Saturday, November 15, 2008

One small, slow step at a time

It has been about three weeks since I've blogged. So much has happen in that time that I haven't really realized that I've been neglecting this for so long. First of all, the last blog was dated Monday, October 27th. At that time, I had had 4 surgeries and was looking forward to getting out of the hospital. Well, it wasn't until the following Monday, November 3, and TWO MORE SURGERIES, that I finally was released to go home, a frustrating 4-hour discharge period whereby nobody except my wife and I knew what I was supposed to do when we got home. That made a grand total of 11 days of laying in the hospital on that last visit, and 18 days total spanning three different visits. As for surgeries, my punch card now has 6 holes in it, all within a 5 week period. If you count the three on the same knee from my ACL/MRSA bout 4 years ago, that means only one more to go, then the next one's free.

Since I've been out, I've been back at school, starting the very next Tuesday after I got out. Although this went against nearly everyone's advice (I even had to coax my doctor into writing my "back to school" note), it was the right thing to do. Seeing the students again, talking to them, and seeing the forlorn, mathematically destitute look on their faces, I NEEDED to be their to deliver the math. With my leg elevated on the desk and my continuous 24-hour IV infusion bottle furtively laced beneath my clothing, I gave math lessons from the relative comfort of my desk, a position that forced me to twist my torso uncomfortably at times, but one that was incomparably comfortable to the 4-inch plastic mattress of the hospital bed.

With regular visits to surgeons, infectious disease doctors, and back to the hospital for blood work every 4-5 days, I'm staying busy just making sure I'm healing. The infection is still there, but it appears that my body and the strong antibiotics are sufficient to eventually eradicate it altogether without the aid of another surgery. If I look carefully enough, I can see progress daily as my knee looks more like a knee and less like a balloon. Walking is still very painful and deliberate. Although I'm without crutches or cane (making me feel 30 years younger), I've got a noticeable limp and can't win any races. In fact, the other evening, I was walking outside of Hastings with my kids, as fast as I could go, and an elderly couple in their late 70's strolled right passed me as if I was standing still.

My range of motion is the biggest object of my solicitude. Try as I may, I cannot bend my leg to even 90 degrees (pi/2 radians.) Actually, I don't even come close. At best, call the angle between the back side of my upper and lower leg 120 degrees (2pi/3 rads.) I can't make a full rotation of the pedals on my therapy bike, nor can I walk down stairs without putting both feet on each tread. Getting my pants on and getting into the car take much effort and time, but at least I'm driving myself this week, which frees up my wife's schedule. As for driving, it IS difficult for me to switch from accelerator to brake and back again, and working the brake with my left foot is like brushing my teeth with my left hand--jerky and awkward. Oh well, who needs to brake anyway??? I manage, but I have to lift my entire body out of the driver's seat a bit to switch pedals. I figure it's good real-time physical therapy . . . which brings me to something else.

Upon discharge, the surgeon said I could try doing PT on my own, which I have been doing, but it has been a slow painful process, especially since my knee is still swollen. At the follow-up visit last Wednesday (they finally removed the stitches that had been in there itching for 12 days--he had to dig into my skin to get to them!!!), it was determined that I needed professional intervention for PT. I start next week. This time, despite the extra money and logistical burden, I'm willingly going with open arms and a stiff, immobile leg. If they can get me back to where I want to be--running, jumping, dancing---or just able to walk down stairs one tread at a time, it will be worth it. It wouldn't hurt to be able to beat the romantically strolling elderly in a foot race either.

So I'll continue doing everything I've been doing with increased effort and with more deliberation than before, appreciating all the little things I previously took for granted, making small strides in my recovery. With my 24-7 IV infusions scheduled to terminate on December 14th, I'll likely continue to be anemic until that day, getting worn out just from dressing myself, and being totally exhausted at the end of the day (which for me has been around 5:00 pm.) Trying to find the right balance between rest and activity is a tough thing to do, especially for a restless, ambitious, Adult ADD guy like me who has difficulty sleeping, and not just because every time I turn over, I lay on top of my IV infusion bottle.


Anonymous said...

Yo Mr. Korpi

I been checking everyday during applied music or web mastery for a new blog for what seems like a month. i glad your back and doing fine. Just take it easy on yourself. Glad to see your getting better. Keep blogging as often as possible, thier freaking hilarious.

Love, Peace & Taco Grease

Anonymous said...

Glad to have you back on-line again. Like Vinny, I've been checking on a daily basis. (PS. Vinny -- congratulations on homecoming King)

I've borderline anemic for the past 3 weeks and I've been exhausted and I have a fully functioning knee. So I can just imagine how tired you are at the end of the day.

I know your kiddos are happy as clams to have you back.

Take care.

Anonymous said...

Welcome back and hopefully on the road to a full recovery. I was starting to worry about you with the long abscence from the blog. Take care and don't overdue it! Hope Hannah is still working out for you guys.