Monday, June 29, 2015

Last time I wrote, I had my right knee replaced.  All went well and I felt better than I had in decades.  I no longer cried in pain while I was asleep and was able to exercise and became more active.  I was so happy with the results, I decided to get my left knee replaced.  The left knee replacement has not been a positive experience, but many friends have encouraged me to write about it to help me through this rough time and to help others which may be going through a similar experience.

My knee problems started when I was in a very bad skiing accident when I was a teenager, resulting in extensive knee surgery in 1975.  While my right knee caused me the most pain, my left knee was structurally much worse than the right.  So I opted for the left  knee replacement, surgery was performed on 12/4/14 at John Muir Hospital in Walnut Creek, CA.

While the surgery went well, it was more complicated than anticipated.  Due to the extensive damage to both my soft tissue and bones, reconstruction was involved.  Bone had to be removed and extension placed on my fibia to accommodate the prosthesis.  Ligaments had been stapled to the bone and had to be repaired.  Other than that, the surgery was uneventful.  I was able to walk the day after the surgery and was doing so well that this time I did not need to go to rehab.  Good news, or so one would think.  Not so.

While I was a lot stronger than after my first knee replacement, I was in much more pain.  The strength I attribute to all the exercise I was doing prior to the surgery.  Riding an exercise bike 5 times a week and working out with a personal trainer.  I thought the pain was due to the extensive nature of the surgery, but later found out that trouble was brewing in knee-land.

The Infection Starts

On 12/27/2015, I noticed that the bottom part of my incision (which I thought had closed) was seeping.  This is never a good sign, and it wasn't.  I called the surgeon's office and spoke with the Physician's Assistant on call who advised that I should go to Urgent Care, which I did.  The doctor there told me it looked like an infection, prescribed Clindamycin, did not take a culture, and told me to call my doc after the holiday weekend. I don't have any photos from that exact time, but this is how it looked a few days later.  They put new steri strips over the incision, but they really did not serve any purpose.

When I saw my doctor, they recommended wet to dry dressing.  Basically, this involved cleaning the wound with saline, soaking a gauze with hydrogen peroxide, squeezing the excess and packing the wound with it.  I changed the dressing twice daily.  Not very pleasant, but I hoped this would help me heal.  Little did I know that I would have a very long haul to healing ahead of me.