Knee Surgery – Day 1

Posted Posted by DetectiveEstes in Detective Estes' Corner, Uncategorized     Comments No comments
Jan
23

This is the second installment of my partial knee replacement to my left knee. I plan on continuing this until I believe I am 100% again. This may not take as long as some would believe as, prior to the surgery, there were numerous things I could not do that I expect to be able to do shortly following the surgery. Among these things were: deep knee squats, getting down on my knees without double foam padding under the knees, getting back up to standing, and locking the knees in standing position. I’ve discussed these movements with others that have had full knee replacement and they can all do these movements. I discussed them with Dr. Fricka, my knee surgeon. Dr. Fricka advised that I would be able to get down on my knees but I may not want to do that due to scar tissue which would make it uncomfortable but not impossible.

On the day following the surgery – I’ll call it Day 1 – the medications from the surgery wore off. PAIN!!! I had taken my new meds which included Colace, aspirin, pain meds and others, but my knee was VERY stiff and achy nonetheless. I could hardly move it anywhere. It was hard to straighten, and pretty much stayed slightly bent. I couldn’t put weight on it. My wife came up with a movable device to assist me in walking. My knee was swollen to near twice the size of my right knee. My knee was easily the size of a large cantaloupe! Moving the knee seemed to get it more swollen; furthermore, not moving my knee didn’t seem to make it go down in size any either. I lay in bed nearly all day until my therapy which was at 4:30. I had continuing ice packs on my knee. Didn’t seem to do a bit of good for the swelling or the pain.

I had therapy at 4:30. Here was a severe problem. I could hardly move. I couldn’t walk, with or without my movable device. I just kind of slid along with it and hoped I wouldn’t fall down. Next problem, it was COLD outside, probably around 25ish degrees, wind blowing. A fine day for someone with half a leg to be out in, trying to get to therapy. To complicate matters more, I wasn’t allowed to drive. I had to depend on someone else to drive. It’s hell to be helpless!

My daughter took me to therapy and me and my wife went in together. Due to the sox I had to wear to prevent blood clots, I could not wear long pants. I can’t tell any readers how ludicrous I looked to myself. I wouldn’t have been the slightest bit surprised if the therapists hadn’t just burst out laughing at my appearance. We left the house at about 4PM. Keep in mind the therapy location is only about 2 miles straight down I66 from my house. We got there very shortly. It took me well over 15 minutes to get my little self out of the SUV, to the pavement. When one is in extreme pain just to move the leg, twisting the knee, then the ankle, and moving around on the car seat just to get one foot out of the car, is nearly a screaming fest. Fortunately, I was able to keep my screeches to myself. From there, my wife helped me into two sets of heavy pull doors. They hadn’t seemed near this heavy when I came to see about appointments a couple weeks before. Both sets of doors had the handicap push buttons. They were too far to reach but my wife got one of them. The door I thought would open didn’t and the other door nearly knocked me down. Geez! It sure hadn’t seemed so difficult on the last visit. Maybe I should’ve come here beforehand and familiarized myself of the door operations, heaviness and how far things were from each other.

Finally! I got into the building. And it was warm inside!! Hallelujah! Hadn’t been warm for the last 15 minutes or so! I got into the therapy office. Very small. Seats were filled up with older and infirmed people…..suddenly I realized that could apply to me. That was really a disappointment by itself. But no problem, I didn’t have to wait very long and was called in within 5 minutes. I saw a man who seemed to be in charge of the program there. This was Jorge. We talked for a while. I realized as I was talking with him that I could hardly hold my eyes open! Thought for next time with this therapy business, take my heavy-duty medication after my appointment, not before!

While discussing my knee, Jorge was moving it around. Pain. Much pain..No matter which way or how much he moved it. Plus, I seemed to have no muscle tension. Jorge hung my leg over the side of the gurney I was on and told me to bring it up to level. I couldn’t move it, any. Nor could I move it back and forth, or slide it onto, or off the gurney. Jorge advised me that the swelling was normal and, in fact, was a good sign in that things were progressing as they should. I felt a bit better about that. I was truly worried that swelling was not a good sign. Jorge advised that one of the main exercises I was to do would be to straighten my leg completely. Jorge said if I couldn’t straighten it completely, I would walk with a limp. I determined that was not to be. I will not walk with a limp. There were other reasons to want a straight leg but for now this was the prime one.

After about a half hour discussion, Jorge released me back into the custody of my wife, saying to her, “I went easy on him today. Didn’t make him cry”. I thought, ‘well you weren’t too far with all that moving around though’. My daughter came back to pick me up. I exited the same dang two doors, this time, pushing was a lot easier as I could get my weight into the doors and they seemed to open easier. My daughter opened the door for me and nearly froze waiting for my pokey self to get to the truck. Getting in was the same pain as it was getting out. I never knew that moving other parts of my leg would hurt my knee so much when it never did that before. Live and learn to respect your pain. I rode on back to our house, and again wiggled on out of the truck and hobbled on into the house.

Getting out of and into a house with multiple steps, when one leg is in pain, is in itself an aggravation. Your loved ones are there to help, but they can’t. The steps are not wide enough for me and anyone else to stand beside me. I can’t use my movable device because it is also too wide to fit the steps with me on them. Therefore, it is up to me only to hobble up the steps. Here’s the drill: To exit, and go down steps – turn around and back down like you would on a ladder. My surgery was on my left knee. I cannot over-bend that knee, nor can I over-straighten it or I will be in near screaming pain. First step down is on the left foot, straight out, straight down to the next step from the top. Quickly move the right foot down to the same step as the left one is on. Yes, that means my weight is now all on my left foot of the knee I just had surgery on. If I do it quick, it isn’t a problem. Too quick, or too slow it IS a problem. I learn quickly what the correct speed is. Continue until you get to the bottom.

The maneuver to go up the steps is as follows: Step up to the first step from the bottom with the right foot. Step up from the bottom with the left foot. Again, yes, the weight is on the left foot for a few seconds till the right foot establishes the next step up. But again, speed and control is quickly learned if one gets tired of the pain. Continue with this maneuver until you’re at the top.

Since I was returning home from therapy, I did the ‘up-the-stair’ movement to the top of the porch. At that point, my movable device was handed up to me and I used it to balance while I unlocked the door, turned off the alarm, entered the house with my device sideways, and moved the dog out of my way. You never think of all these little maneuvers till you have to do them with half your body basically tied behind your back. When I’m inside, now time to decide where to sit so I can have blankets on, ice on the swelling and be able to get up to go eat, bathroom, where ever else I need to get to.

Now here’s a problem I’ve never had before, that I’ve had several times since surgery. How long do I let my bladder fill up before I get up to go? Usually one can wait for a long time before that quick run to the bathroom, but when one is hampered by having one leg that doesn’t want to do right, then maybe one ought to go as soon as possible after the first inkling. Otherwise, it could be painful to hold it while attempting to leap out of the chair/sofa/bed/etc. while maintaining some decor and not curse and scream about having to go and maybe not making it to the end of the trip! Yes, I always made it, but I’ve now gotten much better at feeling that first tingle of pre-knowledge, so to speak!

Other problems never having before: Sitting in a chair. I have a lounge chair I sit in during some of the day so I can lay back, relax, and/or do my exercises. First time I tried sitting down after surgery it was painful because when one sits down, the legs automatically bend to accommodate the lowering to be in the chair. I quickly found out that the best way for me was to straighten my left leg out as far as possible, lean over to the right, back my right foot up until I could lower myself almost to the chair seat, then quickly move my right foot out and under my left ankle to give it support. From there, I generally fell the rest of the way into the lounge chair. That worked with the sofa as well. The dining room chair was a bit more difficult as the table there so when stretching the left leg out, the danger of striking the table with the left leg was great. I only did that once before I found that the best way to deal with this was to back the chair out, slide the leg under the table, and sit down. Then scoot the chair back to the table, taking care not to bend the left leg much. After a couple tries, I got better at not bending the left leg too much.

At the end of the day, comes bedtime. The bed had special problems. My first two nights following surgery I couldn’t sleep in a bed. It was weird, but when lying down on the bed, my pain came from having my left heel forced down on the bed, which pushed my left leg up and bending it all the time, causing pain. No matter which way I turned, somehow my left leg was forced into bending while lying down. So I slept in my lounge chair the first two nights following surgery. Not much pain at all. Which meant I got to sleep.

And that was Day 1.

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About Detective Estes

Detective EstesMr. Estes has lived in the DC Metropolitan area for most of his life. His father’s influence and expertise in firearms resulted in Mr. Estes beginning to rifle shoot at a young age and eventually shooting on the Washington-Lee High School rifle team in Arlington, VA.
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