Week 2 Post-Op
I won’t recount each day (because its all a blur of walking a little, icing a lot, and doing my PT exercises), but I’ll give you the highlights of WEEK #2 Post Op…
If your doctor gives you the option to DO or NOT DO physical therapy, always choose DO. My doctor, for whom I have great respect, always gives me that option (I wish he would urge ALL of his patients to go to PT). Sure, I know a ton about appropriate exercises, but I am a bad judge of me. I will always push it too hard and try things that perhaps I’m not ready for.
For my outpatient PT, that’s exactly what happened. I am working with Ted Molasky at Fyzical Therapy and Balance Center. Ted reminded me that he saw me after one of my surgeries 30 years ago and recommended that I get into bike riding. Wow! I totally had forgotten that I had seen Ted way back then (he must have been fresh out of PT school!)
Ted had wise advice that I think is probably appropriate for all knee replacement patients: For the first 2 weeks, work on Range of Motion, not weight bearing – strength exercises. It is most important to reduce swelling and increase movement. (My MISTAKE -well, it was my in-home PT’s mistake – was to start me on strength exercises while I was still so swollen. That wasn’t the best choice. I was certainly strong enough to do them, but my body wasn’t ready for that yet.)
Anyway, the very exciting thing is that at the end of week 2, I have been allowed to ride a recumbent bike for 5 minutes! It doesn’t sound like much, but that means I’m regaining my range of motion and getting closer to my beloved 2 wheels.
Since about day 3 post-op, I’ve had a lump below my knee to the medial side of my tibial tuberosity that has been pretty painful. When I saw Dr. Thorpe on Friday (day 8 post-op) last week, he thought it was excess fluid. I’ve got a red spot at the bottom of the incision that seems to be getting bigger and redder, and so I went to see him Monday (day 11 post-op). He wasn’t so concerned about the red spot, saying that many people will see that at the bottom of the incision, but he was more interested in the lump. He went to drain it and only blood came out. So instead of it being excess swelling, it was identified as a hematoma. The rest of my knee seems to be doing well – swelling is getting less – but this area of the hematoma is quite painful.
My belly is rebelling against ibuprofen, so my 3X/day regiment of 800 mg + 1000 mg acetaminophen has to stop. I can keep going with the acetaminophen (Tylenol), but it doesn’t quite give the same relief as the combo.
I pretty much only use the narcotic pain killers at night so that I can sleep a little better. I usually wake up between 1 – 2am and pop another pain killer to get me through the rest of the night. I sleep with a stack of pillows to elevate my knee (being careful to keep my leg straight, not bent) and a smaller pillow to put between my knees when I lie on my side.
I have no ethical problem with taking the right amount of medication to keep my pain levels at about a “3” on the scale of 1 – 10. I’ll go for the heavier stuff when pain reaches above “5”.
I’m feeling better every day and can do a little more. My knee swelling is improving. I’m working hard to maintain the 0 degrees (straight) and to improve my flexion. It is still slow and I don’t have my normal levels of energy. I return to work half-time next week – wish me luck!