Dave’s ACL Diary: Doing it Solo [Part 8]

Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday…

Well, in the last several days, a lot has happened. First, I got some wheels. I managed to get Atlanta Rent-A-Car to rent me a Chevy Lumina, which has just barely enough room up front for me to get my 30-degree-limited left leg into the car (if I slide my left toes in under the brake pedal – not the safest state of affairs!). Anyway, I’m no longer house-bound.

On Wednesday afternoon, I discovered that the Kroger (grocery store) next to my Doctor (and the place where I get my PT) has a mini-driver’s licence center where I can get my handicapped tag. I decide to go get the tag just before my first PT appointment.

Well, I dunno what it is with DMVs everywhere in the world, but there’s like 50 people in line and 2 employees there to help them. I hang out, leaning, standing with crutches for probably 35-40 minutes waiting for them to take the 30 seconds to fill out the little tag and hand it to me. (By the way, I mentioned earlier that Georgia’s licensing system is screwed up. I recieved confirmation of this when everyone I asked, including a cop, told me to go to the tag office (WRONG!) to get the handicapped permit! Good thing I know how to use the phone…)

I get back in the car, drive across the street for my initial PT appointment. I sign in, and they let me sit (slouch, actually, since my brace will allow me to do nothing else in a chair) for a half-hour past the appointment time. I finally haul my self up to my foot and crutch back over to the window and ask if there isn’t someplace else I can wait, since my back is now in complete agony. They apparently didn’t realize I was there! (didn’t stop ’em from charging me for the visit already, though!)

So they tell me to come back to the PT area and let me lie down on some big flat padded tables. Finally a few seconds of relief! (my back is really, really killing me…). Eventually the therapist comes in, and wants to see what exercises I’ve been given. I demonstrate, but indicate that due to back pain, I haven’t been diligent. He suggests that I sit up with my back against the wall. I’m skeptical about this, but give it a try. It feels about like someone jamming a red-hot poker into my lower back. I can’t even do the first of the exercises (it’s all I can do to suppress a scream…).

I’m lying down on my back again in a second and we discuss my back situation, and the meds that the Doc has prescribed for it. I’d been off the muscle relaxant (Cyclobenzaprine) for fear of mixing it with the Lortab, general anesthetic, etc. We decide to make this PT session educational only. He lets me know that if I don’t get full hyperextension I’m at risk for developing scar tissue and a limp. He gives me instructions to do exercises, and to get back on my back meds, and we set another appointment for Friday around the same time. Basically, a complete waste of everyone’s time. And my money.

The evening’s agony isn’t quite over. I spend a good half-hour in the Eckerd’s getting a prescription filled, and picking up some stuff (including a digital thermometer!). I’ve never been so happy to get home and to bed. I start pumping on the back meds in hopes of getting the back pain under control for the Friday PT.

Oh, yeah – I get back in and there’s a message on the machine from Mindspring, cancelling my Friday DSL installation. Great.

I spend most of Thursday doing exactly nothing, though I do manage to take my first shower since the surgery. I wrapped my brace completely in Saran Wrap, then put a garbage bag over that leg and taped it closed for good measure. Seems to have worked well! Finally I have no more betadine on my left foot (which I poked through the end of the bag). I’m not so stanky anymore!

The office has been quite kind, and they have delivered a bunch of stuff from the Honey Baked Ham store. A spiral-cut half ham, a sliced smoked turkey breast, and a bunch of fixins. How cool of them!

Not much else happens Thursday. I reorganize the diary a little, to make it easier to post new stuff. I continue to pump on the back meds, trying to get the pain under control.

A week down the line… Friday 2/11/2000

After a single night elevating my leg at the heel (as the PT told me, so as to obtain hyperextension), I have a lot less need for ice, and apparently less swelling. Good. Slept last night on a heating pad and heavy meds for the back, got up this morning and felt like I’d hurt it all over again. Not good.

Note: over the years I’ve discovered that a heating bad overnight is a BAD idea for low back pain. Work on moving and then treat with cold (not overnight, though)

Back pain is making everything I have to do harder. I think at this point I’d recommend to anyone who has back pain a day or two before surgery that you chat with your OS and try to get the surgery delayed until you can get out from under the back pain.

I’m making plans to try to return to work on Monday. Not sure how this will go, but I’ll do what I can. In case you hadn’t gotten the drift already, my biggest concern will be seating and back pain. I’ve shown almost no ability to sit for any length of time without a bunch of back pain. I can’t wait ’till I get the brace unlocked to 90 degrees (I think that happens at 2 weeks post-op).

Will spend a chunk of the late afternoon planning for and getting to the PT appointment at 5:30. It takes a whole lot longer to do everything, and I have to time my trip so I’m out there before rush-hour starts, but not so early that I have to slouch in the damn chairs again. Need to get the car filled up, and will treat myself to full-service gas for the first time in years.

I’m gonna get into it with the PT guy. Either we actually DO something, or he uses the PT time to work on my back, or…well, I don’t know what, but there’s no reason for me to haul my sorry carcass out there in rush-hour traffic to talk about stuff.