I’ve listened to many versions, heard conflicting stories and vividly remember Dr. Carpenter’s wise words: “the first 2 weeks are pretty uncomfortable and I wouldn’t make any big plans for 2 months following surgery.” One friend breezed through knee replacement and said between week 2 & 3 suddenly the pain was gone. Another recent joint recipient has been told multiple times wait until you hit the 6 month mark, you’ll be thrilled how good you feel. I fall somewhere in between. No, I haven’t actually fallen.
I just passed the one month date post surgery and I’m feeling pretty good. It all started to come together when I hit the 4 week mark during physical therapy. The day I forgot I was still recovering from major surgery. Went grocery shopping at Meijer, making my way through the store using the grocery cart as a walking tool. Stopped home to put the cold stuff away, then made our way to Chelsea Wellness Center for my therapy session, still using a cane.
Therapy is hard work. My muscles quiver under the strain of trying new ways to make my weak legs stronger. And yes I said legs, not just the one sporting a nifty new joint. In 4 short weeks both legs seem to have suffered losing some strength. I notice it when I’m coming up a flight of steps, using my stronger leg first, then bringing up my surgical leg. My left leg is quite a bit weaker than it was before surgery-on the other leg! I dunno why, but many of my exercises include both legs so it must be a common denominator after knee replacement.
After therapy, we stop for a sandwich (my first time in a restaurant) then head to Shannon’s house. She routinely picks up Jovi (our 2 year old fabulous great granddaughter) from daycare early and we usually stop to visit them. Jovi has played a pivotal role in my rehabilitation. I didn’t see her for almost 2 weeks after surgery, fearing she might accidentally hurt me (or be freaked out about it). Well neither has been the case. Shannon and Ari talked to Jovi about grandma’s hurt leg several times prepping her first visit. She’s been just awesome about, “my gamma’s boo-boo.” She wasn’t quite sure about the purple bruises on my leg but the incision was a breeze. After greeting me, she gathers up a fleece blanket and pillow, walks over to me gently pushes up my sweats to see how much healing has progressed. “Gamma’s boo-boo,” she says reverently, softly placing a pillow and blanket over the incision. “Read book,” she asks as she runs to pick out her favorite. Carefully climbing on my lap, via my left leg, we read the same book until she grows weary of it, while constantly monitoring that the pillow and blankey stay put on my boo-boo. Yes, nurse Jovi Nightingale has been a huge part of my healing process success.
Departing my favorite nurse/caregiver (Jovi and Hubs are tied for offering the most assistance) we head to Ann Arbor to watch 9 year old grandson Graham in his little league game. I’m nervous about walking on the uneven grounds of the ball field and sitting in a collapsable chair but neither turn out to be as scary as I thought. There’s a slight incline getting back to the Jeep so I grab Hubs arm. The game ends in a tie (dang it) and we are homeward bound. But it’s been 8 hours without an ice pack, Tylenol or putting my leg up and I’m exhausted.
I pay for it during the night. Fitful, restless, can’t find a comfortable position for my leg. On my back, turn on my side, now the other side, flip onto my back again. Finally get up about 3, take half a pain pill, get an ice pack and spend the rest of the night in a recliner. I don’t feel very rested in the morning but there’s a definite change as I walk. I don’t know what you call it but it’s the last part of my step. It’s just easier to finish each step. The part where I glide (ha-ha-not-hardly) from the heel of my foot to the ball suddenly feels like I’m doing both feet uniformly.
I was itching/antsy/ to start driving again. Hubs didn’t think I was ready after 4 long, miserable weeks as passenger in my own Jeep. (He actually looks for the first available spot in the parking lot. Yikes, who does that? No car I’ve ever driven in the last 30 years has ever been so close to the store I’m trying to spend money in. It’s just not the way I roll. I park far, far away). I swing my right leg to & fro, back and forth and insist driving will not be a problem. He finally relents and lets me drive easily and happily to buy us an ice cream cone. Funny, I’ve not driven since but plan a stop to Meijer soon and he won’t have to accompany me and wait during physical therapy anymore. Yay, me.
Haven’t used my cane for a couple days either. My balance seems some better probably because my steps are more sure footed. I still will take the cane when I leave home. So I’m hopeful the worst is behind me, and happy if this is as bad as post surgery gets. Except for the not being able to sleep part, which I haven’t figured out yet. Why I have so much drama during the night is still troublesome. I’ve tried different methods, aids and supplements to no avail. Sleep has not been my friend since I hit menopause almost 20 years ago, but sleep now seems to be public enemy # 1. A big part of my lack of sleep is feeling so disjointed in the morning. I’ve been a morning person forever. Mornings are when I’m engaged and ready to tackle what needs to be done or fixed. But my motor is slow to start these early mornings because I feel out of sync. Instead of showering by 9, I listlessly mope my way through the AM, trying to ignite my normal spark. I know I’ll feel better after I shower and make the bed, but part of me is still on downtime when it’s really my uptime.
I never really was very inquisitive about the actual surgery-makes me kind of nauseous thinking about what has to be done when getting a new joint. First I asked why my thigh hurt worse than the knee or incision? Answer was, that’s where the tourniquet was. One of my therapists asked if I knew what exactly happens during surgery? “Um, no I don’t.” When he used the word, “Sawzall,” I was grateful to be sitting down in a chair at the time. Had I been laying on one of those gurney thingy’s, he would have soon found me on the floor…