The last time I had surgery—which was a pretty major one in January 2013—I thought, "Well, at least that's it! I'm done!"
Turns out, I'm not done with hospitals. After more than two years of knee and foot pain, I was diagnosed with severe plantar fasciitis and chronic knee pain with advanced arthritis in both knees. Sounds lovely, doesn't it? Plantar fasciitis is the inflammation and structural breakdown of a ligament that runs the length of the bottom of the foot, best I understand it. I've been seeing an orthopedist for the past several months and he says that hormones from pregnancy, stress-related events and traumatic physical experiences can cause it, among other things. And my quad pregnancy seems to check all those boxes. I've now had two rounds of cortisone injections in the bottoms of my feet, a most painful experience, let me assure you. The shots have helped greatly and I've also begun doing foot stretches and wearing more supportive shoes throughout the day.
But my knees have been a more troublesome story. I've had X-rays, an MRI and various exams and have tried cortisone injections, anti-inflammatory treatments and physical therapy. The latter has certainly helped strengthen my knees and legs as I had severe muscle atrophy from eight weeks of bed rest that was accompanied by a magnesium sulfate IV the entire time, all before delivering the quads. I came home from the hospital when the babies were five days old and I squatted down to pick something up off the floor and literally could not get back up. The husband had to come pick me up and I experienced difficulty getting around for quite some time. Ever since, my muscle strength just hasn't been near what it used to be and the magnesium seems to have created incredibly lax ligaments and muscle groups that have taken longer than normal to recover and build back up.
The MRI of my knees showed a cyst in the left knee, which my doctor said is usually indicative of a meniscus tear, but the only other thing present for sure was arthritis in both knees. I have experienced near equal pain in both knees as well—it usually starts within five minutes of getting out of bed in the morning and continually worsens throughout the day. The severity depends on my activity level during the day, how many times I go up and down the stairs or lift and hold babies, how much I am squatting or kneeling down and so forth. Some days it's difficult for me to stand for long periods of time while others I'm left hobbling around in discomfort. It's certainly not a fun way to live, especially now that I'm busily keeping up with four crazy toddlers!
When my orthopedist first mentioned doing a knee scope, he really wasn't encouraging it since I'm at a pretty young age for knee troubles and he wanted to be sure we'd exhausted all other options first. Now that we had, it was time to schedule surgery and have a bilateral knee scope performed, which is what I had done yesterday morning. I'll spare you the long story and keep it short, basically to say that hospitals give me major anxiety since having pretty much lived in one for four months between my stay and the babies' NICU stay. I was getting so anxious about the thought of having yet another surgery and just spending time in a hospital that I literally made myself sick with nausea and a headache the day before.
Thankfully I survived and surgery is done! My doctor found a meniscus tear in both knees and was able to clean out the arthritis in both as well. The nurses in recovery were great at working me through the residual nausea that always plagues me in any post-surgery event and quickly got the pain under control. I also had my Cheap Ass Easter Bunny with me. Some of you might remember that the husband got him for me while I was in the hospital pregnant with the quads, with many more long, hard weeks ahead of me. The bunny was on a very discounted after-Easter sale and the husband thought I needed him. At first, I admit to not being a huge fan but now that dang bunny has come to every surgery and procedure since! Apparently right before I went under for my knee scope yesterday, I instructed the nurse who was wheeling my bed out with the bunny in it to take care of him and have him waiting for me when I was conscious again, ha.
The husband was amazing—as he always is!—at taking care of me and supporting me in my continuing journey back to health. I could not do all this without him, he's such a wonderful husband and father and is so patient, thoughtful and kind. He's been my rock long before we began our adventure with quads and continues to be now, more than ever!
Needless to say, I was happy to see my babies when I got home from the hospital and soaked up all the careful, gentle hugs and cuddles I could get. They knew momma's legs hurt and I just told them the bandage wraps around my knees were giant bandaids, which immediately elicited wide-eyed curious concern. My favorite moment was with Harrison when he gingerly climbed into my lap while I was laying on the couch and we just sat there together watching some TV. That handsome boy is my favorite of the four when it comes to kissing all over such an innocent little face. We have a special thing we do where one of us says "ugga mugga," then we rub our noses together. He'll just come up to me at random, stick his face in mine and say "Ugga mugga, momma, ugga mugga!" And my heart promptly melts into a million pieces.
So I'm on crutches for a couple days and should get my stitches out in a week or so. The knee scope left three small incisions encircling my knee with a few stitches in each, which I haven't seen yet since it's all still bandaged. The scope is a robotic surgery and I was told will leave minimal scarring. Then I'll start back at physical therapy and hopefully begin gaining more ground with my newly improved knees!
In the week leading up to surgery, naturally I had to prep things for the kids and caregivers and make sure the house was in respectable shape since I'd be focusing on recovery afterward. I had all the grocery shopping and menu planning done at the beginning of the week and planned out the learning crafts and activities I've been incorporating for the quads (I am featuring those in my new Littles Learning blog category). We've been working through colors and this week is Yellow Week, so I pre-assembled some discovery boxes and a few other very simple items and things for the kids to review over the weekend. My parents, the husband's parents, our family friend Jo Ann and my nanny are all pulling "shifts" to cover things while I spend the weekend at my mom's house and also to help me throughout next week as I won't quite be back at 100 percent. Plus the local church we plan to join graciously offered to provide dinners throughout the weekend, which helps tremendously.
Terrible Two's or not, I always feel so much better going into something like this being as prepared as possible. It's probably a bit of a coping mechanism for the anxiety a hospital visit gives me, but it also makes recovery a little less stressful when everyone knows exactly what they need to do and has the tools and organization to do it. What's even better is recovering at my mom's house for a few days at the husband's insistence, and I'm so grateful that he did! It's so peaceful and quiet over here, something I haven't experienced in quite awhile. My mom was thrilled to have me come stay a couple days and will take me by a friend's baby shower on Sunday before we head back to Quadville. She's a wonderful nurse; there's something about momma's that always has us feeling better immediately, ya know? She got me all situated on the couch as soon as we arrived. I'm having to keep my legs elevated, knees iced and have some lovely pain meds going as well as some exercises to run through each day so I can start strong when I go back to therapy. And let me just tell you what a graceful vision I am on crutches....not!
One bowl of popcorn and some herbal iced tea later, we'd watched Jaws 4 and decided to hit play on another movie in the DVR queue since I wasn't exactly going anywhere. Neither of us had seen Pitch Perfect and it was actually pretty cute. My mom loves watching movies as much as I do and we're also enjoying our time together, since most often it's spent around four demanding (but cute!) little tots.
I've long promised a more detailed update on my health since having the quad squad and still plan to put together a post on that before long. I also very much appreciate all the kind messages, comments, emails and prayers from everyone this week, Lord knows I need 'em all! For now, some fresh ice packs and dinner with a side of ibuprofen are on the agenda, as well as another movie—Transcendence this time, I think. My mom's a big fan of Johnny Depp and who am I to protest any sort of flick kick....