My first week after Knee Replacement Surgery

Week 1 – Post Knee Replacement Surgery

I do not want to dissuade anyone who has decided upon or is considering knee replacement surgery, but week 1 was very long indeed.  I’m sure one of the big questions is…how much does it hurt? That all depends on your body’s make-up, how much pain medication you take, and how much you are moving around.  The truth of it is that ..it hurts a good amount and I wouldn’t want to do this without pain meds.

I was at the surgery center for just about 24 hours – on 11/9/17 my surgery started at 9:01am (that’s about the last thing I remember) and my doctor tells me  that it lasted for 100 minutes with the ConforMIS knee implant.  I elected to have a nerve block and other sedative drugs instead of a general anesthesia.  My anesthesiologist asked if I wanted (the drug equivalent to) “a nice glass of chardonnay” and I said “bring on the whiskey”.  That is all she wrote.

When I came to, I didn’t feel too fuzzy headed.  You can see the whole day of pre-op, pictures and videos during the surgery, and post-op progress in the previous blogpost.

Once home, the first couple of days were a blur.  I spent them in and out of sleep on our pull-out sofa (our bedroom is upstairs and I wasn’t interested in attacking stairs just yet).  My doctor and physical therapist both said that I could choose walker or crutches as long as I felt balanced.  I chose crutches – after all, I own a pair and sadly, they are 2nd nature to me.

DAY 1 FRIDAY

Pain stays at about a level “3” out of 10

The 1st day home (I left the hospital at about 8:30am),  by noon, my foot was still numb and I had no sensation on the front of my shin.  The rest of my leg has “woken up.”

At about 2pm, I had a visit from the home Physical Therapist who wanted to make sure I could get around, our home was safe, and that I could begin to do the exercises.

The 6 starter exercises included (all while on a bed)

  1. Ankle Pumps (flex and extend)
  2. Quad Sets (with extended on bed, contract and release quad muscles while pressing knee straight)
  3. Glute Squeezes (with legs extended, contract and release your butt)
  4. Heel Slides (flex knee: slide heel toward butt)
  5. Short Arc Quad (leg extensions with a towel under the knee while sitting on bed)
  6. Straight Leg Raises (lift 10-12” from bed)

DAY 2 & 3 SATURDAY & SUNDAY

– Pain level 3 out of 10

Saturday = shower day!  And I got to unwrap my knee.  I declined the PT returning to our house to help me with that because I’m not squeemish about that sort of thing.

The bruising is coming to the surface and draining with gravity.  Check out my ankle – it looks badly bruised but is not.  My thigh is bruised as well and my whole leg feels tender to the touch.

Pain medication is important.  On the very first night at the hospital, I went a little too long between pain med doses and got a taste of the extreme discomfort – like someone had just sawed on my knee.  Oh, that’s right, they had!  I decided not to make that mistake again and set the timer to stay on top of taking my pain meds regularly.

With those pain meds, my level of critical thought and concentration is at about cartoon level.  Reading?  2 pages.  Magazines?  Flip through and look at pictures.  Movies?  Too hard to follow the story line.  Ah-ha – I can watch TV shows on Amazon Prime or Netflix.  My favorites:  Outlander – I’ve seen them all.  So now I am starting on Downton Abbey – from the beginning.  That ought to keep me amused between naps.

NAPS – there are a lot of them.  Sleep is when the body does its best healing, so I welcome my naps.  My leg is swollen, I do not have a big range of motion yet, and I’m just very tired.

DAY 4 MONDAY

Pain level 3 of 10

I feel like I’m coming out of the fog a little bit – starting to spread out the pain meds from every 3 hours to every 4.  Still lots of naps, TV, and I actually finished a home project of compiling our family recipes for a cookbook for my son.  Sent it off to the printer!

Physical Therapy came again today and added a few challenges to my exercises.  I was able to accept these additional exercises because I came in to the surgery strong.

While standing:

  • Toe Raises (both feet)
  • Knee Raise (hip flexor)
  • Heel lift (hamstring curl – this is very tough)
  • Side leg raise (both legs, so I bare weight on surgery leg)
  • And WALKING without crutches! WOW!

I really did not expect to take any unaided steps so soon.  This is good news!  I am concentrating on making “normal” steps – not lurching about.  My whole leg is sensitive to touch – like it is all badly bruised.  Actually, bruising is now coming to surface and has drained to my ankle (actually now a swollen cankle)

DAY 5  TUESDAY

Pain level 4 for most of day… 8 at night.

Still a lot of TV.  I tried to do some serious reading and that lasted about 20 minutes…I just need to cool my jets.  I was able to do some basic planning for a quilt I’m sewing for my son’s graduation from college.

During the PT appointment we added:

  • ½ squats
  • Stair step-ups – I am thankful that I my pre-hab training included step ups. Learning the right way to do it – pull through your hips/glutes, not push through your quads- made all the difference.  I don’t think I could have done this one yet without my training.

Maybe its because I was up and walking, no crutches, more today than any other day….toward the evening my whole leg started feeling really bad.  Sensitive to the touch.  When I tried to get comfortable to go to sleep, there was no position that didn’t cause pain just by pressure against my skin.  Pain meds didn’t seem to work.  My leg seemed more swollen and I worried that something was wrong all night.  Not much sleep – pain at 8 of 10.

 

DAY 6  WEDNESDAY

starting pain level 7 – under control to a 3 of 10 for rest of day

My whole leg hurts which does not motivate me to do much.  I am suspicious of the swelling – seems like my upper thigh has a lot of fluid.  I will check this with the PT when they arrive.  I am crabby and in pain.  Of course I want to jump to some conclusions, but the PT really thought that I had done a little more than I should have yesterday. That’s all.

It did not seem like I did all that much – just repeated the exercises given by my PT and walked some without crutches.  I’m not talking far – from the family room to the kitchen and back – a few times.

I must remember that I’ve had a rather disruptive surgery and it will take quite some time to heal.  I’m surprised my energy is so low today.

Watched a lot of Downton Abbey – that says it all.

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Unabashed Plea…

Many people have asked how they can help me (thank you!) and I’ve thought of something very important…help the Arthritis Foundation find a cure for arthritis.

If you have enjoyed following my journey, have learned something along the way, please consider any size donation.  I’ve set up a special page…

Arthritis Foundation Robin’s Donation Page

http://www.jbr.org/bellingham/RobinHealthyKnees

OR

your can join my Jingle Bell Team “Robin’s Reindeer” – you can Jingle in your Jammies if you cannot join us for the walk on December 9, 2017.  We’d love to have you on the team!

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