How are my New Knees after Surgery?

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…

hospital day surgery unit knee replacement

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

sad loss of pet in last year

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’.

Xray before surgery, narrowing of space

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 triathlon

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.

new knee in xray

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.

Day surgery unit for knee replacement

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.

knee replacement surgery, bandaged knee

Day Surgery:

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.

knee replacement surgery, cryotherapy, ossur

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.

knee replacement surgery, cryotherapy, ossur

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).

knee replacement surgery, staying home

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.

knee replacement surgery, staying home

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…

knee replacement surgery, in your own backyard

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.

knee replacement surgery, stp to smell the roses

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.

knee replacement surgery scar well healed

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.

knee replacement surgery - can't wait to walk

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.

knee replacement surgery - enjoy what is close at hand

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.

enjoy the backyard

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!

after knee replacement surgery, be a pet owner again

I’m Happy!

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!

after surgery - get a dog again

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!

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48 Comments

  1. Thank you for your story. Thank you for the strength and words of wisdom that you shared. I needed that. My hear aches (pip) and rejoices ( new knees)for you. Stay strong and please never stop sharing 💕

    1. Oh, I hope to keep sharing… I’ve found my ‘calling’ as they say. I appreciate all that let me know there are real people out there, it’s so heart warming.

      1. My husband went through two knee surgeries in the last year and a half also. He is slowly doing better day by day. We also have a black and white Havanese! Her name is Petunia, and she is a bit over three years old. She is my husband’s dog. They are inseparable! She’s funny and so animated…..we adore her. She has helped my husband so much in his recovery. When you think you might be ready to help another puppy/adult Havanese make it in this world…..go for it!!!!! Dogs make life so joyful and easier to handle! I am still plugging along with my cement projects. At the moment I am making a 6 foot Giraffe for out in my flower gardens. When you cement something, and then paint it, or not paint it, what do you use as an exterior sealer/waterproofer. No matter what I read on the internet, no one truly agrees on certain products. It is so confusing. Take care……Janice in northern Minnesota, near the Canadian border…..

        1. Oh wow, so much in common! Yes, the Havanese are the best! 6 Feet Tall? That sounds like quite the undertaking! You get my imagination going! Sealing is a subject that has many opinions. I see all the driveways that are sealed and then fail over time. Paint will eventually fail over time too depending the conditions. I generally do not seal mine as I like the look of ‘patina-ed’ concrete. Minimal colour application works nice since it won’t be so obvious when it starts to fail… Happy concreting!

          1. I will send pictures when my Giraffe gets along a bit. Think about Havanese puppies…..it will make your life so fulfilled! Grin

          2. Oh, I have been! The one problem with them is they are so attached to their ‘person’ though and I would have great stress whenever I would leave him since I knew he was so sad…

  2. Barb,
    I’m so happy for you that you had your surgery and you are now able to be more mobile without pain. I am personally dealing with that with both knees and doing farm work has been very difficult for more than three years now. This is something I am hoping in the future that I can have done. It’s just very difficult finding someone to care for the animals.

    I am truly sorry about your little pal. I know how painful it is. Trust me! There always seems to be a hole in my heart for my Molly, but I know that someday she will meet me and is waiting for me. They are like family and are always there for us and love us no matter what. There is a lot of dogs just waiting out there for someone like you to share their lives with that are in great need of a good home. They never replace each other, but all have a special love to give to us. Thanks for sharing this experience with all of us.

  3. I’m not supposed to say this, but “I know how you feel”. I lost my precious Scarlett just 3 weeks ago. She was 3-1/2 pounds, with only 3 legs and 13-1/2 years old. I think I’m
    cried out and then it comes back in waves. We will hold on tight to the wonderful memories of such good times with our loyal companions. Your knees will heal sooner than your heart. Eventually we’ll all be back together. Love to you. Thank you for sharing both your art and your compassion. Susan

    1. It’s nice to know so many share this as I feel somewhat embarrassed crying all the time; a grown woman, grandma. ‘And yes,, the knees healed faster!

  4. Hello;
    First off I am very sorry for the loss of your sweet Pip. Losing a pet is truly horrible.
    I had my right knee replaced almost 8 years ago. it has been a slow progression but it has become very stiff. Scar tissue I think. Quite painful if I bend it too much. My left is now bone on bone and my pain level has increased dramatically in the last few months. Hope yours continue to do well. It is not fun
    Cindy

    1. Oh no! Will you get the next one done? I think the worst part was when the first was pretty healed and the next hurt so much since it had to do double duty for a while; the extra few months wait were awful. Thanks for the insight

  5. Hi Barb, I am sorry for the loss of your beloved pup. I know the feeling well. I had a cat of almost 20 yrs and when he died it ripped my heart in two. Take time to mourn, it is losing family no matter what some think and it takes time. When you are ready another will find you and bury into your heart again 🙂 Don’t worry about the crying that comes on all of a sudden, that is normal your body and soul are healing and crying is a way of mending both and getting rid of harmful emotion. I know, it sounds crazy but it is true. Learn to pamper yourself and go slowly when I had my neck operated on the Dr. told me one thing that made me stop and really listen, he said, you have a 50 / 50 chance of me not going in there again and putting steel. You ride a motorcycle and if you want to continue with that you have to listen to me. I did. I am 70 yrs old and after I have my lower back surgery I will hopefully ride again. About your scar, it is beautiful. This sounds nuts I know but it is. The Dr. that operated on you and your manipulating of the scar afterwards made it look great. It may not disappear totally but in time it will fade. Take your time with healing life has not come to a halt it is just on pause for a moment. After you have done what you are supposed to do to heal you will be happy you slowed your self down. I know the feelings you have. I am the most stubborn person in my world and I taught myself to take care of me while healing. It ain’t easy but it is doable and you will be better for it all around. Bless you Barb and best wishes from the bottom of my heart.

    1. Oh such a nice note! I thought I was the most stubborn! I am a coward though so no motorcycles for me. Yes, often others do not understand when there is pain and only want to direct you to medication. Some comforting would also be great. You go girl!!!

      1. I now induct you Barb, of the magical imagination into the society of “Stubbornness”. This is a very exclusive group of people and if you have a mate they are included because it is not easy to live in the world of Stubborn. They are very, very special people as you are. Blessings and congratulations. Your medal is in the mail lol.

  6. Dear Barb,

    Thank you for your honest, heart felt testimony. I , too, lost my beloved Coco last December due to a very aggressive brain tumor. It has taken buckets of tears, and much time, but I can (sometimes) talk about her without the tears coming. I am looking forward to getting a new puppy sometime in the fall. There is some fear about giving my heart away, again, but the idea of never loving a dog again, is worse. Whenever we open ourselves up to love, we also must be open to loss. The joy is worth it, though…I hope you find your next Pal soon.

    1. So sorry to hear that but I understand completely, as here come the waterworks again. The Havanese breed make one person their’s so leaving him for a vacation was so traumatic for me. I’ll have to see… Best wishes for a new pup.

  7. Thank you so much for this perspective, you have no idea how much this reassures me. Your usual step by step approach to issues also doesn’t leave anything out, so I can assess the factual state and know the likely time frame for recovery. A brave and bold blog which I am sure many will appreciate. All the best wishes I send for your full recovery. Doreen

  8. Hi again Barb, I forgot to mention your manipulation of your X-Rays :). Superimposing them over fall leafed trees is genius. I happen to like X-Rays and skeletons and stuff like that and I would take those pictures and frame them. To me very beautiful.

  9. Hi Barb
    I am looking at knee surgery within the next 2 months. Your description of replacement was very reassuring. I know it is painful and requires a lot of PT and moving. Like you, I am not going to give in to rocking chair. Thanks for sharing all of this.
    I also have lost several pets. They are some of our closest family members. It is so emotional, but I wouldn’t be without a pet. I need one as much as one needs me.

    1. Oh good luck! I’m in Canada so it may be a bit different. My fear was the anesthetic since there is some family history. I wanted to be awake but hearing a saw and hammer did not appeal. The Spinal and whatever they put in IV was better for me than a complete knockout. I opened my eyes and asked why the clock was an hour ahead and they said – you’re done! It was such a good wake-up, legs still needed to unfreeze though. Give yourself the time to heal…