6 weeks ago yesterday I had surgery on my right leg to remove a giant cell tumor from my femur (thigh bone) right above my knee. In the last two months I have learned much more than I ever wanted to know about bone tumors, bone grafts, and bone healing. In all of this learning, I have been educated about Wolff’s Law–it is a theory that states that bone in a healthy person or animal will adapt to the loads under which it is placed. Therefore, if the load (stress, weight, use) on a particular bone increases, the bone will remodel itself over time to become stronger. It is why the bone in the arm a tennis player uses to hold her racquet will be stronger than the other one. At the same time, the inverse is said to be true–if you stop putting weight on a bone it will not be as strong as it once was. So part of my recovery is balancing the desire to coddle my injury and protect my leg from the world and what could hurt it, and the need to be using my leg again (within limits) to help stimulate more growth. It’s an interesting theory and something that I think can be applied more widely than just to our bones–but that is for another blog about lessons learned from this whole crazy adventure of evicting the bone tumor from my leg!
Last we left off on the updates it was my first week back to life at home, physical therapy and work. Wow–it was a lot all at once! But thru the help of friends and family it all went smoother than I ever imagined. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all rainbows and unicorns–life on crutches is difficult. Everything takes about 10 times longer than life without crutches, but there is an end to my momentary inconvenience and so I just deal with it the best I can–I mean is there really any other choice. I will tell you that a kitchen apron and a mason jar go far in terms of helping to make like easier as do friends who are generous and kind enough to help with meals, taking out the trash, and rides around town.
Physical therapy is the highlight of my week–it makes me feel like I’m back in training again. We have smaller but just as important goals as I did two months ago. I feel like I’ve made good progress there. I am able to bend my knee past 110 degrees sitting in a chair, lying on my back and on my stomach. We have increased the difficulty of the leg lifts by adding a one pound weight. Yes, there is more work to do there, but in three weeks I’ve come light years from where I was and that’s cause to celebrate. I even went swimming about a week ago–it was awesome! Will need to teach my foot and my leg and my hip to talk to each other again, but just being in the water was healing for my mind, body and soul.
Today was my 6 week post op check up with the surgeon back in Atlanta at the Emory Clinic. And I am happy to report it was good news all around! In looking at the X-rays both the surgeon and the resident admired their handiwork and the healing that subsequently has taken place. It’s quite amazing when you think of what has taken place in the last 6 weeks as cell by cell the bone from some generous person who donated their bone to help others has been converting into my bone. This process is not over and can take many months, but when I take a step back to think about it I can’t help but be reminded about the complexity of Creation. But enough of all my philosophical waxing and more about the news from the doc. Well, I have been given permission to put weight on to the right leg to toleration with my crutches. In addition, within the next four weeks I am to transition to one crutch or a cane (let’s just say one crutch is the only opinion). This is huge as last I saw him, he hinted at going up to 50 lbs weight-bearing. In addition, I have permission to drive as long as I don’t have to slam on my brakes–so no one stop suddenly in front of me please! As if that wasn’t enough good news, I can begin to start biking again–yay! Of course on a stationary bike for now but eventually on the trainer in my living room and then once I’m off the crutch in January I will be back on the open road. Running–well we didn’t broach the topic, but he did say that he expects to let me loose when I hit the three month mark which will be early January which is not too far away when you account for all the holidays and fun distractions (like my birthday!) in between. At my appointment in January, will will do more knee X-rays, another chest X-ray because giant cell tumors can spread to the lungs and an MRI of my knee to have a baseline for follow ups I will need for the foreseeable future as unfortunately this type of tumor has a fairly high incidence of reoccurrence. And hopefully in January we will get the ok to maybe run a bit on a treadmill in a controlled environment with supervision. Keep your fingers crossed for me 🙂
So that’s the latest news…will do better about trying to post updates. I have a feeling there will be much to celebrate (in addition to my birthday!) in the next couple of weeks as I get back to doing some of the things I have missed so much.