As much as I have moaned and complained about my knee, it might seem as if there was no up side to life lately. The truth is kinda the opposite of that. There really are some good parts going on right now.
Living the EMS lifestyle means long hours away from home and family. When you throw in the time spent traveling to and from, teaching and special events and then top that off with running 30-40 miles a week life can get pretty hectic sometimes. Not that I’m complaining about it, this is the life I chose and the one I love. Still, it has been nice to slow down and enjoy a different pace.
I have not missed a play that Daniel’s been on the field this season in football (and the Warrior’s are kicking some tail, undefeated so far), binge watched TV series and even went to school with Sophia, chauffeured Ladonna to work and become more involved with the men’s group at church.
As much as I miss running and miss work, the upcoming return will mean missing this time I’ve been blessed with.
Ok, so I think that I am free of the effects of medication enough to write a blog. Evidently earlier today I texted a Deputy Chief at work “Versed is my friend” which might indicate that I am not in the best of conditions.
The staff at the surgery center next to Fort Sander’s Regional in Knoxville was very nice, very professional. After a brief wait it was back to the pre-op and answering questions, changing into a very stylish gown and sitting with Ladonna as various docs and nurses wandered through. I do remember having a nice discussion with the Anesthesiologist about different types of airways, especially supraglottic types such as the LMA and King. I found it refreshing that he wanted to talk about it “with a medical professional that has a different perspective on the issues.”
Dr. Jaquith came by and spoke with us about the surgery to come and then the nurse said she was going to give me a little bit of Versed, not enough to do much. Ladonna said within a few seconds I was thick tongued and then there is no memory beyond that. I really must be a cheap date! I somewhat remember waking up in recovery and the good doctor saying something about he would explain it to my wife. I very clearly remember him asking me to move my toes and saying that it was good they still worked… Wow, I am glad they are still attached, somehow I didn’t think about that until now but maybe I’m confusing realities, I have been watching a show about Mt. Everest?
Now for the report, mainly from Ladonna…
The piece of stuff free floating must have been sucked up almost immediately as he never truly visualized it. The lateral meniscus must have healed as he thought it would because it was intact as was the ACL. The PCL showed some wear and tear but was intact. The medial meniscus tear was clipped out and some good news there was that he was able to leave some. There is a divot on the lateral side of my femur, most likely where the floating piece came from. All of the surfaces show a pretty good amount of osteoarthritis, perhaps the worst news of all. Then again, it wasn’t like I didn’t know that I had arthritis before this.
A very special thank you to my family and friends and my running buddy Lilyan for their thoughts and prayers for today. And my beautiful Ladonna, for taking care of me and all that you do, you are my blessing. Now to see if I can clear this Versed Fog and in a week or so time for the rehab to began.
While I am moaning about myself, there is some news that is more good than bad. Bentley is feeling much better and is showing some signs of his old self.
The long and short is he has the dog version of Addison’s Disease. His body no longer produces the hormones needed to deal with stress like it should. Because of this he has electrolyte imbalances and whenever he becomes stressed he can go into crisis mode. The great news is this is very treatable and he is already improving. The bad news is this is an ongoing process and he will require medication daily throughout his life and will need to go to the vet often for blood work.
Still, just seeing the very loving dog we adore coming back to us lifts our spirits.
So there I was, just doing what I had done probably thousands of times over the years, carrying a stretcher down steps. Technically I had just carried the patient firmly secured to the stretcher down the steps, I was standing of Terra Firma but still had the stretcher supported in the air. I turned ever so slightly to glance behind me and then it happened.
A very soft click. So soft that maybe it wasn’t a sound, maybe it was just a feeling. There wasn’t any pain, no burning, no numbness. Just an easy slide sideways of the joint with that little click. My knee wouldn’t bend, it wouldn’t move, nothing. “I’ve just dislocated my knee!” I screamed in my head. Nausea… where did that come from? I had to try hard not to vomit while just standing there, holding a couple of hundred pounds in the air and deciding what to do next. I managed to sit the stretcher down gently and push it by me and then asked someone else to get the end I had.
The wave of nausea washed over me again and sweat popped up on my head. I reached down and palpated my knee, ready to feel the cap turned to the side. No, it was intact, exactly where it was supposed to be. The femur felt good as did the tibia. Why wouldn’t it bend? I worked the lower leg side to side with my hands and then it was free. Strange but working just fine. I walked to the ambulance and was met with a white hot stab to the inside of the joint with each step. “Just get to the truck, take care of the patient, nothing is wrong”, yep, I was lying to myself on that last part.
There it was again, the knee locked up a second time. Still, no real pain yet, at least as long as I wasn’t walking. A little shaking and it was working again. Deep aching followed that, and a strange grinding with movement. At least the nausea was gone.
The ER said it was “classic meniscus”. That was a few days ago. Now I am sitting at home, already going crazy, while I wait to see the doctor. The ache is still there along with a very strange sudden cramping of various parts of my calf, thigh and even foot which seems to have no rhyme or reason to it. I hope the ER was right, a quick fix surgery and back to life. No sitting around, bored to death, waiting endlessly for something to happen.
Today at church Pastor James brought up a very good point, the way that one finishes is much more important than the way one starts. He pointed out the lives of two people who a few years ago were both thought of as great but the way that they finished showed that one was false greatness while one was truly great.
Almost every American and many others around the world know the stories of two Williams. The first
one was born in Philadelphia in 1937. He served in the US Navy and then went to college before becoming a comedian. Eventually he made it to T.V. He earned Emmys, Grammys, Golden Globes, Presidential Medals and 15 honorary doctorates. But then the wall came crashing down. Bill Cosby will not be remembered as a great man but as a sexual predator.
The second one was born in North Carolina in 1918. After high school he went to Bible college and then got a degree in anthropology. He became a pastor for a short while of a small church before becoming an evangelist. During his life he spoke in 185 countries on 6 continents, was a leader in the Civil Rights Movement in the US and Apartheid in South Africa, spiritual advisor to every President from Wilson to Obama and spoke his message to BILLIONS around the world. It is estimated that he spoke to over 2.5 billion worldwide in one single broadcast in 1996. He also received many honorary degrees and awards from the United States such as the Presidential Medal of Honor, was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II, as well as medals from many other countries. On February 28 and March 1, 2018, Billy Graham became the fourth private citizen in United States history to lie in honor at the United States Capitol rotunda in Washington, D.C. One William was a finisher, the other was not.
Which brings us to weight issues. Almost any lesson learned about life can be carried over but for today let’s talk about finishing. Like most people that deal with weight problems I had started to diet more times than I can remember. Almost always I was successful for a short period of time but then I would stumble and fall. I was following the Bill Cosby path. I would try hard, start in the right direction and do enough that everyone could see what I was doing and comment on it. But eventually I would cheat.
The thing about the cheating is it was hurting me but I would hide it at first from everyone so they would continue to say things about me so I would feel good. In the end the truth came out, the weight would start to trickle then rush back on.
When I decided to try again a few years ago I had a different mindset. It wasn’t about looks, it was about survival. If I didn’t do something I couldn’t do my job, I knew that I was rushing head long into an early grave. I had to change. After the weight started rolling off I started running but it is still not easy, I still struggle and fall. The difference is I’m on the Billy Graham plan now. I know the way isn’t easy, I know I will have to fight this for the rest of my life. But I am going to finish strong! I want to be able to quote the book that Dr. Graham followed his whole life, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” Thank you Pastor James for reminding me of the importance of that passage.
If you have read many of my blogs you may remember me writing about Bentley. If not, here is the short version. Bentley is our very handsome collie. I had hopes that he would be a great running buddy but he ate his first harness and tends to sprint and stop a lot. When he was trying though, he was great.
A few weeks ago we noticed that he was acting strange, shaking his head and scratching his ears and such. A trip to the vet showed a pretty nasty ear infection, bad news but not terrible. A few days later and he was nauseated and vomiting and just not doing well. A couple more vet visits and he was starting to perk up. Then earlier this week he got really sick. Last night he laid between Ladonna and me, covered with blankets and shivering. We even got a heating pad out for him.
Today he was back at the vet again. Not the news we were hoping for at all. He has most of the signs of Addison’s Disease: lethargy, lack of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, dehydration and shaking. He has lost 5 pounds in two weeks. For me, that would probably be a good thing but for a 58 pound dog, that’s bad. While we wait on test results poor Bentley had to get antibiotics, steroids and IV fluids tonight at home. Now he is laying here, curled up on the couch beside me under a blanket.
It’s Saturday April 7, 2018 at 7:45 A. M. and there is a very irritating noise that has just awakened us all from a dead sleep. Early this morning we finally made it to the hotel and got a very little bit of shut eye. Then we were up, showered, grabbed some hotel style continental breakfast and we were out into the cold, wet morning driving to Wiseman Park in Lynchburg for same day packet pick up.
There was a slight hiccup as we explained to the nice elderly volunteer that while we understand that a valid ID is required for packet pick up, a 13 year old usually doesn’t have a driver’s licence. Someone stepped over to help and we escaped with our stuff in hand. Then one of those moments of pure genius struck, we had about 1 hour and 20 minutes before the race started and a nice warm car close by with blankets and pillows. But now that noise is going off again… oh yeah, Daniel and I have to go run now. Good thing I set multiple alarms, 13 minutes until the gun.
You would think, out of all the life experience I have and the few years of running experience I could learn one simple lesson. Yet here we are, it’s 1 A.M. and the Oak Barrel is in the morning and we are just getting to the hotel. We have to get up early tomorrow, early enough to get some food in so it can be partially digested before the race starts and we have to drive the 45 minutes to Lynchburg to do packet pick up. And we are all exhausted.
It seems like a simple thing really, arrange things so you can sleep before running a race. Last year I got burned badly in Georgia as I started Merrill’s Mile with little rest. Then there was the Holston River Challenge after being up for hours on end. By Alabama I thought I had it figured out only to foiled by a Florida Georgia Line Concert across the street from the hotel. And now here we were again.
Today had about as much stuff shoved in it as possible. Picking up a rental car, getting clothes ready with Ladonna, going to work with her then 100 miles to my graduation ceremony. Then it was back in the car, 100 miles back home. Packing the car, rushing out to get Daniel after an out of town field trip. Daniel for his part had gotten to school before sunrise to go by bus to Atlanta for the day, returning long after the sun had set.
Drive thru food and we were off again, another 3 hours across the state to the hotel. The alarms are set for 4 hours from now. Then we will be eating, driving and getting ready for the Oak Barrel, Daniel’s first half marathon. Wish us luck and hope that we don’t miss the alarm.
When it comes to having a good looking family, I might be biased but I think I am truly blessed. Ladonna and Sophia are just beautiful and Daniel is a very handsome. And then there is Bentley. Wherever he goes with us everyone oohs and aahs over him. He is cute and cuddly and furry.
I have tried to run with him in the past with mixed results. He isn’t really used to being on a leash so when he is he tends to pull hard and then stop suddenly over and over again. Then there are all the people. He attracts them to him like moths to a lamp. Everyone wants to pet him and play with him and he wants to say hi to them too. So running with Bentley means finding a place where there are not many people that are out for a leisurely stroll, there are not many bikes (they scare him) and there isn’t much wildlife so that he doesn’t suddenly go straight sideways.
So Daniel and I went for a run recently and decided to give it another try. We dug out the new harness (Bentley ate the old one) and the leash and then stole the van from Sophia and took off. Daniel was going for a longer run while I was doing a shorter one having already logged some miles earlier so Bentley stayed with me.
It was predictable at first, he took off at 100 miles an hour, pulling and straining for all he was worth until he caught the scent of a previous canine visitor beside the trail. Then it was dead stop, he had to make sure to mark his turf so the interloper would know he had been there. After about a mile though a really interesting thing happened. Bentley is a very smart dog and he figured out what we were up to. His trotting pace was a little faster than what I was comfortable with but as long as I could keep it up he was more than happy to stay right beside me. Whenever I started to slow he would give me a backward glance as if to say come on slow poke, let’s get going.
This lasted for a couple of miles until we came to the geese. Something about collies and other animals kicked in his brain and it was all I could do to keep him from herding them. After all of that excitement he couldn’t seem to get back in the rhythm again. Or maybe I couldn’t get enough speed to get him there. Either way, maybe it’s time to rethink taking Bentley on runs again, at least until he eats this harness.