Before I had this surgery, this double TKR (total knee replacement), I thought that I’d be walking pretty well and almost pain free at this point.
Though I am improving and don’t usually need a cane around the house, I still do better with the cane when I’m out and about. The cane takes pressure off the other parts of my body that are trying to make up for my knees’ not doing their jobs yet.
Bending and straightening are main focuses of physical therapy. I do well with the bending. That’s a part of my daily life – bending my knees to get in the car, to sit down, to get up from sitting. But I’m not doing so well with straightening. That is more dependent on flexibility, of which I have little to none. Plus, my knees haven’t been straight in years.
So I have to work on hamstring stretching as well as propping my heels on a pool noodle on a pillow to force straightening. I call that the “torture” PT exercise.
Both of those hurt, but I will hurt more if I don’t get these knees straighter. (Actually, right now I have my heels propped on my foot rest to do some stretching while I write). When I walk, my bent knees stress my back and seemingly the entire lower half of my body. Especially my hips, where the result is bursitis.
As I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, pain management has been a challenge for me. My biggest struggle now is the bursitis. That flares up at night, especially with weather fronts that bring rain. The more active I am, the more my hips hurt. Both hips can ache and keep me from sleeping. I’ve found that a gel or cream with arnica helps. Rubbing the cream into my hip joint area can give me relief for a while, but during particularly painful nights I have to reapply it. I use Tramadol for the pain some now, but only at night. Too often that’s the only thing that will get rid of the pain. Usually I use Tylenol.
My knees themselves typically don’t hurt a lot. They hurt mostly when I first stand up after sitting for a while or when the weather is changing. For some reason they really hurt yesterday afternoon and night. Perhaps it’s because a front with possible snow is on its way. I was especially hobbled yesterday afternoon and evening. They feel a lot better today – a bright sunny, though cold, day.
Another problem is restless legs. The arnica gel usually helps with that. I had a little bit of problem with restless legs every now and then before surgery, but after knee surgery I have lots of problems with restless legs. The twitching wakes me from naps and during the night. That can be exhausting. Sometimes I can’t get to sleep until two a.m. or three a.m. – and then I can’t get a nap the next day because of twitchy legs. I’m hoping that’s not something that persists.
So, you might wonder . . . if I had it to do again, would I choose to have both knees replaced at the same time?
I don’t know.
Friends who have had one knee replaced lately seem to be doing much better than I am. But maybe having two at once is that much harder. After all, it’s two major surgeries.
I’d probably make the same choice, but I can tell you, I do wonder some days why I chose this route.
This lengthy recovery period, this lack of mobility, this persisting pain – well, it’s not easy.
But here I am, choosing to make the best of where I am now in the recovery period. I hope that, just as people who’ve been there tell me, a year after surgery I’ll be healed and walking well. Maybe even hiking some.
That’s what I hope.
But I know I have a ways to go and more work to do.
I’ll keep you posted as I continue this journey of recovery.