Kenneth Knepper: Post-surgery days come with odd rantings

Kenneth Knepper

At the risk of compromising everything sensible, I went through with my scheduled knee surgery last week.

Now, strategically seated on a couch with pillows positioned beneath my foot, I’m trying to muster enough energy to begin a series of exercises meant to enhance mobility.

There is a two-page form detailing a series of lifts, bends and turns with tiny line drawings of a foot and leg easily completing each task.

Apparently, the doctor’s office decided not to include the sketched person’s face — undoubtedly contorted in pain as he lay writhing through each exercise.

But I can honestly say the experience has been unforgettable — except for a couple of hours missing while under anesthesia.

In an effort to record its highlights, I chronicled each step of the process.

10:42 p.m. (the night before surgery) — I’m scouring the kitchen for an appropriate last-second meal before bed, since I’m not allowed to eat or drink after midnight. The winner is a few chips, spicy peanuts and flavored water.

7:30 a.m. — Applied motion sickness patch behind my ear at the recommendation of the doctor. He suggested it for side effects of anesthesia, since it’s described as riding on a roller coaster by some patients.  I wonder what side effects will take place when my body realizes I didn’t have any coffee today.

10:14 a.m. — Violent caffeine headache. Pain runs throughout cranial cavity and top half of body causing short-temper and loss of concentration. If this ever subsides, I swear I will never drink caffeinated drinks, again. Really.

12:56 p.m. — Still trying to bear with headache as I put on a blue paper gown, which is required wear during the operation. Where are the arm holes in this thing?

1:26 p.m. — Lying on an operating table, I make small talk with the anesthesiologist and surgical nurse as anesthetic are administered through my IV. We’re talking about going to the beach.

1:27 p.m. — I can’t be sure because I’m now going in and out of consciousness, but I may have just told the people in the operating room I’m Batman.

2:46 p.m. — I awaken to a feeling that someone just finished pounding nails into my knee with a roofing hammer.

2:48 p.m. — Trying to get comfortable, but all attempts are useless.  However, the pained expression on my face was enough for the nurse to administer pain medication. Hopefully, it kicks in soon.

3:03 p.m. — Seated in a recliner-like chair in post-op, I’m supposed to remove the blue gown and put on my T-shirt after I finish a few bites of applesauce. This would have been easier before the pain medication made my fingers have minds of their own.

3:53 p.m. — Riding home, I have the distinct feeling I’m traveling through a tunnel. I won’t say anything to my wife, however, because I laughed at her once when she had similar feelings after back surgery.  Instead, I’ll just enjoy the ride.

4:20 p.m. — Must get up stairs to house. They appear to have grown since this morning, which seems directly proportionate to my feet appearing to be longer.

6:01 p.m. — Awakened after lying on the couch. Strange dreams occupy my sleep — big animals and random shapes. Luckily, they were friendly when I spoke to them.

2:24 a.m. — Must use bathroom, but after swinging leg off bed I remember I had surgery just 12 hours ago. I would fall into fetal position and cry, but I don’t have enough energy and my leg wouldn’t bend that far, anyway.

10:15 a.m. (the following day) — Seated on the couch with leg raised, I realize I still haven’t had coffee. My loving wife realizes my predicament and administers much-needed caffeine. I may make it through this, after all.

3 p.m. — Apparently, I’m not as healed as I thought after ingesting more pain medication. I turned to go another direction, but forgot to turn my wounded leg. This must be the same feeling one got in medieval times when he was being quartered.

7:48 p.m. — Tried not taking more pain medication, but the throbbing in my leg helped me decide, otherwise.

10:20 p.m. — Getting ready for bed, which means moving from couch to bedroom. My wife and son have helped me in every step of this healing by bringing drinks, snacks and meals, whenever I called. I’m actually feeling a little better, but I need to make this last longer.  

Time for another groan. …

Ken Knepper is publisher of The Newton Kansan and The McPherson Sentinel. He can be contacted at kenneth.-knepper@thekansan.com.