I have had a hard week this week. My knee is hurting (although different than pre-op pain). I still can’t drive (still on pain meds). I am feeling very alone in this process. Now I need to figure out what has brought on this whining and figure out where to go from here.
I didn’t sleep very well last night. I got into bed about 0130 this morning and woke up around 0430. I then went to go sleep on the couch. I did something different last night thinking that it would help. I put on my cryo-cuff prior to going to bed. I thought that if I could keep the swelling down during the night, when I woke up in the morning, things wouldn’t be as sore. Well, that proved to be an incorrect theory. I got up at 4:30am this morning and brought my leg out of the CPM machine and off the edge of the bed. Immediately the swelling returned as well as the pain. I ended up going to sleep on the couch just to try a different position. Sigh.
Going through a TKR surgery is not easy. Nobody said it would be. In fact, everyone said the exact opposite. So why am I surprised at my results? That is because I have set the bar at a super high level for myself and I have not learned how to give myself a break. Let’s think about what has really happened here. 12 days ago I had surgery on my right knee. Saying “surgery” does not really do what I had done justice. What really happened is I had the bottom of my femur amputated, the top of my tibia amputated, and the backside of my patella shaved. When I look at it as it really is, I believe I have every right to be in pain.
I did a lot of praying last night. I need patience with myself and my progress. Speaking of progress, let me lay it out so far:
- I am using the walker on a very limited basis. I have moved to using a single crutch most of the time.
- I can get my leg to fully extend and even get it to hyper-extend slightly.
- I have a bend of about 105 degrees.
- It only takes me about 2 minutes to warm up on the stationary bicycle before I can do a complete revolution. It took me 3.5 minutes at the beginning of the week.
- I can do my single leg raises without any assistance as of yesterday. Prior to that, I had to have the therapist (or a towel if I was at home) to raise my leg.
- I can do toe raises with no problems and I am even able to do calf stretches on the edge of the stairs now.
- I am down from taking 2 Percocets every 4 hours to taking 1 Percocet every 4 hours.
- I can do my assigned exercises 4 times a day now.
I recommend this process to everyone who has a TKR surgery. List out your progress so you can see it. Looking at this list just now helped me realize that I am making progress. Don’t let people tell you what you will and will not be able to do at any time. Yes, having a surgery like this is a major event. Do not go into it uninformed. Set goals for yourself, but make sure you let yourself modify those goals as you move through the process. I had to realign my goals several times and I am still in the process of evaluating future goals. It is a never ending process. Some things are going to come a bit easier for you than they did for me. Some things will be easier for me than they are for you. That does not mean that you are better than me or I am better than you. We are all individuals and we all heal differently. Do not judge your progress by my progress. This is NOT a competition. This is a healing process. I made the decision to have this surgery because of the constant pain I was in. Yes, I am in pain now. The difference is that I know this pain will go away whereas the pain I had before was only getting worse.
I have a right to be sore and maybe even feel a little sorry for myself. 🙂 I even have the right to give up…if that is what I want to do. However, I DO NOT GIVE UP. So there. Take that. 😉 I am going to continue to move forward. I am going to continue to do my exercises and celebrate my achievements, no matter how small they may seem. Most importantly, I have the right to heal at the rate my body deems necessary. I am only 12 days post-op from major surgery. I am doing well and I am going to keep getting better and better every day.
Now, I don’t know if anyone is reading this or if anyone ever will. I would like to think someone does read this and that someone is getting ready to go through the same surgery. So, I’d like to go over a few things that you will need or should consider getting prior to your surgery. The first thing I recommend getting is a toilet seat riser with handle bars on the side. What is a toilet seat riser? It attaches to your toilet seat to give you an extra 3-6 inches of height on your toilet. Why would you need this? You are going to be very sore when you come home and the last thing you want to do is figure out how to get on/off the toilet when you have to go. My toilet sits higher than most as I have had bad knees for years and bought a higher toilet to begin with. However, getting into and up from a sitting position is not easy after all the work that was done on your knee. Trust me…get one…you will not regret it.
The other thing to think about getting is a tub transfer bench. Now, if you don’t have a tub and just have a shower, then I recommend getting a chair for your shower. Standing up is a challenge during your first week at home…even the 2nd and the 3rd weeks. You will notice that your knee starts to swell almost immediately. So, having something safe to sit on in the shower is a relief. I have a tub. I could have just gotten a regular tub chair, but there is one downside to that. Getting into and out of the tub is challenging at first. Lifting your leg over the edge of the tub is sometimes painful. If you get a transfer bench, half of the bench is inside the tub, the other half is outside the tub. You can then sit on the edge of the bench and slowly scoot around and use a towel or your other leg to help move your sore leg over the edge of the tub. I have a small bathroom so I have been using my left foot to lift my right foot up to toilet set and then I can slide it from there to the edge of the tub. After that it is pretty easy. I had a lateral release done on both knees years ago and I learned my lesson from there. Please learn this lesson from me and get you a transfer bench. You can ask your surgeon to write you a prescription for it and hopefully your insurance or your FSA/HSA will help take care of the cost. If not, it is still worth it.
I’d like to also recommend that you keep a towel by your bed where you can easily reach it. No, that for sweating, but to help you lift your leg from the floor to the top of your mattress. This is no easy feat to begin with. You will get stronger over time, but give yourself some help in the beginning. Now, if you have a big dog that can help, I suppose that would work, but that takes a lot of training. The only thing my little dog likes to do with my feet is do the “butt dance” and that doesn’t make me feel very good. 🙂 If you don’t know what the butt dance is, just go love on a dog and scratch their back. Their hind legs start doing a little dance of their own as the scratching feels good to them and they get a little happy. LOL! The towel…yes, the towel. Fold it in half and put it around the bottom of your foot. Then use your arms to lift your leg to the bed. It really does help. If you want a good core work out, just use your good leg to do the same thing. Put your good foot under the foot of your sore knee and left. Great for the abs. 🙂
Please do your exercises as often as you can. The more you can do them, the stronger your knee will get and the more independent you will become. They are not fun and they are not easy, but they are definitely worth it.
If you have any questions, please let me know. I don’t have all the answers, but sometimes it helps to talk to someone who knows what you are going through (or about to go through).