My New Knees…Take One!

Twelve days ago I went into the hospital at 11 o’clock and was taken back at about 2:30 for my surgery.  The surgery was expected to last 3 hours, minimum, since I was having both knees replaced.  My expectation was that I would blog at the end of every day in order to be able to describe things such as pain level, therapies that were done, etc….I am here to tell you that BOY I WAS WRONG!  I took a notebook as a back up and figured that I could write in it daily and then transpose my notes into a nice little daily blog.  Twelve days later I  think I remember writing in the book, but for the life of me I can’t even tell you if the book is unpacked yet!  Life as I knew it is no longer a possibility….now my life consists of physical therapy exercises 3 times a day, laying in the spare bedroom in the 2 CPM machines that I am renting, and/or sitting in the recliner with the Game Ready Ice machine flowing cold water and soft compression through the binders that I strap on both knees.

Sleep is a suggestion at this point…last night we went to bed at 10.  After tossing and turning, propping and unpropping my legs with pillows, turning to my right, then to my left, then on my back, until I finally figured out by 1am that sleep will be evasive.  I have these pads that my husband straps around my calves every night and they alternately squeeze throughout the night to prevent blood clots.  The problem with these squeezers is that every time I move, they slide down to my ankles.  Talk about frustration!  At 1 am last night I unhooked the squeezers and went to the bathroom to figure out a way to shave my wooly legs, then back to bed by 1:40.  At 2:30 I still couldn’t find a way to lay without pain so off go the squeezers and to the kitchen I head.  Perhaps a snack will help me sleep?  All I can carry is a small bag of cashews, so I gingerly carry them back to the bedroom, put on my squeezers and sit propped up next to my peacefully sleeping husband to eat the cashews.  By 4 I have now moved into every conceivable position with no relief so all that’s left to do is cry. DId I mention that tears come quite easily?  Finally I just prop up, adjust the freakin squeezers for the 400th time, and close my eyes.  3 hours later I feel a warm hand reach for mine and realize I slept.

My 16 year old daughter Maddie has become my right hand gal.  She now knows how to strap on my binders, strap me into the CPM machines, does the laundry on a daily basis, hauls me to physical therapy 3 days a week, and has assumed the responsibilities that I can no longer do.  I depend on a walker to get from room to room, although I got in trouble from her because the other morning I was in the bathroom and the walker was in the bedroom.  She scolded me like I was 4….and she had every right to do it.  I think I have experienced every emotion known to man, and I am humble enough to say that I am not as tough as I had previously believed.  My husband, who has been my rock, comes home from work, peeking into the room to see which Shelly will be sitting in the chair. Or should I just change my name to Sybil….I know I have discovered as many personalities as she had.  The tears come at the drop of a hat, and I just want to be left alone in a dark room to feel sorry for myself.  This is where my support system comes to my rescue. They won’t let me feel sorry for myself, they encourage me, they will hug me if I need it, or they will just leave me alone when I need time to work out my feelings.  Having both knees done at the same time means that it is hard to get away from the pain, but down the road I will be happy I had this done. Plus, you can bet your sweet bippy that I would not return to have a second one done had I chose to go that route.  No way!  I don’t write this to scare anyone off, because I am sure in a month I will be singing a different tune for sure.  This has by far been the hardest thing I have done in my life, and that includes giving birth to 4 children without drugs….but when I am healed and life is back to normal I will reflect back and be proud of what I have done.  I am going to find my notebook and read through the notes that I wrote in a drug induced haze and will begin the real story of this adventure.   Thanks for reading!

Here We Go…

The day has arrived.  I have finished all of the requirements to get to this day.  I have had my physical, my EKG, my blood work, and my pre-op appointment with the surgeon.  I have gone to the “Loan Closet” and secured a walker with gliders on the front and wheels on the back, a raised toilet seat, and a quad cane.  I have been to the grocery store and filled not only the fridge in the kitchen, but also the “shopping fridge” (as we call it) in the garage, and all 3 freezers in the basement.  I think at some point I have confused being laid up for a few weeks for a possible apocalypse?  The laundry is all caught up thanks to the 16 year old beautiful child that lives with us, folded and neatly put away by momma.  The house is clean, although I will vacuum before I leave (just so I feel better)!  I made taco and BBQ and we put that in the freezer for quick meals.  Madison is ready to be the “woman of the house” with one condition….she will NOT make roasted cauliflower!  My husband and ROCK is in the shower and will be making me a piece of dry toast that I will savor and enjoy in a few minutes. (he spoils me with breakfast every morning)

So by 12:30 I will hopefully be wheeled back to the surgical suite and Dr. Norris will begin the process that will greatly improve my mobility and give me some relief.  I told him to be sure that he gets a good nights rest before today and he just smiled.  I have asked for prayers from my friends and I know that God will be standing right behind the surgeon with his hands guiding him every step of the way.  We will be going to his office before the hospital so that my knees can be marked (although this confuses me since both are being done) but who am I to question?  My heart warms at the thought of family members that will spend a loooonnnngggg day waiting, because I know for a fact it is easier to be the patient instead of the one waiting.  I have been blessed beyond anything I had ever envisioned.  And when I get discouraged I will remember those who have supported me and will push on.  My motto will continue to be “If God Brings You To It, He Will Bring You Through It!” I GOT THIS!!!!!!!! ♥♥♥

My New Knees

Untitled                                                                       MY NEW KNEES

In less than 12 hours I will check into the hospital, they will put me to sleep, and I will wake up with not one, but two new knees.  Two knees that are composed of metal and plastic.  They will replace the ones that God gave me over 56 years ago. They will replace knees that I have not taken the best care of.  I have worked as a nurse for over 30 plus years which means walking millions of miles.  I have also carried more weight on my knees then they could handle.  It’s funny because when you are in your 20’s and overweight you think this day will never come.  Well it is about to come for me.  One way that I handle stress is to write, and write and write.  So I am going to blog about these 2 new knees and perhaps I can give insight into what goes through a persons head and what happens to their body going through this process.

I have had some type of knee pain and stiffness for about 15 years but it was tolerable.  About 2 years ago I got to the point that the pain was just becoming a nuisance.  I could not kneel down to scrub the floors, and I could not bend them enough to squat, a movement that most people take for granted.  Taking the laundry to the basement was a feat in itself.  I am so glad that there is a very secure railing because I have become very dependent on it.  I go up and down the stairs one at a time, with both feet being on the same stair before going up or down another one.  When the laundry was done I lift the basket up 2 steps then lean on it to walk up 2 stairs, over and over until I reach the top.  Getting in and out of the car was just torture, not to mention getting off of the couch or chair.  My husband would lovingly extend his hand to help me get up.  Now for most women this would be fine, but to me it showed weakness, and I was not raised to be weak.  I was the one bringing up the rear when a group was walking, being teased because I couldn’t keep up, all the time thinking “If you even had a clue how much pain I was in maybe you would be a little more tolerant”. At the end of the day it feels like both of my knee joints are loose and sometimes changing positions in bed can result in excruciating pain as I try to gently move so that they won’t pop out of place. (although I am not sure this could happen) I truly try not to complain, but sometimes the pain catches me by surprise and I will moan or even say “ouch” or something that shouldn’t be written down. I am looking at chairs and couches before sitting down to determine if I can get up without making a spectacle of myself. I have that “old lady” walk where instead of that “swing of the hips”  I have the hobble that looks like one leg is shorter than the other.  About 2 years ago I began going to a wonderful orthopedic doctor and after some x-rays it was determined that my knees were basically “bone on bone” with some bone spurs throw in for good measure.  Now I understood that when it felt like there was a “catch” when trying to bend my knees, there actually was a bone spur (which is a “bony nub” that grow on the end of a bone) hooked on the end of one of the other bones and I was forcing it to move past the area where it was caught. Treatment began with Cortisone injections in my right knee.  For 10 days I felt like I was a teenager.  There was no pain and nothing to stop me from doing whatever I wanted.  The bad part about feeling pain free is that you crash when you wake up and that first step has the hint of what is to come.  Then we moved on to  SYNVISC which is like artificial synovial fluid, which I no longer have to cushion the joints.  This helped about 8 weeks, but not as well as the cortisone.  Then it was a second SYNVISC in the right and one in the left (which is now gotten worse because I have favored it because the right hurts)  This time the relief was for about 2 months and then I endured the pain for another 6 months until I just went in and said “I’ve had enough!” I have questioned the option on new knees for quite awhile and Dr. Norris said that one day I will know when the time is right because I will become so tired of constant pain and the limits that bad knees put on my life.

So tomorrow is the day that I am looking forward to with both excitement and fear. Will I be able to tolerate the pain, although they say that it is a different kind of pain? Will I be strong and resilient enough to continue with the physical therapy, even thought it will increase the pain? As everyone knows, doctors and nurses are the worse patients, so will I push those away who want to help and support me? As I was discussing my fears with my husband he just looked at me and said “Just think of those people like my brother (who died of esophageal cancer) who can’t get rid of the pain. At least you will heal and the pain will go away!” Boy oh boy what a shot in the arm that was. So I promise to follow directions, even though I don’t want to move. I promise to be kind to those around me who just want to offer help, and I promise to keep writing about this journey….the good, the bad and the ugly!