The Declarer (Floyd McWilliams' Blog)

Sunday, September 12, 2010



Days 2-5: CPM Slavery

You wouldn't think it difficult to spend six hours a day in the CPM leg machine given that I had nothing else to do, and that the machine did all the work for me. I used the machine for nearly 20 days, and the number of days that I logged six hours was one.

The CPM machine itself is simple: A sled, a frame underneath it, and a bulky controller. I lay down, put the leg on the machine, secure it with some vecro straps, then select the bend angle and the speed. I started with a 40 degree bend and speed of 2 out of 5. The machine would bend my leg, extend my leg, bend my leg, extend my leg ...

I could only take about an hour at a time, partly because my knee would get sore and partly because I would get bored out of my skull.

I had to ice my knee 20-30 minutes for every hour on the leg machine. (The medical people called it a "cryo machine" which reminded me of suspended animation in science fiction novels. The machine was basically a 2-gallon Coleman ice chest with a power cord and a blue tube that ended in four flat panels in a butterfly-like arrangement.)

The most trival tasks took a long time. I took the brace off whenever I used one of the machines; the leg brace had six long velcro straps and had locks on the inside and outside of the knee. Making myself lunch was an adventure, since I could carry with only one hand at a time.

I took a shower on Friday morning, and it probably took 30 or 40 minutes. We had bought a white plastic lawn chair. Our upstairs shower was perfect for this -- it is large, flat, has a wide door, and the shower head has a flexible attachment. Sherry put the chair in the shower and I sat in it and took off my brace and wrap. Then she helped me wriggle out of my clothes; I would get jabbing pain below my knee whenever my leg was moved. I slowly scooted the chair backward, trying to disturb my leg as little as possible, closed the shower door, and started to wash. Getting dry and dressed was also a slow process. (I was always dissatisfied with how I rewrapped the bandage. Nor was I thrilled to see the big purple YES.)

I was taking Vicodin, one pill every 4 hours. Unfortunately the pain would return after about 3 hours; of course I felt the effect most at night, when I would wake after 4-5 hours of sleep with a lot of knee pain.

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