No Leg to Stand On


I had to be up by 4:00 yesterday to get to the hospital by 5:30. Let me tell you, when you’re on the road before the morning DJs start their shift, you know you got up too early.

The surgery went amazingly well, and boy are those hospital personnel sticklers for making sure they’ve got the right person. When they asked my name and birth date for the 60 bajillionth time, I told them I was Johnny Depp. “Wow, those are some good drugs!” my sister said. Yeah, my little sis showed up, bless her heart. I totally wasn’t expecting that and it really touched me.

As I was lying there after surgery, waiting to go home, I realized that I felt pretty good, no nausea or other problems from the anesthesia, and that it was only 10:15, so I could make it to Chrysalis, my writing group that meets from noon until 2:00 on Wednesdays. My husband thought I was crazy, but finally agreed to let me. Naturally it took until 11:30 to get out of Dodge, not for medical reasons, but just because they were slow about processing me. Who’d have thought that there were other people in the hospital to take care of  that day? I showed up a bit late and had to have my friend Barb read for me because my throat was sore from the tube they rammed down it so I wouldn’t choke to death if I upchucked from the anesthesia, but I was glad not to miss a meeting. I’ve only missed four in the 4 ½ years I’ve been attending, and that was because I was out of town on vacation.

Some miscellaneous facts:

  • The surgeon had to remove 50% of my lateral meniscus. I figured he was going to take the whole thing, based on the MRI photos and summary, so it was no surprise to me. But apparently it was to him.
  • The cyst was bigger than he thought. Again, no shocker to me. That sucker’s been stuck to the side of my leg like a conjoined twin  for years. I could tell from the MRI that it was huge.
  • The pain hasn’t been nearly as bad as I was prepared for. In fact the nausea and headache I got from the Percocet were way more incapacitating. Fortunately I still had some Vicodin left, so I switched to that.
  • General anesthesia apparently sucks your saliva glands dry as LA when the Santa Anas blow through. Never stick a cracker in your mouth when you have no saliva. You’ll never get it back out.
  • I didn’t really need the crutches to get around, and in fact they encouraged me to put full weight on my knee, though they want me to use the crutches while doing it. So I will, at least for today, but then I’m losing those puppies. You can’t carry anything while using crutches.
  • Pulse oximeters, those things they stick on people’s fingers on Grey’s Anatomy to measure the level of oxygen in their blood, work by shining a light through your fingertip that allows the meter to “see” the ratio of oxygenated hemoglobin to deoxygenated hemoglobin. Pretty cool.
  • The anesthesiologist didn’t really give me any warning that he was putting me under. I was just looking around the operating room, and the next minute I was waking up in recovery. It’s totally weird, knowing people were touching me in a really personal way like that. I mean, I expected that they were going to cut open my knee and all, but somehow all the monitor tabs seemed invasive. I know to them I was just another warm body, and it’s not like I was afraid of anything out of line, it was just the total vulnerability, the loss of control and composure that felt strange. Like they took my walls down before I could let them down myself, if that makes any sense.

Once I got home from Chrysalis I tried to relax and read, but boy was it tough. I’ve been pushing so hard to get things done before the surgery that my brain has psyched itself into this go-go-go pattern. Not that it isn’t pretty much there most of the time, anyway. Yeah, just a bit obsessive. Anyway, I felt incredibly guilty lying around and kept wanting to get up to work on my outline or something. I had to tell myself I was supposed to be lazing about. For the love of  Peeps, how lame is that?

I didn’t sleep worth a darn last night. In fact it was probably one of my top ten Worst Nights Ever. Not because of pain, which as fairly minimal, but because I just couldn’t drift off. Which was weird, since I had a hard time getting to sleep the night before and had gotten up at 4:00. I guess it had something to do with the anesthesia or the other drugs they gave me, but boy, did it suck. I was totally aware of the time passing and finally got up at 5:30 because I couldn’t handle it anymore. So I’m probably due to crash any  minu—

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13 Responses to No Leg to Stand On

  1. Karen C says:

    It was a fun surprise to see you at Chrysalis yesterday, and I’m glad to hear that besides sleep, you’re doing much better than you expected. Yay for good surprises! 🙂 I’m sending you lots of good vibes for a speedy, complete recovery. Hugs!

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  2. Katy Skinner says:

    Thanks for the update, Lisa! Things went a little different than you expected I can see. I’m fascinated by medical stuff so thanks for the deets. I didn’t know they were going to intubate you (or whatever that is when they put the thing down your gullet.) That sounds scary. Also, the part I empathize the most with is the stressed out / obsessive / anxious feeling you had later. I tell ya, sometimes that’s the worst feeling of all. I remember when I got out of the hospital after giving birth to Heath; that’s when my panic attacks started. Horrible feeling. So make use of those vicodins! If it gets really bad maybe they can give you lorazepam or the like to help with the anxiety. —Katy

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  3. Alice Lynn says:

    Somehow you always manage a wry twist of humor in your blogs, even when they’re dealing with something scary, like surgery. Thanks for all the details and I’m sure you’ll be one of those model patients that doctors like to cite during consultations with other folks. As you know, I’m sorry I could be there in person to see but was felled by what malignant bug that attends to you when you have other plans that CANNOT BE DISTURBED! Just hit the disconnect to your internal slave driver for awhile and take a much needed rest.

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  4. Alice Lynn says:

    Whoops, that line in the above comment should have been sorry I could NOT have been with you…

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  5. Roxie says:

    You were funny at Chrysallis. The drugs lingered more than you realized and you were so sweetly loopy. Now is the time to channel your inner cat. Rest. Sprawl. Sooze. Nap. Give your body a chance to heal. Think of how you would feel if you had to go through that surgery without anesthetic. That’s the sort of trauma your physical being had to endure. Just because you weren’t there to feel it doesn’t mean it didn’t really happen. Cut yourself some slack! And if you need anything, give me a hollar. I’m not working till Wednesday morning next week.

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  6. Soozie says:

    Hmmmm….Even when they cut BOTH my legs open from knee to ankle (in two places each leg, yet) they didn’t intubate. They just used something that made me not aware and then plugged my legs full of local anesthetic. Wonder what that’s about. The brain injury was when they DID intubate, but that was for my throat and I think local is impossible INSIDE a major organ.

    Glad you’re up. Do you need gummi worms? I have to take Jenny to Gladstone to get the van. Wanna see my new (to me) car?

    Oh, yeah, and remember, I was in dead bug pose for a month after that leg surgery. Don’t expect to run and jump for awhile. The meniscal surgery is easy…took about five days to heal…but getting the cyst cut out? I’m not betting on that one.

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  7. rose lefebvre says:

    T relax you must do the feline mantra–purrrr, purrrr, purrrr, purrrr-continue until you are sleepy and ready to catnap!! LOl
    It was funny but I had half expected to see you hobble into the Chrysalis meeting. You are a tough little gingersnap. Takes a lot to break ya!! I am glad your recovery is going well.

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  8. Lisa Nowak says:

    Karen, thanks for the good energy, and I was glad to see all of you, too. I don’t like missing Chrysalis.

    Katy, the medical stuff intrigues me, too. And I didn’t feel too much anxiety, just a sort of weirdness. I didn’t let it get to me, though, because if the medical personnel didn’t care, why should I? That’s their job and they do that stuff to dozens of people every day. It was just weird to me.

    Alice, glad you appreciate the humor, and don’t worry a bit about not being able to make it in person.I had Bob and my sister, and I got to go to Chrysalis. Besides, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be.

    Roxie, I still can’t figure out what you guys were laughing about. Maybe you should have recorded me for my later amusement. I’m glad I could entertain all of you, though. Thanks again for the ride home.

    Susan, I don’t think it was a true intubation, it was just a short tube. I’m not sure exactly what the difference is, but apparently their is one. If you want to come show me your new car I’d love to see it. I’ll be out of town Saturday through Monday, though. We’re going to the beach. Wouldn’t you know, we’re finally getting some nice warm weather, and I’ll be where it’s 65° and cloudy.

    Rose, you don’t know how right you are. I’m not doing the purring myself, but listening to the kitties do it is so relaxing. It tickles me to learn you weren’t surprised to see me. Thanks for the kind words

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  9. Elisabeth Miles says:

    Man, I go out of town thinking you are all laid up and being taken care of by TRAINED medical personnel, and come back to found out you’ve escaped and are entertaining the troops at Chrysalis. Glad it all went so well, and that you are back and on the road to recovery, etc, etc. Have a great time at the beach, even if it will be cooler than here for a change!

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  10. Lisa Nowak says:

    Beth, sorry you missed the show.:) It really hasn’t been that bad, though I did find out from my sister today that the reason the doctor wants me to take it easy for the first 2 weeks is that otherwise it will take longer to heal. Bob just said, “you should take it easy,” which of course leaves out that all important “why” that I need to process the information. This is why doctors should tell you things directly instead of relying on family members to get the point across.

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  11. Charlie says:

    Wow, you went to writing group right after surgery?!? You’re a tough cookie, Lisa. Wishing you a speedy recovery.

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  12. Wow, not only is this update so prompt, but you went to your writers’ group the same day as your surgery? You are strong like bear! (as we say in our house, in fake Russian accents.)

    Yay for crutch-ditching! But yeah, take it easy. No matter how much we may will it otherwise, the physical process of healing takes a certain amount of time. Glad to hear it all went well!

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  13. Lisa Nowak says:

    Charlie and Chris, it wasn’t really that big a deal. I’d been prepared not to go, but then I felt pretty good, probably because of all the pain meds they gave me, so I figured why not? I’m still feeling pretty good, though I’m stuck in this weird limbo of being unable to do much in spite of feeling okay.

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