It's been a while since I've posted any information regarding my knee, the bionic one. March 2009 I was admitted into the hospital for a total knee replacement. http://ftell001.blogspot.com/2009/03/430-am.html#links
The weeks and months following that replacement sent me spiraling through a list of emotions ranging from anxiety pre surgery to relief at having it done post surgery then impatient to get moving again to falling into depression and anger and finally back to being grateful that I had it done but that didn't come about until almost a year post op.
Today I talked to a woman that was 9 days post op. She was anxious about where she should be in her recovery. I knew exactly how she feels. "Slow down, you're doing fine."
I think she felt there was some goal point she should be at by now. I hope our little talk today will carry her through the next three months; at that time she may need another reality check. The best weapon you can have when you enter into this surgery is patience. The hardest thing to acquire is that patience. As the days drag on and you're living with this leg that is weak, scarred and sore, you want the healing to hit a pace that you can recognize as progress. Unfortunately progress is so minute it's barely noticeable until one day you walk without pain, the swelling in the knee has decreased so much that the knee no longer looks like a part that belongs to someone else and you can stride along for long periods of time and the leg doesn't feel fatigued. This won't happen for months and months. Did I mention patience? Initially I would project myself ahead one month and how I would be pain free and moving about freely. My mistake was the time frame being so short. I should have started with a projection of three months minimum. Lessons learned.
There will be days when you worry that others are ahead in their healing and you are lagging. It's different for all of us. Their aches and pains may be different from yours. Your flexion and extension will define your knee. I had trouble with extension. I couldn't get the leg to fully extend so I went from hanging telephone books across it while sitting with the foot propped on the coffee table to sitting on the floor with a pillow across the knee and a 10 lb metal weight resting atop that pillow. I learned very quickly early on to take the medicines prescribed for pain and especially right before I plopped that 10 lb weight on my knee. I would make it through my rehab and then go to bed for a long nap. I slept a lot. I attribute this to the magical meds I swallowed every four hours.
Today I have about 120 to 130 degree flexion on my knee with full extension. Gone is the slight limp. My surgeon was correct when he told me to ease up on all the worrying I was doing. He said "in time and with walking, your leg will eventually get full extension".
I'm not sure exactly when this happened but it did and it was a gradual progression. My surgeon says "your knee is 'functional' meaning I don't have full flexion but I can climb steps, ladders and do most things I could do pre surgery. It is not recommended that I run, or ski and impact sports and activities should be avoided. I'm ok with that.
I ride a bike to keep the knee limber and the leg muscles strong. I've been lax in doing that lately; I plan on getting back to it and get a schedule for riding with the next wave of warmer weather here.
That's my "almost three years" update. I'm still smoke free which happened on the day of my total knee replacement. Almost three years now and I don't crave a cigarette. I'm totally amazed that something I did for so long and was so addicted to is now just a memory. I like to tell people the reason I quit my RN career was my sense of smell is so sensitive now, the odors of a hospital were intolerable.
If you are planning on a TKR or are in the process of recovery, you have my empathy. You will recover. It won't be in a matter of days or a couple of months. Set aside a year to be done with the weird muscle cramps, the nights when there seems to be no position to put it in to sleep and the feelings that you are a prisoner to this surgery. There will be many days when you question your decision to have this done. It's "all normal". Just knowing that other TKRs had the same fears, doubts and emotions was the most helpful thing to getting me through it.
Here's to your decision to have it done and to many years of pain free walking that are in your future.