Double Knee Replacement: 5 weeks out

I’m going to be honest. I didn’t know that this double knee replacement would be quite this tough.

When I was planning it, I thought about my other surgeries. I had a lumpectomy to remove a breast cancer tumor, and just this spring I had a hysterectomy. In both cases, pain meds controlled the pain very well.

I thought that knee surgery would be like that. That pain meds would control the pain really well.

I was wrong!

I have found out that bone pain is quite a bit worse than soft tissue pain. Pain meds do indeed help, but you’re still going to have pain when you stand and walk and work those joints. I knew there would be some pain, but it has been more intense than I expected. I suppose the pain is because of the “carpentry” (a term one of my physical therapists uses) that the surgeon does to repair and replace the bad knees.

The pain isn’t as bad now, though, as it was a few weeks ago. The hurricane’s effect on barometric pressure plus a full moon increased my pain level to excruciating then.

This past week was less painful overall, so I was able to be more mobile. I found I can go up and down my stairs left right, left right, one step with each foot – instead of one step and both feet, followed by one step with two feet again. That’s progress!

I discovered my new ability with stairs the day before my sister left to go home. I think that made us both feel better – that I could get up and down the stairs more easily was a kind of marker in my progress, saying that I would indeed be fine by myself.

My sister left on Thursday, and I’ve been fine each day since. I’m finding my pattern, discovering how long it takes me to do each task. Neighbors are getting my mail for me. A friend brought dinner the day my sister left. And I still have several friends who are chauffeuring me to physical therapy. Quite a few friends have offered help. All I have to do is ask. So I’m really in good shape with what I need.

I especially look forward to the day I can drive. That will really be a marker! My being released to drive depends on when I can get off the pain meds.

And that sure won’t be today – because a cold front is blowing in. My aches have increased considerably today, and I know it’s the weather causing that. At least it’s a cold front and not a hurricane – and a new moon and not a full moon this time! And at least this front will sweep through pretty quickly and be followed by clear days with lower humidity.

When I think back to those first days after surgery, how much it hurt to stand after being in bed or sitting, I know I’ve made a lot of progress. Standing hurts so much less now. I don’t need the walker very often. I can usually walk with a cane now. Heck, I can even take a few steps without hanging onto anything! And I’m now having sore leg muscles from using my legs more. At first after surgery, it was just my knees that hurt. Now my knees hurt much less, but I have sore leg muscles as they get back to work with my standing and walking and going up and down stairs. That’s a new pain but one I’m glad to have right now!

I have more opportunities now to be a “slow” person who pays attention to the little things I usually take for granted. When I could get up and do something as the thought came to me, when I could drive to the store when I realized I needed something, when I could drive to a gathering of friends because I wanted to be there – those are some of the many things I took for granted.

Now I realize that mobility is a gift. That just being able to get up from my chair and walk into the kitchen . . . that’s a gift. I don’t think I ever thought of that before. But I do now.

And I realize what a gift my sister gave me in helping with the things I couldn’t just get up and do for myself. She sacrificed a lot to spend so much time with me. But now she’s home with her husband and cat and enjoying the fall colors of New England. As I said last time, she has done so much for me that I couldn’t possibly name it all. I’m so grateful for her and all that she has done for me. And I’m glad she’s home now – and that I’m doing fine here on my own.

I still have a long way to go.

But I have come a long way, too!

I’m working on getting these knees functioning again – functioning better than they have in a long time (I hope).

And in this post I remember to share the surgeon’s assessment right after my surgery. He told my sister that surgery had gone well. She asked if he could say more, so he said, “Her knees were terrible, but now they’re great. They were crooked, but now they’re straight.”

So here’s to more recovery of these great and straight knees!

And to driving soon! I hope!

The Cove, Blue Ridge, backyard 171

Fall in the Cove several years ago. We don’t have any color here yet, but I’m hoping for some soon. And hoping that I’ll be able to drive out to enjoy fall colors.

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