Thursday, September 6, 2012
A Quick Perspective on the Knee Replacement Surgery
Let me expand upon that a little bit by telling all of you what it's like at the three-week mark.
This is a painful surgery. It is painful. Let me stress that it hurts. Don't skip over that part mentally when the docs, nurses and teachers of your class tell you it is painful. I did and was blindsided. Some of the pain comes from the simple fact that I've had two of the biggest bones in my body sawed in half, had--essentially--a spike driven into them, and been sewn up again. For me, a lot of it comes from the fact that pain meds don't seem to work with my chemistry.
The pain is distracting, uncomfortable and forbids sleep, which is needed for recovery.
My digestive system has been in an uproar for about four weeks now, beginning a week before surgery when I began taking medication. That can be as painful as the knee. My appetite didn't exist (it's coming back), but I've also lost 25 pounds. Food tastes awful and my sense of smell was out of whack for a while.
I have required myself to have a level of discipline in order to move around, exercise and do as much for myself as possible. I'm walking a mile to a mile and a half a day now and am doing my own household chores. During the first two weeks I had three wonderful friends (Christine Ward, a nurse; Janeson Keeley, who used to write for us at FRONT; and Christina Koomen, my favorite ex-wife) waiting on me hand and foot. My Leah was spending the weekends with me doing it all, as well. Not many of us have that luxury. I am extremely fortunate and I will suggest that they made the impossible possible. There's no way to repay that kind of friendship, either, so enjoy it.
I have forced myself to eat the right foods even when I either couldn't taste them or when they tasted so bad that they almost made me nauseated. That was a good move because all of my vital numbers remain good.
My substitute physical therapist gave me some important inside info yesterday about why we were doing some of the painful exercises we were doing. One reason is to break up scar tissue that would have to be taken out surgically otherwise. Another is to strengthen weak quadriceps that are a key to walking properly in the future. I'll need flexing and extending to the degree I can get it and the more the better. That means pain and work.
One of the strongest pieces of advice I can give is this: if you're not in good shape, delay the surgery until you are. Work especially hard on getting your quadriceps strong because the stronger they are, the quicker you will recover. They are a key element in the strength of your leg and your knee. I was in good physical condition going in and getting there helped me develop good habits for recovery.
Here's a hard one: It is necessary to be patient. It's hard to get a straight answer from anybody about how long this or that will take because "it depends on the indvidual," so get ready for the long haul. You will not be back to work in two weeks; you won't be driving in a month; you won't climb McAfee's Knob in October. I was told yesterday to count on six months of vigorous healing.
The drugs--especially early--mess with your mind. Don't think about writing or doing anything that requires concentration. Ain't happenin'.
Listen to the people who know what the hell they're doing and follow directions.
And remember it hurts.