Friday, December 3, 2010


I'm dusting the cobwebs off of this blog to record my progress after Total Knee Replacement surgery. This is day 14. There's light at the end of the tunnel. Wish I had thought of blogging about this sooner, because I'm sure to forget a lot of what I've gone through. I think the mind does that to protect itself, because a vivid memory of those first few days would probably discourage me from ever having the second knee done.

What I remember:
Day 1-Woke up in recovery area. Not in pain. A bit later I tell the nurse that I feel bad...VERY bad. She asks if I'm nauseous. I don't know...feeling worse by the second. She hands me a container in case I get sick. Next thing I know, there are twenty people around me, calling my name, getting ready to "bag" me. I dropped the container and passed out. Heart rate dropped to 20 bpm. Thankfully I came back on my own, but that was scary, very scary. Once more I had that bad, bad feeling and my heart rate began to drop, but again I recovered on my own. These events caused me to be placed in a room on the telemetry unit, where my heart rate was monitored constantly.

Anesthesiologist thought that perhaps it was the nerve block meds that were causing the problem, so it was discontinued. They were still able to manage my pain pretty well without it.

Day 2-Now, I had another problem. Every time I would exert myself in the least (like sit on side of the bed or stand up with PT) my heart rate would jump to 150 and up. This would cause the nurses to come running to check on me. And I was tired...very, very tired. Turns out I had lost a lot of blood during surgery. A normal occurrence with knee replacement.

Days 3 & 4-Working with PT, learned to walk with a walker. Knee extremely swollen. Drainage normal. Still tired and hematocrit not rising. (Duh...with all the fluids I was receiving, it would stand to reason!)

Finally (and it took 4 days to decide this), it was determined that I needed two replacement units of blood. Since receiving blood is not without its own risks, they try not to have to resort to it. But after taking iron pills for three days, and then off the IV, hematocrit was the same. (Before surgery around 38. After surgery dropping to low 20s.)

Day 5-Going home. Took an ungodly amount of time to actually get a wheelchair and cart to take me out. But what a relief. Home at last. And I'm sure Tommy was even more relieved as he had spent each night and every day with me. We both relished being able to sleep in our own bed, sleep being a misnomer for me. I would see every hour on the clock. Not used to sleeping on my back, keeping my knee straight, I was MOST uncomfortable.

Day 6-Home health nurse, followed by PT. Gave myself my first Lovenox injection (to be given each day for 20 days to prevent blood clots). Later that evening, the bruising on my leg looked so much worse! Heel to thigh bruising. I called the nurse and asked for her advice. She didn't remember seeing that much bruising earlier, so off we the ER...just to make sure everything was OK. After some blood work, they determined that it was a normal (albeit more pronounced than usual) result of the surgery. Blood that had leaked into the tissues was spreading out just underneath the skin of my thigh and calf.

Thanksgiving Day-Tommy cooked a turkey, brought it to my parents' house where the family was gathering, and brought us back the works. Yum! Probably one of the first times I have been hungry since surgery. My appetite was back.


Nancy Thomas said...

Oh Madeline - how scary. So sorry you had to go through all that when the TKR surgery alone was more than enough to cope with. I hope you are feeling better now and are well on your way to healing.

scrapper al said...

Sorry to hear you had to have surgery. I hope there aren't any more bumps in your recovery and you're ready to dance around the Christmas tree on the 25th.