New Right Knee: Week 1

The above photo isn’t my actual knee, but placed on this entry to give an idea of “before” and “after” total knee replacement.


It’s already been five days since my surgery and what a week it’s been!

Things didn’t start out very promising morning of January 12. Freezing rain had come in and most roads in my area were sheets of ice by 6 AM. I think I held my breath the entire trip to the hospital; thank goodness I wasn’t the first patient scheduled for surgery.

I had spinal anesthesia. You read correctly…spinal. Turned out it’s a common practice by my surgeon because spinal anesthesia makes manipulation of the knee easier during surgery. The idea of getting a needle in the spine sounds horrible, but wasn’t so bad after all. It felt like my legs were falling asleep, and I remember nothing afterward until waking up in recovery around 11:00 AM. I didn’t even experience any after effect the way I did with general anesthesia.

Between surgery being completed and before patient wakes up, a femoral nerve block is done for long-term pain relief (in my case, little over 24 hours). Combine that with powerful shots of Dilaudid, and being “foggy” is an understatement of what I felt.

I stayed on the orthopedic floor (after waiting almost 8 hours in recovery for a room to open!)Monday night through Wednesday morning. Additional meds were added to ones I’d been taking on a regular basis prior to knee surgery: Xarelto (to prevent blood clots in my legs), Hydrocodone (as needed for pain), Senakote (to prevent constipation caused by narcotic painkillers), and Celebrex (I presume this is for the left knee).

The real work began Thursday when I was transferred to Transitional Care. Physical and occupational therapy were ordered, and I’ll admit I looked forward to each day. Within 72 hours, I’d gone from bedpan to bedside commode and finally walking to the bathroom using an assistive device.

Physical therapy wasn’t bad as expected. Sure my new knee hurt (remember, my body was/is getting used to a foreign implant), but not to the point I was yelling “Give me drugs!” Actually, I found myself feeling much better after therapy sessions.

And now here I am five days post-op. I can once again dress myself (though putting on socks and pants are still challenges and shoes – apart from slide-ons – are temporarily out of the question), walk at least three laps around the ward with a walker.

My best day in PT was this morning. My knee bent at 86 degrees and there’s talk of me being sent home early as January 19. Transitional is great, but nothing beats being in the familiar surroundings called home…and I can’t wait to really put this new knee to work! Surgical staples are set to be removed January 28. It’s all uphill from here.


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