Winter is coming. I can feel it in, well, my knee.
I find myself wondering, still, if it’s ever going to feel ‘normal’ again. Not stiff. Not tight. Not sore. Not tender. Not fragile. Not half numb. Because as of right now, it’s still all of those things. It’s almost nonsensical how susceptible it is to pain. The other day I was moving a cabinet in our garage and its door swung open and hit my knee right where the hardware is – and it was like lightning shooting through my leg. It was an impact that would have gone unnoticed on my other knee.
In the months immediately following surgery I was frustrated and frightened, wondering if I’d ever be able to walk normally again. Would I be able to bike? Hike? Run? Walk without a limp?
Huge strides have been made since then. I can bike and hike, albeit not for as far or as long as I once could. I still do not run, however, and there are still times when I catch myself limping, subconsciously favoring that leg because it feels stiff or sore or simply because it feels fragile.
I came across this interesting site talking about surgery and hardware in my researching the issues I’ve been having. It’s been 9 months since my surgery, and my knee isn’t right. It’s still slowly improving – I think – but I still have to favor it quite a bit. I can’t kneel on it with weight, it hasn’t the range of motion it used to, and I have to be very careful not to hit the area where the hardware is against anything, even lightly. On cold days or after serious exertion it hurts – not just where the tumor was, but down the tibia, where the hardware reaches.
I never before considered that bones – living bones – bend, and hardware like what’s installed after a surgery like GCT treatment means preventing part of the bone from bending, and placing stress on it. I think that the layman’s assumption about hardware is that it’s supposed to make the area where it’s placed stronger. And in some ways it does… but in others it makes it in a way weaker too.
This time around I had to provide x-rays of my lungs as well as the knee, as GCT can metastasize to the lungs. This proved no small feat, as the facility I go to here in town specializes in orthopedic and decidedly not lungs. The doc I’ve been seeing from the start – the Doc who diagnosed my tumor – assured me that while they couldn’t evaluate a lung x-ray, they’d be happy to take it. This is fine, since I send all my x-rays off to the team in Florida who performed my surgery.
Of course this didn’t go as planned. My normal doc wasn’t in the office the day of my appointment, and everyone else seemed befuddled by the idea that I wanted a lung scan. An appointment that should have been 10 minutes stretched to over an hour as I refused the knee x-ray without also having the lungs. Eventually a doc on duty responded to my increasing surliness by actually going through my case notes and discovering that I had indeed been assured they’d do it.
Then, as is par for the course, they send me home with a disc that only held the lung scans – no knee. Luckily, ever since I had disc lost in the mail I’ve made a point of cutting and ISO before sending them, and this time I noticed the lack of any knee images. Back up to the office I went to pick up another disc.
Two days ago was the 8 month mark of my surgery for the tumor in my tibia. I’ve come to the inescapable conclusion that my leg is forever changed from it, and that’s just something to live with. It gets stiff. It gets sore. It randomly hurts. The nerve deadened area long since stabilized but doesn’t feel as if it has shrunk at all. It feels… delicate. Kneeling on it is a sketchy proposition. And although I can now bend it nearly as fully as my other leg, doing so feels wrong. Doing so, things within feel crushed and stretched and at-risk.
Despite the above paragraph, this isn’t a downer update. I’m leagues from where I’ve been since the surgery. I still don’t run at all, but I’ve begun mountain biking again.
Why Microsoft decided to stop supporting one of its own products in its own OS is beyond me. I guess they figure webcams are a disposable item. I was able to get my VX-3000 working with these drivers. This download includes 32 and 64 bit drivers for the VX-1000, VX-3000 and VX-6000 cameras. I have only tested with the 64 bit VX-3000, so YMMV.
I’ve been trying in vain to organize my substantial MP3 collection. I know that in the age of streaming MP3’s are passe, but I just can’t quit ’em. I listen to a lot of music that isn’t readily available for streaming.
One of the things I’m nitpicky about is Genre tagging. I like that stuff to be correct. Thing is, sometimes I get lazy. So, I dug in to see if I could hack out a quick script to scan subdirectories in my collection and root out MP3’s with incorrect or missing Genre tags. This is a very raw little script with zero error handling. It examines the first file in every subdir, and writes to an output file every directory where that first file’s genre tag doesn’t match what it should. It requires taglib-sharp.dll.
Someone coined the term “scanxiety,” and I have it. Scanxiety is the anxiety that precedes the next x-ray. It’s a weird, double edged thing. I’m simultaneously scared and anxious, yet also excited to (hopefully) feel the relief of getting another All Clear from the docs. Giant cell tumors have an estimated 20% chance of recurrence/growing anew. Matters are made worse for me since the x-ray is done here locally but then has to be mailed (yes, mailed, because apparently parts of the medical profession are stuck in pre Y2K land) to the surgeons who did the procedure in Florida.
Today is 4 months to the day of my GCT surgery. No more official PT for me. I “graduated,” whatever that means. To continue my progress I joined a gym for the first time in years. There I do the various leg machines I had been doing in PT. I also walk on the treadmill on days where I haven’t been able to go for a walk outside. I still cannot jog or run, though I make an attempt about once a week. The muscles are willing – sort of – but the knee can’t yet handle the impact. This makes the treadmill boring and frustrating. I used to run at 6.5-7 miles an hour on a treadmill. Now it takes me half an hour to do 2 miles. I do pretty well on most of the leg machines, but the one where weight is lifted by the front of the ankle is my nemesis. 25 pounds is too much, and makes the knee hurt.
There are still good days and bad. Weather continues to effect it dramatically, as does night time. Some mornings (like this morning) it wakes me up with a persistent aching. It’s odd where it can hurt. Some places make sense, but sometimes pain will come from well below the incision. Perhaps that’s a result of the hardware and screws. I’m also having trouble with what I’ll call restless leg syndrome. No matter how tired I am I find that I cannot sit still or find a comfortable position in bed. It’s frustrating.