I'm not sure whether I was made to be a TV producer and the skills suited the role or whether I became a TV producer and acquired the skills, but whatever, TV producers can't help but produce everything in their lives and, for me for now, that includes knee surgery. There's the research phase, learning everything there is to know and then some; the phase of going into the field to get the lay of the land, and interviews, and acquiring other elements that will help with writing the script and putting it all together into a final package. Add to that loads of curiosity and skepticism. Healthy skepticism, but skepticism just the same.
This past week is almost a blur of preparation, ranging from having to go in for a pre-physical, a visit with the dentist for a cleaning and checkup, following up on preparation for short term disability and dealing with insurance. Believe me, the last two require almost daily if not twice a day diligence. My doctor's assistant is very helpful, and the hospital has a nurse navigator who is helpful, but its up to me, the patient, to be on top of everything and exhaustively. And I'm doing knee surgery alone, so there's that.
The insurance is maddening. They rejected coverage of my prescribed pre-op MRI! (So much for paying extra for a PPO). We are appealing the decision but if I lose the appeal it will be a few thousand dollars of out of pocket expense for me. That has been depressing. If there's any bright light, it is the only set back, so far.
Exercises. I do pre-op knee surgery exercises daily. A half hour of rowing, plus 50 minutes on the recumbent bike. Leg raises. Core work. Ankle work. Arm work. I try to keep up a minimum of 5,000 steps a day of walking. My post-op goal is to resume my daily standard of minimum 10,000.
Like a squirrel storing nuts for the winter, I'm getting my home ready. A lot of research has gone into how to make my den sofa supportive so I can sleep on it the first week or so, rather than climbing two flights up to my bedroom. Yesterday I visited camping stores, hoping to get a slim, strong camping mattress. I found the perfect item but its not available anymore. So I turned to upholsterers foam -- what they use to fill the cushions of some sofas -- and will use a 31 inch by 72 inch by 5 inch plank of that to bolster the existing sofa cushions. Also I got a back wedge to give support to my spine and a foam leg brace/elevator for helping the knee to heal when its not in the ice machine.
Through a friend -- thank you, Allie and Allie's mom -- I was able to get a walker. The thing is, the hospital sends you home with a walker but I wanted one in advance to use for practice and to see that I can get around the house. It will help me to decide where/how to arrange the furniture. Also a cane. I have some fancy, British antique walking sticks but I think they are more fashion than actually practical. The cane will be the alternative to the walker. I will need both, I'm told.
There are a zillion message boards and websites dedicated to knee surgery -- or, in the parlance of the biz, TKR-- and I probably spend too much time reading them. The secret is to glean what is positive and useful and to try to not dwell too much on the negative and frightening. In truth, there's more positive than negative. But its a rabbit hole and if you let yourself go down it the next thing you'll be questioning every otherwise smart decision you've made.
The issue of home care is a big one. I've interviewed private home care companies and learned most of all they are expensive -- $25 an hour with a four hour minimum. I don't need someone for a four-hour stretch. I need someone for an hour at breakfast, an hour at lunch and an hour in the evening. But that would mean a 12 hour order, or $300 a day. I'm looking for other approaches. I do have some home repair that is needed and I may schedule that for when I'm here and while I won't expect the painter/carpenter/electrician/HVAC specialist or appliance repair person to be my nurse, it will be having someone come by the house. And friends. And family.
I'm dedicated to acupuncture and have an outstanding and highly respected acupuncturist. She is helping a lot to get me ready, now over 15 visits and a few more to go before OR-day. It is my goal to try to get to her regularly after surgery but I won't be able to drive.
Basically, this is where I am at: pre-production for my knee surgery. Many more appointments coming up in the next 7 days, with various doctors. Then a haircut, facial, mani-pedi. These are not medical but they are essential.
Soon I have to think about stocking up on food. I'm urban, though, so there's food. Not expecting my appetite to be robust at first. That's what I hear from friends who have done this. I will stock up on some essential favorites but then likely rely on good delivery services such as Galley Foods. I have given up alcohol for now, and pain pills (Advil), and soon may have to set aside the Chinese herbs I love. Its funny but on game day -- the morning of surgery -- they have you drink Gatorade. That makes me laugh. I think of it as a bottle of sugar water. Would rather have a glass of Champagne.