4/9/19 – Surgery day!! I know it seems strange to be excited about another surgical procedure but after being in pain for so long, anything that is going to help, even if it involves more pain at the start, looks good to me. Surgery went well. According to the surgeon, hip replacements are easier than knee replacements and the healing process is supposed to be much faster.
Knowing I am allergic to adhesives, a different type of bandage was used on my incisions. Unfortunately, I ended up being allergic to that adhesive too, so within a few days post-op the surgical site was bright red, inflamed and incredibly itchy. Fortunately, the staples did not come loose nor was there any residual infection following the removal of the bandages.
I began physical therapy one week post surgery. I was actually able to walk with a cane instead of the walker which surprised everyone, especially the surgeon. Within a few PT sessions I began experiencing pain and swelling in my left knee all the way to my foot. The swelling became so severe my toes looked like little sausages. So, it was back to the electric reclining chair for ice and elevation after each PT session.
Because of the pain and swelling in my left knee, PT for my hip was suspended. I was tested for blood clots because of the pain in my calf. Thankfully there were none. When asked if I could ride, the answer was no, because of concern regarding my knee, not my hip. The surgeon had been excited to see me begin riding again post hip replacement, but until the mystery of my left knee could be solved, riding was once again, a NO.
A bone density test was ordered. While it wasn’t conclusive, it did show there was a problem. A few days later, my left leg swelled and burned from the knee down. Off to the ER I went. Once again, it was thought I had a blood clot, so I was immediately sent in for an ultrasound. I have had ultrasounds before, but this ended up being one of the most painful procedures. Every time the wand touched my leg I felt as though I had been hit with a hot shot. Tensing only made it worse and made the procedure last even longer.
When the ER doctor came in after the procedure I learned I had a popliteal cyst in the back of my knee, and the largest he had ever seen. According to him, it would be a simple procedure to remove it, but required going back to the surgeon.
I received a completely different prognosis from the surgeon. The cyst was a symptom of a problem, and not the problem. So, an MRI was ordered. Once those results were read, it was determined I had torn my meniscus so another procedure was scheduled. Fortunately I was able to get in one week later which was July 30. I guess that is how it works when you are a member of the “frequent flyer” club.
Surgery went as well as could be expected. I woke up to less than stellar news. The meniscus was torn, and could not be repaired. Once trimmed, the remaining piece stood straight up like a bad cowlick and refused to stay in place. It had to be removed completely which left me bone on bone. The surgeon told me I would know in 2 weeks whether I would want to schedule to have the outside compartment replaced. (The inside was replaced in June of 2018). I also learned I was never a good candidate for a total knee replacement. For me, two partial replacements will be better than a total knee replacement. I learned my ACL will not be removed which will give my leg even more stability.
8/2/19 – While I took the entire week off to recuperate, I could not believe how much better my knee felt even though I am now bone on bone. The pain is gone. Unfortunately, not the swelling, which is what both the surgeon and I were hoping for, but I am walking so much better, with much less listing. I feel incredible.
8/3/19 – A blast from the past occurred today. I was contacted by a woman I had met 6 years ago at a horse agility clinic. I was invited to teach an agility clinic to 16 horses and campers on 8/9. I was thrilled she thought of me and she had no idea I had become a Horse Agility Accredited Trainer and judge which gave me more credibility to the camp director. My husband was worried I would overdo it since I had just had surgery. The three clinics were going to take 1 hour each, with unknown horses.
8/9/19 – The day of the clinic arrived. I had spent the night awake, thinking about teaching, what I was going to say, wondering about the horse I was going to use, as I chose not to bring one of my own, while hoping it would not be too hot, rain, or my presentation would fall on its face. A million scenarios had gone through my mind.
The day turned out to be a huge success. I was given a horse who every counselor felt was a complete waste and turned him into a gentleman within 20 minutes. At the end I had not only worked him at liberty, meaning no direct contact on the lead rope, but had him standing quietly, and attentively at my side without touching him. I went on to teach 16 other horses how to be attentive to their handlers, while teaching their handlers how to be attentive to them. While no one advanced to liberty work, they all wove through a series of cones on a loose lead and back to the wall again. I was exhausted at the end of the day but exhilarated too. I am finally getting my life back!!!
8/12/19 – I am now two weeks post op, and met with my doctor to have the sutures removed. The surgeon and I talked about the next step. I am going to start pre-hab physical therapy in order to build up my muscles for the replacement of the outside of my left knee. The good news is that I am able to put it off until November, as going into the holidays tends to be a slower time for my business.
The next good news is that I am able to drive a car AND the BEST news is that I can begin therapy on Rowdy. I was on Cloud 9 as I left the surgeon’s office and could not wait to get home and ride.
Once home, I immediately cinched the bareback pad on Rowdy, pulled up the step stool and mounted. What a great feeling!!! I sat there and just enjoyed the feeling of being on a horse’s back again. I was only able to stay on for 2 minutes before my muscles began to let me know they were starting to become unhappy, so with that I began the process of figuring out how to dismount. My left knee is so weak that standing on the step stool to perform a traditional dismount quickly became impossible, for now. So, I had to lift my right leg over Rowdy’s head before being able to get onto the step stool, but I did it all by myself. That alone, made me feel successful.
8/13/19 – I got up early, dressed, and went into the front room where Rowdy lives. After my morning cup of coffee, (first things first), I mounted up and this time began moving. I managed to make it 3 minutes when I knew it was time to quit. This time I made the time per the timer on my watch. I still had to dismount by lifting my right leg over Rowdy’s head. Whatever it takes to ride is fine by me. The stronger I get, the faster I will make it to a real horse.
8/14/19 – I got up early once again, as I want to create a habit of riding every day and increasing my riding time. As soon as I mounted I wanted to dismount. I could not believe how much my thighs ached almost to the point of burning. This was NOT my idea of a good time. I rode the full 3 minutes but I kept checking the timer because 3 minutes felt like an hour. I forced myself to sit quietly for another 30 seconds before dismounting. Then, I spent the day doing my best to ignore the pain.
8/17/19 – I am happy to report I have ridden for 3 minutes every day. Today was not only the first day I did not look at the timer; I also did not feel as though I had been riding for 3 minutes as it seemed to pass so quickly. The feeling was exhilarating. I will stay at 3 minutes for a few more days to ensure this was not a fluke. Then I will begin increasing my riding time.
We are so excited about Kathy's progress and proud of the role that Rowdy the Equicizer has played in her journey. With her determination, we are confident that Rowdy will one day become a compliment to Kathy's riding workouts on real horses. Leave your encouragement and thoughts in the comments below and please share this post!
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