Rehab (or something like it)

October 8th, 2013
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Nice to be back! (And hope you're still following.)

The hospital stay was a little longer than expected: 10 days (an eternity in the hospital in this day and age). All apparently was fine with the knee/hip/femur surgery, but other issues complicated matters, including a nasty drop in my blood platelets that had me disoriented and confused as to exactly where I was at times. (Nothing that a couple units of blood¹ couldn't fix.) My kidney disease² didn't help matters either, contributing to some excess swelling in the non-surgical leg.

As for the leg, the surgery went as well as could be expected. No surprises, so the surgeon was able to get in and out in a taut five hours or so. He was able to place the antibiotic "spacer" with no problem and remove all of the old infected hardware. Now I basically have a straight steel rod going from the middle of my shin all the way to the hip socket. Although the hip is functional, the knee does not bend. Will have to keep all weight off of it as long as it's in there.

Now it's on to rehab (or something like it). It's not rehab in the traditional sense, because I'm not really doing anything. The spacer - filled with antibiotics that are being released over time - needs to be able to do its job, and that takes eight to 10 weeks. Meanwhile, doctors were able to isolate the two strains of staph that had been plaguing the area and have set me on an IV antibiotic course that aims to kill all of it! (I have a PICC line to take care of that, basically keeping me hooked up to an IV line 24 hours a day.)

So if we have to let the antibiotics do their job, what the hell am I doing? Well, mostly nothing. It's basically long hours in a chair elevating the knee (along with a daily nap to lie down and elevate both legs to keep swelling down). There are a handful of isometric exercises and I do have to walk (still keeping all weight off the right leg), so there is some work. I guess we could call it "rehab lite."

This will be a long 10 weeks (assuming all goes well with the antibiotics - it could potentially last longer if the bacteria fight back and stick around). But as of today, two weeks are already gone, so hopefully the time passes quickly.

As for distractions, as long as I'm rooted to a chair for this time, maybe it means I'll finally be able to watch "Breaking Bad" and "Game of Thrones." It is nice to have playoff baseball to occupy the time (even if my Indians tanked in the Wild Card), but at least we have our first-place Cleveland Browns!!!

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¹ Just want to take this moment to encourage everyone who can to donate blood.

² If I haven't mentioned it previously, I also have Stage III chronic kidney disease as a result of diabetes and past kidney trauma (an infection when my appendix burst a few years ago). Future blog posts will focus on kidney disease, a serious health concern in Hawaii.

3 Responses to “Rehab (or something like it)”

  1. ohiaforest3400:

    Great to see you back at the keyboard, BJ!

    Pardon my fascination with medical engineering, but once the spacer and PICC antibiotic treatments are pau, will you have further surgery to add a bendable knee or are you stuck with the straight leg for the duration? As time and inclination permit.

    As a longtime platelet donor, I'm glad our community could help. "They" say that we're 2% of the population but give 100% of the blood and blood products!


  2. BJ Reyes:

    Ohia: yes, it's a two-step procedure. After the antibiotics do their thing (8-10 weeks) I'll have another operation to remove the spacer and install the permanent hardware: a new knee, hip and femur!

    And mahalo for being a platelet donor. They really helped in my situation last week!


  3. ohiaforest3400:

    Got it; thanx for the patient reminder. I read -- but had forgotten (DUH!) -- your 9/12 post ("Island Femur") explaining the two step process. Oh, the ravages of advancing age!


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