Years ago, in the early 70’s and 80’s there was a character named SuperDave Osborne. SuperDave, with the self-imposed reputation of “being better than that other guy, Evil What’s his name (Knievel),” was touted as the ‘World’s Greatest Stuntman. SuperDave’s claim to fame was that he’d do any stunt at any time at any place. With his trusty sidekick announcer, Mike Waldon, who’d announce what SuperDave was going to do, Osborne would stroll on-camera and coolly deadpan his way through what was about to take place. Every week SuperDave would do a different stunt. Every week he’d crash and burn. Every. Single. Week. That’s what made it hilarious. You looked forward to what he could miserably fail at next. He never let us down.
Somewhere around my 3rd or 4th surgery, I somehow picked up the nickname, SuperDave. Or maybe I gave it to myself. Heck I don’t remember. N-E-Whooo, it stuck. And after every surgery I’d say, “SuperDave may have crashed and burned, but he’ll step back onstage. SuperDave will be back!” Well…Wednesday, March 30th, SuperDave crashed and burned yet again. Let’s see if he’ll be back onstage…
I went in for a fairly routine procedure – left knee debridement, which means they cleaned me out. Vertical cut to remove any dead tendon tissue, along with bone spurs and calcified tissue, and to scrape out and smooth out the backside of my kneecap, known as Chondramalacia Patella Tendonitis –roughening on the backside of the kneecap. I was given a femoral nerve block instead of the usual spinal block. It was actually pretty cool. I was already IV’d and prepped when the anesthesiologist came in. He had a female intern doctor with him. Teachable moment. Using ultrasound, I saw them find the femoral artery (a big black hole on ultrasound), and above and lateral to it was the femoral nerves. They inserted this long needle into the ultrasound unit to guide it, and on the screen I saw the needle come through to the nerves. Way cool! They shot me in several areas and was ready to pull it out when the doc said, “Well, since we’re in here, let me show you where the other group of nerves are on the lateral aspect.” So they found those and he said, “Since you’re here you might as well put a little in there as well. It won’t hurt to have a little bit more.” They pulled the needle out, he showed her one more group of nerves on ultrasound, and then they were gone. Someone else came in and put an oxygen mask on me to ‘help me relax’. I remember being wheeled into the operating room. Then I was gone.
Next thing you know I was awake in the recovery room in my usual doped-up, drugged-out post-surgical mind. Everything had gone well. Got some ice chips, and after a few minutes in the recovery room (I was actually there an hour), they wheeled me back down to the Same Day Unit where I was given some juice, granola-type bars and more water. My friend, chiropractor, and workout partner, Jeff Kahrs, was once again there to bring me home. Who could ask for a better friend! I think this is the 4th or 5th time he’s picked me up. I owe him big time!
We got home, I was able to walk around a bit, get some food, and actually felt pretty good in the leg. Even though it was numb, I was able to ‘get my feet under me’ and support myself although most of the weight was on my right leg and the crutches. The left leg was like a dead elephant’s trunk…just swinging limply in the wind. Just as Jeff was about to leave, my sister, Elaine, came home. She asked the usual post-surgical sisterly questions and went upstairs to the ManCave to watch TV (and ultimately fall asleep – we’ll come back to that in a minute). I plopped on the couch and watched TV. First mistake. I should’ve crawled in bed. In fact, Elaine had told me to get in bed, but being ‘mildly’ stubborn and acting very much like my father, I chose to stay up. That cost me.
Around 11 pm I was ready for bed. I yelled up to Elaine to come help me. No answer. I figured I could get up by myself and get to the bedroom. Second mistake. As soon as I stood up with the crutches, I was a bit off-balance, so I GENTLY put the left toe on the ground to realign myself. Third mistake. After sitting for 3 hours, the leg was fully dead from the ankle to the crotch. No. Feeling. Whatsoever. The toe touched. I shifted weight. Down I went. Fast. Hard. I watched my left leg buckle back under me and felt my heel touch my glute. Yup…full ROM in a split-second, folks! And I felt absolutely NOTHING!
I panicked. I was able to shift to my right leg but couldn’t do anything with the left leg. Good thing I fell right next to the ottoman. I pulled myself up on it, and the left leg straightened out a bit. Now I’m looking around like, “Well Damn…that was stupid…” I realized that attempting to stand without assistance was more than foolish so I sat there shaking wondering what damage I’d just caused myself. My wits came back. Call the VA after-hours emergency care number. Oh…wait!! The paper’s on the kitchen island! Can’t get to it. I need my phone to call Elaine to come give me the paper. Oh wait…the phone is on the end table away from me! I need to get Elaine down here. For over 15 minutes I yelled upstairs but alas, my sister was sound asleep in the room with the door closed and the TV on and bass booming. No such luck. Maybe if I slide forward enough I can stick my right foot out and grab the crutch that fell off to the side to knock the phone on the floor to slide towards me to call my sister. SUCCESS!! Nope…failure. I heard her phone ring in HER room, not the room she was in. Outta luck again!
Now I’m thinking, who can I call…who can I call. Oh…wait! All the doors are locked. Even if someone were to get here they couldn’t get in. THE SPARE KEY OUTSIDE!! I called my brother, Nat, who lives about 5-6 minutes away from me. “Nat, I need you to come over here. I fell and I can’t stand up” (yes, I actually used that line…). He asked, “Where’s Elaine?” “She’s upstairs sound asleep with the door closed and the TV on. And her phone is in her room and she can’t hear it.” My brother was here in record time. I’d told him where the key was so he came in. “You need me to do what, David?” “First get me the VA’s emergency contact form off the island. Then go wake up Elaine. I’ll see what the VA has to say as to whether they want me to come in or not.” Nat wakes up Elaine and I hear her frantically yelling, “DAVID FELL? WHAT THE HELL WAS HE DOING?” Uh…trying to call you, Sleeping Beauty…
They come downstairs, the VA is on the line, and questions are being asked by the on-call orthopedics’ doctor and by me. How did you fall? Are you bleeding through the bandages? Do you feel anything? Can you move your leg? Did I tear open my sutures? Did I tear tendons? Do I have sutures or staples? Will I need another surgery? Should I come in? Is it bad that I was sitting on my haunches for a second. Reminded me of the song, “Askin’ All These Questions.” After about 10 minutes it was established that everything was probably okay. They’d run me through full ROM while under anesthesia so me falling on it wasn’t a major concern. Since they did minimal work on the tendons (patella and quadriceps), the doctor felt comfortable saying I probably didn’t damage that. The biggest concern was how hard I’d hit the ground when I landed and if I was bleeding. About an hour post-fall I noticed a tiny bit of bleed-through but that was it. I had absolutely no way of knowing how hard I’d landed as I couldn’t feel anything. So the doctor said to wait until the next day (today) and someone from ortho will check on you to determine your next course of action. I’ve had two phone calls so far, and everything appears to be in order, so I probably won’t have to go in until my two-week follow-up. We’ll see once the block completely wears off and I have feeling back and can take off the bandages.
So why the blog? Well…one, I like to write. Two, I like to teach and educate. So here’s the lesson for today, boys and girls. When you get home from surgery, especially lower body surgery, GET IN BED! Do not pass go, do not collect $200. Get in bed and stay there for at least 24 hours. Let the block wear off so you can ‘feel’ what you’re doing. Don’t ever assume that you’re fine the day of or next day post-surgery just because you don’t feel pain. YOU JUST GOT CUT ON!! The pain receptors have been blocked, but believe me, there’s MAJOR pain taking place. That pain is there for a reason…to keep you from doing something stupid like trying to stand and walk when you can’t. And remember, a nerve block is just that. It BLOCKS the signals from the injury to the brain and vice-versa. I tried to pull a Uma Thurman ‘Kill Bill Vol. II in which she’s in the casket and somehow ‘wills’ her big toe to move. Uh…that’s the movies, boys and girls, doesn’t work like that in real life. So listen to your doctor and don’t do anything foolish. And if you happen to have surgery and feel so inclined to even THINK about doing something stupid, bookmark this blog and re-read it. You’ve been warned…