In June, 2004 I had my left knee replaced, and I just had my right knee replaced 2 weeks ago. If I had it to do over again, would I? There is no doubt in my mind that I would go through this surgery again.
Here are a few things I have learned from my surgeries:
1. If you know the surgery is necessary, don't put it off any longer than absolutely necessary. Waiting will only result in a slower recovery, and possibly unsuccessful results.
2. Do activities to keep the leg muscles toned before surgery. Although walking was very painful for me before my surgery, I was able to continue low weight strength training on the nautilus equipment and used the exercise bike regularly. I also found that I could tread water or do water walking without pain.
3. Check with your surgeon to see if a femoral nerve block will be used. This nerve block will numb the incision site to make movement easier, but you will need a leg brace for the 24 to 48 hours the block is in place since it will be very weak.
4. Use ice packs. Swelling will inhibit the range of motion, so you want to do everything you can to keep it at a minimum.
5. MOVE IT! Four hours after surgery, the physical therapist was in my room having me stand, move sideways, and bend and straighten the knee. On day two each knee (or hip) replacement patient was up, dressed, and in the PT room for individual and/or group exercises.
6. Don't expect therapy to take care of the problem. Every waking hour after surgery, you should spend 5 minutes straightening the leg and 5 minutes bending it.
7. Don't skip pain meds. If you wait until the pain is severe, the medications will not be as effective. Also, try to schedule pain meds 1 to 2 hours before therapy so they will be in your system when the work begins.
8. Don't let straight leg lifts frustrate you. After my first knee replacement, it took me 5 days to figure out how to get that leg off the bed. With the second surgery, I was able to do it 4 hours post op. How? Part of my secret had to be mind over matter--it didn't hurt to lift it. My mind just couldn't get the muscles to pick my leg up, but once I looked at my toes and tried to pick them up, I found my foot and a nice straight leg going up into the air!
9. ATTITUDE!!!!! Yes, it will hurt some to do the exercises. IF you stop when you first feel the pain, then you won't recover as quickly. For any mom who had Lamaze training before her chld was born, just remember that that technique will work for any pain. Focus on your breathing and anything else other than the pain. You'll be surprised what you can accomplish if you set your mind to it.
10. Rely on the support of family and friends. I have been blessed by the prayers of family and friends, visits, cards, flowers, meals and phone calls to cheer me up.
If you know someone who is having surgery or is ill, please take the time to give them a call, drop a card in the mail, or send some flowers. These small deeds can lift the heart of another person more than you will ever know.
How is my recovery going? Yesterday the 32 staples were removed, and I was released from home health care to begin outpatient physical therapy on Monday. I use a cane or walker when I'm walking any distance or on rough ground, but around the house, I move with no assistance most of the time. Of course, I make sure I have something close by to support me if I should feel myself getting weak. I can straighten the knee and bend it to about 110 - 115 degrees. I'm not sure who is the most surprised by my recovery--me, my doctor, my family, or my therapists. I prayer is that any of you facing this surgery will have results equal to or greater than mine!
Most importantly remember