Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Learning How To Walk

Actually, I'm RE-learning how to walk...correctly. And it isn't as easy as it sounds! My natural tendency is to protect that "new" knee by landing on it bent. Which is not good. But it's scary pushing it back and locking it when you step! It feels like I have no control and it's just going to fly back without stopping. It's the quad muscle that needs some serious strengthening. Where my muscle tone went, I just don't know. Before surgery, I attended some really tough spinning classes and I had great muscle tone. But it's gone AWOL. So I'm taking baby steps again...and pushing that knee back.

Today's therapy session was really pretty good. A different physical therapist was there to monitor my activities and he gave me lots of good advice. And pushed me hard! But that's all good, because I achieved 123 degrees bending of my knee. The next goal-130. Ouch. I'll get there eventually. :)

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Shopping Date

Today we did something different. Tommy and I spent the day together, without kids! Since he has off until after the New Year, and I am walking well, we decided to go shopping. After dropping Kevin off at school, we went to Target. Bought a few presents and headed to the other anchor store of the mall, Sears. Bought a few presents there too...and priced refrigerators. (Our fridge is on its last leg. It sounds like someone drilling when the compressor goes on. We had the repairman out and American Home Shield decided that they will pay what it would cost to repair it, over $600, if we want to replace it.) We really liked a 26 Sq ft. side by side by Whirlpool, but we didn't buy it yet. (Have to shop around!) Then it was time for a little rest, and treat, at Starbucks. Yum...I love their passion iced tea! Finally, it was time to head on over to the biggest and most dreaded mall. Found a spot close to the elevators at Penney's. Struck out on a suit for Tommy and new lampshades, but we did buy a few other gifts. Next, we drove over to the furniture place, Comeaux's. We're still trying to get the coffee table that we ordered. Went upstairs and drooled over the piece I want to buy next to act as our TV stand. (It's actually a media chest that goes with a bedroom set, but it's GORGEOUS and would be the piece de resistance in our family room!) Then it was time for lunch. Like a real date! Just the two of us. Adult only conversation. It was wonderful. After lunch we headed BACK to the mall and went to my favorite smelling place...Hollister's. LOL! I LOVE their fragrances. Bought a couple things there, and a GC for my niece. Then, before you know it, it was time to pick up Kevin from school! Where did the time go? Still, it was a very productive day. Besides, doing the dreaded chore of Christmas shopping is so much better when you can share the task. :)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Weirdest Thing

My left leg is now at LEAST a half inch (maybe an inch!) longer than the right! First, I thought that the difference could be attributed to the large amount of swelling or that maybe the joint had to "settle" in place or something. But now I think I need to mention it to the orthopedist. Not that there's anything to be done about it (except maybe a riser in the other shoe). Of course, it COULD be evened out when I have the next knee done, but THAT'S not happening anytime soon. One day...but not now. Standing in church yesterday, I was trying to figure out just what the difference was between my limbs. I'd stand straight on the "new" knee and raise up on the other toe until my hips felt "even". It seemed like I had to flex those toes quite a bit to get to the same level. I should have been paying more attention to Mass, but this was really intriguing me how different these two legs were since surgery. LOL! When I go to see the doctor about the rash (which is finally showing signs of receding), I'll have to remember to mention this to him.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

2 steps forward, 1 step back

That's how it feels. I'll be doing great one day, working through the PT and seeing improvement, then BAM. Seems like mornings are best. I guess it's because the leg has rested all night and swelling is decreased (wearing an ace wrap to bed). Also, I usually take a pain pill in the AM to help with the backache that I wake up with. I try to sleep on my back with the leg stretched out to prevent scar tissue from forming that will hinder straightening of the knee. Inevitably I end up on my side with the knee bent...but I try. So, in the morning, I feel like super woman. By mid afternoon, not so much. When I told the PA that I was trying to cut back on the pain meds, she actually encouraged me to continue them as needed, saying that less than a month post-op, it still makes good sense to take them. Sounds good to me. And it's sure better than being miserable. Spacing them out between driving duties next week will be the trick. Although they don't make me loopy, it'd rather not have them in my system when bringing Kevin to school or picking him up. I'll refrain from taking one until AFTER I drop him at school and return home, and then not take another until after I get him home in the PM. Should work.

A new complication. Day nine of my Bactrim Rx (prescribed at my first visit post-op) I developed a rash. Minor at first, it seemed to concentrate around the inside of my left (replaced) knee and thigh. By the next day, it was more or less everywhere...most notably on the stomach and back, a little bit on the other leg. And my left foot had this itch that was driving me crazy. So now I have an appt. with the Dr. for Monday. Gosh, I hope this rash is gone by then, but I've read that antibiotic-induced rashes can last a week! Sure hope the itchy foot syndrome doesn't last that long. I took an Allegra for the itch and it seemed to help. And icing the foot after icing the knee also gives some relief.

Today, 21 days post-op, I'm going to try to attend Mass. The biggest hurdle is to find something to wear! Something that will fit over my ace-wrapped leg...ugh. I tried on one of my baggiest jeans yesterday and think they just might work. But will I be able to sit comfortably in them with my big knee??? We'll see.

Ooooo...most happy that I've found a decent PT group for my outpatient visits! Initially, when I called our insurance company, they were giving me names of small "hole-in-the-wall" PT operations. You know...a single physical therapist hangs out his/her shingle and takes patients. NOT what I want! I want a GYM! A GROUP of PTs and PTAs! A WELL-KNOWN group! When I went through the list myself, I found it. Not as close to my house as the others, but I remember picking my Dad up from PT at this place a couple of times. It was nice. Yeah! So Monday should begin a new part of my adventure, outpatient physical therapy.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Baby Steps

Not quite 3 weeks and I've graduated to a cane. (Actually, I've been walking short distances around the house without it.) Three times a week, the PTA comes to the house and pushs me with harder and harder exercises. She keeps adding more too...to the point that I need at least 30-45 minutes to do everything. And I'm supposed to do them 2-3 times a day. Whew. The good news is that I've reached 0 degree straight and 110 degrees bent.

Scar is looking better, but the knee is still HOT and tender, especially on the inside. The bruised feeling on the back of my thigh has not gone away yet. But the biggest problem is the hypersensitivity of my lower calf. Yikes. I can't stand anything to tough it. We've been having COLD weather (freezing night-time temperatures) and yet I wear shorts. To help with the swelling (and keep it warm) I wrap an ace bandage from ankle to above the knee. And then I can cover with a blanket. But if that ace slips....eeeek. Finally making some headway with the swelling. Yesterday for the first time, I actually had an ankle on the left leg.

I'll be discharged from home health and home physical therapy over the weekend. And then it's off to PT on my own. I hope I can find some pants or jeans that fit loosely enough over that leg! I'll try driving this weekend. Funny thing-Kevin doesn't want to be in the car with me the first time I drive...as if I've forgotten how. LOL!

Still a bit of pain towards the end of the day. And back pain in the morning. That should resolve itself when I can sleep comfortably on my side with my legs drawn up...my favorite way to sleep. Meanwhile, I see lots of hours on the clock. Sometimes it's Tommy's snoring that keeps me from falling asleep, but it's also the uncomfortableness of my knee. Baby steps.

Going back to the doctor's office tomorrow to meet with the physician's assistant. I have to remember to ask about this irritating discrepancy in the length of my legs since surgery. I might need a lift in one shoe to even things out...because I'm not having the other knee done anytime soon!

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 went...to 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.