Friday, May 11th, I began, what I decided was, my transition to Comic Book Superhero: Step 1 — Bionic knee!
Checking into the Grace Hospital I was a little underwhelmed by the new “superhero suit” (see above) they had chosen for me. Certainly a lot more modest than the Wonder Woman suit (except for maybe when I turned my back and there, frankly, I think they were a little too liberal with the “view”…although with a couple of strategically placed safety pins, it would do a great job of showing off the phoenix tattoo on my back 😉
I assumed the warrior stance (before they made me lay down on the gurney to be transported into the operating room.) They wheeled me away from Mama Jane (who is the real superhero in this story…flying in from Ottawa just to be here to oversee my transformation…and hug me…a LOT <3 ) and so began my journey. I remember very little about my O.R. experience except for my smiling, jovial surgeon, Dr. Balageorge, a nice woman named Angela who was explaining everything to me… except for what my new super power would be (she seemed to lack knowledge of that aspect of the procedure)… but the one thing I do remember, clearly, as I drifted from total consciousness to something else was clinging to the idea that this knee replacement would, in fact, bring me back stronger and more powerful…kind of like my own personal “superhero” experience…and I clearly remember feeling a wave of empowerment brought on by imagining the badassery of the amazing strong female characters in my latest favourite Marvel movie (and they weren’t even the superheroes in the film… just the the incredible warriors who didn’t really need super powers)…and I remember some laughter in the operating theatre as I shouted, somewhat involuntarily, “WAKANDA FOREVER!” just as the room, and everyone in it winked out of existence for me.
It turns out I was a bit of a warrior when it came to sedation as the spinal failed to keep me under sufficiently and they had to intubate me and go for the full general anesthetic after all. It took me a bit longer than the others to regain consciousness but, when I did I emerged into a world of hurt like I’ve never known (don’t try this at home kids and, no matter what aged kid you are…don’t try it for “the heck of it” or any other reason beyond necessity) I’m not sorry I made the leap (it was necessary for me, as I’ll explain) but MAN OH MAN you just cannot prepare for what’s waiting on the other side.
So…why was this necessary for me? Being in my 40’s I’ve heard a lot about being “too young” for a knee replacement but, here’s my story: In 2002 I ran the National Capital 1/2 Marathon, in Ottawa. I’d trained for a year and a 1/2 to run the race and was excited as it was my first (and, as it turned out, my last) race of that magnitude.
In the 3rd kilometre, something “popped”. I had injured the knee but was too stubborn to quit the race so I continued…this was a bad idea. It effectively ended my “runners lifestyle” and the injury never really rehabilitated to anyone’s satisfaction. I was never going to be an award winning (beyond my participation medal for that race) runner. What I WAS great at, apparently, was growing arthritis.
In 2009 I had laparoscopic knee surgery to assess the extent of the damage and perhaps clean up any torn meniscus hiding below the surface. The surgeon (not smiling, nor jovial by any description) said to me in my post op appointment, “Got a cane? …Good.
There’s nothing you can do to help that. Bone on bone and full of arthritis. See you in 20 years for your replacement.” (See images to the left for a dramatic reenactment of the condition (minus the arthritis) of my knee by the, oh-so-talented, Uncle Slim 😉
In the 9 years since then, my right knee fused in a bent position which affected my gate and was beginning to negatively impact my low back and right hip health. I didn’t want to imagine what persevering through another decade of that, just so I would be “old enough to have the surgery”, would mean for the rest of my body so, after I took action to improve my physical fitness level (which included taking 70lbs off of my frame) I went back to my medical team to see if they could help me, considering I had then done all I could do to alleviate the problem on my own… they agreed. That was 14 months ago and now, here I am, “bionic” knee in place and on recovery road.
The surgical team says it will take 3-5 months to get back to life as I knew it. I, at the beginning of all this (and taking into consideration the intensive training I underwent to prepare for it) I gave my recovery 4-6weeks. Here at week 2, I’ve just completed my first official physiotherapy appointment with D’Arcy Bain (miracle worker by the way! He managed to help me improve my bend without hurting me at all!) and, although he is very happy with my progress, he is trying to manage my expectations to something closer to 2 months.
I can concede that perhaps 4 weeks was a bit too ambitious, and I’m ready to fall in line if in fact I need more time to heal properly, but I still like that 6 weeks number (plays better in my origins story than the longer trajectory 😉 so that’s what the target still is, for now. I miss everyone and the show… although I have every confidence that Vicki Shae is doing a spectacular job filling in for me while I recover. I will update you as soon as I have any new info.
In a Facebook thread today, the first big thing I’m missing out on hit home. Brody Jackson will be filling in for me as host at the Niverville Olde Tyme Country Fair this year…That was my first big gig after starting at QX104 and this will be the only time in my 5 years here that I will have to miss it. That made me teary but, again, I work with such a talented team…they only one missing out will be me 😉 Thanks for doing it Brody! Hug everyone for me!
For now, I will leave you with a GIANT THANK YOU! I’ve received so many good wishes and visits from the QXNation, my colleagues, the country music community and my dear friends and I’m so grateful.
Cathy, Brenda, Eddie, Janet and Heidi thank you for coming out of your way to see me in the hospital… I hadn’t expected to be there that long but, not gonna lie, it was kinda cool to just be able to tune into the hockey games on my TV rather than finding a stream online! 😉 To my Petric boys, thanks so much for the flowers and tell your grandpa that his wine was enjoyed well by my friend and 2nd Nurse, Nan (and I) over a homemade Italian meal! Claire, the cupcakes were divine, Pamela OH those brownies!
To my hospital roomie, Mary…I MISS YOU! Thanks for the laughs and the late night check-ins. Glad to know you’re home now, safe and with all the ketchup, salt and butter your heart desires! Do those exercises… I’m here suffering through them with you! 😉
Susie! Thanks for the visit the reading material and, of course, “THE CHAIR”… That is a blessing and a curse but mostly a blessing. COuldn’t be doing all of my healing physio exercises without it. (OUCH but thank you <3 ) Amy…the mug is awesome but my colouring prowess under medication leaves a bit to be desired, I’m afraid! Haha! Thank you for making time for me at such a busy personal time for you and thanks for bringing “Nick” in for a hug <3
Lindsay, Kim and Doug … Words cannot express my gratitude for all that you do. I’d hate to think of where I’d be through all of this without you!
Michaela, your hand drawn card made me smile through very painful time and your mom and dad, and your brother Logan, are the best 🙂 Little sista Leanne Pearson… loved the Smiles for Miles balloon and your company (thank you for getting my precious cargo safely to the airport!) And, Mary from Warner, the ice cream goes great with everything! Thank you so much…but remember, I can’t really move right now… if you’re coming to visit over this next phase, just your company is great or, if you must, veggies only please! 🙂 LOL! (Except you Quinton and Vanessa… You just bring whatever you’d planned! See you Monday 🙂
P.S. The only super power I’ve noticed so far is the healing power of all of the good energy you’ve sent my way, thank you for that! I am still holding out hope that I’ll come out of all this able to jump up to the 3rd floor at 177 Lombard when I return to work…and maybe give Jessica Jones a run for her money in a leg wrestle! 😛 (Hey, we all gotta dream!)
See you soon and WAKANDA FOREVER!
P.P.S. Papa Gerry, thank you for rockstarring your own recovery so that Mama Jane felt comfortable leaving you to come be with me for those first 10 days. You’re a very lucky man…I would’ve given anything to keep her here with me. I also realize that I’m a lucky kid to have such amazing parents, thank you for everything you do for me always…not just in times of trauma. I love you both more than anything.
P.P.P.S. To my BFF Nan who came to visit me for the first time ever just to help look after my laid up self…THANK YOU. You really have to come back when this knee is functioning properly so we can show you what Winnipeg REALLY has to offer. LOVE YOU!
Special note of thanks to Boss Kitty Polly Prissy Pants. She may not be much of a nurse but she sure has been cute company (When not knocking crap off of shelves just because she knows I can’t move fast enough to catch her these days! Why I oughtta! 😛 )