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TKR Jenipops Knee #1: Family and friends don't get it.

Jenipops

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Hello! I am 2.5 weeks out of LTKR. I’m doing very well according to doc. My problem is, my family doesn’t seem to understand that his statement doesn’t mean I’m all healed and ready to face the world. Im staying with my sister and it seems she’s ready for me to go home where I have 2 flights of stairs.

I’m still in a great deal of pain. Could barely sleep last night and had trouble walking this morning. I’ve been alone for 2 nights which is scary. Any advice on how to get my family to understand that this recovery doesn’t happen overnight? I don’t know how to do it without them thinking I’m just a wimp.
 

ColleenAda

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Awww you're so new new new. And it's hard and it hurts. Im never a wimp either but this surgery was a doooozeeeeee. I'm 8 weeks post op tkr and I'm chillin in my chair and icing this morning after a gentle ten minutes of pedaling and a walk around a full city block. There'll be more suggestions I'm sure but do you qualify and can you get any home health care? Maybe start looking into a way to get your sleeping area on a main floor? You may get very weepy and sad, it's normal and just let it happen. All you're supposed to do is rest and ice. Hang in there( what else can you do? Right?)This forum will be awesome for you.

Also.. I'm from Oceanside, ca.
 

alexthecat

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Can you show them some of the articles here on Bonesmart? It sounds like you're doing great at 2.5 weeks post-op, but you and I both know that full recovery takes a lot longer than that. It's disappointing that your family can't be more supportive of the great progress you've already made.
 

lovetocookandsew

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It's really hard for family and friends to understand unless they've gone through it themselves. Heck, even the surgeons don't get the actual recovery process; mentally they know what it entails, but they've never been through it so don't really get it. It's like a male obstetrician-they deliver babies every day but will never really understand the process from our side. To understand many things we must have gone through it ourselves, otherwise all we can do is support and help others. But here at Bonesmart, we've all gone through it and understand and empathize totally.
Some of us have had a harder time than others, but we've all been there and do get it. It also makes it harder for us with our family and friends when another person they know has gone through it and had an "easy" recovery; then they think you're a big baby or faking it, etc. And it seems everyone 'knows someone' who went through this and flew through the recovery, went back to work after a week or two perfectly fine, etc, etc. My theory on that is they don't really know the details, but were told by the person that their recovery was "good" with no problems, when in reality they weren't around that person daily so don't really know all they went through. And for some reason, some people think an easier recovery is a badge of honor so hide the actual details. Plus some also conveniently 'forget' the actual ups and downs they went through and just say it was fine, etc.

In my case, my husband saw me all day every day for a month after my TKR, and, while he hasn't ever been ill or had any major health problems in his life, he did see what a hard time I had and is now planning for another rough recovery. He's planning on working from home for a month this time; I told him I might not need that much help this time and he said, "You're having your knee replaced and need all the help you can get". He can't personally empathize with me but he does get it as much as is possible.

My suggestion is to tell your family and friends that your body recovers at it's own pace, not theirs. Don't allow them to try to tell you when you should be feeling better, or how you should be feeling at any given point. This is a very long recovery, but many people do start feeling better sometime around three months. The total recovery, where you are actually feeling pretty much your old self again, is around a year. They really don't understand, and maybe don't have a ton of patience with others going through a rough time? If at all possible, go home to your own space where you can recover without any pressure on you to get well on the timetable of others. I know some people here have flights of stairs to navigate also-maybe ask them how they did it. (I believe Josephine was one of them, plus she managed on her own also). As for them thinking you're a "wimp", believe me you're not. This recovery is the hardest recovery I've ever gone through, and I've had somewhere in the vicinity of 15 surgeries over time. Some were relatively minor, but some were pretty major, and knee surgery of this type has no comparison.

Do what your knee tells you to do-it's the boss and no one can make it recover one second faster than it decides, not even you. If people try to tell you otherwise, ignore them and come here to whine when you need to, plus get advice, empathy and the support to get through it all.
 
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Jenipops

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Thank you so much for your time and response. I’ve never participated is this type of forum, but I believe it will help with the recovery process immensely. You’ve brought a ray of sunshine on a relatively gloomy day!

ColleenAda, thanks for your advice! I lived in Oceanside for 6 years. I miss it sometimes and can’t wait until I’m able to go walk down the pier to Ruby’s again!
 

MyTest

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@Jenipops Hello. Like someone said earlier, family and I will add coworkers don't understand unless they have gone through it. Just try not to let the comments cause you to rush your recovery. You don't want to risk injury. You may want to remind them that it takes up to a year to recover. I admit I was on the other side once. When my dad had his first knee done me, mom/sis thought he was being wimpy about the pain BUT thankfully I never told him that. But when I went through knee replacement a couple years later, I told mom/sis we owed him an apology. It is hard to get others to understand. Just gently let them know this is new for you and you are just as surprised about the recovery /pain so any support they can offer is greatly appreciated. Good luck!!
 

alexthecat

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@lovetocookandsew makes some great points! I also think that sometimes friends and family members make comparisons that not valid. For instance, comparing your TKR recovery to someone who had a simpler knee surgery or a THR. (THR recovery is often easier and less painful than TKR.)

I think it's easy for people to get the wrong impression of someone else's recovery. For instance, I was eating in restaurants about two weeks post-THR. (Remember that I said that THR recovery can be relatively easy?) I wasn't doing that every day though and it really tired me out. People might see that and think I was back to normal. They don't know that afterwards I went home to an ice pack, a couple of pain pills, and a long nap.
 

Celle

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Hello @Jenipops - and :welome:to recovery. We'll help you through this!
I'm sorry your family and friends don't understand, but that's quite a common problem. They simply don't understand what was involved in your surgery.
Perhaps you could show them this article:
TKR surgery - WARNING: real life photos

Also, have them read this article, about what level of activity you should be doing:
Activity progression for TKRs

You definitely aren't a wimp.
Knee replacement is major surgery and you can't recover from it as fast as from most other operations. In fact, complete recovery can take as long as a full year. It's a marathon, not a sprint.

Here is some reading for you - lots of useful and
Knee Recovery: The Guidelines
1. Don’t worry: Your body will heal all by itself. Relax, let it, don't try and hurry it, don’t worry about any symptoms now; they are almost certainly temporary
2. Control discomfort:
rest
elevate
ice
take your pain meds by prescription schedule (not when pain starts!)
don't overwork.
3. Do what you want to do BUT
a. If it hurts, don't do it and don't allow anyone - especially a physical therapist - to do it to you
b. If your leg swells more or gets stiffer in the 24 hours after doing it, don't do it again.​
4. PT or exercise can be useful BUT take note of these
5. Here is a week-by-week guide for Activity progression for TKRs


The Recovery articles:
The importance of managing pain after a TKR and the pain chart
Swollen and stiff knee: what causes it?

Energy drain for TKRs
Elevation is the key

Ice to control pain and swelling
Heel slides and how to do them properly

Chart representation of TKR recovery
Healing: how long does it take?

Post op blues is a reality - be prepared for it
Sleep deprivation is pretty much inevitable - but what causes it?

There are also some cautionary articles here
Myth busting: no pain, no gain
Myth busting: the "window of opportunity" in TKR
Myth busting: on getting addicted to pain meds

Please don't be overwhelmed by the list. The articles are not long and they and contain information that will answer many questions and help you make your recovery much easier on your knee and on you.

We are here to help in any way we can: answering questions and concerns; supporting and encouraging you from start to finish.

We try to keep the forum a positive and safe place for our members to talk about their questions or concerns and to report successes with their joint replacement surgery. While members may create as many threads as they like in a majority of BoneSmart's forums, we ask that each member have only one recovery thread. This policy makes it easier to go back and review history before providing advice.
informative articles:
 

Jockette

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Welcome to Bonesmart, best place for knee replacement recipients! Hang out with us, we’re glad you found us.

Maybe show these responses to your family and friends. They really do care about you, they just haven’t experienced the replacement themselves or lived with someone who has.

I agree with @lovetocookandsew, my husband was/is the same. No previous surgeries or illness but he loves me and he had a lot of compassion for me and took excellent care of me. He has some, but not a lot, of pain in his knees and shortly into my recovery he said he is never having his knees done! I really don’t think he will ever need to, but that’s how he responded to this recovery. And my recovery was average, no complications.

Hugs to you, we’ll be here for you! :console2:
 

ColleenAda

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I'm thinking of going down to the beach this weekend- I'm super cautious though. I know the sand won't be my friend right away. The strand will be good to walk a little.but even the pier may be an excercise because of the unevenness, along w the ramps and the stairs around there. This recovery is a complain but stay up w your meds, I like an edible at night, drink lots of water( and prune juice) make sure your Kleenex is always nearby cuz...., you know ttysoon
 

Josephine

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It's a problem we all (in the medical biz) foresaw because lots of people do run away with the notion that they're discharged early because they are all head, recovered and ready to go. But the reality is that patients are discharged early TO heal and recover. BIG difference! Perhaps you should scurry up a Youtube of two of TJR surgery and make them watch it! Or try this article TKR surgery - WARNING: real life photos
 

sistersinhim

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Any advice on how to get my family to understand that this recovery doesn’t happen overnight?
Pull up a real time TKR on youtube and let your family watch it. They will see how extensive this surgery actually is. I watched one before my surgery and knew that I would take it easy after see that!
 

Beckadeez

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My husband and mom don’t understand. Hubby thought I’d be back to work at 4 weeks! I quit my job, so no worries there. I’ve tried to get my mom to read this forum and to watch a video, to no avail. I think we just have to be confident in what we know to be true and try not to let them bother us. Unless they have the surgery, they’ll not truly understand.
 

Celle

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My husband didn't understand, but he was still pretty good at looking after me and helping.
He's never had major surgery himself, but he will soon be having an operation to improve the circulation in one leg.
We shall see how he feels after that!
 

Mutti3

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I was very fortunate during my recovery, my husband waited on me “ hand and foot”. He knew what I was going through, He had both knees replaced a few years before me. I wish I could bottle him, and send him out to everyone who needs loving care after knee replacement.
 

Eeek

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My husband had a detached retina almost 11 years ago....he was in his 40’s. The recovery was complex.....positioning was crucial....sitting, sleeping, etc for 6 weeks. So, he was ready when I had chemo about 7 years ago, and he’s been great now.

But it really is difficult when you family can’t or won’t see the reality of it all.

I hope your family can be more supportive.
 
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Jenipops

Jenipops

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I can't and prob never will watch the video- my husband did but he wouldn't describe it to me!
I actually got my sister to watch a video (I won’t watch it). She was shocked and even got a bit lightheaded. Whether it makes a difference remains to be seen. I appreciate her watching it though.
 

Jockette

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My son in law told me he saw one once (he didn’t specify but I assumed in person, in medical school) he said it was the closest he ever came to fainting.

I hope it makes a difference in how your family views your recovery.
 
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