Outside Rehabilitation and Other Things: Week 6

strength
This quote can apply to anyone who has undergone any life change; in this case, joint replacement surgery.

I’m scheduled to begin outpatient physical therapy this week, but with the crazy winter weather we are experiencing in the Northeast, I can’t be sure heading to the rehab center will yet happen. I’ll know for sure tomorrow whether I’ll start on schedule or have to bump up the next step a couple more weeks. Winter can be both unpredictable and inconvenient.

Much as I hate the idea of possibly delaying what most consider an important part of recovery from total knee replacement (TKR) surgery, alternate options – albeit temporary – are continuing rehab exercises at home with some Tai Chi thrown in for extra effort. Both latter and former have done me well thus far.

On the positive side, I’m gradually returning to a regular daily schedule (housework, outside projects, writing, working on getting my podcast back up and running, etc.) and am completely off narcotic painkillers! Aleve does the job on its own; two pills are recommended, but I’ve found one sufficient for keeping an entire day’s potential pain in check…unless I get a little over enthusiastic while doing PT exercises or walked/stood too long.

Some days are better than others. Keep in mind I’m little over a month post-op, so there is a long way to go down this path, and the present cycle will repeat after my left knee is eventually replaced. I still take afternoon naps on occasion, but not in three-hour stints like the first few weeks following surgery.

The swelling I’ve had around my knee and lower leg is almost gone and the surgical scar is turning pink (still itchy now and then, but that’s one sign of proper healing). I can once again put on and tie “regular” athletic shoes, so the Velcro strap ones I’d worn for the past month or so are relegated to the back of my closet until the next hospital trip.

A question recently asked in one of the support forums in which I participate regretted having their respective TKRs. Surgery, anesthesia, the removal of the natural joint, insertion of an artificial implant, and blood loss are among stressors that upset the body’s normal balance; as a result, many of us may tend to feel discouraged and have some regrets during early stages of recovery.

Therefore, exercise (PT and other types), nutritional supplements such as magnesium and probiotics, resting when needed, taking medication as prescribed, drinking lots of fluid, and a healthy diet – which should include increased amounts of iron and protein – all help in the healing process. Pain will be experienced more often following surgery, but once healed, the idea of standing and walking free from the alternative of constant arthritic pain is worth the early ordeals.

Seeking out a support group (whether local or online) can also play a positive role in our respective recoveries. Not only is it always reassuring to know others experience similar physical and emotional changes, but also are good places to ask and receive answers to questions, share recovery stories, glean new resources, and even make a few new friends along our new journey.

No matter how well I feel at present, I still keep in mind that there is a long road left before things return to “normal” and not push myself too far in the process.

As for the earlier question of having any regrets? The only one that comes to mind for me is not having TKR done sooner!

Next stop…outpatient physical therapy.

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