Ouch. Post surgery blues … they come to us all

Today, I’m going to talk about pain management. Because pain management is quite a big part of my life right now. It does feel as if my full-time job is doing physio, three times a day. Having pathetic walks – three twenty-minute walks a day. Little and often works, but one big walk just makes it stiff. It’s particularly irritating when you have to get the anorak on and wrap up warm for a pathetic amount of time. Then there’s icing my knee. This has to be done five times a day for twenty minutes with the swollen limb higher than my heart. So that’s lying like a beached whale on the sofa with one leg in the air.

The hardest thing about the five 20 minute icing sessions is that you have to keep the swollen thing higher than your heart. That means lying with your leg above your head icing your knee and I always bloody go to sleep. Which is not really helpful because I need to be dog tired to sleep at night … and there’s only time for four. I’m probably supposed to do one when I wake up.

Then there’s three – or ideally four but I can’t squeeze the fourth one in – physio sessions every day. And of course, if you go for the third walk after three thirty, you’re going in the bastard dark. And it’s damp and the crutches slip on the sweaty pavements – or the ice (insert as appropriate) – so you have to be careful. Note to self, if I ever have to put myself through this purgatory again, I must do it in summer.

That’s the first golden rule then. If you’re looking down the barrel of major surgery with a long recuperation period, and you have a choice, do it in summer. Especially do not do it when you are looking down the barrel of a five hour car journey way before you are well enough. It’s got to be done but it’s going to hurt. Thanks for that Boris you honey monster-shaped git. And for keeping the window nice and small so the entire chuffing nation has to go at the same time thus clogging the roads. Never mind it hurts awyway so that probably won’t make much difference.

Seriously though, how do people do this? I mean, if I add in the odd household chore here and there, which, because I’m on crutches, I achieve at a pace slightly slower than that at which continental drift moves. Doing the washing up in the morning, and putting a wash on, hanging it out and folding it up is pretty much all there is time for over and above the stupid recovery routine. Then I have to ring my Mum, every day, and it takes an hour, and I wouldn’t begrudge Mum the time or the call, it’s just that it’s another thing to remember when my brain is addled, first with pain meds, and now that I’ve kicked those into touch, with … well … pain.

That’s been interesting this last couple of weeks.

The day before lock down a friend of Mum’s popped round for a visit. They had a lovely time except the following weekend, friend in question discovered she had covid. So as she came out with it less than five days after seeing Mum, Mum had to go into isolation for two weeks. Except that then someone looking after her on the Thursday also got Covid within five days, so the isolation period became even longer, moving from the Tuesday to the Thursday.

It’s been coming, in fact it’s miraculous it hasn’t happened but obviously it had to happen now. Three of Mum’s care team got Covid. Two testing positive and one with exactly the same symptoms but testing negative. I still can’t drive and so we decided it probably wouldn’t work if it was limpy looking after dotty. Instead my lovely sister in-law went down there, along with the one remaining carer still standing. During this time, Mum had an eye appointment on the Sunday which none of us clocked was actually a five hour laser surgery session. Meanwhile I was getting regular calls from Track and Trace asking how Mum was getting on with her isolation. Did she need help?

No, I expained, she was fine and sis in law was there. Finally one Sunday, after trying a longer walk, I’d dropped off, as usual, during the post perambual knee icing session. I was rudely awakened by the phone. Someone wanting to talk to Mum. I explained I didn’t live with her, but I could give them her number, except she would be off out to the hospital for an eye appointment soon. To my horror the voice on the phone told me she hoped not because Mum was supposed to still be in isolation. There would be a fine and legal action if she had.

Fucking fuck. Why does this stuff happen when I’m so ridiculously under par.

Ah, I said. I explained that I was addled and recovering from knee surgery but thought the folks down there would be sensible to put two and two together and not go. Did I want to ring and check? She asked me. Yes, I said, I probably did. She was actually lovely about it and said she or one of the others would call back later.

I rang Mum. No answer. Sod it, they’d already left. Rang Sis in law, brother and everyone else I could think of. Finally sis in law answered. Hopefully we didn’t break the rules but she had to go in to explain what had happened, at which point she discovered that what we all thought was a routine eye check for Mum was a 5 hour laser surgery. Oh shit. Hopital team were very understanding and Sis in law returned to Mum, who, thankfully, hadn’t got out of the car, and took her home. It was like a French farce!

Mum was very cross and wanted to make a complaint but I guessed that since the carer who would have originally taken her was one of the ones off with covid, she probably was waiting to tell Mum nearer the time so she didn’t get all of a dither. Over the course of this week the plague carers – and the non-plague plague carer – have gradually returned and everything has gone back to normal.

Meanwhile Mum is in a dither about plenty of other things, getting the right prayers for this week’s church so she can look at the right readings on the right day, and increasingly phoning me to explain that she can’t get the phone to work. She has started to muddle it up with the TV remote. Yesterday she hung up on me twice while she was trying to turn the telly off, eventually, I managed to talk her through using the right one. Then there’s trying to do proper admin on the group of authors campaigning for fair treatment from Audible, I’m not pulling my weight there at all.

I’m just a bit burned out because Mum … and I didn’t see the Mum stuff coming. I should have known, Dad would always take nose dive every November, but because Mum hadn’t reached that stage until now … and because we think she has vascular dementia … I had kind of hoped it would be different. Maybe she hasn’t. Maybe hers is Alzheimer’s. On the up side, I have now convinced her to have it investigated. The Doctor wanted to start the investigation into Mum’s mental health with some blood tests and offered these about a year ago but she decided against it. However, now she is finding her lack of memory a right pain in the arse and decided she’d like to know. I’m guessing if he’s starting with blood tests he might be wondering about kidney efficiency. She has told me she needs to go to the loo rather suddenly and can’t always get there. How brilliant it would be if the lion’s part of this turned out to be a UTI.

‘I really don’t expect to have to go changing my nappy in the middle of the night! It’s very irritating!’ she said yesterday.

Bless her. I also understand why she refused to have this knee op in 2012 when I was urging her to do so. I can’t imagine what it would be like looking after someone with dementia in this state. Well no … I can … that’s why my sister in-law did it! Thanks Emily! 🙂

It hasn’t been a huge help that all this has co-incided with the bit, five or six weeks after any big injury/surgery etc when I get weepy. This is like when I tore my ACL. It was so painful and it went on and on, grinding, awful, spirit-sapping pain. It was six months before I could walk without a stick. There would be points where I’d get really blue and just want to cry at how mind numbingly slow recovery was. This … this is very like that. And there were a couple of days this week where I just wanted to cry. It is a bit disheartening waking up every morning with your leg set in position like a brick and having to gradually work on it. Over the day, I get to the point where I can straighten it and bend it just over ninety degrees. Then it’s back to bed and the same shit the next day. I wouldn’t mind if straightening it all out wasn’t so effing painful. But it is. And of course that means the pain now is slightly worse than it was two weeks ago, which feels particularly bloody if I’m honest.

Having a of sense of humour failure with the speed of recovery is perfectly natural. I know what’s happening, I know what it is. I just wish I could shut my eyes and fast forward through this bit, or crawl into a hole somewhere on my own, away from other people until I was done so I didn’t have to be a pain in the arse to anybody.

For anyone doing major surgery, it is important, going in, to realise that you will feel less disheartened sometimes, and that you’ll get to a soul-crushing bit where you are just dragging yourself through each day and feeling as if you aren’t getting better (you ARE getting better but because it’s so slow you aren’t noticing).  It’s a pain in the arse but … yeh … I know. I’ll be 8 weeks out by Christmas. If I can just work hard enough now, I should get the ambient pain levels far enough down to cope with the Christmas uplift. Because they will rise over Christmas, they can’t not, because you can’t spend five hours each way in a car – on the two single days when Boris has doomed the entire long-distance-Christmas nation to have to travel at once so it may be more –  go to someone else’s house and spend the entire day putting ice packs on your knee, going for pathetic walks and doing physio … and if the loo is at the bottom of the sweeping, majestic stately-home-sized staircase, and your bedroom is at the top, you’ve got to suck it up. But that’s probably part of my frustration now. Because if I can get it right enough before I go, it should be fine. If. And if it isn’t it’s no bother. I just take a sleeping bag and an airbed and I can always kip downstairs in the dining room if it starts playing up and getting really stiff at night or something. It will be OK, it just adds to the frustration.


Want something to take your mind off the nightmare that is 2020?

The lovely people at Kobo have a Black Friday/Cyber Monda Extravaganza Audiobook sale this weekend. If you’re in Canada and the US, many audiobooks are reduced to $4.99 or less, including mine. Likewise, you can pick up Small Beginnings there for the princely sum of 99p. Woot. Find out more here: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/audiobooks

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Tell your friends, tell your family, tell the person two metres away from you in the queue at Sainsburys. Christmas, sorted! 🎄👍

* Please note delivery for some of the books is UK only.


Filed under General Wittering

18 responses to “Ouch. Post surgery blues … they come to us all

  1. Ack! Did you know the recovery would be this long and this awful BEFORE you did this?

    Do try to remember that the pain was pretty horrific before, and that every day now is CLOSER to being well, and that you WILL get well.

    I know you don’t want the major pain pills because they muddle your head, but I hope you’ve got enough other kinds to give you a bit of a break.

    I’m not ever having anything replaced if this is what it’s like for a normal human.

    • As I understand it the more knackered the joint being replaced the harder time you have getting over it. My joint had been bone on bone for at least five years. Plus I have old habits is one pain and a lot of scar tissue in there already. It was never going to be a straight ride but it will be worth it when i come out the other side. 🙂

  2. I saw a Facebook thing today which was saying something about people who were ‘gifted’ when they were young suffering from excruciating failure feelings because they can’t do absolutely everything perfectly now.
    1) Forget about the Audible thing – you have other things to concern you and anyway Audible have backed down on grabbing our royalties unless its within 7 days and a genuine return. You must have got that email or maybe it went to spam. I can forward it if you like.
    2) I cant understand why the eye hopstial hasnt had Mum tested for Covid 4 days beforehand and checked on her every other day to make sure she was self-isolating, because that’s what mine did (new lens replaced cataract last night, yippee)
    3) Stuff the washing, folding and anything else. Get the McFamily to help you for McPete’s sake.
    4) Have a G&T and accept my love with hugs. Nobody should have to handle all you’re handling.
    And yes, do the first icing first thing… just don’t go straight back to sleep. Or maybe do go staight back to sleep, until somebody else takes some of the work off your shoulders (and hips and knees).
    J xxxxx

    • PS Sorry about the missed typos… resting the new eye at the mo

    • I agree re eye hospital. I had to isolate for two weeks before my op. Audible … yeh I’ve chilled. We have more mods on board. The McOthers are being lovely it’s more a case is doing a few copies instead of a fourth pathetic walk! 🤣🤣 Thank you. I’ll get there. And again, congrats on the new eye. From what I’ve heard it’ll give you a new lease of life. Glad it went well and hope it’s bedding in nicely. 🙂👍

  3. Diana

    Ouch indeed!

    Do you have a recliner chair? Those are great for lying back without actually lying flat on your back. This might help.

    I am trying to wrap my head around the idea that everyone in the country has to travel to their Christmas destination on the same day — and then return on the same day as well? This would not only mean chaos on the roads, and crowding at gas pumps etc, but unlucky folk who have to work on one or the other of those days won’t be able to travel at all.

    We are likely to be discouraged from travelling at all. We are already forbidden (temporarily at least) from meeting in homes with anyone who does not live in the home. We expect Christmas to be very different this year.

    I think Boris might be getting inspiration from the Chinese, who — I think at New Years — all have a week off work, so the entire nation heads to the trains at once. since many never have a chance to see their families at other times.

    May all the carers — and your family members — survive this long covid season well.

    • The travel thing isn’t a diktat that we have to go those days but like the Chinese, we and many others with more far flung folks, only have this one five day window to get to them. So we’ll all be travelling on the same two days. It is going to be hectic. It would be easier if they’d just said no. As it is well as be schlepping off and exchanging or covid germs at motorway service stations up and down the country. Although if my knee is still like this I’ll stay back and send the boys on their own.

  4. I empathise with your pain and frustration … After being in hospital for five weeks after my motorcycle accident my knee was stiff as a board and it took a year of excruciating physiotherapy (some days both my physio, lovely woman, and I were in tears) to get the bloody thing to 90 degrees and stay there … it’s relentless and there’s no short-cuts, but you will get there in the end. 🙂 especially of you’re anywhere near as blood-mindedly stubborn as I am. 😀

  5. Jen Stocks

    Get your GP to prescribe some better pain meds! I’m bone on bone in at least one of my knees and Tapentadol is doing a pretty good job. You can get slow release as well as normal to ensure you have good cover and it doesn’t send me even slightly non compos mentis.

  6. Oh, dear MT. I’m so sorry to hear everything you and your mom have been through lately. Ouch – this is a rough period in both your lives. And I so empathise with the problem of pain, a blasted bloody thing I know far too intimately! It’s the only time I swear really – when thinking of pain. So my dear, please be kind to yourself, be patient with yourself, and I wish you a thorough and speedy healing.

  7. Tricia Drammeh

    Oh, I’m so sorry. I wish you a quick recovery. This year has been an absolute shit show for everyone, but for you especially, 2020 seems to have hit you like a ton of bricks. My heart goes out to you with everything you’re going through between your mom’s struggles and your own recovery. I wish I could help!

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