Marsha Canham's Blog

September 21, 2011

Going under the knife again

Filed under: Caesars Through the Fence — marshacanham @ 1:35 pm

I’m enjoying my last day of walking around limp-free. Tomorrow I go under the knife again, getting the “bad knee” scoped to try and buy it some time before it gets replaced and goes bionic. Augh.  I’m not a great fan of hospitals or doctors and certainly not of laying on a cold table and looking up at all those big OR lights. Last year, just before Christmas (great timing it was too *snort*) I had the “good” knee scoped to fix a tear in some little do-dad in there.  Being the good knee, it wasn’t supposed to be the one that suffered the knife first, but suffer it did.  Happened one morning when I was stretching.  Just stretching. One of those glorious I’m awake, the sun is shining, the dogs let me sleep in stretches that goes from fingertips to extended toes. Heard a snap and felt a pop in my right knee and that was that.

The left knee has been pampered since I was in my early 20’s.  Popped the kneecap out on that one. Was I skiiing? Was I playing some dangerous sport? Was I climbing Mt Everest in a blizzard?  Nope. I was dancing.  Yep, dancing. I turned one way, my partner twisted me the other and suddenly my kneecap was around at the side of my knee instead of in front.  First instinct was: it doesn’t belong there!  So I grabbed it and shoved it back into place.  Apparently you’re not supposed to do that. You’re supposed to lay there in agony staring at a sideways knee and wait until a bunch of blitzed party-goers hoist you into a car whilst still wearing a long flowing frock (it was a dressy party), and drive you to a hospital so that you can hang around a waiting room in Emerg for a few hours until some overworked intern comes and shoves it back where it belongs.

That was the beginning of the downfall for that knee. Six months in and out of casts, surgery to take out a bone chip and repair ligaments, then months of therapy…all resulted in me pampering that sucker for the next 35 years or so.  The doc who did the surgical repair gave it five years before “something else might have to be done” which put the fear of the knife into me, so that puppy was guarded, pampered, massaged, therapized and whatever…anything to extend that five year warranty.  And it worked! I couldn’t run, but I could walk miles and miles. Never did dance a tango again and come to think of it, never did dance with that particular partner again.

About seven or eight years ago the arthritis set in really badly.  Knobby things started growing on one side of the kneecap and going up stairs sounded like walking on gravel. I had a really bad fall on some ice and the shin bone got bruised so badly, another lump sprouted there, nothing to do with the knee, but after two months, when the lump was still on the shin bone, I figured I would point it out to my GP on a visit for some reason or other. She bypassed the shin lump and probed the gnarly knee and uttered those fateful words: I think you should see an orthopedic specialist about that.

Great. Warranty was up. So I shlepped to the ortho’s office, she did the xray thing and the probing thing and peered at me closely and said those other fateful words: The knee has to be replaced. Double augh.  This time, however, there was a “but” and in this case I liked the sound of the “but”.  But, she said, even though I’m a surgeon and my first choice is always surgery, you have the option of waiting another year or two. You aren’t impeded much, you aren’t in pain, and you’re still a bit too young for the proceedure.

Huh? Too young?  Woo hoo. Hadn’t heard those words since I tried to sneak into a night club when I was 17!!!

Too young in this case meant she didn’t like to replace body parts like knees until a person is in their 70’s. If it wasn’t critical, if it wasn’t a case of having the ability to walk or not walk, she preferred to wait because knees, unlike other bionic parts, are usually only good for ten years then have to be replaced again. However, if I *WANTED* it done, she would do it because the knee was, after all, in pretty bad shape.

So then the question became, did I *want* to have a bionic knee? Did I *want* to go under the knife and have my bones sawed off and a plastic/metal/whatever knee bolted in place?  Voluntarily? As in yeah, sure, whack me open, saw me in half, screw on a Steve Austin part and hear me go tch tch tch as I run to the sound of bionic-type music.

Of all the things I could think of doing voluntarily, including eating liver every day and dancing naked on top of the CN Tower, doing the bionic thing was way way waaayyyyyyyyy down on the list.  So she nodded sagely and we agreed to annual appointments and xrays to watch the progress of the arthritis and the gnarly knob.  It’s been a good run for three years now, but on the last visit, even she was starting to lean toward it not being voluntary decision any more.  She did give me three options, however. A shot of cortisone, which may or may not buy me another six months of comfort (yeah, okay, it’s starting to get painful, I admit it);  the bionic option, replace the sucker;  or third…because the results on the other knee were so good, where she tried some newfangled process of drilling teeny tiny holes in the bones to get them to produce more cushion-y goo to lubricate the joint (which worked, by the way. No grinding, no grating, no pain and I could skulk around in stealth mode if not for the orchestra in the other knee.) *we* ( and I love how they use the collective we when talking about one person wielding a knife while the other is out cold like a beached whale) … *we* could try scoping out the bad knee, cleaning out the arthritis, doing the pinhole drilling thing again and maybe, just maybe it would buy another couple of years.

Just call me chicken little.  I opted, once again, to forgo the bionic bit. Had a cortisone shot once, years ago, on another body part, and it was fine for a month then pfffffffft hurt worse than before. That left option number three. Scoping the sucker.

So tomorrow is D day, and if it goes as well as the other knee, I should be able to hobble around for short distances within a day or two unassisted. Still not looking forward to it because I hate, loathe, and detest being immobile, and as I recall, even for the *good* knee it was a month or more before I could walk without a noticeable limp.  Even worse than the prospect of limping and wincing and standing at the bottom of the staircase and wondering how the hell to get to the top… is the dread of all things to do with anesthetics and pain meds. I don’t do well with either one.  Touching every scrap of wood within arms reach, the last time was a charm. No nausea, no ugly side effects. Hopefully they kept records of what they gave me so they can do it again the same way, cuz instead of hanging over the side of the gurney in the recovery room with my head in a barf bucket, I was sitting up and having cookies and coffee.  Fingers, toes crossed.

Augh. Just augh.

Wish me luck.




  1. Marsha, Marsha, Marsha!

    My poor, poor dear! I’m crossing my fingers, toes, saying a prayer and sending you a big, huge hug and all the good vibes I can muster 🙂

    I had two surgeries in my life. One necessary, and the other not. Both went wrong and only by the grace of God am I here to tell the tale…but only when you come back with your post about how it all went with yours 🙂



    Comment by Bookworm — September 21, 2011 @ 3:49 pm | Reply

  2. I hope everything goes smoothly for you. I’m sure you’ll have an entertaining
    account of the whole ordeal.

    Comment by Phoebe Conn — September 21, 2011 @ 4:34 pm | Reply

  3. Hi Marsha- good luck with the knee. You’ll do well, I’m sure, and fortunately still have time for things to heal properly before the snow flies up your way. Fortunately, this is happening present day and not during the era where some of your books are set!! Can you imagine fixing it in the 1600s???
    Good luck!

    Comment by Karen — September 21, 2011 @ 5:24 pm | Reply

  4. Our very best thoughts are with you–from both H-V and me! You’ve been so brave through all of these years, so I’m sure you’ll endure just a lee-tle bit longer. Isn’t aging a wonderful process? ROFL

    Comment by SurferG — September 21, 2011 @ 5:52 pm | Reply

  5. Hoping everything works out for you.

    Comment by Juliet — September 21, 2011 @ 6:01 pm | Reply

  6. I”ll say a prayer for you and keep you in my thoughts tomorrow! All the best.

    Comment by caseykelly3 — September 21, 2011 @ 7:44 pm | Reply

  7. Marsha, I wish you all the best with the surgery and hope for a super quick recovery.

    Comment by Devon Matthews — September 21, 2011 @ 8:10 pm | Reply

  8. wishing u all the best with ur knee thingy ma jig…..never had knee surgery but had plenty of back surgeries, resulting in a lot of titanium holding my back together….so I understand the hobbling around part….GOOD GOOD LUCK have a easy proceedure and fast recovery….

    Comment by Robyn — September 22, 2011 @ 4:12 am | Reply

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