Since August of last year much has happened in my life; knee replacement surgery being the major one. Blend that with covid, and some other sad things and there were some pretty sad days. Here’s my story…
Last September I had my first Total Knee Replacement surgery (TKR for short). I was fortunate to still get my surgery with only a few months delay due to Covid. It went well and recovery was fairly quick. I was walking around the neighbourhood on Halloween and was supposed to get the next new knee in January 2022 but it was postponed to May 2022
In August 2021 I went through the traumatic loss of my lil’ buddy Pip. Having a small Havanese means there is ALWAYS a pup attached to you! Trying to get through that loss and also live with all the Covid restrictions made it doubly difficult. If you’ve lost a pet you can well understand.
I was deeply hurt not only physically but also emotionally. I had to draw strength from the positive things in my life; family (especially sweet Grandson), friends, and my therapeutic ‘art’. Crying seemed to be a daily thing which for me was so very very bizarre. I guess it could be called the ‘perfect storm’.
It had to Be done:
My knees were very damaged from osteoarthritis and every step meant pain. The repair of the meniscus a couple years ago did not give any relief. Walking meant painful arthritic bone-on-bone wear since the cartilage was quite narrowed. The many hours that I would teach remotely gave much stiffness and discomfort. I could not wait to improve the knee pain. I remember my mothers knees making so much noise from arthritis as she climbed the stairs, I was probably predisposed.
Stryker makes a very popular knee called the Triathlon made of titanium. Millions of people have already had this in their joint replacement therapy so I was very hopefull.
I am not sure if you have the stomach to hear this but the surgeon makes some very precise cuts to the femur and tibia when performing joint replacement surgery. No, I did not watch a video beforehand, that would have given me too much stress.
Here in Canada we choose which of the orthopedic surgeons we would like, as some have quite a long list and others not. My surgeon had good reviews but also not a huge list so I could get a date quickly.
In both cases; first one in September and second in May, the surgery was early morning and the plan was to be home by dinner. A spinal anesthetic is given and then some extra to doze off for just the surgery. In one hour I’d be awake again; quite remarkable. The orthopaedic surgeon used staples and a large waterproof bandage keeps the incision clean for a couple weeks.
As soon as you can feel your legs again it’s time for the physical therapist to see how you can clamper along with a walker and manage a few stairs. Since the nerve blocks are still active in the knee it isn’t that painful – yet.
During the night and the next few days would be the most painful. Keep on top of what pain medication the doctor prescribes; they do know best. Follow instructions for elevating, icing and also exercises to make sure to get the range of motion. This is not the time to just sleep all day.
To keep swelling down icing with a cryrotherapy machine is great! I especially love my Ossur Cold Rush Machine. I would throw frozen water bottles in it and cycle through them in the freezer. All the muscles and ligaments/tendons are angry and in pain. I found that since I had already gone through this once I was a bit less patient the second time, forgetting that it was a few weeks before I’d be out and about. Since I am a generally stubborn person having a setback is a bit of torture for me. As soon as I was somewhat mobile with the cane I started to drive again at about 3 weeks PO (post-op).
Take some time:
You know I have a blog to run, things to research and create! Let me get going!!! ‘But I had to realize I just needed to take the time to heal – sit back a bit and enjoy the view.
The muscles that you use to rise from a chair seem to not work and this distressed me, but thankfully the physiotherapist gave me some guidance for that as well. I was not going to accept the ‘rocking chair’ yet! Oh, and yes; physiotherapy starts a few days after the surgery. My rehabilitation was my responsibility…
Enjoy the view as you do those exercises 3X a day! This was the year I would mostly see the inside and outside of my house. I had to find things I could do, read or watch to keep me from that loneliness of not having my pup. My husband returned to work the day after surgery as I managed puttering around with my faithful walker, crutches were of no use to me. I managed to get to the second floor on the surgery day so I did not have to disrupt my life completely. I even used the walker in the shower as an aid to be extra stable. After a couple weeks I progressed to a cane.
I do not think you want to see the scar so I am sharing some more positive images; anything that will make you feel better. This process is major surgery, replacing a whole knee joint, so treat yourself kindly.
I am scarred for life and happy for it:
My left knee is just 11 months old and has healed nicely now. At first the scar looked like a very badly sewn seam with puckers, but rest assured the massaging did help that to flatten. The second scar is much the same but the redness will fade.
I am now walking around without thinking about the pain. Is it as perfect as before? I do think my body is still getting used to the bionic parts so excessive activity or standing will aggravate the knees. I am not ready to return to classroom teaching quite yet as the hours are long and much time is on the feet.
What About Kneeling:
I am looking forward to getting back into some gardening so I had a question for the surgeon; can I kneel? The surgeon said that she does not cut the kneecap (whatever that means) so I am welcome to kneel. She did mention that the sensation is very odd and many people avoid kneeling for that reason.
I am very happy now, no complications and back to walking sometimes 13000 steps a day! I hope my patient perspective give you some insight if you are considering the surgery.
My Range of motion is excellent as the physiotherapist says, which is important for my mobility. I am free from all pain management medication now three months after the surgery!
Well, all-in-all, I am happy with this knee surgery. I’ll admit I was a bit impatient with the healing process so take the time… The surgeries could not fix everything in my life but… I do hope Pip is smiling down on me!
Maybe someday, I will be able to have a sweet sidekick again… and run after him! Enjoy your walks and appreciate all your good body parts!