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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

"The real glory is being knocked to your knees and then coming back. That's real glory. That's the essence of it." ~Vince Lombardi, American Football player, coach and executive, 1913-1970
   
      I've seen the orthopedic surgeon and he's confirmed I have arthritis in both knees, and recommended I have a TKR--Total Knee Replacement of my left knee. I don't have an exact date yet but surgery will be scheduled for some time in January at Warwick Hospital. Les and I must attend a physiotherapy class together in mid-December to learn more about what is to be expected and how to do the exercises necessary to strengthen the muscles in and around the knee. 
     After four years of nearly non-stop trouble with my right S-I joint (Sacro Iliac joint) popping out of place and causing my right leg to drop down and be anywhere from 1/16th to and 1/8th of inch longer than my left leg, requiring chiropractic visits to put it back in place, I have finally hit on how to get my S-I joint back to where it belongs on my own which is great because it is this issue that has brought me to my knees, literally. 
     So I do my knee exercises given to me by the physiotherapist I've seen recently, as well as a very good exercise to strengthen the muscles in my lower back to hold my S-I joint in place. I walk with crutches whenever we leave the boat for any length of time, which helps take the stress off my knees, and I am grimly looking forward to being on the other side of this surgery and recuperation. 
     From all accounts it is extremely painful. I've had eight surgeries in my life before moving to the UK and I've never once had any pain afterward thanks to the amazing pain control available in the U.S. I tend to bounce back from surgeries and recover fairly rapidly. I am taking the examples of two people as my focus points: Graham on NB Matilda Rose who has been there and done it, and is offering me pointers and support for which I am extremely grateful, and Sir David Attenborough who is 93 and had both his knees in the last two years. He said before the surgeries he could only shuffle along painfully for a few feet; after recovery he can now walk for a mile and a half with no problems at all. 
     My mother had her left knee replaced due to arthritis, at age 70 in 1993. She was in shock afterwards as the procedure was not really explained to her and as she sat on a chair at home doing exercises she told me, "They cut my leg in half is what they did--and no one told me it would hurt so badly." 
     I am a pretty tough old bird. I've had to be to survive this life, so I hope it stands me in good stead now. I am concerned about pain control because there are so many drugs I cannot take--I have a long list of allergies and toxic reactions to most synthetic drugs, and to many antibiotics. I do best with opiods and I've told all this to the surgeon along with giving him the list of drugs to which I am allergic. 
     I don't need to control others but I loathe losing control of myself. It comes from way back in my childhood. Loss of control often causes me to blank out on the present, as I go somewhere else in my head for awhile until I can gain control of myself and my situation again. This does not make me a good patient and I worry about Les--about whether he will be able to take care of me during recovery and whether he will survive it. Living on a boat will make this quite challenging for us both, but what is life without a few of those, eh?  

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

After slagging off the NHS so much maybe you should go back the U.S for your surgery. I assume you are going to get it for free here.....

Marilyn McDonald said...

It is all going to go swimmingly, Jaq. Les will cope well, esp with coaching from your recumbent position ... You will be in a fair bit of pain at first, but it will diminish to nothing and you'll have full movement back. The major thing for you is going to be resting as much as is required and following the instructions for your rehab and recovery, and not thinking you know better, darling! The pain you have at the moment will only get worse if untreated.
I'm delighted you have found how to reposition your SI joint - Jane the osteopath* did a good job in sorting that out for you last year, didn't she? (* not chiropractor ...) Mxox

Marilyn McDonald said...

PS The Wetherspoons in Warwick is pretty good if Les needs somewhere to eat while you aren't there to cook for him ...

Carol said...

All your friends and family will be supporting you both. You will both be in their thoughts and prayers during this coming difficult time. As the song goes ‘I (you) will survive. Love and hugs. Carol and George. xx

Dennis! said...

all the best, D...

Boatwif said...

To the anonymous Troll - OK I'll bite!
I am a UK citizen, started playing National Insurance when I was 16 and I can only support all of the adverse and congratulatory comments Jaq has made about the NHS. My experience is that most of the NHS is superb but some of it is disastrous and will try to kill you by neglect and mistakes. I will never forget the family eating next to us talking of their mother having to drink water from a flower vase. That was before everyone had heard about the Mid Stafford hospital. My nephew has very little immune system left - thanks to mistakes in the NHS. On the other hand I and many others have received the best possible treatment and nursing from the NHS on many other occasions.
Jaq is married to a UK citizen who has paid his dues for himself and his family. That is what, almost uniquely in the world, our NHS provides for.
Troll get back in your dark box!
Ken nb Cleddau

Carolyn.Carapace said...

Jaq. If any one can get through this you and Les will. You are both so amazing. Looking forward to unpleasant necessity is never nice, as your head whirs up all sorts of scenarios. Stay true to what you need and require from the nursing staff and doctors.Living on a boat is more challenging when not fighting fit but we wouldn't have it any other way. A beautiful sunrise, sunset and the wild life ensure that, oh and the people you meet along the way. Ignore the comment from the bigot above, who handily remained anonymous!!!
Love to you both
Carolyn. Carapace

Catherine VK4GH said...

That is very good that the NHS can do this in January (or so), as here in Australia under Medicare (also a "free" public system), you would wait many months for an appointment, and many months, possibly a year or two for the operation. 6 weeks of pain and discomfort, and keeping up the exercises and you will be able to take those walks with Les again.

Jaqueline Biggs said...

Anonymous:
You accuse me of "slagging off the NHS..." however I remind you now that my husband suffered through terrible inept treatment, and yes I was shocked by what he experienced because although health care in the U.S. is by no means perfect and I have had my run-ins over there, the criticisms leveled at the NHS on our blog were accurate and truthful on Les' behalf--as a native born Briton who worked for 40 years and paid into the National Health care system. He--and everyone who has done the same--deserves the very best care because he had already paid for it many years ago.

As for my care, you make a lot of assumptions about which system is providing my care. I am still employed by a U.S. University. That said, my doubts expressed in this post were not a criticism at British health care but personal concerns I have about allergies to medicines. When I showed my British GP the list from my U.S. doctor, my English physician did not recognize any of the medicines. I had to research each one and provide the British GP with a basic medical list of meds--not the trademarked retail names.

I have had treatment here previously for a fractured foot in February of 2012. I have never mentioned my treatment or my opinion of it BECAUSE I have never paid into this system and I therefore don't feel I have a right to comment publicly about it.

As Ken Deveson remarked in his comment, I am married to a British citizen with the British Government's permission to remain here indefinitely. This does indeed entitle me to certain benefits into which my husband paid. When we were residing in the U.S. while waiting for my spouse visa, I paid for Les' health care coverage and had anything happened to him, I would also have made any required co-pays for his care. I would also have been just as critical of his care in the U.S. as I am over here. Surviving eight surgeries taught me one never leaves a loved one on their own in hospital--no matter which country one lives in. Les was vulnerable and required someone to keep an eye on his care and challenge anything that would have adverse consequences for his recovery. I don't regret anything I've said on this blog about the NHS--I only regret Les suffered unnecessarily several times while in its care.

I'll thank you to remember I have also praised the NHS and Les health care providers whenever they came through for him with stellar treatment.

Finally, I have the courage to sign my full name to my convictions unlike you. Cowards often hide behind the sobriquet "anonymous." Or were you frightened of what might happen if we all knew your identity?
Sincerely,
Jaqueline

Jaqueline Biggs said...

Oh Marilyn,
You are such a gem. I really appreciate your friendship and support in this and other times. YOu are correct--it was an osteopath and not a chiropractor who got me well and truly sorted out last January.

Les says thanks for the tip about Wetherspoons!
Love and hugs,
Jaq and Les xxx

Jaqueline Biggs said...

Thanks Dennis!
Jaq xx

Jaqueline Biggs said...

Thank you Ken for standing in my corner with truth in your mouth. We miss you and Sue gobs and cannot wait to get together again once you both return and recover.
Love and hugs,
Jaq and Les xxx

Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Carolyn,
Thanks for your comment. I do know I will make it through. Sometimes though I don't feel as strong as everyone thinks I am and that is when support and encouragement from friends and loved ones makes all the difference. It will be challenging but I agree--I wouldn't live anywhere else as the positives defo outweigh the negatives which are few and far between. Crickey our boats have got to meet up this next year!!
Hugs,
Jaq xxx

Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Catharine,
It is my understanding that these types of surgeries over here can also be postponed for six or more months and that it really depends on which hospital is doing the surgery and where it is located. We have Aussie friends over here who have shared similar stories about their Australian health care experiences. I feel tremendously grateful to receive such quick consideration.

I see from your blog that we have other connections in common besides a love of living aboard a boat: you have traveled extensively and have visited Vanuatu. One of my dear, dear friends Joe Zupan lived in Vanuatu for three years from 1997-1999 as a U.S. Peace Corp Volunteer. I also see you and your husband are also Ham radio enthusiasts. I was born and raised in Alaska and my father was a Ham radio man. I used to sit on his lap as a very little girl and talk to people all over the world. His call sign was KL7SJK.
Thank you for following our blog!
Jaq and Les x

Jaqueline Biggs said...

Carol and George,
Thank you for commenting and we are truly thankful for your friendship and support. We sure do miss you both. With such great folks on my side, I feel much better about what's ahead.

LOL! Gloria Gaynor's hit has been my personal theme song for many years! Clever of you to know!! That FB music game you got going really helps revive some great hits. ;)
Love and hugs,
Jaq and Les xxx

Anonymous said...

Hi Jaq. Your Vince Lombardi quote is very apt. I'm an American Football fan (don't ask why, but the Steelers are my team!) and some of the hits those guys take on their knees are eye-watering.

You are strong and will pull through it. Come the summer you'll be cruising along wondering what all the worry was about!

Thinking of you both
Alistair

Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Alistair,
Lovely to hear from you! I am not a fan of American football--having been a football widow in my first marriage--but I guess someone has to be a fan--and it couldn't happen to a nicer bloke!

Thank you for your thoughts and support mate. We sincerely hope to cruise into Abingdon some day sooner rather than later and see your part of the system.
Jaq and Les xxx

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs