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Thursday, June 9, 2011

Eight and a Half Weeks

I'm feeling a little tired right now, a little headachey. I cut out all meds four nights in a row, to see if there was a difference. By the fourth night I realized that the meds probably were helping a little. I had so little sleep that I was up in the middle of the night watching television and still I could not sleep in later. And I had crying jags. So last night I did not forego meds. I took three tylenol pms. That actually did not help much either, to get me to sleep. It was hours of adjusting and stretching and taking showers and sitting on the side of the bed with my head in my hands. Finally, after I dropped off I was up a few more times to go to the bathroom, and once again I awoke with a spasm in my leg. I still feel vaguely hungover.

I am a bit at a loss here as to what to do. I really want to be off the drugs at night, and I figure time has got to help. I don't want magic meds. Well, yes, I'd like that, but more than that I want this to be over, no more need for meds.

At the therapist's office I talked to another knee patient a few days ago and he said that he too still has difficulty at night, has spasms and that he has more trouble sleeping now than he did right after surgery. I am not alone, and that actually is a kind of comfort.

So that's my primary complaint at this stage, at eight and a half weeks. The secondary complaint is that I find it painful to walk, or at least uncomfortable. Third, when I get out of my car I find it painful to stand up again.

The walking is a bit of a mystery to me. A few weeks ago I was walking somewhat stiffly but there wasn't much pain. It may be that I am not allowing my muscles enough rest. It does not seem to me that I am overworking anything but I am working the same muscles in the gym T Th S that I work in the therapy sessions M W F - so I am working them six days in a row. That may not be the wisest course. It may be smarter for me to do my gym routines on the same days as I do therapy.  I hope to get this straight when I start working with Clara, the trainer at the gym. Another component of the walking problem is, of course, my right leg. There are times that it feels incredibly weak, like it's going to cave in, and it hurts to put my weight on it. I do use my cane at these times, to take some of the load off it, but that is not any kind of long-term solution. Today at the gym I found it really hard on that knee to climb the stairs to the second floor, so I took the elevator down when I was done with my workout.

As to what I am doing at the gym. Very similar to what I was doing before surgery, but I have cut some things out and added one machine, and modified some settings:

Bike: I now set the seat at 8, whereas before it was at 9. This is a triumph of sorts. I can bend my knees better now. I bike at level 9 (before I went to 10) for twenty minutes (before I did fifteen) and I work up to my training heart rate and stay there every time (I did not get there before). So when I get off the bike I am sweating.

Leg Press: The goal here now is simply to strengthen my thighs. Previously a big part of the goal was to straighten my legs. I do two sets of ten (same as before) at 120 pounds (previously 140).

Leg Extension: The difference on this one is that I don't go all the way up to a straight-leg position, based on what Paul said he'd learned about using the machines for this purpose. I go about 80% of the way and then back again. I think I'm at just 30 pounds - I don't remember! Two sets of ten.

Seated Leg Curl: I had not been doing this before so I had to figure out how to set the machine. I'm not at all sure I am doing it entirely correctly. I do one set of fifteen at ...what?? I think 65 pounds.

Hip Abductor: I am using this a little differently. When I do "clamshells" on my bed at home I am supposed to lift my leg and hold it for ten seconds. So now when I push open the machine I hold it for a few seconds at the outer limit, then return it to the start. Two sets of fifteen, I think 65 pounds.

Lat pulldowns or row or both: same as before, two sets of ten, 95 pounds.

Sometimes I stand at the railing and do some leg pushbacks (I do not know the correct term) but mostly I do not.

So that's the T Th S routine. I hope it changes after I meet with Clara. Change is good.

Overall I know my progress is good. I am doing well enough to expect a good recovery at the end of this road. I need to be more patient than I am. I look forward to rereading this post some weeks hence and thinking, wow, things have changed...

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