FOOD FOR THE SOUL
This week is the 4 week mark of recovery from bilateral total knee replacement, or TKR for short. My last blog was at day 13 and I realize today how far I have come, while realizing how far I have to go. At that point I was still using the CPM machines several times a day, but those are now gone, along with $150 that was to cover the one machine that my insurance didn’t cover. Huh….they knew I had 2 done but only paid to rehab one knee???? Anyway, also gone is the Game Ready Machine that I used frequently to help combat swelling. It was so cool because these sleeves that I strapped on both knees both applied compression while ice water ran through them, and they were wonderful. I turned them in along with a check for $350 to cover the rental because they were not covered by insurance. Now I am a tight wad and really considered skipping this machine but my son and daughter in law had both used one and strongly recommended paying the money, and I am glad I took their advise. Before surgery I had borrowed a walker, quad cane and raised toilet seat from a company near my home and they are ready to be returned. I kept my faithful walker near me for the first 2 weeks, and then I got braver and felt stronger so I would travel around the house without it. One day my daughter, and personal aide, came to me in the bathroom with her hands on her hips, and sternly asked “Mom where is your walker!” I looked at her with my best puppy dog eyes and said ” I’m not sure where I left it?” She found it and put it within my arms reach and I had decided at that point that she would NOT be the one I would live with in my old age! I stood there and began giggling at the thought of a 56 year old woman being asked by her 16 year old where her walker was….then had a good belly laugh. The best thing was the raised toilet seat, which my hubby attached for me. This little piece of plastic saved me quite a bit of pain by cutting the distance from standing to sitting by about 6 inches. Trust me, when both knees don’t want to bend, 6 inches is like 6 feet. The funny thing is that the other 2 people in the house refused to use that toilet, which I didn’t understand, but having the bathroom to myself was wonderful! Last week I felt my knees were strong enough to try it without the seat and took it off. There was a squeal from the bathroom when Madison realized it was off, and now the bathroom once again has a revolving door.
I have sent back the charger and portable machine that belonged to the dreaded “squeezers” that I tried to use during the night. I used them for 3 weeks and then it was determined that since I was up much of the day, they were no longer necessary. I have avoided getting a blood clot, which was my worse fear and for this I am grateful. My surgeon said that for some reason at the 6 week recovery mark the chances of a DVT rise as well, so I will be sure to avoid sitting for over 2 hours and will keep these legs moving.
I used the narcotic pain medication for the first 2 weeks, but soon realized that they were adding to my insomnia, so they have been retired and I use over the counter pain relievers once daily. They kept telling me that there would be pain, but it was different pain. Now I realize what they were talking about, now it’s surgical pain, not pain inside my knees from bone rubbing on bone. Don’t get me wrong, pain is pain no matter how you slice it, but it’s controllable while also being a nuisance.
I have realized that this adventure is 25 % physical and 75% mental. A person has to be ready mentally to do this because before you realize it you want to give up and depression quickly follows. You need people in your life to kick you in the behind when you need it, while also being prepared to just hug you while you cry from pain and frustration. This is a solo fight and you soon realize that you are the only one who can get you better. Same goes for physical therapy. It can be brutal and painful, but I realize that is true when they say “No pain, No gain!!”
I mark my life at this point in mini milestones…little successes. By 6 days I was able to bend my knees at a 90 degree angle, at 2 weeks I was at 115. I am able to go up and down the basement stairs, although can only go up foot over foot and going down I have to put both feet on the step before going down the next one. Part of this is fear on my part, but I will remain patient and continue with the steps at therapy. I took out the mat that I stood on in the shower because I feel safer now, I have now moved out of my husbands recliner and back on the couch ( although I sit on a pillow because the couch is low), and I am able to sit in a regular chair and get up with minimal pain. The other night I came out after my shower smiling because I was able to put my foot up on the closed toilet seat to dry my legs….something so simple for most, but was impossible for me. It’s the little things that keep me going.
At 2 weeks I was going stir crazy in the house and had Maddie bring up the riding lawn mower to see if I could get on it. I realize now how funny I looked parking my walker next to the mower and slowly getting on, but away I went to mow for the first time with my new knees. Now I am able to walk to the shed and get it out myself.
The walker…well we became best friends for a few weeks, as if it was an extension of me. We had to take up all of the throw rugs so that I wouldn’t trip, which is a good thing because that walker was good a snagging anything in its way. I could not get up from a sitting position without it, and held my head up proudly walking down the sidewalk with it. Mentally I reasoned that it would not allow me to fall, when in reality it would go down with me should I stumble. Right after the 2 week mark I began leaving it in the car and walked while holding onto my husbands arm. He is a tall sturdy chap and there was something wonderful walking with my arm through his bent arm…kind of old fashioned and loving at the same time ♥ So the walker is now in the back of my SUV and the rugs are back in place.
Sleep….hmmm what is that exactly? If I am lucky I get one full nights sleep a week. More often than not I toss, turn, and finally get up and read for several hours until I literally pass out. It seems that this is a common complaint as it is hard to find a comfortable position, plus my legs get restless, causing even more frustration. The nights can be very long when you think the whole world is sleeping except you. Just not sure how this is going to work when I have to return to work? Perhaps I will sleep better? Time will tell.
As you can see I am avoiding the notebook that I wrote my notes in while in the hospital, which is odd I realize. At this point I am not ready to relive that first week. Its true when they say recovery is determined by two’s….the first two days you are thinking “What in the he## did I do?….the first 2 weeks you are thinking “Hey I think I can do this”…and by 2 months you are realizing that “Boy am I happy I had this done!” So now that I am past the first two weeks and half way to the two month mark I need to look forward and not backward. Perhaps as this adventure continues I will look at my notes and write about it from the beginning. I know that it will help others but right now I need to work on healing and also trying to not walk like a duck! Quack Quack ♥
FOOD FOR THE BODY
CROCK POT CHICKEN AND NOODLES
PLACE IN CROCK POT:
3 boneless chicken breasts (I use the frozen ones in a bag)
1 large can Cream of Chicken soup
1 stick of butter
1 large can chicken broth
Cook on LOW 6-7 hours, or until chicken is done.
Remove the chicken, shred and return to crock pot.
I now stir in salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
Turn crock pot on HIGH and add about a bag and a half of the Amish type noodles. I add enough to be covered by the broth.
Cook covered for 1 hour on high, stir and enjoy.
NOTE: don’t use regular noodles because they will turn to mush…use the thicker ones.