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TKR Rockgirl4's Recovery---already full of surprises.

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Rockgirl4

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15 & 1/2 Week Update

I haven't been posting much lately because life has been so crazy. That's a GOOD thing because it means I'm out and about running errands, keeping up with the family, exercising again (though slowly adding things back in), and not spending too much time at home in front of the laptop.:yahoo: Here are the highlights:

1) The upper shin pain, right below the knee, is occurring less and less each week. It all comes down to how much standing or walking I'm doing. The amount of these activities have increased drastically each week though, so for anyone dealing with that awful shin pain, please know it WILL decrease as you heal.

2) I still get a lot of swelling above the knee and in my lower leg. No way around it----any standing and activity add to it. Luckily, it doesn't bother me a whole lot, as long as I take care in not letting it get too bad. It does limit my bending a bit by the end of the day, but I can still get down the stairs like a normal person, and that is my benchmark.

3) I've now walked our 1.1 mile subdivision, including it's massive hills, 4 times.:yahoo: The downhill parts are a little rough, and I get a few weird aches during the walk, but the only downside is a bit more medial
knee soreness and swelling. I have to be super careful and only walk every 3 days or so. I can go downhill better than I have in 4 yrs though. That made me cry the first time it happened last week!! :tada:

4) I wish my other core/abdominal exercises were a bit easier, but I tend to do them later in the day when the knee has swollen some, thus reducing bend. I have to be super careful to keep my hip alignment perfect while doing these things, as my left hip and L4-L5 move out of alignment so easily, but I CAN do it. It just makes the knee a bit more achy. Maybe this will be a good nudge to work out earlier, not later. :)

5) Life in general-----I'm no longer planning my life around my right knee. Yes, the left knee isn't great, but it's done remarkably well the last 4 months. I think I could even do a 2-3 hour road trip as the primary driver, though I don't have to test that out for 2-3 more months. I even get up in the morning and don't even think about the knee. I never thought this would happen!! :bolt:

6) Next week will be the first time I try to clean my entire house by myself. I hadn't been brave enough to try. My husband is my rock, and he hates for me to even try (and possibly regret it), so he's been insisting on helping with any cleaning.:loveshwr: I'm pretty sure I can do it as long as I don't walk the subdivision the day before.

7) To everyone struggling with getting their range of motion back----The best piece of advice I can give is do NOT focus on the numbers but what you CAN do and what you WANT to do. My numbers at PT never got above 104 when I finished at the 12 wk mark. However, within a week after that, I was able to go down stairs normally, lower the seat on my stationary bike, and do everything else I need to. The "wants" are a little slow to come (like certain exercises mentioned above), and I still need my right hip to get stronger, but it's all coming in time. I don't even care what my flexion ever measures, as it's JUST a number. My surgeon is all about function, and everyone needs a guy like him in your corner.
 

luvcats

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I'm no longer planning my life around my right knee. Yes, the left knee isn't great, but it's done remarkably well the last 4 months.
What a wonderful update!
I am definitely looking forward to the day when I am n longer planning my whole life around what my knees can and can't do.
 
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Rockgirl4

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19-20 Week TKR Recovery Update

Hi everyone. It's been about a month since I checked in, and I wanted to wait and see what kind of changes occurred before posting again. Many of you may remember my inflammation problems immediately after surgery and all of the uncertainty regarding ROM, pain control, and a "slower than usual" return to activity. I can easily say I am glad I had the TKR, even at 46, and I am getting more and more of my life back each week. Here are the major and minor improvements---though some of the "minor" ones are a HUGE deal to me....

1) I continue to have more swelling than I expected, but overall I can FINALLY walk my 1.1 mile subdivision 2-3 times a week. I've also been adding 1-2 strength training exercises each week to carefully gauge how the knee will behave the following day. I had waited on ALL strength training until the 12-14 week post-op mark at my surgeon's request, and I can truly say HE WAS RIGHT!!!! :thumb: After having so much aggressive PT following my 10 other knee surgeries, I KNOW this was the right way to recover this time.

2) I'm continuing to see slow improvements in strength and mobility. I walk completely normal and have had numerous people talk about the spring in my step. :) My hip strength is normal and I can go up and down stairs easily without really thinking about it.

3) When walking downhill, I no longer have that peg-legged feel to my right leg. My legs have a natural bend in them where my knees are absorbing the shock/movement. It is very hard to describe, but it reminds me of 15 yrs ago when my entire lower body moved in sync with itself.---with NO compensating. I had no idea how strangely I'd been walking downhill the last 10 yrs. :flabber:

4) I still get lots of late-day swelling, though I can do 3-4 errands in a day with plenty of walking if necessary. I have to limit exercise on those days, but at least I can do "normal" life stuff like grocery shopping, watering flowers, stand outside and talk to a neighbor. I no longer look to sit down within 5 minutes. :)

5) No sleep discomfort AT ALL!!!!:dancy: No problem standing on one leg to shave my legs in the shower. :spin:Last but not least----no problems cooking a big dinner and cleaning up afterwards----with energy to spare for watering my flowers afterwards. :)

6) My only true complaint is I wish I had more flexion (bending), but it's just for stretching purposes. I have some back issues and could use another 5-10 degrees to get into certain positions more easily, but it's not a deal breaker. I think I've been walking MORE, using no anti-inflammatories, and icing less (because I forget to now-a-days!!)-----I am going to make a concerted effort to ice more, hoping to see a difference. I'm almost positive that is part of continued swelling. I guess it's good that life is so normal I forget to ice/elevate though.

All in all, I am so glad I had this surgery. I know I have many more months to improve, and I'm good with that. But if things never improved past today, I WOULD say I'm better off. At least now I can go walking with my son and husband for 1 mile walks, which means vacation next summer is A GO!!!!! We are all very excited to start planning something.

Thanks to any and all who read and continue to keep up with me. I still check in every 3-4 days and miss you guys!

---Lisa
 

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What a wonderful update!!! I'm so excited for you. All those little 'normal' things that had us feeling so left out when we couldn't do them. I'm really looking forward to being able to just stand and chat with a neighbor. It's a very big thing.

What's your summer vacation going to be?
 

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That is so encouraging!! I'm just at 4.5 weeks and really do see some improvements, though not where you are! I appreciate knowing that it is in the future!

:yahoo:
 
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Rockgirl4

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@luvcats We're not sure where we'll go yet. The plan was to go to Virginia/Maryland a couple of summers ago and hit a lot of the Civil War battlefields like Antietam and Manassas, along with Harper's Ferry. We would stay in a little cottage in the Appalacians and do day trips out from there for a week. The other plan was for Canyonlands Nat'l Park and Arches Nat'l Park in Utah, as both of us are geologists (by education), and I've been dying to see northern/central Utah for decades. We've only both seen the southern part.

We'll probably wait until Jan/Feb to decide, after we move into the new house. We should be moved by mid-January, and it's hard to make decisions in the middle of stress (ha)!!! :) We're also putting this house on the market in February, so it may depend on how easy it is to sell. Most homes in our area sell super fast, but one never knows. Luckily, wherever we choose should be easy to book. We always drive and don't have to worry about plane tickets, etc.

I'm hoping the knee is less cranky by then and have high hopes.
 

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Both of those sound like wonderful trips. I'm looking forward to doing some battlefields ourselves once I can walk properly again. You'll have to let me know if you hit DC for a few days, we could slip off for lunch!

We used to live in Colorado and made several trips to the parks in Utah. They are all amazing. Arches is definitely a must see. I'd put Bryce Canyon next on our list of favorites. It's all orange creamsicle colored and has several very different amazing formations down in the canyon. Since you'll have your car, I'd recommend a little side trip for lunch one day while you're around Arches and drive out along the river. There are many beautiful spots to pull off the road and eat your picnic in the cool shade and check out the river gorge. It's one of my clearest memories.

Are you or your son sci fi fans? If so, a quick must-see side trip out near Canyonlands is Goblin Valley. It's the place where they filmed the rock-monster scene for Galaxy Quest and I assure you, if ever a place was going to spontaneously generate rock monsters, that would be it! lol. It's very fun but 30 minutes is plenty.

Good luck selling the house. Moving is one of the most stressful endeavors a family can face. I hope yours is easy. Having a decent leg to stand on will certainly help a lot!
 

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Thanks for the nice update!
So glad you are doing so well!
 
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Rockgirl4

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5.5 Month Update----Still Swelling Like Crazy!!!

Hey Everyone,
Just wanting to ask a few questions and see if anyone else can relate....So yeah, it's been 5.5 months, and I think I've actually LOST some flexion (bending). At the 4 month mark (after NO walking at all except for ADLs and occasional grocery shopping) I had increased my walking to 2-3 days a week, a mile only each time, though there is one large uphill and a long downhill. I was doing fine from month 4-5, but the last 2 weeks have been a setback. I'm curious about the following though...

1) Has anyone found switching to dress shoes or boots has made their knee swell more? I bought a new pair of boots and was so happy to be able to wear something besides athletic shoes again. By the second time I'd worn them, my knee and entire leg was NOT happy.

2) Standing---why am I STILL having so many problems standing for more than 10 minutes? I thought it would get better each month, but it just makes me swell and lose range of motion. This MIGHT be coinciding with #3 though......see below.

3) I've been sleeping under my electric blanket now that the days/nights are cooler again. I used to wake up with a looser, less swollen knee every morning back during months 3 and 4. It was always a nice reboot for the knee and swelling, if you know what I mean. Now though, there are days I feel the knee is WORSE in the morning.:chinstroke: I've always been one to inflame more and stay inflamed, and I can't help but wonder if the electric blanket is keeping my knee inflamed all night, never letting it calm down. I'm a scientist and try be rational....part of me thinks this is nuts, but another part of me thinks it's like keeping a heating pad on the knee all night. NOT SMART, right??????

I'm just frustrated there's no more progress and an actual loss in bending. I actually had to raise the seat on my stationary bike the other day. :tantrum: Plus, I want to shop more, but the standing problem isn't helping.

The big problem----Our new house won't be ready for 3 more months, and this house is SUPER cold in the winter. Our bedroom is a refrigerator and is one of the main reasons we're building a new home. If I have to give up my electric blanket, I may not be fit to live with. My poor husband might run for the hills. :bolt:It's worth an experiment though NOW, before the worst of winter gets here, just to see if that blanket IS causing a problem.

Luckily though I can still do most of what I need to, other than cleaning. I'm always afraid to inflame the knee further though, so I limit myself. Humph....I'm just not in a good mood about this lately. I have to start packing soon and wanted to be MUCH better with standing/walking before having to pack/move/unpack a house. I'm worried--can't help it.
 
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It took me way more than 6 months to stand still for periods of time.
 

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Has anyone found switching to dress shoes or boots has made their knee swell more?
I'm still wearing the Crocs that I came home from the hospital in, but I've finally gotten my new sneakers that fit and have plans to start wearing them to the rec center. I can certainly tell you that pre-surgery, any change in shoes resulted in leg aches and pains, so I think this is definitely a likely problem. I'm guessing they are less cushioned so you're getting a lot more impact with each step than you've been accustomed to.

I think the electric blanket is definitely like having a heating pad on your knee at night. I understand the cold issue. What if you added an ice pack back to your knee at night? I suppose it means going back to sleeping on your back. If you wrap your ice pack in a towel so that there's one layer between you and the knee and 3 layers between the ice and the blanket, that might mitigate the problem without immediately melting your ice. Seems like something easy to try anyway.

Are you still icing in general? You have known issues with crazy inflammation, so maybe you still need more of that?

I'm sure you tried everything before moving was the solution to a cold bedroom (lol) but since this is a short term need with the end in sight, have you considered one of the new small, safe, and power friendly space heaters for your room between now and the move?

It might just be the cold in general causing your troubles if your house is not a comfortable ambient temperature. Today is cold and damp and I've been noticing the cold and damp days make the new knees feel worse, in general.
 

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It might just be the cold in general causing your troubles if your house is not a comfortable ambient temperature
This still affects my knee at 2.5 years post op! Just being in the refrigerator section of the grocery store can upset it.

When I was 9 months post op we spent several days out of town, visiting our daughter in Ohio, in December. My knee was very unhappy the whole visit, inside her house and outside. She keeps her house much colder than we keep ours. We waited until summer to visit her again! :heehee:
 

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It might just be the cold in general causing your troubles if your house is not a comfortable ambient temperature. Today is cold and damp and I've been noticing the cold and damp days make the new knees feel worse, in general.
This is so true, for my knee anyway! This week has been colder and damper than previous weeks. Yet, this being New Orleans, it is not *that* cold yet and I am still reluctant to turn on the heater. My knee is telling me to stop being such a cheapskate! LOL Also I am probably going to have to start wearing long pants when we go out, instead of shorts.

As for shoes, I have noticed that since I was finally able to fit my now-less-swollen feet into my usual shoes, my knee is less sore and swollen. I am more sure-footed in these shoes than in the others, and my knee is subjected to fewer tiny twists and tweaks than before.

I am so pleased with how easy it is to stand for longer periods of time than before TKR. My new knee is a sturdy and stable as an oak tree stump. It's wonderful that I don't always have to look frantically about, desperately searching for a chair. However, I am only in my 11th week and not yet walking or standing for as long as some people are in their 11th week, so time will tell.
 
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Rockgirl4

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@Jockette You give me hope!!!!! :) I figured standing in one place might still be a problem for many at 5-6 months. I just needed to hear it from other people who have lived it. :) I HAVE also wondered if the temperature changes outside are making the knee crankier. Missouri isn't exactly cold yet, but our nights have dropped into the 40's on numerous occasions and never get above 53-55 anymore. We're having more frequent freezes too. Sadly, our entire house isn't easy to heat/cool, so it's not just my bedroom where I am so cold/stiff some days.

@luvcats You tossed out a couple of really good ideas that I have either tried or am ABOUT to try. :fingersx: First, we do keep a space heater in our bedroom for daytime, but my husband gets super hot at night if we use it. The electric blanket with dual controls works well because I can have my side on while his side is off. It was the best of both worlds. Keep in mind he only "freezes" in Jan/Feb.....I feel like I freeze Oct-March. :gaah: Second, as for moving versus staying/fixing things.....this house has been a HVAC nightmare, but there's no way to fix it and get our money back upon selling. :sad: It was only 4 yrs old in 2008 and meticulous on the inside. However, the kitchen doors are super drafty/cheap, and the windows are cheap. We hate eating at the kitchen table from Nov-April because it's so cold in there. Also, the furnace and AC were also installed in the far front corner of the house, yet our bedroom is on the other end. The ducts don't run straight under the floor. They make 5 separate 90 degree turns throughout the length of the home. By the time the air gets to our bedroom, there's no "force" to it. You can't even feel it coming out of the vents. Also, our master bathroom is tiny (smaller than the hall bathroom) and has no airflow/proper venting. You can't even sit on the toilet and shut the door without banging your knees. Try THAT with bad knees!!!!! :hissy:These issues were serious enough in the last 12 yrs to prompt us to pay this house off early (and fast!!) so we would have better options down the road. Unfortunately, Mother Nature made building a new home on a slope almost impossible in St. Louis this summer. :) The spring/summer rains were record breakers.

Keep in mind the home is only worth about $200,000 and we had 2 different HVAC companies come troubleshoot and price the solution-----it would cost us >$35,000 to replace all windows, the furnace and AC (both are 16 yrs old and had major repairs in the last 2 yrs), with the bulk of the cost redoing the ducts. :yikes:Everything has to be relocated due to the main beam location in the basement. Both companies said the guy who designed the house did a horrible, horrible job and basically set us up to freeze in the winter and burn up all summer because no matter how high you crank the thermostat, the equipment can't force the air past 5 separate 90's and that far of a distance. Only the 2 small front bedrooms cool/heat properly. Both said you never want more than ONE 90 degree bend if you can avoid it.

We have learned so much though!! When we met with our builder to design the new home, he was super strict about furnace location and how far the unit could be moved from the center of the basement. He was dumbstruck by our current situation and said only an idiot would have build a home like that. He's trying to get us in by New Year's, but weather is starting to play a factor again. The roof/shingles are on and most of the flat work is poured except for sidewalks and a patio, but all of the inside is unfinished. They are putting in windows and electric this coming week. So yeah, 2-3 more months to go, easily.

I almost forgot----I was about to start sleeping with an ice pack---I kid you not!!!!! I figured I would try getting bed warm first with the electric blanket and see if I can sleep ok with extra blankets on top, knowing I would at least fall asleep warm. If this doesn't work, I was going back to the electric blanket with some type of "insulation" around the knee. I'm a woman on a mission!!!!!! :spin:
 
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Rockgirl4

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@Jockette and @luvcats I forgot to comment on the boots. They are DEFINITELY not very cushioned. It does feel like my feet and lower legs are taking a pounding, so I try not to wear them for >1-2 hrs. I wore them to church today and HAD to take them on as soon as I got home.

I guess, like everything else, it's just going to take time.
 

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