5 Observations at 3 Weeks Past Joint Replacement Surgery

  1. Pain is  part of the game.  For the past 2 weeks, my right leg has started to hurt  within 15 minutes of lying down–whether in the afternoon for a nap or at night when I’d like to fall asleep.  It  does not matter if I am lying on my back or either side.  If I’m on my back, the underside of my knee cap starts announces itself with increasing stridency.  If I lie on either side, then the sides of the knee  pulse with pain, sending it down to my ankle and big toe or up to my hip.  Most nights, Tylenol and Tramadol do not touch the pain.  Pillows of various sizes do not seem to help most of the time.  I was able to see my surgeon today. He said there was no infection or vascular problems, just part of the healing process that should go away soon.  He also recommended trying Aleve or Advil if the Tylenol was not working.
  2. Knee range of movement is important. I’m bragging now.  My knee has a range from totally extended to a bend of 115 degrees.  Usually by 6 weeks they would like the knee to bend at 90 degrees of better.
  3. Benefits of PT.  When I saw the doctor today, and he told me I did not have to see him for my 6 week visit , he asked if I had any questions.  “When can I drive?”  “As soon as you feel ready.”  Tomorrow I feel ready to try.  I’ve missed driving probably as much as I’ve missed anything else.   Starting with ankle rotations and in bed knee flexions, through sitting/standing exercises, and ending with resistance bands and one legged exercises, the bar keeps raising and so far I’ve been able to meet it.  I have graduated from walker to cane and now to walking without external support.  I finished at home PT on Wednesday and begin outpatient PT on Monday.
  4. Social support remains important.   Visits, emails, texts, phone calls, and cards are all appreciated.  I get bored with myself, with the pain, with being  unable to do much.  Hearing from friends and acquaintances provide a welcome break in the monotony of convalescence.
  5. I don’t like surgery.  I had an excellent surgeon, a wonderfully supportive husband who has been  more patient the past three weeks than I would have been if he were the patient, and a lovely visiting physical therapist.  The pain management has been wretched.  At this point the post-operative pain and limited mobility has been worse than the arthritis that made me think I wanted surgery in the first place.  The other knee will have to get MUCH worse for me to want to do this again.
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