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Patience! Even A Challenging Recovery Can Be Successful

Discussion in 'Concerns after knee surgery' started by Jamie, Sep 19, 2017.

  1. Jamie

    Jamie ADMINISTRATOR Administrator
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    Member Since:
    Mar 24, 2008
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    It can be discouraging to read of the quick or even "normal" recoveries of others when your recovery is only offering up challenge after challenge for you. It's important to know that even a longer-than-normal or more difficult recovery from knee replacement surgery can still result in a successful outcome!! It can!

    Over the years, we've had members who went through a difficult recovery - some taking two or more years - only to emerge on the other side with a functioning knee. Once these folks do recover, they go on about their lives and their story becomes lost in the history of BoneSmart.

    In this thread, the staff will pull stories from members' recovery threads, shorten them a bit for easier reading, and present them here so those of you who are experiencing problems can see that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
     
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  2. Jamie

    Jamie ADMINISTRATOR Administrator
    Thread Starter

    Member Since:
    Mar 24, 2008
    Age:
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    54,083
    Gender:
    Female
    Location:
    Kansas
    Country:
    United States United States
    Everything Comes To She Who Waits
    The story of patient 99 's recovery (full recovery thread here)

    Carol's story begins with a LTKR on February 22, 2013. After 12 weeks, she reported:

    "I am continuing to find walking very uncomfortable. Its as if there was a bolt on the inner part of my knee, its tight, every step meets resistance. Its better in the morning. By about 6pm its so uncomfortable I cannot even find the energy to make a cup of tea. Surgeon, physios all say I am doing well. Good range of motion and on a good day over 90 degrees bend. Doing my exercises regularly and using the gym where I do at least half an hour on the walking machine.

    I suppose I secretly want a reply that will make it all better - just like that. But I know that's not how TKRs work. I said previously that 12 wks after my op my knee feels terrible. I can feel the flesh/nerves inside my knee rubbing and scratching. The knee gets so very tight and my walking is poor - very slow and uncomfortable. All everybody seems to say is that it will take time and that everybody is different. But how do I know for sure that my knee will be fine in the end? I was never prepared for this. It does'nt seem to improve in a straight line. Sometimes (especially in the morning) it feels a little better, then the next day its just the same or worse.

    Everyday I say to my husband `it will get better wont it`? Everyday he says `Yes of course it will.` But the next day comes and its no better. My fear is that my life as I knew it has ended and its not coming back. Instead I have exercises, discomfort and because I am exhausted going out for a meal/drink after 6pm is out of the question.

    My family have been good, but I think they have got bored. I feel I am totally on my own. Struggling hard to keep positive between the tears. Very conscious that I might be being a wimp, but I am struggling I know, and as time goes on I feel more and more that I am losing the battle.

    12 weeks have past since the op. If I knew for sure it would get better I could cope, but reading the forum about scar tissue, infection etc. I am scared to death. May be I am the 1 or 2 percent that does badly.

    One positive note is that the forum has enabled me to put into words what I have been feeling and that has helped."



    After some advice from forum members about patience and reducing activity for a while, Carol decided to start tracking her progress as a means to cope with the length of time it was taking to feel more normal.

    "Hi Nu Nee. Thanks for your message. It helps to know I am not alone. I smiled when you said I was doing a lot each day only to read that you are back to work! I could not even consider that. I have started to keep a diary in the hope that it will show that I am improving. I have set myself a `hope date`. I am hoping that by 1 August 2013 that I don't feel all the painful inner workings of my knee with every step I take. By August we will both be at the 22 week post op stage. Of course, as the knee doesn't pay any attention to any targets my head sets, I realize I could be setting myself up for a big disappointment. Still if it gives me something to aim for surely that can't be a bad thing?"


    By the end of May, 2013 (3 months out from surgery), things were going along fairly well until:

    "I think I have been doing quite well recently, but today was the day from hell. It started as usual and I decided to do a bit of retail therapy. Put 2 hrs in the parking meter. 15mins later I crawled back to the car very scared and in a lot of pain. It started when I was trying on shoes. I was feeling good so decided to push my foot back a little (about 90). I did it a couple of times then left the shop. I didn't get 10 steps before my knee changed into a heavy bit of wood that wouldn't bend . I could feel severe nerve pain shooting down the inside of my leg from knee to ankle. The tightness around the knee kept increasing and increasing. I started to sweat and knew I would faint if I didn't sit down. I made it to a seat where a kind person could see I was in trouble. They helped me back to my car.

    I've been shopping lots of times since my op and whilst its never easy, I've never had an experience like today. All I can put it down to is pushing my foot back. 90 isn't normally a struggle when I am exercising indoors. In fact I manage a lot more. So who knows????

    The upshot of it all is that it has severely smashed the little confidence and well being I was managing to put in place. What a bummer."



    After a bit of a melt-down, Carol received the following information from Josephine, the BoneSmart forum nurse:

    Patient 99: "I did what I was told to do by surgeons, nurses and PTs. The importance of exercising was said loud and clear from the minute I came out of the operating room. I was told not to exercise to the point that it caused me pain, but that I did have to build up strength in my muscles and do the exercises I'd been given 3 times a day. So I did. I was told if it swelled to ice and elevate. So I did - albeit that it transpired that I should have elevated my leg higher. This I now do. To now hear that you think I have stalled my recovery is devastating. Where the hell do I go from here. Who do I listen to? Too upset to say more."

    Josephine: "The first thing is not to panic! We'll just take this a step at a time and get you where you need to be. When the hospital staff gave you those instructions, they maybe overstated things or perhaps you over-interpreted them (or both!). Either way I think they never really intended you to be doing as much as you have been doing and certainly never realised you would be doing it without the benefit of good pain meds. Pain management is the entire key to all this. You cannot do exercises or activity if you are in pain. Pain will also make your Energy Drain and the swelling worse. And the effects of this is in the article about the swollen leg.

    But please don't get in a panic. It's all undoable, we just need to get you back on track."


    Patient 99: "On average I would say level 5 pain. But today (for only the second time ) it was a 10."

    Josephine: "Then you need something more than just paracetamol. Anti-inflammatories wouldn't have been enough for you anyway. You needed something much stronger like Tramadol. I have to ask if your GP knows you haven't been taking anything at all for these last weeks."

    Patient 99: "The swelling increases as the day wears on."

    Josephine: "That's a good sign that it's not visibly swollen first thing but there is also such a thing as internal swelling which is largely responsible for the 'stalled recovery' I mentioned. You were getting anxious about adhesions. Trust me when I say this is much more manageable.

    First thing you have to do is contact your GP, tell him what's been going on (re the pain and no pain meds) and ask if you can have something like Tramadol to help you get started again.

    Then you need to give up all the activity and just stick with the gentle exercises. You are - you said - about 90-100 degrees of flexion so doing pretty well. If your GP is helpful and you can reign in your activity, you should find yourself making strides (pardon the pun!) in the next 2-3 weeks or so."


    Carol at about 4 months out from surgery:

    Patient 99: "Josephine, the issue is not the bend (as you say 100 is not too bad at this stage). The problem is the tight rubber band which sits just above and down the sides of my knee. It restricts my WALKING, is very uncomfortable and at times feels worse than in the early days. If it wasn't for that, I would say I am doing well. No pain, very little swelling, nice straight leg and improving on the bend.

    My OS says that MUA might help to ease the pressure, making walking easier. He is concerned that it is this bad 4 months post op. I've read your article on the tight rubber band issue. I know it is common. And I've read messages from other Bonesmarties who are experiencing difficulties with it. The impression I've got is that it goes given time. Of course, we might be dealing with something which seems like the tight rubber band phenomenon, but is something else entirely.

    I have no reason to believe my OS is over zealous or incompetent. Which results in my being very confused when experts like you and the OS differ. He has suggested leaving it another 6 weeks to see if things improve. I will then be approx. 5 months post op. If it's no better by then I won't know what to do."


    Josephine: "Yes, I understand that. But it's all part of the recovery phenomenon. I suffered from that until at least six months out and it was really awful and kept me using a crutch for ages! Question is, are you treating it for what it is - post-op pain? Are you still taking pain meds?"


    Carol at 5 months out from surgery:

    Patient 99: "As accurately as possible I wanted to say how my TKR is now and find out how normal it is at this stage.

    PLUSES
    1. 0/105
    2. no pain when not using my leg
    3. no clinking
    4. Able to stand solely on the TKR leg

    MINUSES
    1. a little swelling just beneath the knee
    2. extremely tight - like having a tourniquet just above the knee and on the inside of the knee
    3. Walking quite difficult and very tiring - no pain, but very hard work
    4. By about 6pm the knee gets even tighter and even more uncomfortable

    I am not on pain killers now, but do take paracetemol when needed. I am seeing my OS on 16 August, where MUA will be considered."


    Josephine: "I'd be interested to hear why the surgeon feels an MUA is necessary as no surgeon I know would give a moment's consideration to an MUA with numbers like that. You are still only 5 months out and I am perplexed as to why you think your 4 minuses are minuses at this stage? So far as I am concerned, you are doing quite well and still have plenty of time to keep improving. As I believe I have pointed out before, many have had improvements after 12 months and more. Only drawback is, your perfect piece of string just happens to be a bit longer than some!!"


    At 6 months after meeting with the surgeon:

    "Well that's all over. Guess what Josephine and Jaki couldn't have predicted the future more accurately if they had tried. OS said 'No MUA and give it more time.' He said an MUA with O/90-120 is totally inappropriate and that I was doing well for 5.5 months. The tight band he said would continue to get less and less. He then proceeded to discharge me. I could have started on about why had he suggested MUA in the first place. But I didn't. I just let it go. All down to me now to fully recover.

    He examined my right knee and confirmed bone on bone. He will operate whenever I am ready. Whilst that's a bit of a blow I am not surprised, I knew it was coming. There's no pain yet, so all being well I will give it another 6 months and then start all over again - thank God I only have 2 knees.

    So I suppose it is time to say a big thank you to everybody who supported me, particularly Jaki, Dorothy and Josephine. I don't think I could have made it without you. It all feels a bit sad. I have laughed with you and cried with you. I've messaged you at all hours of the day and night. My one regret is that I never met you in the flesh. I never did get a chance to buy you all a drink."


    And a really fun report shortly after the doctor's visit:

    "Zipedi do da zipedi da my oh my what a wonderful day.......................... I DANCED TODAY. Its been 6 months 5 days since my op and today I danced. It was the worst dancing ever, but I didn't care. I was on my feet and moving. I am aching all over, but in a good way. Once a year my sister and I go to a posh hotel where they have an Elvis tribute night(Suspiciously Elvis, very good). Its the best night of the year. You get a 3 course dinner, which we are not interested in in the least. Its the drinking, dancing and wild abandon that we are there for. But I thought this year its not going to be the same because I can't dance. But I NOW CAN DANCE. One for the money, two for the show, three to get ready, now go cat go..............."


    Carol at 7 months out from surgery:

    "Hi all Struggling a bit at the moment. I came to the conclusion that I had nothing new to say so best keep quiet. But I think the truth is that at 2 days short of 7 months my knee has me on my knees. I am going through a phase I've been through before. I read a thread and start to worry that I have the same problem. Currently it's that excessive scar tissue might be hindering my progress. I have no foundation for thinking this. Its all to do with my knee taking such a long time to recover. There is improvement (I think), it's just so gradual I sometimes doubt any change is happening at all. Seem to be loosing ROM. I can get it to 120 with gentle exercise, but I can't maintain it. Most of the time its at 90. This makes a lot of things difficult eg, can't sit in the car with my foot flat on the floor. I have to prop my foot up on a cushion. Walking is very slow and all the hardware rubs, pinches and aches. Can't stand in a queue. Had it by 6pm.

    The early nights seem to be a way of life, its gone on so long. The journey started in the winter, then spring, summer, autumn.................. I see newcomers joining the Forum pre op, then post op, then making good recoveries then leaving to get on with their lives. I do know that I am not the only one in the slow lane. I do know that some have it far worse than me. I do know I should shut up - which is where I came in."

    And more.....

    "I have just read a post from a newcomer (Glasgow 123). She has had loads of responses to her first post, so there wasn't anything for me to add. But it struck me just how similar our worries are, particularly in the early days. She's worried about doing too much/too little exercise, her ROM, the possibility of MUA, tight band syndrome. Very familiar stuff. So many of us tread the same path. Sometimes I know I have been too stressed to take full benefit from the wise words that have come my way. But Dorothy I am going to try my very best to remember that TIME will sort it for us."

    "I've been keeping a diary. I hadn't written in it since July. If I'd been asked if there had been any improvement since then I would have said NO. But when I read the diary I realised there have been improvements. My knee doesn't swell any more. Instead of it closing down on me at 5.30 it now lasts until about 7.30 and last, but not least, I don't seem to get those really bad days anymore where I had to take to my bed. Its all so gradual you don't know its happening, BUT IT IS."


    Carol at 8 months after surgery:

    "Oh No I've just read a couple of messages from people 18mths - 2 yrs post op who are really struggling. I was doing so well, keeping my pecker up, but this has brought my house of cards crashing down around my head. It seems I can go for a while being positive, being silly, getting a laugh where I can. And then WHAM it hits me round the head. Tonight the trigger was the messages. The nightmare stuff is always the same YOU WONT GET BETTER. THIS IS IT. YOU COULD EVEN GET WORSE. YOU HAVE TO HAVE THE RIGHT KNEE DONE AT SOME STAGE. YOU WILL BE A CRIPPLE WHEN THAT HAPPENS. Now here come the tears.

    I am nearly a Bonesmart veteran. I am not 7 weeks post op but 7 months plus post op. I should know better. Why am I behaving like this? I know we try and help each other and we laugh too, but there is just so much pain all around - its overwhelming. Think I'll have an early night. Tomorrow is another day."

    "Thanks Pat, Both you and Toothfairy think I should go and see the OS - and 2 great minds can't be wrong. I will have to wait until Monday now to see the GP and ask for a referral. I wish I had kept precise records on level of discomfort when walking etc. But I haven't. All I know is that things aint getting any easier. My knee is totally tethered. When I sit and I flex my leg I can feel the tight band pulling across the top and down the inside.
    If nothing else seeing the OS may help reassure me."

    And more....

    "I went to see the doctor today about my knee. She really did check me out and the good news is that she thinks I am doing really well. She reckons the difficulty I am having walking will definitely pass. I just need to be patient. And here's an odd thing, once she said all those positive things my knee has been so much better this afternoon - mind over matter. I don't believe in much, but I do believe in the power of positive thinking. If you can convince yourself you are OK, you usually can improve things at the very least."


    Carol at 9 months out from surgery:

    "My knee. It's very slow progress (I think), but it is progress. I get a little swelling still, but no real pain. I haven't needed pain killers for months. My leg was always 0 extension. Flexion continues to increase - around 125 at its best. The biggest issue is stiffness/tightness. Can't seem to get rid of the tight band that sits just above my knee and down the inside of the knee. It makes walking quite tiring. I don't ice or elevate now. I don't exercise either. I just go about my life in the normal way. The non exercising isn't me being lazy, it just seems normal living is more than enough - to do more makes my knee feel worse. At nearly 9 months I still haven't got the hang of exactly what is best for my knee. I am sure there will be those who think that my not exercising is the cause of the continued stiffness/tightness. Who knows. I just play it by ear. Sometimes I wear a support stocking, sometimes I don't. If my knee never got any better than it is right now, I would be disappointed. The tightness really does get in the way of daily life. But on the plus side it isn't actual pain. So fingers crossed. Hoping the l2 month mile stone will enable me to say I GOT THERE."


    Carol at 10 months out from surgery:

    "I've still got my tight band, but I've had it so long it feels like an old friend rather than an enemy. I am a lot better, I know it, but when I walk I can still feel all the bits in side moving, gripping etc. When I lift my knee I can feel the band tighten, same when I walk up/down stairs. And the most important thing of all I still can't dance - although I practice like mad in the kitchen. I just don't have the freedom of movement required to keep to the beat. But while it is not there yet I feel so much better in myself. If someone were to say to me now `You will get there', I probably wouldn't want to murder them as I would have in the past ."


    Carol at 11 months out from surgery:

    "11 months on I have a reasonable bend (about 120), very little swelling. The problems I do have are that the tight band is still there. This makes walking difficult. Its like I am constantly trying to break free from a tether. This leads to my getting very tired. How I get relief is to take the weight off my feet. Once I put my feet up I get no pain/discomfort. But it means that I cannot live life to the fullest. Last week-end I had a little holiday. I was able to do a couple of dances (in a limited way), but then my knee ached, I got a little nerve pain and it felt like the weight of my upper leg was crushing my lower leg. Again as soon as I sat down there was no discomfort. These are the symptoms I get if I spend more than about 2 hours on my feet. I become desperate to sit down.

    I've had a fair bit of advice from Josephine and co moderators. I've tried stretching, massage and painkillers. I've tried resting more/resting less. Ted stockings, icing, elevating, water therapy, physio, even a glass or two of wine. I haven't seen my GP or surgeon for sometime. I wanted to wait until the 12 month stage because if I go to them any earlier they will say `give it more time'. But this phrase is beginning to jar. I read a post recently from a Bonesmartie 2 years post op and still having problems!

    I am now wondering if what I've got is the best I can hope for. If so, I am just going to have to accept it and live with it - no other choice. But I tell you, if this is as good as it gets its very disappointing and not anything like what I was promised. I don't want to climb mountains, run marathons or cycle half way round the world. I do want to be able to walk comfortably without pressure, aches, or nerve pain."


    Carol 12 months out from surgery:

    "12 months today. The hardest 12 months of my life and still no end in sight. I can pretty much do all of the things I want to but not in comfort. If I was 4 years old I would throw the biggest tantrum any grown up had ever seen. In between the screaming and biting the head off my favourite doll I'd shout YOU LIED YOU LIED YOU LIED. I did the waiting thing. I did everything I was asked to do AND IT DIDN'T HAPPEN. YOU LIED YOU LIED.:tantrum::tantrum: I HATE MY KNEE AND I WISH I HAD NEVER HAD IT DONE.:gaah: AND I AM NEVER GOING TO EAT AGAIN AND THEN I WILL DIE AND THEN YOU DOCTORS, SURGEONS AND PHYSIOS WILL BE SORRY. :boohoo::boohoo::boohoo: But I am not 4 years old.

    So back to adult mode. My plan is that I will see my doctor on Monday (no appointment yet, but wild horses will not stand in my way:sos: (sorry forgot I am supposed to be back in adult mode). She will refer me to a physio. I will get the physio to check my knee out for misalignment etc. I will then go back to my doctor and insist she refer me to an OS. I THINK scar tissue might be the cause of the tight band/tourniquet feeling.

    Not the happiest 12 month post ever, but I am so fed up with it. If someone told me that wiping custard on my knee whilst dancing a jig would help I'd do it - pretty desperate now."

    And more after seeing her GP:

    "It went well. I always respond well to strong, no nonsense women, which pretty much describes my GP. She examined my knee checking for infection, looseness and swelling. She said my knee was healthy but that she would send me to the physio for further checks just to be on the face side.

    We discussed the tight band feeling. I explained it wasn't painful, it just left me feeling exhausted by the end of the day. I could have kissed her when she didn't respond by saying `it will go in time'. Instead she said `that might be something you will just have to learn to live with.' She said it is still a better option than bone on bone pain. And of course she is right.

    I place a lot of store on mind over matter. By that I mean that knowing my knee is healthy, will enable me to live easier with the tightness. If I can begin to stop thinking knee, every minute of the day, it may even start to loosen up.

    All in all I am much calmer/happier. Oh and I nearly forgot. I asked her what might be causing the tightness eg, scar tissue. She said it could be many things - lack of lubrication, still healing, more exercise required etc. But what ever it was she was adamant that further surgery would not help. Which I was pleased to hear.


    Fast forward to a visit with a revision specialist 17 months out from surgery:

    "INVESTIGATION: First off he asked how my knee was prior to surgery. I explained that it had been OK, but two severe pain attacks prompted my visit to the OS, where he diagnosed bone on bone hence the TKR. He examined my Xrays. Prosthesis looked good. He said it wasn't the type he would use, but that was just a matter of preference. He then felt my knee to see if it was unduly hot (checking for signs of low grade infection). It wasn't. He asked if I was allergic to anything (checking for metal allergy). I said No. Then on to questions to do with pain. I explained I had no pain/discomfort when off my feet. That I got a lot of discomfort when walking. That it felt like I had a tourniquet around my knee. I was then led to a bed where he checked how flexible my knee cap was. He said it felt good. He checked my bend. NOT GOOD. Only around 100/0. He asked me to walk for him. It showed I had no limp. He said he didn't use MRI scans because of the metal. He did a CT scan. From the CT scan, questions and examination he said the problem was EXCESSIVE SCAR TISSUE.

    WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT. He outlined the options 1. MUA 2. open surgery to remove scarring 3. keyhole surgery to remove scarring . He said all of them came with a high risk of making things worse. The reason being that if a patient is prone to excessive scarring all 3 options could result in new scarring forming.

    CONCLUSION. He said given that I didn't have pain, but chronic discomfort. That my bend was above 90/O. That I didn't have a limp, didn't need a stick or pain meds, that he didn't want to do anything now. He said there was a reasonably good chance that given more time the scarring would decrease on its own. At the same time I would get more used to how it was. I asked about more PT. He was somewhat indifferent. He didn't say as much but I got the impression he thought it was a bit of a waste of time. He did however say that I should live as full and active a life as possible. He said any improvements from now on would be incredibly slow. For this reason he said he would see me again in 5 months time. If things had improved, the waiting would have been worth it. If things had not improved or got worse then we would need to review the options.

    HOW I FEEL ABOUT IT. I've mixed feelings - pleased that there is a chance that I might not need further surgery. Sad because I have to continue living with chronic discomfort and uncertainty. The goal posts have been moved yet again. I am nearly 17mths post op, by the time the OS sees me again I will be 22 mths post op. When I look back at some of my early BS posts, and I asked how long will this take, I never imagined I would still be asking the same question at this stage of the game. I have to get on with it. I have no other choice. So come tomorrow I will dry my tears and put my best foot forward.


    And more....

    "I am back doing physio 3 times a day to strengthen my muscles. I received a letter from the second opinion OS. It was incredibly vague. The letter was headed `Diagnosis: stiff knee post total knee replacement'. Now I know I often get things wrong, but never in a million years is stiff knee a diagnosis. It surely is a symptom. I've been back to his secretary for more clarification - awaiting a response. He made no mention of the problem being scar tissue. Yet I remember him saying quite clearly that that was likely to be the cause.

    So quite honestly I really am no nearer to knowing what my problem is. Increasingly I am beginning to think the only way they will be able to tell what's wrong is to open my knee up, but that seems the wrong way round to me. I want them to identify the cause to determine the proper treatment BEFORE subjecting me to further surgery."

    And several weeks later...

    "I saw my PT today. I said have you heard of Proprioception? He said yes of course. It really hacked me off. Its as if there is stuff out there to help, but if you don't know what it is nobody tells you. From there he gave me exercises to improve my proprioceptive ability. He also suggested a cheaper option to kinesiology tape ie, zince oxide tape. He stuck an 8 inch strip (vertically) to each side of my knee, and it was WONDERFUL. It was as if all the foggy messages from TKR to brain were suddenly sharper. Prompted he went on to explain that the downside was that I could start to rely on it, when what I am aiming for is to be `support' free. I will work on that . Strengthening my muscles is the way to go. The tape is much less obtrusive than an elastic sleeve, and of course there's no problem trying to get the right fit. And it doesn't inhibit bend. To say I am pleased, doesn't cut it.

    I am back to weight training. The PT thinks that as well as strengthening my knee/leg it will also break down the scar tissue (I didn't get the reasoning behind this, but I've nothing to lose by trying). I strap weights to each ankle. Seated I raise my leg until its straight, hold for 10 and then lower it. I do the same standing, but this time I bend my knee backwards and try and touch my bottom (no chance, but I give it a go)."

    "All I can say is that my knee is so much more comfortable if something is touching it. The tape is the best I've come across in providing touch without the drawbacks of compression sleeves."


    A month later at 18 months out from surgery:

    "At home I go up and down many times a day. It helps build strength and improves bend. Lately I have been strapping weights to my ankle and from a sitting position lifting my leg. I do about 20. I then do the same while standing and bending at the knee. I have been doing the weight training for about 4 weeks now. Its helping."
     
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  3. Jamie

    Jamie ADMINISTRATOR Administrator
    Thread Starter

    Member Since:
    Mar 24, 2008
    Age:
    70
    Messages:
    54,083
    Gender:
    Female
    Location:
    Kansas
    Country:
    United States United States
    More good news from Patient 99 at 20 months and what may be the happy conclusion to her challenging recovery:

    Just got back from a week in Spain. My knee behaved so well I wanted to write about it as I think it's the conclusion to my TKR journey. It's the happy ending I've been waiting for.

    Last week I went on holiday to Spain. I was nervous. I had no idea how my knee would cope with all the extra demands of traveling, flying, carrying luggage, lots of walking, etc. Twenty months in recovery is a long time - more so because I thought it would take about 6 months. That caused me to worry, seek second opinions and generally seek more support from my BoneSmart friends than I sometimes thought was reasonable. Looking back I now see that the surgery shattered my confidence. This is why the trip abroad was such a challenge. I probably would have cancelled it last minute if it weren't that I would have let my sister down.

    Anyway, off I went and GUESS WHAT? My knee was fine. I walked a lot, danced a bit and generally had a good time. I noticed that I was using my leg quite naturally - even turning over in bed wasn't done with knee in mind. I don't want this to sound like a miracle just happened. I doubt I will ever join that group of people whose TKR feels just like a normal knee. My ROM is fairly average 120/0 and I still have to wear my elastic calf support (just below the knee). It makes things just that bit more comfortable, but I now feel that life has got back to normal, and I am not thinking knee every minute of every day and worrying myself that I might have to have further surgery. Oh, I also found a brilliant pair of shoes - Skechers Go Walk 2 - that really put a spring in my step, So that helped as well.

    As for the tight band feeling that has bothered me for so long, it hasn't gone away. I can still feel the inner workings of my knee. The difference is that my head now accepts it. There's no pain, it just feels different. I have an appointment with the second opinion OS on 5 December. I might even cancel that appointment if things continue to go well.

    I don't know why my knee has taken so long to recover. There was nothing unusual about my pre op condition (just bone on bone caused my arthritis). Nor was there anything unusual about my operation itself. I never needed an MUA. I had physiotherapy, but never let anyone hurt me. I was never a member of ODIC (over-did it club). There was a theory that my problems might have been due to excess scar tissue, but nothing conclusive. It remains a mystery. This just goes to show that we really are all different, and that recovery takes as long as it takes. So dear Reader, if you are worried that you are in the slow lane. Please, please do not despair . I am proof positive that the `give it time' philosophy really does work. Thanks BoneSmart. I wouldn't have wanted to do it alone.
     
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