Monday, September 23, 2013

The New Knee Continues to Pass Its Tests

It is hard to believe that just five months ago, I was in intensive physical therapy following the surgical replacement of my left knee. Certainly it seems longer ago than that.

For that matter, it is hard to believe that just a little more than eight years ago, I was in cardiac rehabilitation following the surgical replacement of my aortic valve and (believe it or not) entire aortic root. That occurred while I was working full-time for a Washington, D.C.-area think tank, and it seems a lifetime ago. Maybe it did occur in a previous existence. Sometimes I wonder.

Anyway, today both heart and knee odysseys converged as I, BionicBob, did my hospital rounds as a Mended Hearts volunteer visiting heart patients who were pre-op or a few days out of surgery. I decided to do this volunteering when a very nice Mended Hearts member came to visit me at a Northern Virginia hospital and I knew I wanted to pay back the kindness. Eventually, when we moved to South Carolina, I got opportunity after joining a congenial Mended Hearts group and receiving training from the hospital.

Today must have set some sort of record for numbers of patients to visit -- at least it did for me. I walked all over the hospital visiting ICUs, PCUs, pre-op areas, regular rooms, waiting rooms, Cardiac Rehab -- all scattered around three floors, which of course I reached by walking the stairs, given my dread of elevators. Added to further brisk walking later in the day, it had to be the sternest test for my bionic knee yet. I did it all without a cane -- and I heard far less clicking than I earlier had. So even though my orthopedic surgeon said I probably would always hear that clicking or popping sound, maybe it is going away (which my knee manual says sometimes happens, which is a good thing). So heading into month six post-op, my knee is still improving.

The highlight of the heart visits was coming upon an elderly man who was already zonked. He was being prepped for heart-value surgery and was surrounded by members of his family who were plainly scared about what their patriarch faced. I introduced myself gently and tentatively, not wanting to be intrusive, but they indicated they wanted me to talk to them. So I told them that I had had replacement of not just the valve but the entire aortic root almost nine years ago, and today I was there to let them know that there commonly is life after heart surgery, and it is good life. They seemed reassured and comforted to some extent. It is good to know that you may have made a difference in a situation like that.

Back home, Superdawg was not going to cut me any slack for being exhausted. She had been jilted when I went out the door early to go to the hospital. Now, on this nice relatively cool day with a Carolina-blue sky she demanded her walk. Boy, did she ever. We walked the extra mile, literally. Later, Dasher (pictured at left) visited and also wanted to romp. So tonight I am fatigued, but pleasantly so. And I am secure in the knowledge that all the parts -- original and artificial -- appear to be working fine.

                             © Robert G. Holland  2013

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