Things move along pretty quickly with knee replacement surgery, and my situation was no exception.
The surgery previous to mine ended early, so I was hustled along an hour earlier than scheduled. I woke up in my room at 2 p.m. I was home the next day by 2:30 p.m.
That was fine with me. I’m not accustomed to being in a hospital, and in general, I dislike having to have any kind of medical procedure. And the older I get, the crabbier I become. Okay, I can get a bit bitchy.
My first act of rebellion was to divorce the compression sock. I wore it in the hospital and wore it a few days at home. Then it was killing me and I felt like the swelling was worse with the sock on. Went online and read that after a week or so, some people don’t wear the sock to bed at night. I tried that and my leg felt much better by morning. After a consultation with the visiting nurse via phone, she finally said I could go ahead and not wear it if I felt better without it. Done. She was under the impression that I was to wear it until I saw the surgeon in six weeks. Nope. Not happening.
The pain medicines have been another issue: a blessing and a curse. The pain is well controlled, and two weeks in, I’m not using it near as much as I was. I won’t need a refill. That said, I have had no appetite. Nada. Zilch. I have had to force myself to make a simple sandwich, cook some oatmeal, or boil an egg. This will get better.
Important note: If prescribed narcotic meds to control pain after surgery, make sure you have a bottle of Phillips Milk of Magnesia – liquid wild cherry on hand. A different visiting nurse mentioned it the other day after we discussed the side effects of narcotic pain meds. It’s available everywhere. Yesterday I texted friend Lynette to please get me some. Life is now more comfortable.
I’ve made good progress. The visiting nurse has declared the current condition of the knee as “beautiful.” I’ve been walking around my place without the walker and doing some house chores in-between times of elevation and icing of the knee. At-home physical therapy began right away and I will now transition to therapy sessions at PEAK Performance.
Like most people, bending the knee and improving the range of motion is the most difficult part of this healing process for me. I have been dedicated to the exercises, despite my grumbling that it is unrealistic to expect a great deal of improvement with a range of motion during the first week. The physical therapist who is starting me out with exercises at home does not seem pleased or interested in the fact that I, as usual, have done a bit of research about physical therapy for post knee surgery. Once I told him that in 2017, the Mayo Clinic orthopedic department relaxed their expectations for a range of motion during the first few weeks, he became a bit defensive.
“Well, that’s fine if one wants to go through knee manipulation later … and then you’ll be where you are now.”
Kudos to me for keeping my mouth shut. I just told myself, “I see this guy only one more time. Then I move on to regular physical therapy sessions for about six weeks, and it’s THOSE folks who will come to understand that I am completely devoted to doing all required exercises to the point of discomfort, but not to the point of pain. Period.
What brought me to this kind of thinking was a website I came across doing my research: Bonesmart. It hosts various forums for folks facing or recovering from hip, knee, and shoulder replacements. I learned a lot reading through various information packets and reading posts from people and the replies they received. The main thing I learned is that there are varying theories and practices concerning physical therapy for post knee replacement. So I approach the next phase of physical therapy with a bit of caution.
My new physical therapist will come to understand that I am not a gymnast rushing to get back onto the beam. I’m a grandma who wants to enjoy long walks again and garden without concern about my knee giving out. I will do what I am told to the degree that it makes sense to me and does not cause a pain level that makes me wince. There are some therapy practices I may refuse because I have read that they are controversial.
I expect to be living in pandemic quarantine for at least another year; thus, strong, steady progress is my goal.