Okay, so it’s been more than two weeks after surgery (barely). But I did come home from the hospital two weeks ago yesterday, so the headline is (almost) true. By the way, I’ve posted some pictures of my knee below. They’re not terribly graphic, but I wanted you to be forewarned.
I’ve got to admit that I’ve spent most of those two weeks in bed. A lot of it is just recovering. Part of it is because I spend four hours a day in a passive motion machine and another hour in physical therapy, so the rest of the day, I’m just plain old tuckered out.
The surgery went very well. There were some adventures in the hospital stay that I won’t go into now, but if I must have surgery again (which I’m not planning), I may have it somewhere else. This was my third surgery at the surgical center and while I like the center for many reasons, I do have some issues with the quality of their nursing care. We’ll see. Right now, I’m resigning from all future surgeries. I’ve had more than my fill.
There hasn’t been a lot of pain. During surgery, they put some long-lasting anesthetic directly in the knee. It lasts 3-4 days, enough that by the time it wears off, the initial surgical pain has subsided.
They got me up and walking on my new knee within hours of surgery. I was still hung over from anesthesia and I was not a happy camper but the only way to get them to go away was to get up and walk, so I did. But I did great after the anesthesia wore off. I was up walking around the hallways and counting the hours until I could go home. If they would have let me go home after the first night, I would have, but they do need to keep an eye on you.
Honestly the worst part of the entire surgical/hospital experience was trying to find a vein for either the IV (which ended up in my left hand) or to draw blood. One morning at three o’clock I had five nurses (and a vein finder) trying to draw blood. They stuck me four times before they could draw it. What a mess.
I think I’ve been pretty much on or ahead of the recovery track at home. My surgeon thought I’d be using a walker for the first two weeks before graduating to a cane. I was using a cane by the end of the first week and the last few days haven’t used any assistive devices around the house. I do take my cane when I go out (which has been very infrequent).
I had a major issue with swelling the first week after I got home. My knee was swollen to the point that I could barely bend my knee which made the exercise machine and the PT pretty futile. I went back to the doctor who prescribed a Medrol pack and antibiotics and it made an amazing difference.
My knee still doesn’t want to bend all the way which is an issue for a lot of activities. It’s difficult for me to sit very long at a table for dinner. My knee gets very stiff and then it doesn’t want to “unbend”. I’ve only tried going out for dinner one time to ease the cabin fever, although I think we’re going out again this evening. It’s more a break for my poor husband who has been chief cook and caretaker for the last couple of weeks. I’d like to go to a movie, but I’m not sure I can sit 2.5 hours in a theater. Plus the thought of someone stumbling over my feet as they go to their seats is fairly frightening.
There is a lot of numbness in the front of my knee. It almost feels like I have on a knee pad or something. I’m sure this will diminish as time goes on. (I hope.) And occasionally my knee “clicks”. And every so often it feels like it hyperextends which causes me a bit of balance loss. But overall, we’re getting acquainted and I have great faith that I’ll be feeling normal in a short period of time.
My goal is to be driving at least short distances next week. I have a couple of doctor’s appointments (follow-up on my knee as well as my previous back surgery). My husband is going to take me to the knee doctor, but I’m on my own for the back surgeon. Fortunately, I live fairly close to the medical center and I’m there so often that my car can almost drive itself there on auto-pilot.
Pain in general has been minimal, although it’s worse when I use the knee a lot (like for PT). I have long-acting and short-acting pain relievers. I’ve never been one to take much and finally yesterday, I made it through the day with just some Tylenol. Getting off narcotics is a big step in the healing process, so I feel I’ve made a major accomplishment.
I guess my main issue is still stamina. It takes about all the energy I have just to get up, get showered, and get dressed. That will improve, I’m sure. I just need to start spending more time out of the bed than in it. I’m going to be spending some time out of the house each day next week, so that will somewhat force the issue.
So I’ve got two more PT appointments (one today and one Monday). I have another week and a half of the dreaded TED hose and the continuous passive motion machine. After that we’ll see what the plan is. At some point I have to think about going back to work, but I’m certainly not ready yet.
The scar isn’t going to be bad. Below are a couple of pictures. One right after I came home from the hospital and one from yesterday after all the steri-strips came off. The knee(s) look especially gnarly because I have to wear TED hose and an Ace bandage on my operated knee, which leave marks on my skin.
So overall, I’m doing pretty well. Wish it were two weeks from now and I had more stamina and mobility, but I’m getting there. I appreciate all the healing thoughts and well wishes the last few weeks. Thanks for checking in.
Knees shortly after return from hospital
Knee after two weeks and sans steri-strips.