It’s nearly the end of Week 3 post-op, and I’ve made better progress than everyone (including I) expected. To think during that time I went from barely able to remove my socks and shoes to bending the new knee at nearly 100 degrees, taking a shower standing instead of sitting on a stool, running errands on my own (though my knee was all but screaming for an ice pack after I came home), and doing some much-needed housework. I still can’t get my trash to the Dumpster (too risky to walk the distance in current bad weather, and the city isn’t always diligent about cleaning back roads/alleys), but I have some great neighbors willing to help in that respect.
The visiting nurse comes twice a week to check my incision, and in-home physical therapy started Monday. Turns out it was the only session I needed; Jackie (the PT) said she rarely sees anyone progress as I have in such a short period of time. I can thank both Transitional Care for the outstanding physical and occupational therapy I had daily, and continuing the PT exercises learned, plus I try to walk much as possible, even if it is just around the house. Keeping a positive attitude also helps in the long run. Saying “I’ll try” is a far better option than “I can’t.”
I saw Dr. Tranovich this past Wednesday for my first post-op appointment. I wish you’d seen some reactions of other patients in the waiting room when they discovered I was already walking with a cane little over two weeks after surgery.
The surgical staples were removed; aside from a few pinches here and there, I barely felt anything during the process. Dr. Tranovich checked my leg and said if this was a class, I’d pass with an A. Not an A+ yet, but anything is possible before my six-week checkup on March 11.
He also cleared for outpatient physical therapy. I’d initially figured on having two weeks of in-home PT followed by 4-6 weeks outpatient. Funny how things work out! I’m plunging into outpatient PT beginning next week, provided the weather isn’t inclement. I just hope things go as well when my left knee is done later this year.
Not all recovery time has been rosy; a few bumpy roads were hit along the way. My lower right leg and foot were swollen, and the incision began draining more than usual. The entire lower leg was covered in nasty-looking bruises – I even had some on my toes! I was constantly tired and practically spent my first week home from the hospital sleeping.
Turns out everything experienced is normal during the healing process. Bruising and increased drainage were results of me being more active at home – therefore everything coming to the surface – and it’s common to have fatigue from such major surgery. The body experienced trauma from loss of my natural knee and adjusting to a joint implant. Add in blood loss during surgery and effects of anesthesia gradually leaving one’s system, and it’s easy to understand why someone would be exhausted after doing something simple as cleaning the cat box, for example.
Some swelling remains, but it’s considerably less than last week, and I can comfortably put on a shoe. Drainage has slowed from large amounts of pale pink to minute spots of clear fluid. I have steri-strips on the incision at present, but they’ll fall off on their own.
The leg/foot discoloration is almost gone, though I still get weird bruises on other areas of my body. I’m guessing it’s resulting from the Xarelto I have taken since surgery (to prevent blood clots in the leg), but my last dose is tomorrow. I also found that if I take pain medication before any activity (e.g. physical therapy) and about an hour before bed, I don’t feel much discomfort. Ice packs have also helped, especially following PT or other times I’ve been on my feet for long periods of time.
There’s an issue of scar treatment once the wound is healed. I got some advice from fellow patients on online knee replacement groups about different products to use, and most agree Bio Oil is the best. It’s a bit pricey – depending on where you buy – but I bought a bottle to have on hand once my incision heals.
I’m once again sleeping better at night! Temporary insomnia after joint replacement surgery is common among patients, uncomfortable and disturbing as it may be. I thought at first my erratic sleep patterns were from being in the hospital (we all know that little rest is done there, right?), but I still had periods of restlessness last week before gradually easing back into a normal night’s sleep. I can also sleep on my left side again without discomfort and no longer need to hold anything for support getting in and out of bed.
I’m not going to run marathons anytime soon, but imagine how things are going to be this summer if I’m making this much progress now!