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11 October 2011 @ 08:38 pm
Reflections on meniscal repair  
I just sent the email of doom. You know, the one that tells my boss I can't walk for the next 6 weeks. The one that means I can't do my job for the next month and a half of my life. So much for trying to make some extra money before the holidays.

The email wouldn't have been so annoying to write had I not been told I would be in, out, and walking again within a week. With a snip snip of the torn meniscus, it's back to happy life in no time. It wasn't until I came out of anesthesia that Paul informed me that the surgeon had to do a major repair on the little monster. Apparently there wasn't enough healthy meniscus to simply cut off the injured part. When faced with the option of removing the entire meniscus (which is a fast-track to total knee replacement) or doing a repair, I guess he chose the repair. I can appreciate that decision, but I did not plan to be on crutches for 6 weeks during the middle of my semester...or out of work for that long.

In the meantime, I have had the distinct pleasure of getting acquainted with Percocet. It's pretty much been in my system non-stop since Friday afternoon. I'm having a hard time understanding why or how this is the number one prescribed pain medication that leads to addiction. Let me just tell you about my experience with Percocet.

1. There is no "high", my friends, just an intense sleepiness after about an hour of taking it. So sleepy I can barely formulate coherent sentences.
2. It requires food. Apparently the stuff can make you sick if you take it on an empty stomach. I don't see how anyone would ever manage to take it on an empty stomach, because it has made me the hungriest person alive. Seriously, I eat like 5 meals a day...ALWAYS hungry.
3. I hit one particularly rough patch during the night a couple nights ago, and I dared to take two pills instead of one (which is still within my prescribed amount). Apparently one of the side effects of taking something that contains an opiod, is that you itch ALL OVER. We're talking full body itching that does not respond to scratching. I guess the darn stuff causes your body to release histamines, so you have to take an anti-histamine to control the itching--making yourself even MORE tired than you were before.
4. The long-term consequence of taking Percocet is that it makes you majorly constipated. I thought I would be exempt from this side effect since I eat a lot of veggies. Apparently, Google wasn't kidding when it told me to work prune juice into my diet. I didn't know that I could be so hungry for so many days, eat so much food, and not feel like I have to have a bowel movement. I'm used to being like clock work. Hopefully the prune juice will help, but man, it's kind of gross.
5. Percocet = no beer. My boss's husband sent me home with a 6-pack before my surgery as a post-op present. It's been 4 days, and I've finally been without pain meds for long enough to have a drink. Seriously, though, no one should have to endure being stuck on a couch for days without having a beer.

And now I get to embark on figuring out how to reintegrate into my life again. I get crazy winded on these pain meds, so crutching very far or long is a challenge, especially if steps are included. I think I'm going to have to get myself a wheelchair for my life at the hospital. Nothing like going to visit patients and having to explain why you're in a wheelchair, right? I feel like I could get away with it if it weren't for the giant brace on my knee. People see the brace and they start asking. Then there are all of the questions about what in the heck a meniscus is in the first place. I feel like I need to print up a hand out about what happened, what didn't happen, and an FAQ page about my knee.

I guess this is probably how my patients feel when I ask them about their procedure/condition/reason for being hospitalized. At least I can read their chart.

I need hand-outs, people.

And a wheely office chair. This is another fiasco in my life. I have to move sometime in the next month (per 60 day notice from my property manager who has sold the place to new owners). I have no clue how I'm going to pack all of my belongings when I can't even carry a glass of water from one room to the next while maneuvering my crutches. I need a wheely office chair with cup holders, apparently. I just don't know how I'm going to pack otherwise. I can't squat. I can't lift anything heavy. And I can't stand up for much longer than 5 minutes at a time.

It's really quite a sad scene.