Friday, August 22, 2014

one knee, two knee, red knee, black and blue knee....

Presently, I am recovering from total knee replacement surgery and I have wanted to chronicle it.  But at 5 weeks out from surgery I have not gotten around to it.  So here goes.

It started way back in 1975 when I was in a very bad skiing accident and pulled apart (yes, literally pulled apart) both of my knees.  After reconstruction surgery, 2 weeks in the hospital, 3 months in full casts on both of my legs, a year in leg braces, I was finally able to walk on my own.  For a while it was touch and go, the surgeons were not sure if I would be able to walk again, but due to my preserverance it became a reality.  Due to the extent of damage to my knees (the surgeon's report cited "general knee derangment), I sustained nerve damage to my lower legs, which is a whole other story.

Time passed, I went back to school (couldn't go while I was recovering) and life happened.  I always knew there would be surgery in my future, just not when I would happen. Surgery, and medicine in general, was not the same in the 70's as it is today and the thought of going under the knife again frightened me.

Over the past 15 or so years, my knees became more arthritic and the range of motion dwindled down to 70 degrees.  I worked hard and got it back up to about 88 degrees.  With limited range of motion it is hard to climb stairs, ride a bicycle, stand from a sitting position, etc.  Things that most people take for granted.

Ten plus years ago, when I was still a patient at Kaiser, I was told I needed knee replacement but they wanted me to wait until I was in my 60's.  As I was still in my 40's this seemed crazy, I wanted quality of life sooner, rather than later.  Finally, I escaped from Kaiser with my life (don't get me going on stories regarding the poor quality of treatment from Kaiser).

After several years of shots in my knees, cortisone, HLA, etc, which were helpful to some degree I decided to take the plunge.  I visited Muir Orthopedic and discussed the possibility of TKR (total knee replacement) and was told everything that  could go wrong.  It took me 6 more months to gather up the courage to have the surgery and then an additional 4 months on my doctor's waiting list. Then on July 17, 2014 I had total knee replacement to my right knee.

My  surgery was scheduled in the afternoon at John Muir Hospital.  My mother always told me to have surgery in the morning, but the afternoon was what was available.  This way the doctor got to practice on others before my surgery.

As prep leading up to the day of surgery, I exercised.  I rode the stationary bike to the best of my ability, did leg lifts, presses, etc. I tried to build strength.  My first bit of advise is to do as much prep exercise as possible.  This surgery is tough and the better shape that you are in, the easier it would be.  My first lesson, also it would have been easier if I had lost weight!

Stay tuned for my next entry when I explain the prep and hospital stay.