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[TKR] Strange New World

dmichael21

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Hi Denny 39 Dleep I still a problem and I’m using Tremedol and 500 mg Tylenol every 6 hours, I’ve been lightly doing homework PT 2times a day and I added stationary bike and Eliptical machine. Swelling is really getting better and I’m not pushing my ROM, it only depresses me.
 
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Denny39

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Hi @donnag1108
I couldn’t agree more. I came to realize a long time ago (The hard way of course) that complaining, worrying, or being pessimistic doesn’t change anything for the better. Actually, it just makes things worse, and this is bad enough as is. But it is what it is, and we all made a conscious decision to go through it. We made that decision most likely because it became a quality of life issue. My surgeon told me that in a year, I would be fine. That, “A YEAR???”, almost did me in. But I was faced with the reality that if I declined, the end of that year would find me still enduring the pain of arthritis, but doing it in a wheelchair or on crutches.

There is a time during this recovery period when almost all of us it seems, still question our sanity for making that decision. I’m pretty much there right now, 2 days short of 4 weeks. That’s where your comment comes in.
Positive attitude; I’m not crazy (although some who know me might question that). Not only can we do this, but the day will come when we will be truly glad that we did.
 
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Denny39

Denny39

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Hi @dmichael21
Sleep is probably going to be an issue for some time. There is an article here on bonesmart that explains why. I am getting 4 1/2 to 6 hours per night in 45 - 90 minute increments, separated by much tossing and turning. Good that the swelling is going down.

I did a lot of heel slides in addition to my regular exercises. I sat on the edge of a chair and put a piece of wax paper under my heel so it would slide easily. I would do 2 sets of 10, pushing into the discomfort area just a bit, but not to the point of pain. I always gained a few degrees from what I was able to do on the first one. I think it paid off well. I am at 120 degrees now.

We are only one day apart, so we are in what someone referred to as “The dog days” (as opposed to the “The dark days” of the first 2 weeks.). How is the stationary bike working for you? I haven’t gotten to that yet, but I suspect it is in my near future. We do have an elliptical, but I don’t think I could do that.

Sound like you are making good progress. Let’s “keep those wagons rollin’”.
 

dmichael21

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The elliptical turns out to be easier than the bike, you get to use your arms to make the foot paddles go easier. I’ll do more heal slides like you say. Thanks for the help and encouragement.
 

sistersinhim

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I sat on the edge of a chair and put a piece of wax paper under my heel so it would slide easily.
That sounds like a really good idea. You are in total control and know when to stop! I used my bathroom floor while sitting on the throne. I have lines in my vinyl and would try and slide a foot back a little farther every day or so. The more we control our exercise plan, the better the knee will be!
 

donnag1108

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I do! I take the generic zolpidem 10 mgs and it has literally changed my life. I have had severe insomnia for many years and would go days with no sleep, at one point I was up for 5 days. It was horrible. I take one at night about 10 minutes before wanting to go to sleep and it works. I have had no issues, sleep well and wake up rested. Its not for everyone but it sure works for me. I am not taking it while on oxycodone but I can't wait to be able to use it again.
 

beachy

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Hubs is taking it now, but not every night. It works for him. Especially after several restless nights without it.
 
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Denny39

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Four weeks today, and very glad to have the testimony and support of people who have been through this whole process and came out the other side in one piece. At this point, in spite of “remarkable”, and “amazing”, progress, this is starting to feel kind of permanent. Did something stupid Saturday, which seems to have set me back a few days. Someone told me I would probably do that sooner or later; and pay for it. Yup!

My bed still looks like the aftermath of a tornado most mornings. But, even though that “toothachy”, dull pain and stiffness is still a constant companion, if I pay attention, I can see some measurable progress almost every day. There was a very popular song many, many, years ago (Yes, I am old enough now to remember that far back). I don’t remember the exact title, but the theme line was: “You’ve got to ACCENTUATE the positive, ELIMINATE the negative; Don’t mess with mister in-between”. Good advice these days.

I can honestly say that I have for the most part, except for a brief period the first week, been able to circumvent the “Post-op Blues”. But it still is a tough road. As I commented on an earlier post, experiencing TKR was very, very, low on my bucket list. It has slipped even further.

But there are very positive realities, even now. There is a difference between the surgical pain, which is slowly diminishing, and the pre-op arthritic pain, which was rapidly increasing. The arthritic pain is gone. Before I made that stupid mistake Saturday morning, I was amazed that I was able to walk almost normally, nearly pain free, without my cane. WARNING!!! There will be ups and downs. Don’t get over-confident too soon and let an up become a down. These first few “ups” need to be nursed carefully.

My mantra still stands: “This too shall pass. We will once again be our old, loveable selves”. (Although as it turns out, it will not be quite as soon as I had originally anticipated.)
 
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Denny39

Denny39

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Post-op 5 week check-up today. Went pretty good I guess. 130 degrees flexion, 3 degrees extension. I’m walking around the house without my cane most of the time, and I can go up and down the stairs normally, as long as I use the handrail. But still stiff and sore, and it feels like everything I do is against resistance. By the end of the day, swelling and pain is significant, but not disabling as it was only a week or so ago. I’m still not sleeping, and had to go back to using the pain meds at night as a sleep aid. One night last week, I only had 2 1/2 hours of sleep. This is a L O N G haul! It’s very difficult to avoid frustration and discouragement, but that would only become another problem to deal with.

In spite of it all, I can still see undeniable and encouraging improvements most days. 8 weeks seems to be something of a landmark, but that is still 3 weeks away. Seems like about 2/3 of forever at the moment, but it WILL pass, and we’ll be looking back from a much better position than when we would be, had we not made the commitment. Hang in there y’all, THIS TOO SHALL PASS!
 

ebungalow

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@Denny39

Holy moly, that’s a GREAT 5-week checkup!

I hear you on the fatigue, sleeping, swelling, and pain.

Sounds like your recovery is going very well (given the inevitables) - May it continue!
 

Jockette

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Many will envy your 130 flex at only 5 weeks! At almost 2 years out I doubt mine is that high!

Everything you can’t do yet will come, but it will take Time.

You’re doing fine!
 

sistersinhim

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130! Wow! Both of my knees are only 120. You got me beat at only 5 weeks out! Wow!
 
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Denny39

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At my checkup, my surgeon told me that the three layers of stitches below the skin will take 6 months to completely dissolve. During that time, they will continue to cause a certain amount of intermittent annoyances, like occasional mild pain and stiffness.

For those who are still in the early stages of the first experience of a joint replacement, I can only say this: The first 2-3 weeks are probably going to be what my surgeon predicted (an understatement to say the least) would br “rough”. For some, that initial “rough” period stretches a bit, but it seems that somewhere around 2 weeks is where things usually begin to let up a bit, and some light begins to shine through. By that time however, it is very difficult not to become frustrated, discouraged, and perhaps even a bit fearful that this was not a good decision.

I experienced all of that, and even now, with a very good 5 week checkup, I still hobble around, shuffle for my first few steps after sitting awhile, have trouble getting and out of the car, and it will still be probably 3 more weeks before I begin to see any sleep improvement.

But from reading the posts of so many who have been through this, from the observations and encouragement of my very good PT’s and my wife, I have learned to focus more on the almost daily, but sometimes easily overlooked, improvements: things I can do now that I either couldn’t do, or had to really struggle with only a few days ago. For example, I can now put a sock on the surgical side without help, although it is not very easy. I can go up and down stairs normally, although I have to be very careful and use the hand rail. One week ago, I could do neither of those.

Patience is not one of my primary virtues, the result being that what I can’t do now, or don’t have yet, seems to take center stage. That causes frustration, anxiety, and tension resulting from unrealistic expectations or desires. But it does absolutely nothing to alter reality. I said in one of my early posts that this was becoming a learning experience. I had no idea just how true that would turn out to be.

I have had to adjust to the reality that this is going to take a lot longer and be a lot harder than I thought it would. I am learning to not pay so much attention to the annoying inconveniences and negatives that I can do nothing about. I am learning to appreciate more and more the encouragement and support of others, especially my wife who has been amazing. And this is all good.

I really think that in looking back on this a few months from now, I am going to be very glad, even thankful, that it happened. It definitely is a life-changing experience.
 
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Denny39

Denny39

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So; 8 weeks yesterday, and I find myself pretty much where people who were at this stage, or who had experienced it, when I was in that miserable “Twighlight Zone” in the 2nd and 3rd weeks said I would be. FINALLY, night before last, I got my first night of nearly normal sleep without any sleep-aids (I had started taking Morphine occasionally as a sleep aid). I didn’t do quite as good last night, but still it was a pretty good night.

The swelling and pain in the upper and lower leg muscles are pretty much gone. I can usually walk with a very minor limp for the first hour or so after getting up in the morning. But there is still a persistent pain and swelling at the knee, centered right where the implant joins the Tibia. As the day wears on, that usually increases to cause a much more noticeable limp, and of course more pain. But it is not disabling or seriously restrictive; easily managed by Tylenol, which I usually take no more than twice in 24 hours.

So I have come to the conclusion that this recovery process exists on a fairly predictable timeline, when all goes “normal”, of major events and milestones, which with even a little bit of an optimistic outlook can be expected, or at least reasonably hoped for. This is however, superimposed over a plethora totally unpredictable situations, feelings, concerns, deviations, and other assorted “What-the-heck’s”. They are sometimes puzzling, interesting, encouraging, discouraging, scary, or perhaps may even appear ominous. It is very good during these times to know that others have gone through the same things and come out safely on the other end. Statistically, there is a 96-98% chance that ultimately, all will be well. That’s the good news.

Notwithstanding, I still really, really, DON’T want to do this again! However, considering the currently annoying and cantankerous behavior of my Right knee, late summer or early fall will probably see me once again acquiesce to walking up to the Admissions Desk and signing my name on the dotted line below where it says something like, “Yes, I am here of my own free will, and I REALLY do want you to do this to me”. That will of course be a flagrant Transgression of the 9th commandment, which discourages such prevaricational behavior. I guess I’ll just have to consider it a therapeutical fib and move on.
 
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Celle

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You're doing well, Denny.
Yes, it is a long recovery - a marathon, not a sprint - but it's worth it in the end.

Of course you don't want to do the other knee yet. Who does want to voluntarily submit themselves to a year-long recovery, with all its ups and downs?

But there will eventually come a time when you get so fed up with the pain that knee causes you and the accommodations you have to make to your quality of life that you say "OK. That's enough. This has to stop."
That's when you'll be ready to have the other knee done.
 
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Denny39

Denny39

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Hi @CAdesgirl
Glad I could shine a small light for you. You are exactly 1 month behind me. Things should be getting a little easier and better now, but keep in mind that you are still in the early half of the short-term recovery stage. Smile at every opportunity and look forward to what’s to come. I am much better now than I was at 4 weeks, just as many who responded to my posts assured me I would be. I had a really hard time envisioning that, but improvements soon will start becoming both more noticeable and reassuring.

Lack of sleep was a really big problem for me, as it is for many. That by itself can drag you down and make it hard to stay hopeful and optimistic. But that too will eventually get back to normal.

Hang in there; stay focused. You’ll make it.
 

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