Sunday, February 27, 2011

Day One: Back From the Hospital

Gnarly.  Is that a real word?  If so, that is what an osteochondral allograft is.

Wednesday was spent with the entire day fasting as the surgery was scheduled for evening.  We got to the hospital one hour early on a perfect La Jolla beach day, so decided to relax under a life giving sun before going into three days of hospital confinement.

Once at the hospital, it's forms, signatures, payments, EKG's, vitals, weigh ins, blood tests, psychological tests (they must've asked me the spelling of my name and DOB at least a million times.  At least they didn't ask who the current President is, as I'm not sure.

The last meeting was with a lovely Indonesian woman who performed my EKG, weight and height.  She had a kick ass sense of humour.  It was a party in there.  When it came time for her to hand me my hospital issue clothing, I didn't realize I was to completely strip down.  Duh.  She cocked her head and said in that cute Indonesian accent: "Honey, this the Full Monty"

Next the wheel chair got rolled in.  In typical Jen Evans Queen fashion, I proceeded to pose for the camera in various poses befitting a wheel chair, when whom should walk in, but Dr. Bugbee.  He rolled his eyes and said "Good Gawd, what are you up to this time?"  It seemed I was a celebrity that night as he had in tow, two surgeons.  One was from Belgium, the other from Germany.  That's how well renowned Dr. Bugbee is:  Surgeons fly in from all over the world to learn from him.

Next thing I knew, I was having a lovely vision of Kerry and I sitting on our sofa sipping our morning coffee as is the custom around here.  Suddenly I realized I was not relaxing on the sofa.  No, I was being wheeled down a hospital corridor.  Pandemonium ensues once a patient is completed surgery.  It was at that point that I burst into tears from the sheer emotion of it all.  I was grabbing any one's hand that was close enough for TLC.  Before Dr. Bugbee left me, I grabbed him and made him give me a hug.  I don't know if that's hospital protocol, but I don't care.

I had lovely visitors, including ultra running friend David.  He is a scientist who works three minutes walk from the hospital and is one of the smartest people I know.  BFF Chris, with a pint of ice cream, and the lovely Michele, with laughter and great conversation overlooking Torrey Pines Golf Course and the Pacific Ocean.

Once home, I was greeted by my sweet daughter, Jessica, bearing a pint of Cherry Garcia ice cream and Victor Jose Snaggles.  Finally, one of the best nights sleep ever, with Surfer Boy and our black kitty, Ruby.

Pictures of my shower chair tomorrow........

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tomorrow's the Big Day!!!!

Tomorrow morning Surfer Boy and I leave for beautiful La Jolla including 3 days, and 2 nights of fun filled entertainment and deluxe accommodations where the wonderful staff at the hospital will be at my beck and call.

We started the day with one last surf session since I will be non weight bearing on crutches for six weeks.  Kerry, wonderful husband that he is, got the shower chair to fit into my tiny, like you can barely stretch your arms out tiny, shower stall.  Then I went to lunch with a dear friend who is moving out of the country this week.  The girls lunch and laughter was great for my soul.

My bags are packed.  I checked with the hospital and they advised me that yes, I can bring my blankie.  I never travel without my beloved feather comforter.  It's been all over the world and has great stories to tell. I'm smuggling in the most important of my supplements and of course, my BHRT.  Don't leave home without it!  Lastly, I couldn't resist packing my red satin pajamas so I look good for family and friends!

Thank you to all my blogger buddies, friends and family for your positive vibes, prayers, and great energy!

Yes, I'll bring my laptop.  Hopefully I will feel like writing.  Haven't many prolific writers written whilst under the influence of mind altering substances?  We're fixin' to find out!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

127 hours until my surgery! But who's counting?

It is with an amazingly grateful heart that I sit down to write this post.

After not being able to run for well over a year and a half, every workout in the company of my good friend pain, several months of meeting numerous specialists, two months on a wait list, one false donor alarm and lots of ice, ice, baby, I finally got the call yesterday that the donor bank has a healthy graft for my knee.  The surgery is scheduled for Wednesday, 6PM PST.  Yay, yippee and double thank you Lord!

I want to thank all of the wonderful people who have come together to make this possible.  First, Dr. Bugbee, who has dedicated his practice to this joint sparing technology.  I am so lucky to have found him.  He is an international leader in the allograft field.  Patients fly in from all over the world to meet with him, and he teaches other doctors how to perform the procedure.  The procedure itself involves the use of living bone and cartilage, fresh, never frozen, folks.  In layman's terms, he will pop out the defective part of my knee and pop in the new and improved donor graft.  Very exciting stuff!

Back to the thank you list: Dr. Bugbee and his staff, my wonderful friends and family, my daughters, my pets, all the doctors who pointed me in this direction, my Angel, Lacy, at Living Water Rejuvenation Centers, who has been helping me with my detox program in preparation for surgery, Surfer Boy, the best husband in the whole wide world, who gets to put up with my many moods (yes, Ms. Positive has moods) and most especially, heartfelt thanks to the donor who gave up his/her life to help another person have a better quality of life.  I promise to honor that persons life by working hard, keeping a positive, prayerful attitude and thanking them with every step I take.  Love, love, love you all!!!

Finally, the name of this post: It's not really quite 127 hours until the surgery, but I want to honor one of my favorite inspirational people, Aron Ralston, an experienced canyoneer, and fellow ultra runner, who got trapped by a chock stone in Moab Utah for 127 hours.  After preparing to die, he ended up amputating his own arm, using a small, cheap, multi tool knife, then rappelled down a cliff and hiked seven miles, with his arm in a sling fashioned from his CamelBak before finally being discovered by hikers and rescued.  If you're looking for inspiration, check out the movie, starring academy award best actor nominee, James Franco.

If he could get through that amazing self-surgery, I will easily bounce back from my lap of luxury surgery including the ocean view recovery suite.  Champagne, please!

I plan to update you all from my 2-3 day hospital stay.  Thank you all for your positive vibes and prayers!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Feelings........nothing more than feelings

Every time the phone rings, I look at the caller ID to see if it's a call from Dr. Bugbee's office advising me that they found a donor for my bone and cartilage transplantation.  I've been doing this for 7 weeks now, but who's counting?

End of last week I got THE CALL!  Dr. Bugbee's assistant called with the words which were magic to my ears "We got a donor offer"  She then proceeded to give me the surgery date, pre-op instructions etc.  The call ended with a disclaimer: There's a chance we may not be able to use the graft.  It has to pass rigorous testing.  I already knew this as I've researched this procedure extensively.  Thankfully, the graft is put through a gazillion tests to make sure it's free of transmittable diseases.

I woke up the next morning happy, full of energy, enthusiasm and passion for life.  I got on my mountain bike and had an amazingly invigorating ride on the trails overlooking green hills and majestic ocean views. I knew the ride would cause pain to my knee, heck, every workout does these days, but I didn't care.  I was getting my new knee!  I stopped at one point on a particularly expansive viewpoint to say a prayer of thanks to the donor who gave up his/her life so that I could benefit from their healthy body.

24 hours later I got a call from Dr. Bugbee's office.  The graft did not pass testing.  Back to the wait list.

So, I ask you this:  What really changed in those 24 hours?  Absolutely nothing except for my feelings.  My body is the same, my address is the same, my family and friends are the same, my knee certainly is the same, well, maybe the weather changed a little.

This experience is teaching me big time how to be patient, and how little control we have over things in our lives.  There is nothing I can do about the donor situation other than wait.

Who we really are is not determined by the circumstances around us.  Who we really are inside needs do nothing.  Remember that next you're in line at the DMV.  And while you're at it, next time you're at the DMV, mark "yes" for donating your body to medical purposes.  All you healthy ultra runners and athletes out there, we need you.  Dead or alive!

Friday, February 11, 2011

My Love

Will you be my Valentine?

Just a matter of time before I'm back out on the trails with you guys.

Love and Kisses.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Doctor Shyster, Dr. Needelman and Dr. Cutter

It's always my intent to keep this blog, our thoughts and words positive.  However....when it comes to dealing with insurance companies and government entities - That ain't the way to have fun, son!

Not so breaking news: Anthem Blue Cross denied the claim for my allograft.  To recap: the allograft is a joint sparing technology which implants living bone and cartilage into my knee. The technique has a high success rate of 80% to 100%
Once given the insurance companies decision,  I then went through the exercise of submitting all the information to what's referred to as an Independent Medical Review through our friends, the California State Department of Insurance.

The case was sent by the State, to an Independent Contractor.  The contractor is paid by the State (you and me, folks) to hire three "Doctors in good standing" to review and determine whether or not the insurance company denial should be upheld.

Their decision:

Dr. Shyster:  Treatment is not the best option

Dr. Needelman:  Treatment is not the best option

Dr. Cutter:  Treatment is the best option

Two out of three win, so I'm all on my own, dear readers.

It was my understanding that the government's job was to serve and protect.  These three doctors (I made up the names, if you didn't guess) do not reveal their names and have never met or examined me.  Gee, I wonder if perhaps the State hires doctors that may side with them.  Could it be?

For anyone who thinks it's a great idea to have the government in charge or our health care, think again. You just may end up at the mercy of Dr. Shyster, Dr. Needelman and Dr. Cutter.

Meanwhile, let's remain positive.  Okay - I'm positive they turned me down!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Dog Day Afternoon

My grand-dog, Victor Jose Snaggles, had surgery last week.  The surgery was to remove a large bladder stone.  It was highly successful.

My daughter adopted Victor from the animal shelter three years ago.  He was found wandering the streets of Irvine, frail and hungry, weighing 4 pounds.  It seems to be the ecological thing to do these days; own a rescue dog.  I suppose now we'll have to start driving a Prius "smug alert-smug alert", buy an eco/ego house, and switch to only natural fiber clothing.

Today, Victor weighs 5 pounds and is living in the lap of luxury.  The only problem is, nobody has gotten word to Victor that he only weighs 5 pounds.  He loves people, but he's not much for other dogs.  He takes on Rottweilers and Great Danes.  When you take him for a walk, it's a bit embarrassing, really.

The night before his surgery, Surfer Boy and I walked Victor on the beach where he once again went ballistic when he spotted a worthy opponent, this time a full grown Doberman Pinscher.  Kerry tugged at the leash and told him "Stop it!  You're about to undergo surgery tomorrow.  You're supposed to be contemplating the meaning of life."

But you see, that's what keeps Victor out of trouble.  His ability to live in the moment and his inability to think, analyze, dissect, ruminate, marinate, obsess and worry.

Years ago, when I lived out in the country, many of our neighboring dogs ran free and got bitten by rattlesnakes.  I was asking the vet about it one day, and he said that it's really no big deal.  What?  Why not?  He told me it was because dogs don't go into shock the way humans do.  They simply give them the anti-venom, keep them overnight, and back they go to frolick on the trail.  Humans, on the other hand, freak out when bitten by a rattler.

With my knee surgery coming up, who knows when, I'm going to take a page out of Victor's book.  As I write, he's relaxing in the sun, enjoying the warm California weather and ocean breeze.  Wait a minute!  Didn't anyone tell him that he just had surgery?

Once again, my theory is proven: No brain, no pain!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Sunday Morning Surf Session

Kerry and I are starting a new tradition.  Meet us at San O' Sunday morning for surfing!

Phone calls made last night, three out of five invited showed up.  The weather: a balmy 49 degrees, but the water is 58 degrees so it's warmer in the water.  Perhaps it might feel that way.  If it weren't for the heavy fog.  As I paddled out to the lineup I felt amazingly grateful that my upper body is in great shape and I can paddle.  So what if I'm not engaging in my favorite sport of trail running?  The best part about cold water is that it brings the swelling down!  I'm able to stand on my longboard in a fairly comfortable position for the knee.  And gosh darn it - I look good in my wetsuit!!

Afterwards is the most important part.  Breakfast at the San Clemente Cafe, which is, oddly enough, in San Clemente.  Join us next week, will you?  I tell really corny jokes such as:  "Two peanuts were walking down the street.  One was a salted" (assaulted)  I warned you they were corny.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Ultra Running!!!!

Yes, I can. Yes, I will.  Again and again and again.  Let's get our positive thoughts going.  Once I get my new and improved knee, I'll be crossing the finish line at the Avalon 50 with you again.  That's a promise!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

It's Only Money!

Day 32 of officially being on the donor waiting list for the bone and cartilage transplant of my knee.  C'mon, the next Kobe Bryant has got to expire soon!  God rest his soul.

Insurance update: How exciting, my wonderful insurance company, I won't name any names, Anthem Blue Cross, has decided they don't want to pay for the surgery.

Here's how the process has gone:  The insurance company denies.  Tons of red tape, paperwork, letters to the California State Board of Insurance, an independent medical review by three orthopaedic surgeons deciding whether or not the insurance company denial should be upheld.  Two out of the three say NO GO.


1.  My advanced age of 52 (age discrimination is illegal)
2.  They consider the graft experimental (it's not as it has an insurance code)

Bottom line:  They will be happy to pay for a healthy, high functioning, high level athlete who has taken amazing care of her body all of her life to have a knee replacement which includes screws, bolts, metal and drilling instead of the graft which will prevent a knee replacement.  Why?  Gee, could it be because it actually might work?

I give my surgeon, Dr. William Bugbee, a lot of credit for forging the way and being a leader in his field.  He's actually trying to help patients have a better quality of life without turning them into living breathing Frankensteins complete with metal bolts protruding out of the sides of their necks.  What a concept.

By the way, for those interested in how much the "rich doctors" make: the surgeons portion of this expensive surgery is only $2,500

So folks, here's my plan:  Next lifetime, I am going to come back as a high priced Beverly Hills plastic surgeon.  Here are the benefits:

•  No fooling around with pesky insurance companies
•  My average fee for a boob job, face lift, tummy tuck, eyelid surgery will be around 15K
•  I will have patients lined up at my door, begging for me to work on them
•  I accept cash, 90 days same as cash and all major credit cards, including American Excess!!!

You can't beat that with a stick.