Archive for Interesting Medical Stuff

Update on SwampMan’s Bionic Knees

As y’all recall, SwampMan had a knee replacement in late December (we came home on Christmas day!) and at the end of March. Sorry I haven’t been more timely for those of you that may be considering joint replacement surgery. This is the almost seven month update for the right knee, and almost four month update for the left knee.

SwampMan was still having problems with pain upon walking any appreciable distance at 8 weeks postop which was the beginning of his summer vacation. Part of that may have been due to simple deconditioning; he had gotten to the point where he could barely hobble with the assistance of a cane and had to use a wheelchair if we went grocery shopping together. Due to that residual pain at the end of May, he still wanted to park in a handicapped space to minimize his walking. Unfortunately for him, I threw his permit away and told him he wasn’t handicapped anymore.

He came in this Monday afternoon when he’d been at his school and told me that, as a result of construction at the school and parking lots being closed, he’d walked a considerable distance. “I haven’t been able to walk like that in years!” he said in amazement. “And I noticed the other day when I was climbing on and off the tractor several times, it didn’t hurt at all! I was able to walk with you through Sam’s Club, too, and it wasn’t nearly as hard the second time as the first time!”

“So, your knee pain is completely gone?” I asked.

“I do get some pain when I’m standing in one place for a long time and then I have to sit down, but I feel no pain when I’m moving. It’s just incredible how much better it is!”

So there you have it. He highly recommends Dr. Heekin and the Heekin Orthopaedic Group. I’m not sure how much weight he’s lost, but his former shirts and pants just hang on him. It isn’t from dieting, it’s from being able to WALK! Instead of being a couch lump, he’s usually outside mowing grass or fixing things all day long now.

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SwampMan’s Knee Pics

100_0496100_0495I don’t think I showed the pictures of SwampMan’s knee scars from his knee replacement surgery before staple removal and after staple removal. This was because I was too lazy to actually download the pictures off of my camera.

Update: Well, crap. Apparently my laziness knows no bounds. I *thought* I had an after the staples were removed picture on there, but noooooo. I’ll have to wait until tomorrow evening to take a picture of his knee, then he’ll be all grumpy because physical therapy is going to kick his butt tomorrow. That is one massively swollen (but nicely shaved) knee!

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SwampMan Almost 5 Weeks Status Post TKR

I met KC Duffy of Pixie Place at a local restaurant for breakfast on Thursday last. She was on her way to lovely Pensacola to rejoin her husband. She looked all happy and rested, although she was a little stressed about whether she had forgotten any household items to take with her. My hair was limp and wild at the same time, a style that could be best described as Neo-Yeti. My skin was dry. My eyes had bags under the bags and looked serial killerish. It was my first foray out of the house to meet an actual person that was not a relative or SwampMan in several weeks, and it felt a bit strange. Did I have on clean clothes? Did I have on matching shoes? Was I still in pajamas? I dunno!

We did not have our usual two hour (or three hour) breakfast as she had to get on the road, but it was sure nice to see a friendly face that did not blame me because they were in pain and somehow it was All My Fault.

Which brings us to SwampMan. He returned to work 4 weeks after his surgery. It was probably too early to return to work, but he has to get his other knee done, too, and can only take off so much time per semester. That’s why he is complaining about pain. He’s not keeping his knee elevated and iced, and it swells and gets achy. The school chairs are not built for comfort. He complains about pain, and I tell him he needs to elevate his knee, ice it, and do his physical therapy. This does not go over well. He would rather take a pill. It is a difficult time for both of us. I know that he needs to do his therapy and continue with his leg elevation and icing for swelling (which causes the achy pain). He alternately gets mad at me for telling him what to do and for NOT telling him what to do.

After weaning off the pain medication, he went from sleeping 18 hours plus per day to sleeping four hours or less per night. Yikes. When SwampMan can’t sleep, he makes sure I don’t, either! He wanders from his lazy chair to my lazy chair to the living room lazy chair to daughter’s old double bed to the waterbed. I follow him around carrying blankets, pillows, CPAP machine, clock, ice packs, etc. I feel like a sleepy pack mule.

I think he’s doing pretty well. His knee flexion during his last physical therapy session, which was over a week ago, was 123 degrees. (He’s supposed to be doing outpatient physical therapy, but his paperwork hasn’t gone through yet. The insurance companies are all screwed up due to Obamacare, I suppose, even for the people that aren’t Obamacare patients.) At this point, I’m worried that he’s going to be going in for his six-week postsurgical checkup and physical therapy review sans physical therapy! He can walk around the house without support or with just a cane but, for longer distances, he still needs a walker because his left knee has gotten so much worse since his right knee was operated on.

I’m not sure how much longer he is going to survive waking me up to tell me he can’t sleep, though. He’s not sure how long I am going to survive telling him that he’s using his cane incorrectly, and he needs to wrap his pain up in a box with a pretty red bow and shove it in an imaginary closet and just deal with it. He tells me where I can shove my pain theories and that I don’t know what pain is, anyway. *sigh*

In six weeks, we do this all over again with his left knee.

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H7N9: Y’all Need to Keep Up With This ‘Un

This latest avian flu variation doesn’t hurt or even sicken birds, but has a high death rate for the humans it infects. It appears to be adapted to spread through humans now. It is still early days yet in this flu. Perhaps it will evolve further to be less dangerous to its mammalian hosts. We do not know. Perhaps it is spreading mostly unremarked through the population. This is unknown.

Just remember that this kills its victims through pneumonia and how quickly hospitals with advanced life-saving equipment can be overwhelmed by large numbers of people seeking treatment.

According to Recombinomics, the birds infected at the live markets were probably infected by humans per the DNA analysis.

If your plans to avoid the next big flu epidemic include locking yourself in your house with no outside contact, now might be a good time to start stocking up your vital supplies. *sigh* I ALWAYS get a bad case of the flu even if I’ve been immunized.

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Guess I Don’t Watch Enough Sci-Fi Channel

I walked into the house this evening to a movie that SwampMan had on. It featured snarling, bestial humanoid creatures.

“What are those, Reavers? Or Democrat union flunkies in Wisconsin?”

He looked at me as if I’d lost my mind. Maybe I have, how would I be able to tell? In an exaggeratedly patient voice which one uses to a person that is being deliberately obtuse, he said “No, those are ZOMBIES. I cannot BELIEVE that you couldn’t tell the difference.”

Well. At least I could tell they weren’t werewolves. And how do you tell Democrat union stooges from Zombies, anyway? Oh, snap. Of COURSE. Zombies eat brains. Those other people’s brains have been eaten.

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Health Screening

Since time changed, I’ve been playing catch up with chores around here. I’ve been getting off late from work (uncompensated, of course) and am outside after dark trying to get feeding done, fences fixed, eggs gathered, and livestock fed and watered (particularly since the water lines out to the barn have been cut off due to freezing weather). Unfortunately, something has to give under those circumstances. What has “given” in many cases has been cooking.

I love cooking. I’m pretty good at it. Unfortunately, by the time I get inside, we’d be eating dinner maybe by 10 p.m. and gulping it down like buzzards on roadkill. So what has been happening waaaay too often is that we’re eating at a fast food establishment two and sometimes three times per day. Not good from a health food standpoint. My blood should be almost solid, right? Well, you might think it from the food propaganda that we receive 24/7. But you would be wrong.

My total cholesterol is well under 200. My HDL is high. My LDL is low. EXTREMELY low. My blood sugar is good despite having a LOT of Godiva chocolates (thanks, friends!) and sweet tea that was mostly sugar about a half hour before screening.

So, if you’re sitting around picking at green leaves in the hopes of improving your blood lipids, I’d look at another strategy if I were you. A strategy like going on a nearly total fast food deep-fried diet.

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The Mammogram Wasn’t Bad At All!

I went to the Mammography Department at the local hospital today expecting torture. According to my mom, it was the single most painful thing she’d ever experienced in her entire life up to that point, so I was expecting the worst. The only reason that I was there at all was that a coworker shared with me that she had no symptoms, no risk factors, and had a mammogram at a younger age than I am now which revealed bilateral breast cancer. *sigh* Plus, SwampMan insists that I need to be completely checked out before I leave a job with insurance to strike out on my own again ‘cuz I ain’t no spring chicken (per him).

Standing in front of the machine, my body was leaning towards the door to the great amusement of the technician. My head said I gotta do this and get it over with but my body was sayin’ “have you LOST your freakin’ mind?”

Now, either mom’s breasts are waaaaaay more sensitive than mine, or I have experienced pain beyond what she has so I have more perspective. Or it could just be that I’m more pain tolerant, of course.

If you, like me, have been putting off this procedure because of fear of discomfort, take it from me. It ain’t that bad. It doesn’t take long. It *might* save your life.

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Go To India For Cheap Medical Care, Bring Home Superbug

From Reuters:

Researchers said on Wednesday they had found a new gene called New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase, or NDM-1, in patients in South Asia and in Britain.

U.S. health officials said on Wednesday there had been three cases so far in the United States — all from patients who received recent medical care in India, a country where people often travel in search of affordable healthcare.

NDM-1 makes bacteria highly resistant to almost all antibiotics, including the most powerful class called carbapenems. Experts say there are no new drugs on the horizon to tackle it.

I know that many people go to India for affordable medical care, particularly in England where the NHS turn their procedures down or delay them so long that people die before receiving care. Unfortunately, they may end up coming home with a drug-resistant bacteria that will kill them. For a life-saving procedure, it may be worth the risk. For cosmetic surgery, not so much.

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At the Surgeon’s Office

In the waiting room today was a woman with a similar surgery to SwampMan’s but with a different surgeon. Another woman was speaking with her that had an arm ailment. The woman was marvelling at how wonderful the woman was doing and looked, given her age (70).

When they were called back, SwampMan mentioned to me that he wondered who her surgeon was, because her surgery sounded, in the conversation, a bit different than SwampMan’s. I told SwampMan I was waaaaaay more interested in who her plastic surgeon was.

“What? How do you know she’s had any kind of plastic surgery? There were no huge scars or anything.”

*sigh* “Nose job, face lift, neck lift, eyes, boob job, and liposuction. Great work!”

“But….well, I admit she looked nice, but how do you know it was surgery?”

“How many 70-year-old women do you know with large, full, perky, gravity-defying boobs?”

“Oh. Nose?”

“Small and absolutely perfect. Noses have a tendency to droop a bit as you age.”

“Face? Neck? Eyes?”

“She had the smooth, firm jawline of a teenager. Her eyes were well opened without any drooping brows or lids. Her face was jowl free. Despite evidence of sun damage on her skin, her face (and neck) was wrinkle free.”


“Teeny little waist and somewhat bumpy hips and full upper arms. When fat cells are sucked out, fat cells left in other locations enlarge and multiply to take up the excess calories. When was the last time you saw a 70-year-old woman with a teeny little waist? Think of your thinnest aunts…..”

“I never even thought about it.”

Nope. He just noticed that she looked good. I probably wouldn’t have thought about it if she hadn’t announced her age. Like I said, I’d like to know who her surgeon was!

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Whooping Cough Epidemic in California Claims 5 Infants So Far

From the L.A. Times:

Whooping cough is now at epidemic levels in California and the state could record the highest number of illnesses and death due to the disease in 50 years, the state’s top health official said Wednesday.

Reported cases of whooping cough, also known as pertussis, have quadrupled over the same time period last year, said Dr. Mark Horton, director of the California Department of Public Health. Five infants — all under 3 months — have died, including two in Los Angeles County and one in San Bernardino County.

Whooping cough is a bacterial disease that infects the respiratory system. There have been 910 confirmed cases of the highly contagious disease in California between Jan. 1 and June 15. During the same time last year, 219 cases were confirmed.

An additional 600 possible cases are being investigated.

L.A. County has reported 148 suspected pertussis cases, said Director of Public Health Jonathan Fielding. He urged infants’ relatives and caregivers to get a booster shot.

Vaccination only works if there are enough people immune to break the cycle of infection. Here’s a related story from last year:

Tamaulipas health officials are reporting that two babies have died from whooping cough south of the border.

The MetroNoticias de Tamaulipas newspaper reported that health officials are investigating how the children contracted the disease.

Several cases of the deadly disease have recently reported among children along the Mexican side of the border.

The Tamaulipas Healthy Ministry told MetroNoticias that the two babies who died were from the border cities of Rio Bravo and Nuevo Laredo.

Rio Bravo is located cross the Rio Grande River from Donna, Texas.

I think that it is a bad idea to have illegal immigrants carrying unknown diseases mixing freely in public places with the immunocompromised and with children whose parents have refused to vaccinate them due to their belief that vaccination is worse than the diseases they are supposed to prevent, but that’s just me. Draw your own conclusions.

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