Tuesday, July 31, 2012

#KatoKnee: Just when you think it's OK, it's really not

On the one-week anniversary of the knee surgery, I was feeling pretty good. My movement around the house was smooth. I didn't need the walker and many times didn't need the cane. While I still haven't been sleeping well, it seemed I had enough energy to test some limits.
I became more convinced after my Monday therapy. Afterwards I felt invigorated and ready to put a little time in at work.
So the next day, I thought I would just drop in, conduct a weekly meeting, tidy up some loose ends and paperwork then go home. My wife had an appointment in town. She could drop me off at 9 a.m. and pick me back up at noon. It seemed perfect.
What the visit turned into was a lesson on how sensory deprivation combined with pain numbing drugs as a recuperative strategy.
While at home, I had very few things to concentrate on - keeping my leg elevated, figuring out my crossword puzzles, reading news events and an occasional TV show.
It would seem very little of my body's energy was expended so it could focus on repairing the wound.
I mistook that energy as getting back to normal and arranged for a three-hour visit at work. It fell apart the moment I walked in.
My antenna went into high gear to acknowledge my settings, say hello while mentally trying to connect what happened one week ago to today, calibrate what needed to be addressed today and what can wait and why. Earlier I was determined to be clear headed so I skipped the pain killers. So now my body's defense mechanisms (I could hear "Danger Will Robinson") starting to kick in and draining my energy. I was sweating heavily under my dress shirt and across my brow.
I rushed through the agenda as quickly as I could and made my way back to the office where I sat resting, drinking water and slowly answering emails, waiting for my wife to pick me up after her appointment. It was the longest "short" morning I've had in a long time.
Are there any physicians out there who can explain what happened here?
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  1. I'm not a doctor, but stress is widely known to have a profound effect on the body's ability to recuperate. Catching up at work can be overwhelming and stressful. A smart man once told me "A great leader must learn the art of delegation". Trust in your staff.

  2. Post-operative fatigue is a real syndrome that can affect patients for 1-3 months after major surgery. What you describe is pretty normal. I have had avid readers tell me that they couldn't concentrate on their books after surgery. Some people just feel tired and overwhelmed. Unfortunately, we really don't know what causes this problem. We do know that physical and behavioral responses are affected.
    Surgery is just glorified injury. We do major trauma to correct a problem. Our techniques and instruments have improved, but the surgery is still taxing to the body and mind. Let your doctor know if it gets worse and they could do routine labs to look for abnormal levels in hemoglobin etc.
    Best of luck!