Friday, August 27, 2021

Good News--Bad News

After making the rounds of emergency room docs; primary care PA; emergency room docs, part 2; sports med doc (orthopedics); and, finally, the vascular team the consensus is that I tore a muscle in my thigh. How is still open to debate.

Yesterday I went to the vascular team to have some pressure testing done to assure there was no blood clot in or blockage along the by-pass done on the left leg. The tests showed the by-passes on both legs were doing just fine. Doctor B. was pleased that, at least for now, his team was in the clear. He examined the area and twice(!), while asking, "Is this where it hurts?" poked on the correct spot with the accuracy of a dart champion hitting the bulls-eye. "YEAH! THAT"S THE SPOT! Now STOP doing that!" 

Doctor B did agree with the folks in the ER and over at the sports med (orthopedics) that it was likely a strain/tear in one of the major muscles of the thigh. More likely a tear based upon the severity of the pain. He suggested I keep it wrapped (he has a thing for ace bandages), keep it elevated, and take either Advil or Motrin--maximum dose--for 5-7 days. Okay, I'll try that.

My primary care PA had "muscle cramp" in this round, so she's out.

Sleeping Thursday night was, well, spotty. Can't sleep on my side as two knees coming in contact with one another is painful. Even a pillow between them isn't cushion enough. Sleeping on my back is better but I can't get the right head elevation. Toss and turn. Wake myself up in pain. Repeat. 

This morning I had an MRI scheduled with results awaited by both the primary care PA and the sports med folks.I went to Soldiers & Sailors over in Wellsboro because, though they were out of system, they could fit me in with out a month long wait. Fast check-in and all my data was there since I had been there before. Got all set up and eased into their tube. There was an al too brief clanging and clunking of the imager when everything came to a stop. Seems there's a wee bit too much metal in my artificial knees for the machine to get a good, clear picture of the area.*sigh* 

Guess we'll have to settle for the muscle tear and Advil cure. Crutches and ace bandages.


Oh, did I mention that Terry's leaving Tuesday AM for a EGA Convention in Chicago. She will be gone for a week.

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Interesting Times Continue

This week started out about as normal as could be. I mowed the lawn on Saturday (10K steps) then Terry and I went over to Hills Creek State Park for an Audubon Society picnic on Sunday.

Monday, Terry went out to one of her stitching group luncheons and I sorted and searched through the garage for the tree stands and portable climbing ladders. (I finally decided to sell them off since I don't see my self using them to climb into trees any more.)

Tuesday morning, Terry and I loaded some cans and bottles into my truck and went over the mountain to visit the dump. Everything was normal until later that afternoon.I began feeling some tenderness and pain in my left leg. In a zone running approximately from 2-3 inches below the knee to the same distance above. The tenderness got worse and worse during the night to the point I got (barely!) 15 minutes of sleep all night.

Wednesday morning I examined my leg and, while the tenderness and down right pain continued, the only discoloration was this eerie mottled appearance.

As the early morning progressed, the pain in my leg got worse. Eventually I threw in the towel and at 7:15 I had Terry haul my sorry ass to Troy Hospital's ER. I managed, to get into the ER where the doctor listened to my tale, looked me over, poked and prodded, got an X-ray and had an ultrasound, and eventually said he thought it might be a torn tendon or ligament. He gave me a shot of fentanyl and a leg brace that would keep the knee immobilized, and  suggested I see about an MRI.

Thursday I went to see my primary care PA in Mansfield. She poked and prodded and listened to my story. She gently massaged the area and concluded it might be a severe muscle cramp (really?). She prescribed some cyclobezaprine (aka: flexeril). And set up an MRI for September 15th. If we go outside the Guthrie system, I could get an MRI at Soldiers & Sailors over in Wellsboro on August 27th. (Still waiting for the insurance to give the nod to this one.)

Friday, things got worse. I could barely lift the heel of my left foot up off the bed. Any bending of the knee and I saw stars. Crutches did help me get from point A to point B as long as they were not too far apart. Discharge papers from Wednesday directed me to return should things not improve. They didn't, so I did.

ER Doctor did some more poking and prodding. Ordered a full set of blood tests, gave me a shot of morphine, had a CAT scan done. yada, yada, yada.

The CAT scan seems to have ruled out a torn ligament or tendon. The blood work seems to have eliminated an infection.

What? All roads currently lead to a severe contusion in the large muscle on the front of the thigh. How remains unanswered. When would seem to be Tuesday sometime. As to Who? I'll be dusting all baseball bats for prints.Where? I've not been out of the house except for doctors calls and the Audubon picnic. 

Friday, July 23, 2021

At Least the Blood Looks Healthy

I got the last of my staples and sutures taken out yesterday. That was immediately after having a pressure test on both legs and a sonogram of my right leg--the one with the staples and sutures still in place. All this was done two years and two days after the last staples and sutures were removed from my left leg.

I have to hand it to the Amandas in the vascular department at Robert Packer Hospital. They did a fine job. And, yes, there were three Amandas doing the yeoman's work. Two of them did the testing while the third, Dr. B's physician assistant, removed the staples and sutures. (She said Dr. B is better with patients who are unconscious.) 

My only problem was the blood thinners. Being on three(!) meant that the small holes from those staples and sutures would weep blood. Nearly all of them stopped with a mild amount of pressure but one up near the groin wouldn't quit for some time. Finally the PA Amanda and I were able to stem the flow and get some steri-strips in place so the leg could be wrapped in gauze and ace bandages. 

I got home and sat down to work on a puzzle for a couple of hours, went to the bathroom and then prepared for bed. That's when I discovered quite a large amount of blood in my jeans. Terry and I struggled to get the little hole that was causing the problem to stop. It took nearly thirty minutes with a styptic pencil and lots of pressure to get that little bleeder to stop long enough to apply a bandage followed by a pressure wrap. This morning there was evidence that it had continued to bleed into the bandage but not much. Hopefully that will be the last of that!

Now my only concern is a pocket of fluid causing some pain behind by right knee. Dr. B says it's not unusual but all I can think about is the similar fluid accumulation that occurred at one end of the incision he made two years ago on my left leg. That turned out to be an infection that put me in the hospital for a week before sending me home with a wound vac for a month. Keeping my fingers crossed that my right leg is better behaved.

Have I mentioned how much this feels like deja vu?

Monday, July 12, 2021

Going Out of My Head!

Very early on June 23rd one of Terry's friends drove us to Robert Packer Hospital where I went under the knife to have a couple of aneurysms in my right leg by-passed. Things went smoothly and I spent the next six days in the hospital. I was able to get up and go to the bathroom on my own with the help of a walker almost as soon as I woke up from anesthesia. Perhaps that is why the women from physical therapy and later occupational therapy felt I was advanced enough--especially after moving to a cane on day three--to not warrant their attention or the attention of a rehab facility. 

They and the nurses must have reported to the insurance company that I was an overachiever. The Carleton over in Wellsboro had a bed for me on Friday but when the insurance company balked at making a decision, I stayed in the hospital over the weekend. Word finally came on Monday that insurance wouldn't cover a stay in a rehab facility and that I would go home on Tuesday instead.

Tuesday was the day Terry was scheduled to get an epidural for her very sore hip. She would need a driver as would I. Her cousin Joe--my fishing buddy--stepped in. 

Going home meant I would have some visiting healthcare providers. Someone would come to check on the incisions and make sure they were healing properly. Someone would come to do physical therapy with me. And someone would come to do occupational therapy, i.e. make sure I could dress myself, clean myself, and in general care for myself. The health care provider has been coming round twice a week although he's cutting back to once a week for the next two weeks. The PT person came once, watched me walk around a bit and said she couldn't think of anything she could help me with. (A few more exercises would have helped. But I've been down this road before and can figure out what I need to do.) The occupational therapist called and, when she told me what she would do, I politely said I can already do all those things and she never came out to the house.

I went back to see the vascular team two weeks after the surgery to have them examine the incisions and to have half the staples removed. Taking out every other staple meant removing about 25 of them. Approximately that many remain along with an equal number of sutures. I go back on the 22nd of July to have them taken out.

Until then, I've promised not to drive until I can comfortably press down on the brake pedal. I've promised not to lift anything heavier than a gallon of milk. And I've hired someone to cut the grass. (If it ever stops raining long enough!) And I've promised not to pick up a chainsaw until at least labor day.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Tomorrow Is Another Day

 Tomorrow (Wednesday) is my scheduled right leg vascular surgery day. That's as opposed to my emergency surgery on my left leg back in June of 2019. Maybe. Should be okay. Probably.

The uncertainty arises from medical issues Terry is having. Last Wednesday, she was moving some boxes in the attic. Heavy boxes. Then on Thursday she was collecting the garbage (cat litter mostly) that was quite heavy, twisted the wrong way and felt something go in her lower back with pain radiating down her right leg. She couldn't walk. I finally got her to go to the primary care clinic in Mansfield on Thursday afternoon. They sent her to  get x-rays at Troy. She called the pain management doctor on Friday but he said it was only 2-1/2 months since she last got a spinal and the insurance probably wouldn't cover it--but he'd try to talk them into it.

Then all was silent on Saturday while Terry suffered. Then Sunday morning I took her over to the ER in Troy. They gave her a shot and some valium. Neither really worked for long. Monday the pain doc got her a steroid prescription and the promise of a shot on Tuesday the 29th (a day or so after the steroid pack is finished). 

So Terry's not sure she could drive me to the hospital, hang around during surgery, see me afterwords, or do anything at all come tomorrow. And she's going to need someone to drive her too and from the pain doc's office on the 29th. Arrangements have been made to get me to the hospital, but what happens in the days after that vis-a-vis Terry's coming to visit, or pick me up, or see me moved to a rehab facility (as they did after the previous left leg by-pass), or getting her to the pain doc's is up in the air.

One day at a time. Step by step.

Interesting times.