've practically made myself sick eating them. The bark has a white chocolate layer, a dark chocolate layer, and smashed up candy canes in it. OMG!

Isn't this guy darling! It's a Quokka, a marsupial, about the size of a domestic cat. They're like squirrels from The Land Down Under. They're always smiling and happy looking like live teddy bears.

You gotta love a bad boy Santa bringing a different kind of Christmas. Lol!

I hope you liked the artwork and jokes. I did a different Christmas post at Bike With Bekkie if you're interested.

Finally Here

Christmas comes but once a year
sharing love with those held dear
festive Christmas trees appear
Jingle Bells is what I hear.

Christmas Eve the skies are clear
Santa’s coming have no fear
in his sleigh with eight reindeer
bringing presents far and near.

Christmas comes but once a year
time for blessings and good cheer
my favorite holiday atmosphere
now, that day is finally here!

© Rebecca Sanchez 2012

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! May we all find peace this year.

Christmas Tanka #122415

often misunderstood
the true meaning of Christmas
can’t be bought or sold
yet pets and their owners
proud of those ugly sweaters

© Rebecca Sanchez 2015

I hope your Christmas is full of all good things! After the year we had we could all use a little bit of peace, love, and understanding. Let's spread that kindness around. Not everyone has the means to have a wonderful holiday and the Christmas spirit is all about sharing. Big hug!

  Keep On Bloggin'!

Sunday, September 15

The Hardest Thing I Ever Did-Knee Replacement

My date for surgery was August 26th. I was at my doctor's (orthopedic) at Standford on May 10th. I was hoping for another cortisone shot to the ligaments in my legs and more physical therapy but I was sorely mistaken. I was limping yet again because my left knee had moved and was causing me a lot of pain.

Dr. A (everyone calls him that because no one can pronounce his name) wasn't having it, "It's time we replace those troublesome knees. Let's set a date for the surgery."

What could I say? I had waited decades for my "windswept knees" to get better and it wasn't happening. I had one terribly bent leg that caved in because of the pressure of supporting the other damaged knee. People always noticed it when they saw me. I sighed a big sigh.

"When I do surgery I can straighten your legs and you'll be better than ever," Dr. A offered with a smile.

So the day before my 65th birthday I said yes to having both knees replaced at once. Dr. A felt that I was in great shape for my age and would do well after surgery.

The week before surgery I got a call from Dr. A's assistant. He said if I came in for a special scan that they could use robotics during my surgery. I felt lucky to be picked and agreed.

The scan was nothing special they taped a bar to each leg and scanned them. The bar was part of the reference that the robot would use. It was really space-age cool stuff. Of course, I would be asleep and that was fine with me.

It was only May and I had plenty of time to ride my bike before surgery but time passes quickly as we know. Tick tock.

You can see in this photo how bent my left leg was before surgery. The other leg isn't great either. They call it "Windswept Knees" but there's no beauty in it. This was a ride early August.

My knees got better from bike riding for years and hardly ever hurt when I was peddling but when I got off of the bike or stopped the bike I never knew what was going to happen. I had a lot of falls when stopping and putting my foot down. My knee would give out and over I would go. I never had any other kind of fall while riding.

I was going to celebrate riding 20-30 miles every other day for 4 years Feb. 20th! Now I had to postpone that date.

Tick tock....time flew by and I got the call to be at Standford Hospital for check-in at 6am with surgery at 8:15am. It was
Go Time.

Everything went smoothly, I was under for 3 hours, (it took a little longer with the robot) and I woke up to a world of WTF!

I had nerve blocks in both legs in my thighs and pressure cuffs on my lower legs for swelling. Those are pressure bandages too. I was glad for the nerve blocks when they worked.

When they removed the pressure bandage this was what I saw. Later they got me up with a walker and make me take a few steps. I barely remember it now. Those bandages are waterproof and protect the stitches keeping them dry and together while they heal.

 With all of the drugs, I was trying to keep it together but little did I know. 

While my doctor did well, the hospital let me down big time. They left my catheter in for 2 days (until I left for the rehab hospital) and quit giving me IV fluids for a whole day which messed my kidneys up sending my potassium levels way up. My kidneys are still tweaked from the experience but my primary doctor said no worries it's slight.

One of the nerve block boxes wouldn't stay together (I had one in each leg) and would stop working putting me in great pain. They wouldn't give me a new one so I had to put up with it. They even had a technician look at it. He put the battery door back on it and deemed that it would now stay put and work. It did not and when I pushed the bottom nothing happened. Each time a hapless nurse would fumble with it so I could finally get some rest.

They were very stingy with the pain meds and kept me in more pain than I should have had to put up with. When I asked for pain meds they acted controlling and secretive. I didn't get a lot of information out of them. I'm the person who should know what I'm taking it's my body! 

I was in a room with a woman who couldn't hear, never shut the light out and had alarms going off constantly. People came in constantly and I had the window side of the room! I was very unhappy with Standford's hospital and the way I was treated.

It's time to mention that I get food stamps and insurance through Medi-Cal which is for people who can't afford to get it on their own. I had a roommate at the rehab place that had Dr. A and the same surgery as me (one replacement, one partial replacement) but paid for her insurance. 

She had her catheter pulled right after surgery and they had her up and peeing before she left. She got shots in her stomach to guard against clotting. That is how they're supposed to treat someone after surgery! I never got the shots! She didn't have the problems I did and I am positive it's because I'm on assistance.

Horrible aren't they? I am very hard to IV.

Now that I'm older I'm hard to IV. Standford put 2 of them on one side and they hurt constantly. I'm glad I was out when they damaged my hands!

By the time I got to El Camino Rehab Hospital in Los Gatos, they had to IV me again and give me liquids to save my life. The high potassium levels were damaging my kidneys and they were afraid I'd have a heart attack. Luckily, they got another IV in but they had to call their best person from the hospital to do it. I still cried because my veins hurt badly even in my arms. 

I was thankful but my kidneys were still not happy. Before this, I never had problems and now I was retaining pee after I would go. The potassium levels went back to normal and I was relieved.

I got taken to the rehab hospital in a medical van on a gurney. They guys taking me were very young and good looking. At the rehab they put these ice cuffs on me that felt really great! I slept with these almost every night and got to take them home with me.

Look at me go! 

The rehab hospital I was in was excellent! We got 2 hours of physical therapy and 2 hours of Occupational therapy each day except on Sunday. They let me ride the stationary bike 15 minutes a day. They worked us hard and it helped me reach my true potential. The therapists and nurses really did a good job of preparing us to do our best when we go home.

This photo is a wide-angle shot. When we had visitors we could sit out here. This is my roommate James.

Looking a little beaten up and tired but I preserved and soon was feeling better without the wheelchair.

Getting this meant I could go anywhere with my walker without a nurse or assistance. It also meant I was going home soon.

I even took an art class and made this! The hospital had many ways to keep us busy and focused. Everyone I came in contact with was professional and focused. They came up with a program for every patient and made it fun. We all joked PT stood for Pain And Torture.  

Soon my waterproof bandages were wrinkled and peeling off from me exercising and showering. The marks above and below were where the sensors went for the robot. It could feel where my bones were while following the bars on the scan for reference. At least that's what I think since I wasn't in on the operation. Lol!
I will say it now. This was the hardest thing I ever did.
 Finally, I went home with a walker. I ordered the equipment OT told me to get. I could bend my knees and use them very well.

Flowers on my walk with the walker.

I walked my neighborhood and our sidewalks too many times. Lol! I did some PT around my apartment so I didn't lose what I already gained. I guess scar tissues grow quickly now so I have to keep my flexibility.

Now I could walk around my apartment on my own. I never needed the extra equipment I got for the toilet and shower stool because our apartment is that small. It worked out though.

On Sept. 13th I had an appointment with Dr. A's assistant to have my bandages taken off. I felt shaky about it. At this time I didn't know what to expect under the bandages. She was gentle with me.

There you have it! The scar on the right is shaped like that because I had an old surgery scar there and Dr. A used the same scar so I wouldn't have 2 scars. He did a great job on my knees.

My new knees work well, my legs are straight and I'm taller. Both legs are the same length (which doesn't always happen) and I bent them 144 degrees or something like that. Now I just have to start PT at Standford's Clinic and use their stationary bikes so I can get back on mine confidently.

She covered those stitches about with a tape that helps the wound stay together and heal while the stitches melt. She also told me I could walk without the walker and use a cane if I wished. She also gave me the ok to ride my bicycle again something I want so much.

Once this tape comes off it's safe to gently wash the area and let it heal. I'm going to use vitamin E when the scar is healed fully.

She also showed me pictures of the robot working on my knees with Dr. A and other doctors. I could see what the robot saw. I only saw 2 pictures but they were amazing.

Ninja has no need for new knees a stuffed mouse will do.

So today I'm sitting at home in my writing chair ignoring the pain that's remaining. It makes me tired to the bone and I'm not sleeping well. I think that's to be expected as I'm still in a transition until things heal.

I have pain pills and still need them. The pain I have almost never stops but I can't describe it. I think it's nerve pain. Lots of cramps from unhappy hamstrings or tendons. It's going to get better as I go.

I'm anemic because I lost blood during surgery and my kidneys aren't back to normal yet. Some of this was to be expected. My clinic doctor and I will be addressing all that. I want to get back to my peak health.

I am walking around carrying my cane and being careful I don't have a fall. I impressed Dr. A, the PTs, and OTs with my progress while I was there. At week 3, (tomorrow) I'm at the week 6 level. When I look in the mirror I can't believe what I see. I can't wait to put on my cycling gear!

My bicycle calls to me from the corner.

I'm in the process of fixing my bicycle the seat post broke. I ordered another it's coming tomorrow. It makes it easier to wait until I spin in PT this Wednesday at Stanford Clinic. I want to be smooth when I take to my bike. It might just be this week.

For anyone who's going to have this surgery, I say do both at once. Get it done and you won't have to do it again. It helps to be in shape. Make sure you have a doctor that you trust that talks to you. Anything worth doing is hard work. Good luck with the hospital stay!
Do your PT the more you give the more you'll get back.
I hope I didn't gross anyone out telling my story. Got any advice? Stories about your experience? Questions?

600,000 knee replacements are performed each year in the US.