Knee Replacement

Just about a week after getting home from our trip, I had my left knee replaced.   I’ve been struggling with it for at least 8 years that I can remember.   In 2000, I spent six weeks in Washington D.C. on a work assignment.  I remember how difficult the first weeks were for me due to the amount of walking involved in getting to and from the metro, shopping, meals, etc.   The next year, I returned to D.C. with my daughter and her hubby, and I remember getting stuck on an escalator that had stopped.  It took me 10-15 minutes to go down the stairs one step at a time.  I could barely hobble around.   When I got home, I started getting shots.  Those helped for a few years then things got bad again.  This past June was a terrible month.  I couldn’t get into Ortho for six weeks.  I could barely walk, and that was the turning point for my decision to go ahead with surgery.  I decided to wait until after Emma arrived so that I would be free to travel around the country! 

I’m somewhat amazed at how easily I made the decision to have this major surgery.  I met with the surgeon a couple of times.  The x-rays showed bone-on-bone arthritis and he said I was a candidate for total knee replacement.  Actually, he started to explain all the options, and I asked him to make the decision of which route to take — after all he’s the pro.  He recommended a total knee replacement and I agreed, so we scheduled a date.  

The morning of the surgery I checked into the hospital at 6am.  A great, well-experienced nurse  put in the IV;  I didn’t feel a thing, he was so good.  After that it was time for a chat with the anesthesiologist.  My chart showed that I have had several problems with general anesthesia in the past, and we talked about each of those.  He listened carefully, asked questions, and then told me he had a plan.  He would not use general anesthesia, but rather use a spinal.  I told him I had had a spinal for my C-Section and had experienced excruciating “ghost pains” in my legs.  I really didn’t want to go through that again — it was agony.  The doctor said he would block the sciatica, and in addition he would put in a femoral nerve block.    After talking to him, a calm came over me and I felt that I would be in good hands. 

A word about the femoral nerve block — I would highly recommend asking about this procedure if you are thinking of knee replacement.  The block was basically an IV placed at the top of the thigh where it becomes the belly.   Its attached to a ball which has a pump and medication in it.  This kept the top portion of my leg totally without pain for three days while the trauma of the surgery subsided.  I did have pain on the back of the knee and was on pain meds for that.   Let me tell you, that was enough discomfort for me.  I can’t imagine the pain level if the nerve block hadn’t been in place.  One effect of the block is that the leg is basically a wet noodle.  This reverses within a few hours of the block being removed.  

When the anesthesiologist  came to remove the femoral block, I thanked him for all his care and the fact that he listened to me and had a plan!   He seemed pleased.  I’d like to have him for any future surgeries I might need.  

I’m one month out from surgery now.  I still have some discomfort, but I can generally keep it under control by doing the exercises and massage techniques the physical therapist has given me and a few pain meds.  I’m up walking with a walker (and sometimes without it).   I can go out and about, but after about three hours, I’m pooped and ready for a rest.   I’m not driving yet, although I probably could since it’s my left knee.  I have mostly good days with a few woe-is-me hours thrown in now and then.   I think the next few weeks will bring  great improvement, and I’ll be walking freely again!

1 Response to “Knee Replacement”

  1. 1 Kathryn Fuller December 21, 2008 at 8:25 pm

    It sounds as though you were blessed with great medical care, and the insight to trust and go with the flow! I’m glad to hear that all is progressing well…and that you will be kicking up your heels in the New Year!

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