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!