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October 31st, 2007

Not Such A Happy Halloween

As all of you know, my "gimp" status is well-earned. I have suffered from bad knees since birth, a condition that caused dozens of right-knee dislocations from the age of eleven on, and finally resulted in major surgery at the age of twenty-three; surgery that was supposed to "fix" me and aid me in living a more normal (and much less painful) life.

The dream was never to be - the 2001 surgery left me worse off than before. I've had arthritis in my knee since my earliest twenties due to the wear and tear my condition caused every time I took a step - I also scar terribly, resulting in a severe case of arthrofibrosis. Three months and two manipulations later, I was no better and have lived with a painful, "frozen" leg since.

In 2003, I underwent surgery to "clean out" the scar tissue. I woke up to my three-day hospital stay with 20 staples in my leg and a morphine drip, my leg being worked in a CPM machine. The machine came home with me and I stayed in bed most of the day hooked to it; at night my leg was bolted down into a Dynasplint, which put increasing pounds of pressure on my leg as I attempted to sleep to aid in regaining my extension. Things went well until winter fell, and the arthritis and pain left me unable to continue with my rigorous physical therapy - soon I was right back where I'd began.

Today I get by as best as I can with my condition. The doctors say there is nothing left that they can do for me except for a total knee replacement - something they'd like to hold off on for as long as possible as they only last approximately ten years and I am only in my twenties.

Recently, I began getting cortisone injections into my right knee; painful but somewhat effective. The first shot, on September 12, relieved some of my pain for a couple or three weeks. However, as the seasons began to truly change and the pressure and temperatures dropped, I began having extreme pain and difficulty with mobility again. My doctor agreed to give me another cortisone shot, even though it was soon because "your knee is so messed up, and there's nothing else we can do for you". I will, after this one, have to wait the normal three month period before I'm eligible for another.

The first injection in September - though painful - went well. I was sore and swollen for a few hours afterwards, something that putting ice and keeping my leg elevated healed quickly. This time, however, I was not so lucky.

The first time, The Worm came with - and drove me home. This time I went by myself (he was at work) and drove myself home, I also hobbled quickly around the house getting myself settled (leg propped up, ice placed atop). I have read that the cortisone shot, while not a pain killer itself, does give an anesthetic effect for the first few hours. It was during this time that I believe I over-extended my leg.

I had myself propped up on two pillows - instead of my medical-issued foam lift - and, in the less-feeling state straightened my leg out more than it is used to (or capable of) being extended. I remember pressing down on my leg with the ice pack, and a few hours into it feeling "odd"...that my leg was "straighter" than it normally goes.

This was quickly followed by extreme and agonizing muscle pain. I cannot move my leg without mind-numbing pain on the underneath of my leg - it feels, the best I can describe it, exactly as it did after waking up from manipulation procedures - where the doctors bent and straightened my leg past its normal limits, breaking up scar tissue in the process. I was always in utter agony waking up from those, as you can imagine.

So here I am on my favorite holiday, laid up in bed, unable to even make it to the bathroom without my long-since put up crutches - any weight placed on my leg at all sends me into spasms of muscle and joint pain. I am missing work (again) due to my leg problems, and now am going to miss out on my most beloved holiday.

I try not to let my leg slow me down or keep me from living my life to the fullest point possible - but times like this it is extremely frustrating and depressing. I am handicapped, disabled, and I will suffer with this condition (which will only grow worse) for the rest of my life. It's a daunting reality that I cannot help but face at times like these.

So here I am, laid up in bed, with my books, laptop, and the TV to keep me sane, thinking about how my usual luck caused my doctor yesterday to prescribe me a lesser dose (5mg) of my pain pills than I usually get (10mg) - something I'd just deal with had I not ended up this painful, unfortunate situation.

I hope this won't last but a couple of days - though I don't know for sure how long it will take to heal. The key is to stay off of it as much as possible. So send me your white light, good thoughts, and/or prayers - I certainly need them! Thanks for listening.

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