Monday, August 12, 2013

Knee update

I've been remiss in documenting what's been going on vis-a-vis my knee replacements. Some of that can beplaced at the altar of pain medication but a good deal has to do with boredom. Not that progress hasn't been made, mind you, but it's slow and incremental at best. Here's what's happened over the last four weeks.

Four weeks ago today I checked into the Corning Hospital and underwent double (“bi-lateral”) knee replacement. I’ve had the procedure described as being more akin to carpentry than fine needlework. Saws, hammers, glue, staples, screws—all come into play with lots of enthusiastic swinging and impact. I wouldn’t know as I was, thankfully, out completely during the four-plus hours.

I do know that the initial recovery was painful. Very painful. Understandable when you think about it. Not only did they cut through the muscle, the pried them far apart inducing sprains and strains from the groin to the ankle. Then they sawed off the ends of both the thigh and shin bones, hammered and glued the prosthesis in place and then brought the knee cap and muscles back into position.

I was standing the first night. Walking a short distance the second day and moved to rehab on the third day. That’s when the physical therapy/torture started.

Stretching, bending the joints and rebuilding the muscle strength under the care of two young ladies at St. Joseph’s went on for a week. I learned to walk, first with a walker and then a cane. I climbed stairs. I picked up objects from the floor. I worked on balance and just standing for a period of time. I learned how to get into and out of a bath tub. (Not as easy as it sounds when you can’t lift your foot more than a few inches off the ground. Hence the bench to slide in and out of the tub. That also helped train me to get in and out of a car.)

The staples came out two weeks after surgery and I was discharged to go home the next day. PT did not stop, however. Three days a week I go to Elite in Mansfield for two-plus hours. I get to ride the stationary bike for 10 minutes to loosen things up. (My bike has a larger pedal radius and forces a bend that my left knee complains about. Riding it will have to wait until I can get a few more degrees of bend in that left knee.) Stretching and bending continue. In addition, I do some stretching and bending and muscle building on my own at home. Twice a day. I also walk the deck. Two hundred yards at a time. My walking gait is pretty close to normal on that flat surface. Not fast, mind you, but steady. I’ll be doubling the distance this week.

The knees are responding differently to the surgery and recovery. The left knee is not bending as well and has sharp, knife-like pain on the inside when I pull my heel toward my butt using the cats’ leash. The right is bending 5 to 10 degrees more and has no real sharp pain just a swelling and tautness that I can feel being stretched as I force the bending.

I’ve already scheduled six more sessions at Elite over the next two weeks and, despite the pain, I really look forward to those sessions and the progress I’m making. I’ve heard predictions regarding recovery from bi-lateral knee surgery that range anywhere from two months to a year of pain. Right know I’d be happy if I was relatively pain free by Halloween.


Over the course of the surgery, two weeks in the hospital/rehab, continued physical rehab at home and at Elite, and being on pain meds for the duration, my appetites has changed considerably. This has resulted in the loss of almost 20 pounds. Mornings I get on the scale and see 204 or 205 staring back at me. I haven't weighed that little in quite some time. I'm hoping to drop a few more pounds and get south of the Mendoza line for the first time since...oh...probably 1967/68 when I gained those "freshmen five" at Rutgers.


Terry will be flying out to Portland, Oregon the end of the week for our DIL’s baby shower. She’ll leave on Thursday and return Monday. She’s been my chauffeur for hospital and therapy sessions. (I can’t drive until cleared by my surgeon. Hopefully that will happen on Monday, August 19th.)


Rev. Paul said...

I'm pleased to hear that it's going so well. I do understand your desire for it to go even faster, though.

Sounds like all is well. That's a good thing!

threecollie said...

Hope your recovery continues uneventfully and you soon feel fine. Take care!