Bilateral TKR Bilateral Knee Replacement-Ups and Downs

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Taoquest

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3 Months Out of Bilateral TKR-

This will be my final weekly report, and I will continue monthly ones for awhile. After the “acute stage” of the first 4 weeks, the 3 months were quite a journey of ups and downs. But it does get better.

I found Pre-Op physical therapy helpful. Upper-body strength training is a must, for getting out of bed, the chair, the toilet, etc.

Getting your home prepared: I was on one level- no stairs. The hospital provided a Walker, 2 Breg Ice Machines and compression sleeves for my calves. They were on nonstop the first 4 to 6 weeks. Then I used ice packs during the day and my ice machines overnight.

I bought a shower bench, raised toilet seat with rails, a leg lifter, Lounge Doctor, a Drive 4 wheeler, and trekking poles.

After a few trips to the Over Did It Club, I now listen to my knees and stop if it doesn’t feel right. They are definitely in charge. “Pushing through the Pain” is NOT a good idea.

This journey sure has a lot of trial and error-
I shudder to think how poorly this could have gone without BoneSmart.

To me, my ICE machines and ELEVATION with the Lounge Doctor made all the difference.

I tapered off the pain meds and onto Tylenol after the first month. Now I only use Tylenol PM before bed.

Physical Therapy- definitely helpful pre-surgery.
My in-home PT right after surgery was a nightmare- pushing the bend on a swollen knee was torture, moving me to tears. I did go to outpatient PT from 3 weeks to 6 weeks, but it was the same exercises over and over, so I stopped when my surgeon said he was happy with my progress. Now I use my treadmill twice a day working on my gait, and I am using the pool for walking and exercises.

I used the provided walker the first 3 weeks, and then a Drive 4 wheeler. At 8 weeks, I used trekking poles for my walks-helped my posture and gait heel to toe.

Also at 8 weeks, I found that I could no longer sleep with my ice machines on, so I only used iced packs after exercise or just before bed. I still sleep with my legs elevated on my lounge doctor.

At 12 weeks, I was walking without poles indoors, I could climb stairs. My gait is starting to even out and I feel more progress! But my posture needs some work- there has been a weight shift with my straight knees, and my center of gravity has changed. AND I still tire easily.

@Ghostpipe said “One thing that we with bilateral must always bear in mind is that the recovery curve is much different. We don’t have a good leg to help out, and healing two is a lot slower. “

A Big surprise for me was finding that none of my shoes felt right anymore, including the new ones that I bought before surgery. Having legs straightened changes your posture, gait, etc. I am now going to see a podiatrist to point me to my Forever Shoes.

This past week, I noticed that the tightness/stiffness around my knees is FINALLY starting to ease.

I hope that my journey will help other Bilateral Knee-zees, as we are not that common. I have certainly been helped by others who have gone before me.
 

Ghostpipe

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Glad that things are looking up, Tao. New shoes too! One of the very few pluses of being old is caring more about comfort than fashion, and not having to teeter around in heels with squashed toes.
 

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@Taoquest Great update - you are really on your way! Well done on those gradual transitions and listening to those new knees.

I'm sure you will find you continue to see improvements for quite awhile.
 

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Congratulations @Taoquest on your continued recovery from your BTKR. I think most of us “singles” are in total awe of you and fellow BI lateral replacements. Imagining how to rehabilitate two knees at the same time sends shivers down my spine. You are doing amazingly and it’s really encouraging to read your progress and positivity. It is a bumpy journey to full recovery but I will look forward to monthly progress reports.
 
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Taoquest

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4 months Out of Bilateral TKR-

Things have settled down, recovery-wise, in this full time job. My hat’s off to those of you who go back to work! I have a daily routine of an hour in the YMCA pool, with walking exercises and I can now swim laps slowly on my back with my small swim fins. If my knees have discomfort, I slow down or stop and try another day. I have noticed that I am swimming farther, getting my strength and mobility back.

I am no longer icing but still sleep on my back with my knees elevated by my lounge doctor. However, twice now I have woken up with the LD on the floor, and I want to sleep on my side again, so I guess that’s progress.

Still experiencing some Energy Drain, and I can now just roll with it. With the house, one project a day is enough. I don’t push myself- been there, done that.

Walking- Now that my legs are straight, my stride is neutral, and the jerkiness is mostly gone. It is a huge improvement, and I look down and marvel at my bionic knees.

Due to my now straight legs, the biggest surprise was my body’s re-alignment. My center of gravity must have changed, which is amazing. I am so glad that I was able to have both done at the same time. No more limping, knee pain or upper back ache. I gained 1/2” on my height. As part of my re-alignment, the podiatrist recommended I get Altra shoes (0 drop) but they do not come in wide, so I just ordered Hoka with only a 4% drop.

ROM- Flexion is 130, extension is near 0. This is the first time I measured since quitting PT 3 months ago.

The swelling is now almost gone, and as folks on BoneSmart told me, my ROM DID come back all on its own. I think that daily ADL’s, heel-to-toe walking and the pool was all I needed.

I keep saying this, but I would have been lost without BoneSmart. This long journey is like a roller coaster, with good days and bad days, some fear, small triumphs, setbacks, lots of questions, etc. The information and support here has made this recovery less scary and more manageable.

Will report back at my 5 months mark.
 

patriciad

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Great to hear your progress. Very encouraging and I do feel the need to exercise in a pool as did this after my first surgery and felt it helped me recover. I have good rom and flexion but still swollen and aches most days.
 
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Taoquest

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@FCBayern - Ha! I’ll be volunteering at a state park in Florida this winter, so maybe I will return to DiveQuest at Epcot in Disney World. No jumping off boats, no ladders to climb. I did this many years ago, and it was a hoot. A 6 million gallon tank with zillions of sea creatures and you can buy the Hollywood Production DVD of yourself afterwards. HOWEVER, due to COVID, it is temporarily closed . I hope it reopens soon.
 
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That’s cheating! But sounds like good fun, and every dive is guaranteed to be a good one. Go for it.

it seems like things are going really well with you, that’s great to hear. You have the mental aspect under control, it’s so easy to let the house and garden overwhelm, and one project per day is such a sensible attitude.
You are seeing some pretty big benefits from your surgery already, and there’s plenty more to come after another two or three months.
Onwards and upwards. Take care
 
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5 Months Out of Bilateral TKR

Progress continues slow but steady. My stiffness is mostly gone, and my gait is leveling out. I am still in the pool everyday for an hour, walking and some swimming with my short fins. Maintaining heel to toe gait and balance in the water was a little challenging at first, but now it’s easy.

I reward myself afterwards in the hot tub, which leads me to another crazy thing: I have now been gingerly placing my knee in front of a jet (not too close!) No pain, and now that tight band above the knees is almost gone. Maybe because the heated action was like a massage? (The KneeGods sometimes work in mysterious ways).

I went to my OS for my 4 1/2 month checkup. X-rays are great, and he is pleased with my ROM and gait. My next checkup is at my year mark next June.

Some observations at this point: I am now almost pain-free with my knees. The stiffness has lessened, and I never push things too far. I am OK going slowly upstairs, but still go downstairs like a toddler. My right knee lags behind (it had more “work” done surgically). I have to consciously stop letting my left knee be the dominant one.

Because of my legs realignment, I have recently experienced small muscle spasms in my upper right hip. When I feel it starting, I back off whatever I’m doing. I’ll have to keep an eye on that.

I am going to the Sarasota area in Florida in 2 weeks, where I volunteer at a state park. It’s light physical work, and friends have offered to help me if needed. I will certainly pace myself to go slowly!

The dreaded Energy Drain is still with me- maybe because I had both knees done, who knows? I still find it exhausting to stand still for more than 5 minutes, and if I do something physical it still has to be done slowly. With all the reading I’ve done here, I know that we really do heal differently and it’s at its own pace.

I’ll check back at my 6th month mark.
 

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@Taoquest , you and others that have btkr are rockstars! It sounds like you are making great progress and I wish you continued healing. I went to the acupuncturist yesterday and other than needling and red laser therapy, he used this machine that generates heat and ultrasound massage. He went around the outer areas of my knee with it and swelling went down dramatically, tissue loosened up and that outer left edge which has been numb started to come alive. I think you are onto something w heat and light pressure!
 

Scaredycat10

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@Taoquest , you and others that have btkr are rockstars! It sounds like you are making great progress and I wish you continued healing. I went to the acupuncturist yesterday and other than needling and red laser therapy, he used this machine that generates heat and ultrasound massage. He went around the outer areas of my knee with it and swelling went down dramatically, tissue loosened up and that outer left edge which has been numb started to come alive. I think you are onto something w heat and light pressure!
My physio is a great believer in acupuncture. When she's twiddling the needles for 'spasms' and she gets a reaction, she's one happy bunny. Not so sure I am at the time but wow, it works. My hamstring has been benefiting from her TLC and my degree of flex, benefiting as a result.

I agree with the rockstar status. Amazing.
 

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I have always been amazed by anyone that has BTKR’s. My knees didn’t hit bone on bone at same time so my replacements were 5 yrs apart. My first one was a partial but I had a very long and painful recovery with it and prayed that I wouldn’t need another replacement. Despite losing 55 lb and making many lifestyle changes, I developed bone on bone in my other knee and I am now 11 weeks from TKR. There are a few slight differences in the healing but not much. I got my flexion earlier on this one and I started sleeping through the night quicker also. The pain and stiffness have been about the same. The tight band feeling is my worst complaint. I hate it!
If I do one outing a day, I am wiped out the rest of the day. I can’t be on my feet longer than 10-15 min at a time without terrible pain. I have cut the pain pills way down and only take one or two Norcos per day and it is the lowest dose.
I wish you quick healing and resumption of normal activities!
 

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Great update, Tao. Standing still is the worse thing. Interesting about the warm water massage, will try to replicate that in the bath tub.
I admire your persistence with the swimming. Time for that first dive in the aquarium, methinks. Have you tried floating? Do your legs sink?
 
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Yeah, in the hot tub I get into all kinds of weird positions - the jets on my upper right hip, then each knee, and finally the bottom of each foot to mellow me out. I get some weird looks, but I smile and say it’s therapy. Luckily I’m usually the only one there.

In the pool, I’ve noticed no difference in floating or my feet sinking. It could be because of the extra flab I gained being so sedentary after surgery. Now that I am more active, I’m determined to get that sorted out soon.
 

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Have you tried floating? Do your legs sink?
The replacement parts weigh just about what our original parts were so you won't see any difference in the water. I wondered myself, after a TKR and THR on the same side would I need to somehow adjust my weights when diving? Would I swim right side down due to replacement parts? :heehee: All turned out to be a moot point when I actually got back in the water.
 

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I also found no difference swimming when I had the left knee done.
 

Ghostpipe

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Mine are definitely heavier, or maybe it’s the density of them. They just don’t float like they used to. I am very fine boned and quite thin, maybe that’s the reason.
 

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