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Progress Update #18

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Just when you think you can go back into the water a shark called infection, bites. I fell and was caught by a Good Samaritan before hitting the pavement on June 14th. One week later, I woke up feeling off balance and almost fell when I took the dogs out. I did fall about an hour later and bruised my new knee. I iced it and elevated it for several days - staying off it most of the time. Then the night sweats started. Ugh! I would go into a very deep sleep for hours on end and wake up with sweat running down my body. Then my knee turned a rainbow of colors and started feeling hot to the touch and unbearably sensitive.

Yesterday, while I was getting my hair done, the plastic cape barely brushed my knee and it was horribly painful. When I moved it away from my knee, I saw that the knee had turned bright pink and very hot. When I got in my car, I called my orthopedist and was told to come right in to his office. He checked for breaks and dislocations via x-ray. The good news is, nothing was broken and the prosthetic was intact. He almost left it at that when I asked him why it was so hot and red. He hemmed and hawed and said that well maybe it might be edging toward infection. He offered me an antibiotic in case of infection - it was my call. I said yes, he gave me a prescription for balance therapy and an antibiotic, then told me to put ice on my knee. He said to come back in 4 weeks and he left. I tried to get an appointment for 4 weeks out but he will be on vacation, again. So, I had to go for an appointment 5 weeks out. I stopped and picked up the antibiotic on my way home. I was flattened for the remainder of the day.

I had great difficulty getting to sleep last night because of the pain. Once I did fall asleep, I slept so deeply that I didn't move for 6.5 hours! I woke up to sweat running down my back, face and neck. I was drenched. My knee was bright red and throbbing. I decided to call my primary care doctor this morning and she took me several hours later.

My doctor said she was shocked with how my knee looked. I explained the whole history of my fall and showed her the medicine my orthopedist gave me the option of taking. She said that she was pleased that everything was intact but she was not happy with the way the redness had been handled. She knew right away what was happening. I have an infection. She explained how it happens, what causes it and what the proper protocol is for treating it. What I wanted to know is why my orthopedist didn't take the time to find this out? I know he was ready to go on vacation for 10 days but why get sloppy. Surely he is familiar with the condition and how it can occur with a fall on a knee replacement. After all, he is a surgeon specializing in joint replacement and trauma. Why would my internal medicine doctor know more about treating it than the person who is a joint trauma specialist and surgeon?

My primary also changed the antibiotic to one that is a great deal stronger. If the stronger antibiotic gives me intestinal issues, I will call her and we'll use the orthopedist's antibiotic as a backup - kind of like a plan B. The stronger medicine hopefully will work better, faster and keep the infection from getting into my bloodstream. I am on 5 days of complete bed rest with ice on my knee. I am only allowed to get up to use the bathroom, shower, get food and change ice packs. It is an extremely restrictive protocol that I must adhere to to contain the infection. It is really scary especially when my primary explained what can happen if I'm not careful.
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