Remember how I said my life had a soundtrack? I re-entered The Court this morning to the Christmassy strains of “Joyeux Noel.”
It matched my mood: I’m going home.
Sally-the-driver picked me up this morning (The Court has a bus with a wheelchair lift and driving you to appointments is included in the price) and dropped me off at Kaiser Walnut Creek for my six-week post-op checkup.
This time through I could bend my knee the required amount for x-rays, shifted through all the required positions for the tech without much trouble. “You’ve REALLY improved since your last visit,” she said approvingly.
I thought so, too…but the x-rays would tell the real story.
On Friday night, Sept. 16, 2016, I fractured my left femur just above Elmo, my replacement knee. I lived in a wheelchair, facing hip-high amputation of my left leg, for about two years while I fought health care bureaucracy, cost-conscious HMOs, and myself to figure out a way to walk again. (Spoiler alert: Elmo won!)
I documented my adventures in remobilization in this blog. They’re awfully self-indulgent, occasionally icky, and probably only of interest to me, but on the off-chance that they help someone else with a catastrophic injury, I’m keeping them together here. If you don’t want to read them, that’s OK; I still love you. If you do, you might want to start from the beginning, on the archive page that lists all posts.
Dr. Dan came in smiling. “We were just talking about your x-rays. They look great.” He threw them up on the screen and stepped back, so I could get myself a bone-selfie with my phone.
“So…is there bone growing yet?” I waited, tense.
Dr. Dan shook his head. “It doesn’t work that way this time. You’ve got a nail up the femur and a lot of your own bone graft packed in there–it’s the first time you’ve had it done this way. We’re not really looking for callus formation at six weeks.”
“What we’re looking for is consolidation of the graft, or at least a sign that the graft is beginning to work. And the graft is still there, it’s packing in, it hasn’t been resorbed. That’s good. Are you using the ultrasound bone stimulator every day?”
I nodded. “Twice a day, as you recommended. Like clockwork.”
“Good. You have no IDEA how many strings we had to pull to get that for you.”
I’ve been dealing with the Kaiserbeast too long. “Oh, I think I do…” I said dryly.
“Well, it’s helping, I think. Everything looks strong, it’s straight, and you’re up to 55 degrees of flexion in your knee,” he grinned, “I didn’t think you’d be anywhere near that this early–it’s a great sign that you’re going to get even more flexible with time.”
“So…we’re not out of the woods yet, and I do NOT want you bearing weight on The Leg for another six weeks. Until the graft has finished compacting around the new hardware I don’t want to risk you coming down and shaking something loose. We don’t,” he warned, “Have many more options if this fails.”
This, I knew. By heart.
“But at six weeks, I’m going to authorize weight-bearing, as tolerated. You need to start putting load on that bone, forcing the consolidation and growth. I’ve even put bone graft over the screws on the side of the nail, so that it will be inside the bone when it finally grows.”
“You’re on track for getting this healed and getting out of that wheelchair.”
So… I didn’t get the answer I craved: “Yes, Cynthia, the bone is growing!” But the answer I got is joyful enough for now.
Much to plan. Boxes of stuff to send back to Portland, arrangements to be made–non-weightbearing means I may not be able to live at the house just yet–flights to be purchased.
It’s sunshiny and warm today. I think, before I start planning, I’ll wheel out to my favorite sunny patch and sit. Give thanks. Send out notes of appreciation for all your healing thoughts and prayers.
I’m going home. Thank you.