Monday, September 19, 2016

Just taking a break from awesomeness

I gazed out at the calm turquoise waters and inhaled the salty sea air.

"Can I help you?"

"Yes, I will have a margarita. On the rocks, please" I replied as I leaned against the marble counter at the Marriott beach bar.

"Kirsten. Stop bending your knee!"

Excuse me? I turned my head to locate the rude woman who was shouting out commands - and referring to me by my formal "birth certificate name," nevertheless.  Unable to locate the source, I turned back to the bar to wait for my margarita.

"Salt the rim please," I continued, smiling at my friendly Mixologist. My throat was hoarse and dry.

"Kirsten. You need to keep that knee straight!"

Someone needed to shut this woman up! I pivoted quickly and a sharp pain radiated down my leg. Ouch! I really needed that margarita.

"Kirsten. You just had surgery. You need to keep your knee straight."

Dammit. Jolted back to reality, I realized that I was not at the Marriott beach bar on Seven Mile Beach. I was not about to lick the salt off the rim and sip that icy beverage. I was on a hospital gurney being wheeled into recovery at the Penn Medicine Surgical Centre in Philadelphia.

So I survived another knee surgery. Number seven to be exact. Number seven was different than the first six in many respects. For one, it took place in Philadelphia, at a surgical centre (as opposed to a traditional hospital). Also, this surgery was with an Orthopedic Surgeon who is new to me. This Ortho specializes in cartilage repair - his research is published in journal articles, and he performs surgeries for patients with my rare condition, Osteochondrial Dissecans. Also, I wasn't awake for this surgery. All patients are given general anesthetic at the surgical centre. I have a fear of anesthetic, as I "went under" in the middle of a panic attack once, so my previous knee surgeries have all been spinals, at my request. In addition, since Philadelphia isn't exactly a hub for us, my mom flew in from Canada. Evan, my mom, and I spent 5 days in a rental apartment in downtown Philadelphia. Ev and I flew back to the island 4 days after my surgery. I was really grateful to have my mom there with me, as those first few days post surgery were harder than I anticipated. I guess I'm not as "good" at surgery as I thought!

(Aside: I do not recommend flying 4 days after surgery - "Ma'am, it looks like there is no ramp for deplaning. There's about 30 stairs. How would you like to get down those?" "Ummm, forward f'n roll?"

Overall, it was pretty OK. I was impressed with the Penn Medicine Surgical Centre. My previous experience in Canada has entailed waiting for hours with a dozen other terrified patients, all donned in hospital gowns and booties ("So…what are you in for?") I've always thought it's cruel to make people wait for hours in a communal room in such a vulnerable state. Like at least throw me an Ativan and a curtain so I can freak out alone! In contrast, I arrived at the surgical centre at 6am, immediately escorted to my own space, had an IV and anti-anxiety meds by 6:30, and was in surgery by 7am. I didn't even have time to spazz out (Just look at that dopey unsuspecting smile on my face). Plus…I scored a very nice Penn Medicine garment bag. Nice. I did miss seeing familiar faces. Previously, all of my surgeries have taken place at the Prince Albert hospital where I used to work. It was always comforting to chat with the Nurses and the Doctors in the OR, who were also my friends. Although the surgical staff at Penn Medicine were excellent, I did miss being cared for by people who know me personally.

Just what I need! I will put my post surgery formal attire in here for safe keeping!

Other than the fact that my knee was in worse shape than the MRI depicted, all went well. The surgeon "cleaned" all the torn cartilage and my cartilage was biopsied, Fed Ex'd to Boston (I warned them that Fed EX sucks and loses packages!), where my cartilage will be grown in a lab. When I am ready for the next surgery, the Ortho will implant the millions of cartilage cells into the holes in my knee where my sucky cartilage has failed to survive. He will also replace my meniscus, which apparently is torn (I always bragged that at least my meniscus was fine. Oops) And then, you know, repeat on the other knee. Easy peasy, right? Well, not so much, but at least it's a plan.

Does this bandage make my leg look fat?

So I find myself in a place where I've been approximately 6 times before - rehabbing and recovering. Typically when I get the green light to start my exercises, I crank my motivational music, put on my Nikes, and start doing laps of my living room. This time; however, I find myself horizontal on the couch, drooling out of one side of my face, and critiquing Emmy gowns, "Ugh! That dress is hideous!" I just don't feel like it. I just don't give a care. I am supposed to be back at work, full time, in 7 days, and I just don't presently possess the motivation to "learn" how to walk. Again. It's discouraging that there are still many more surgeries in my future. Big sigh. Yes, I feel sorry for myself. Call me a WHAAAAAmbulance. Order me a WHAAAAmburger and french cries.

My mom attempted to describe my situation:  She told me that I'm awesome, but right now, I'm taking a break from awesomeness. You can't be awesome all the time. I like that. Thanks mom. She "gets" me and loves me!

"Hi there. You've reached the voicemail of Kirstie Lindsay. I've taken a break from awesomeness this week. I will get back to you when I'm ready to be awesome again."

Cheers to a gripping "Cupcake Wars" marathon that has been captivating my attention for hours.

"Look Biloxi! They added too much absinthe to those cupcakes! Stupidheads. "

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