Thursday, July 09, 2009

Miffed in the Hospital
Originally uploaded by karmking1111.
Enter the Plica Syndrome

Ah yes, back again in the Korean hospital. This time I underwent knee surgery. About three years ago I was just walking a long when something happened and I couldn't move my knee that well. I'd like to be more specific but I can't. Doctors would ask me, "Okay, so what were you doing?"

"Walking," I'd reply.

"And what happened?"

"I could walk any more."

I wish it was something more than that. At least when I broke my arm 2 years ago I was snowboarding in the half pipe (never mind I was sucking and that's why I broke my arm). Here I was just strolling along and something went out of place and jammed up the whole knee. Given a few days, the knee would return to normal, only to go out of place again a few weeks later. I'd crouch down to talk to a student, feel a painful twinge in the side of my knee, and I'd be out for the count.

I had an MRI done on the sucker, talked to numerous doctors (one who said I needed extensive work done to the tune of $6,000 and two months on crutches). I ultimately went with the doctor who said, "I have no idea what it is, but we can do exploratory surgery." He seemed honest.
So when I checked into the hospital the first thing I saw was a nurse running down the hall with an almost overflowing bag of blood, which she threw into the bio hazard container and then sprinted down the hall again. I tried to look on the bright side, "At least they're quick around here." The administering nurse looked at me and shrugged with that "What you going to do" sort of look.

I got my pajamas/ gown, did some tests, and waited. The doc informed me that I was going to be awake for the surgery. Because it was exploratory, they wanted to poke around, see what they could find, report back me, and then do what they could to fix me. I agreed but did not realize how terrifying this would actually be.

In Korea they are big on spinal anesthesia. That means they administer anesthetic--to the spine-- with a needle. I was wheeled into the OR and given the spinal. It was painful, but then the pain was slowly replaced by numbness, a numbness that started at the toes and then slowly crept up to mid torso.

The surgical staff had a radio playing American oldies. Dust in the Wind was the song playing while all this was happening. First there was the bag of blood and then a song about the insignificance of the individual. Omens were not good, plus I couldn't feel the lower half of my body. Luckily, that was the lowest point that things looked up from there.
My doc made two incisions, stuck a camera in one, stuck an all purpose, Swiss army, micro tool in the other and then showed me the results. He turned the monitor to me so I could actually see the inside of my knee and said, "You have a fat pad."

A phat pad? I wondered when he had ever seen my place (bad pun). What he meant is I have Plica Syndrome. Here's what I understand about plica syndrome. We all have a layer of fatty tissue that surrounds our knees. Sometimes unexpected trauma, a fall or a twist, can cause that lining to swell up, impinging the motion of the knee. My fat pad was occasionally getting caught in my knee causing pain and other symptoms. BTW--Plica syndrome, usually undetectable to MRIs. They cut away that part of the fatty tissue and that was that.

They they taped me up (I didn't even require stitches) and deposited me back in my room. I tried to keep from shaking but I couldn't stop. At first I thought I was just scared but being numb is really cold. Funny how cold brings on numbness and numbness brings on cold.
Anyway, Kat took this picture of me post-op. I was a wee bit touchy after my ordeal, as it shows. I tend to get a bit defensive when I can't feel my legs. Luckily they hooked me up to the nifty painkiller machine with the self regulating dispatch button. The grumpy face soon gave way.

For all the bitching and moaning I've done, I'm very thankful for all that was done. I'm thankful for my doctor, who seemed quite skilled. I'm thankful I didn't go with the other doc, who had no idea what he was talking about. I'm thankful for the Korean health care system, who made this affordable. I'm thankful for Kat who has taken me through two surgeries and one broken arm (she's thankful this surgery wasn't as bad as the ankle one last year). I'm also thankful that I live in time where doctors don't have to make a 5 inch incision to check out my knee. Hell, I'm thankful that I don't live in time of leech therapy and blood letting. I thank god for all that is given, but I especially thank him/her/it for medical science.

My New Knee

My New Knee
Originally uploaded by karmking1111.
Look away those who are faint of heart, for these are the ravages of arthroscopic knee surgery-- two minor incisions and a shaved knee.

Frankenstein Foot

Frankenstein Foot
Originally uploaded by karmking1111.
A reminder that while arthroscopic knee surgery is no picnic, it could be worse. It has been worst (photo taken last year).

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Give Me the Damn Job

Give Me the Damn Job
Originally uploaded by karmking1111.
I think it was business Kat's no nonsense attitude that secured the new job for us.

You Know You Want to Hire This

So Kat and I gave Korea an ultimatum; give us cushy university jobs or we are out of here. Surprisingly, Korea offered us cushy uni jobs.

There more to it than that. We sent out a bunch of resume packets, blindly, to different schools. None of them replied so we decided we'd come back to the states. No sooner did I notify everyone back home that my sojourn was over, and that I was home bound, than a university contacted us.

Here I am pictured, pre-interview. I went in there and gave them a little bit of "Wall Street financeer" mixed with "used -car salesman." I used all the key phrases that employers like to hear, "think out-side of the box, forward-thinking, go-getter, 110%, never say die, and how much vacation do you offer?". It must of worked because somehow Kat and I got the jobs. (I actually think she carried us and we said we were a package. If you take one, you have to take both.)

So the new job starts in Sept. Now we'll be teaching adults. It's a welcome change. I actually like teaching kids, but they can be a bit trying at times. When I taught kindergarteners, they would be so happy to see me. They would run up and give me hugs. Unfortunately the kids were about crotch height, so they'd charge forward and get me right in the groin with their tiny hammer-like fists. Hopefully I won't have to deal with this with college students.

There was that third grade class where Jae-won puked all over the back of Suzy. Hopefully college kids won't do that.

There was another time when a sixth grader tackled his friend in the hall, stripped him of his shoes and threw them out of the fifth floor window. It was cruel and inappropriate and so damn funny. I had to turn my back so they didn't see me laugh. I imagine that college students don't do stuff like that (at least not in the school).

No more English points, or homework coupons, or timeouts, or draw the monster, superhero application forms. Now I have to teach idioms, and conditional past tense, and bore the hell out of adults. Yup, its going to be a whole new ball game, but I shouldn't get too emotionally worked up. I still have another month with the kids here. Something tells me that when the time comes to leave, I'll be a little sad but I probably won't look back for too long.

Night in Anyang

Night in Anyang
Originally uploaded by karmking1111.
Blade Runner isn't that far off.