Have you known someone who was scheduled for a knee replacement and thought, "Oh, no big deal"?
Well, from someone who has been there, believe me, it is a really big deal!
I am now nine days post-surgery, and I can't say I feel much better than I did the day after my procedure.
The pain is, at times, excruciating. I am taking Dilaudid and Tylenol for pain, and manage to keep the pain level to a 3 out of 10 most of the time. But, especially at night, after hours of lying in one position, it can become unbearable.
My hospital stay lasted four days and then I went to a rehabilitation facility for five days. The care was wonderful, and I'll never complain about hospital food again.
I have food allergies and irritable bowel syndrome, all of which were accommodated without question. When I told them at the rehab facility that the only bread My IBS would tolerate was sourdough bread, they sent someone to the local co-op food store to get a loaf of bakery fresh bread! Now that's personalized treatment.
Getting back to the surgery and the after-effects themselves; the exercise routine is rigid, painful and necessary. I'm not very good at regimentation, and so I look for any excuse not to do the required exercises. However, I have been forewarned that the development of scar tissue from lack of exercise could be cause for further surgery or a permanently stiffened knee joint.
Then there is the Coumadin—a blood thinner is necessary to keep blood clots from forming in the affected limb.
The physical therapist came to the house today to work with me. Upon checking my Coumadin level she found it to be very high; so high that she could not put me through my paces, and instructed me not to do any further exercise until the level is re-checked in a day or two. The danger of internal bleeding is very high at this point.
Also, no washing dishes, cutting up vegetables or anything else that might possibly result in a cut.
So, I am off KP duty. My wonderful sister and "nurse maid" left this morning for her home in Western New York, and Charlie was an Air Force officer (and everyone knows officers don't do KP).
So what's a recovering patient to do?
They tell me the pain and immobility will last for months, and that I can't drive for at least six weeks.
So you can see, knee surgery is a very big deal—certainly not something to be entered into if there are other options.
Would I have the other knee done? Not on your life—at least, not based on what I know today.
Ask me again in six months or so.