Knee Surgery

Bilateral knee surgery

On January 30, 2012, my husband Mark had bilateral total knee replacement surgery. Thinking it might be helpful to others who are considering having this surgery, I blogged about the preparation beforehand, the surgery, and Mark’s recovery. You can find links to the knee surgery posts below.

Links to stories about bilateral knee surgery—

Double knee replacement surgery – Part 1: Planning ahead – January 10, 2012
Double knee replacement surgery—Part 2: Pre-op class
– January 24, 2012
Double knee replacement surgery – Part 3: On the Far Side of the Bed
– January 29, 2012
Knee surgery day schedule
– January 30, 2012
Double knee replacement surgery update — Making progress
– January 31, 2012
Three days after bilateral total knee replacement surgery
– February 2, 2012
Bilateral knee total replacement surgery — One week later
– February 6, 2012
A tale of determination, confidence, and the clankety clank of a walker
– February 7, 2012
Bilateral Knee Surgery – Two weeks post-op and walking with a cane
– February 13, 2012
Bilateral knee replacement surgery—Three weeks post-op and x-rays
– February 20, 2012
Bilateral knee surgery — Five weeks and waiting for “normal” – March 7, 2012
Bilateral knee replacement surgery — Two months and back to yard work
– April 10, 2012


99 Comments on “Knee Surgery”

  1. Bob Blair says:

    Hi,

    I need to have both of my knees replaced soon and I’ve been trying to decide if I should do them one at a time or both at the same time. I’m enjoying reading about your and your husband’s experience. Right now I’ve tentatively decided to do both at once, get it over with and then get on with the rest of my life.

    I just wanted to thank you for taking the time to write about your experience. It has helped me prepare for my own.

    Bob Blair
    Los Altos, CA

    • CMSmith says:

      I’m glad it’s been helpful to you. I hope you realize that Mark’s recovery has been faster than typical for a bilateral replacement. I think it depends on your age and how motivated you are. It sounds like you might be motivated. Mark did the pre-operation exercises religiously. We both think that helped.

      Now that we are this far, we are glad we did it this way for the same reason you’re thinking about it. But I have to tell you, when we were still in the hospital and I saw how much easier it looked for a single knee replacement patient, I had my second-thoughts.

      Good luck.

    • MCdunnough says:

      There was one

      • jan says:

        I had both done on the 18 June 2014 ….I think it depends on your pain tolerance….it hasn’t been bad for more the hardest part is knowing what to do to pushand how much….I have ridden a bike for years and before the op made sure I did from 30 to 50 ks a week I have also swam laps for 15-17 years and the physio told me that they are the 2 best things I could do ……it has been 8 weeks tomorrow 12/08/14 I am on my exercise bike and have been doing 10 mims x3 so 30 mins a day min … so can I sugest you either get on an exercise bike or a ordinary bike and build up those thigh muscles

  2. Alicia says:

    Hello! I am 31 and was born with congenital defects of my feet and knees. I am looking at having both of my knees replaced. I do not have a lot of movement in my knees right now (never have) so having the knees replaced would give me more movement than I’ve ever had which is exciting. However, my father had his knees replaced and is doing well but is very scary for me. How much was your husband able to fend for himself the first month out of the hospital. This I worry the most about as I don’t know how much help I will have.

    Thanks for sharing this journey!

    • CMSmith says:

      Hi Alicia,
      This sounds pretty exciting for you. I’m not sure my husband’s case is typical as it seems he recovered really fast. I would say for the first week he needed a lot of help. I kept the ice in his ice machine filled, I carried the CPM machine to and from the bed (not everyone has this, but I think it really helped him a lot.) I brought him food and drinks. He was able to get up by himself with his walker, and do all his personal hygiene needs by himself, although I did wash his hair for him. I brought him his beverages, and prepared and served all his food. I also helped keep track of his medicines. He was able to dress himself, but I had to help with the tight stockings they wanted him to wear (not everyone has to do this).

      He quickly became able to do most things for himself, given the constraints of using a walker. I had to move the CPM machine back and forth for him the whole time, and I don’t remember how long we had it. But you could set it up someplace where you wouldn’t have to move it. We had it in our bed.

      I, of course, had to drive him to therapy for about six weeks. He went about three times a week.

      The hospital he was at made sure he was able to care for himself pretty much, before he left. Some people had the option of going into a facility where they could recover if they didn’t have the help they needed at home. This is something you might look into.

      Best of luck to you.

      • Alicia says:

        Well I am very motivated to get this done. They told me I would be in a wheelchair by the time I was 30 and that hasn’t happened. I would just like to be able to do normal things for the first time like ride a bike etc! :) I’ve had a lot of surgeries and am pretty tough so I think I will be okay and do well with recovery. Thanks again for blogging about this. I think it has helped more people than you know (thank your husband for letting you too)! haha

      • CMSmith says:

        I hope you’ll stop back afterwards, or while you are recovering if you have any questions, and let us know how you are doing. Best of wishes.

  3. Mary M Coffey says:

    Dear Christine,

    Wow! I was searching for positive information on bilateral knee replacements..and there you were! Amazing to read.

    I am a “retired” nurse, age 56 with surgery scheduled for bilateral knee replacements on Sept. 12, 2012. I am doing PT for strenghtening. I started my lists in preparation for the big day and the weeks after ( our lists matched just about perfectly! ). I know healing and progress varies with us all. I am so ready for this and I thank you and your spouse Mark for sharing your journey.

    I’ve glanced through your other blogs and I also share many of your interests and experiences! Funny how we can touch each other’s lives by reaching out just a little! I look forward to reading all your blogs in the near future.

    Thanks so much!

    Mary

    • CMSmith says:

      Mark was 55 when he had the surgery. You should do fine. I think his vigilance with the therapy exercises helped a lot.

      I hope to hear more from you on the other aspects of my blogging. And I do hope you’ll let us know how you’re doing following surgery. Best of wishes for an uneventful and speedy recovery.

  4. Pat Mascaro says:

    I just read your story and hope that Mark and you are doing well. I’m just starting the process of meeting with doctors for knee replacement. I have had rheumatoid arthritis for 20 years, had my hips replaced at age 40, with 3 revisions to one hip. So I know a bit about joint replacement, but knees aren’t hips. I found your blog to be very informative, and while both my knees are equally bad, I was considering having one done at a time. After reading this, I am now considering having bilateral surgeries. Don’t know if I have the courage just yet, but I do know how important it is to follow the rules and put all you have into the physical therapy.
    Thanks for sharing your story with others.

    • CMSmith says:

      Hi Pat,
      Thanks for stopping by. Because of your previous surgeries, I don’t doubt you are quite well informed about what to expect.

      I will tell you that in the hospital and even later, I was a bit envious of those people whose spouse or significant other had a single knee replacement. It almost seemed like a no-brainer. Since you’ve already been willing to have multiple surgeries and are likely a patient and determined individual, you might want to think about doing only one at a time. It looked a lot easier.

      I follow a blogger whose husband just had both knees done this year: one in April and the second one this summer. Her name is Kathy and her blog is Lake Superior Spirit. http://upwoods.wordpress.com/2012/07/27/my-husband-my-hero/

      I’m sure she would give you her opinion of having them done separately if you asked.

      Best of luck.

      Let me know how it works out.

      • Pat Mascaro says:

        Hi, Christine….Thank you for the link to Kathy and your thoughts on choosing to do a knee at a time. Will let you know what happens. Regards, Pat

  5. katy says:

    Dear Christine,
    Well, I had surgery April 29, this year and am faithfully doing my exercises at home. I am still in therapy and I am only 111 degrees conistently. I do not know if I have done the right thing, but it is done, and I figure they should last the rest of my life.

    There are two things I really want to do and that is ride my bike and lose about 20 lbs. I am hoping I can do this to make it easier. It has been a long haul it seems, but I have a good therapist, although it seems I live there at the moment. After 40 sessions I have been approved for 8 more from the insurance for which I am thankful. I pray that your hubby is doing well and on the speedy road to recovery. God bless you all.

    • CMSmith says:

      I’m glad you’ve got the surgery behind you. I know it took my sister-in-law over a year, I think, to get to 120 degrees. I think it sounds like you’re doing great. My husband is, and has been well recovered for a long time. He is a LOT better off than he was before the surgery. I think you will be too. It may just take you a little longer to get to a place where you’re comfortable. I want to lose a significant amount of weight too, because I know that will help my knees and maybe prevent me from having to have surgery down the road.

      Keep up the good work. You’re only a little over three months into your recovery. You’ll get there.

  6. Sue Skuthorpe says:

    Hi /Sue from Australia. My results are similar after three weeks out. Just walking to get stronger and working on the bending. Looking forward to being able to walk long distances and to dance about with my grand kids. Blessings

    • CMSmith says:

      I’m happy to hear of your success. I’m sorry for my delayed response. We’ve had a crisis this month with my parents that has been taking and continues to take all of my time.

      You’ll get there. Keep up the good work.

  7. Pat Sabin says:

    Thank you so much for sharing Mark’s journey. I am having bilateral TKR on January 17 and am looking forward to the day when I will have less pain and more mobility than now. I also realize that Mark is definitely the “poster child” for bilateral TKR! Wow! I also appreciate all the details that you shared regarding pre-surgery planning and day to day survival. You are an amazing woman.

    • CMSmith says:

      Best of success with your surgery. Our lives have been dramatically changed for the better since last January when Mark had his. Mark may have been a “poster child” as you suggest, but I’ve heard from other people who are doing quite well. Just follow the directions and do the therapy as best as you can. Let me know how you’re doing.

  8. Deborah says:

    Christine – I’m late to the party, but your information is GREAT! I’m scheduled for bilateral in five days (Arpil 1, 2013) and am very encouraged by your blog and Mark’s recovery. I’m going to save this to use for encouragement and inspiration. I’ve found when I ask people who have actually had knee replacements exactly how it went in and out of the hospital they are all pretty fuzzy about details and the first month (no doubt thanks to the pain and good drugs). Your third party reporting answered most of my logistics questions. Thanks again and I hope you both continue to do well.

  9. Susan says:

    Christine–bless you for your blog about your husband’s bilateral knee replacement. It gave my husband, who is 59, a positive attitude before his identical surgery which was done February 6, 2013. He had plenty of negative advice from well-meaning friends, who felt that doing both knees at one surgery was a big mistake, but he felt that with God’s help and much determination he could get back on his feet and back to work driving truck. My husband had an excellent therapist who was well versed in bilateral knee replacement, and the exercises she assigned helped him to regain his mobility rapidly and also achieve his goal of returning to work. He worked very hard and “graduated” from therapy with his therapist’s approval on March 15. He was back in the driver’s seat the last week of March hauling feed commodities five days a week, thankfully home every night to sleep in his own bed. He goes up and down flights of stairs to take his ticket to the office, besides other “on the job” exercises. He faithfully pedals his stationary bicycle (which he feels has helped to limber his knees immensely) every day. All in all, his sense of well being is back and he is doing great. Okay, here’s my question: how long did your husband continue to do his therapy exercises at home? Was there a time when he realized he wouldn’t regress without them? My husband (whose name is also Mark:) wonders how long to continue his therapy exercises at home. I know you won’t want to stick out your neck too far to offer medical advice, but you haven’t given an update on your husband’s therapy routine past two months post-surgery. Does he still do exercises, and if so, what is his routine? If not, when did he feel comfortable stopping? I can’t find any help on this subject online. An update would be much appreciated. Thanks!!

    • CMSmith says:

      I’m glad everything went so well for your husband. I asked Mark about it and he doesn’t remember doing any exercises after 6 months (I think it was probably earlier than that.) He has not regressed. His daily activity is enough to keep him in good shape, although I suspect his doctor would say he should continue to do the exercises indefinitely. (Shouldn’t we all?)

  10. Lynn Faulkner says:

    OK Christine – I am going to add myself to the list of those who went seeking any honest information on bilateral replacements and found your blog. I am a 61 year-old male who recently resigned himself to the idea that the stalling tactics were done and it was time to talk replacement. At first my doctor scheduled one replacement but after I went home, I started wondering if it would make more sense to have a REALLY LOUSY summer and just get both done at the same time. Most people I spoke with thought me nuts to even think that way but I called my doc’s scheduler and asked her to ask him if he would consider doing bilateral. She replied that in her years working for him he had only done bilaterals twice so she suspected the answer would be no but a couple hours later she called back to say he surprised her by saying I would be a good candidate. I went to see him again and left scheduled for bilateral replacements on June 25, 2013. I admit being pretty worried about doing this but mostly for reasons I suspect differ from many other’s. First – I am a clean fanatic and sometimes take two (or more) showers daily so I cannot imagine how grungy I expect to feel during the early rehab phase – YUCK. Second – I am pretty (OK, obsessively) awful about caring for myself and am quite terrorized at being nearly helpless for weeks? I am much better at taking care of others than having anyone help me so I am truly dreading these things at least as much as fearing infections and blood clots. Also being “only” 61, I am already worrying how long these new knees will last before having to be re-replaced when I (God willing) will still be here but older and presumably less healthy. Just curious about how/what thoughts your husband might have on the longevity and eventual replacement of his replaced knees in another 10-15 years. Any thoughts? Anyhow, I appreciate your efforts and send my thanks for posting them for folks like me.

    • CMSmith says:

      Hi Lynn,
      I’m glad you found the site and hope the information is helpful.
      If all goes well with your replacements, it may not be as lousy of a summer as you are worried about. If you are highly motivated and heal well, you may do just fine. Several of my readers reported doing well also.

      Mark’s doctor only does one or two bilateral surgeries a year. It’s not done that often, perhaps because of insurance reasons. Mark’s doctor told us flat out that the insurance companies do not compensate him nearly as well for the bilateral surgery as they do if you have two separate surgeries. I don’t know if that is the case with your doctor or not.

      Mark is pretty committed to his shower-a-day as well. And I was concerned about this at the time, but it didn’t turn out to be an issue. I think he was able to get in the shower fairly quickly. Prior to that I helped him wash his hair in the sink and he gave himself a sponge bath that he felt was adequate. Although I know he was thrilled when he was able to get in the shower again. It just depended on the incisions. He was able to stand well enough pretty early. In fact, he never used the shower bench that I bought for him.

      Mark was not as helpless as I had feared he would be after about the first week. I will admit that I was not supposed to leave him home alone and I did worry about what would happen in the case of a fire or something, but he was able to get himself up and to the bathroom when he got home from the hospital. He walked in from the car. I had our son with us in case I needed help, but I really didn’t.

      Maybe it’s a good opportunity to let the others you have helped have a chance to help you in return.

      Mark does not plan on having to replace his knees. He was told the knees they put in today last 30 years. His mother had her knees done over 20 years ago, and at the time they were supposed to be 15 year knees. She’s still walking fine on them. No problems. That sounds like one of the worries you could put to rest for now.

      We watched the entire series of Band of Brothers on DVD while Mark was recuperating in bed and exercising with that machine. I don’t know if you will have to use that machine or not. But it might be worth while to stock up on a few DVDs.

      Best of wishes. Let us know how everything goes.

      • Lynn Faulkner says:

        Well – It is exactly one month ago today I had my bilateral replacements done. I spent 3 days in the hospital followed by just under 3 weeks in a rehab facility where I received two physical therapy sessions daily. I returned home last Thursday using two canes which I am still using as I walk about a bit more each day. I feel the bilateral choice was the right one for me being just 61 and still having good upper body strength which was very helpful right from the start and still so. It has been a very painful month but I am happy knowing it is over now and I will not have to return to have another procedure in a few months like I would have needed to do had I done just one knee at a time. A person who is older or less physically capable might well do one knee at a time. I still have a long recovery ahead of me to reach fairly “normal” knee functionality again but I expect to reach that point before the summer is over. Thanks again for the input and information I received on your blog. Lynn

      • CMSmith says:

        Hooray for you! You made it over the hard part. It sounds like you are doing quite well. I agree that someone who is older and perhaps not as strong might be wise to go it one at a time. I know I felt that way when i saw single knee replacements walking through the hallways. It looked so much easier than what Mark and you had to do. But I’m with you—you’re all done. Terrific.

        Stay well. And thanks for checking back in. I know others will benefit from it.

  11. Tammy says:

    I really can’t thank you enough for very generously sharing your and Mark’s experience with us! My surgery is scheduled 2 weeks from now. I live by myself and am a 55 yr old female. I am only worried if I will be able to get up and get to the bathroom ok. Other than that, I can get through just about anything! I am a very fast healer and as (hard-headed) dedicated as Mark. Well maybe half as much as Mark. He is a super-hero to me!!! :) You have given me some bench marks to look forward to and have eased a ton of my concerns. Can’t thank you both enough! You really have an impact on people’s lives by sharing this info! I hope you realize the power your words have. YOU are a super-hero to me as well!!

    Much Love-
    Tammy

    • CMSmith says:

      Good luck on your surgery, Tammy. It sounds like you will do quite well. I don’t think you should worry too much about the bathroom. Mark actually made his own way out of the bathroom while he was still in the hospital because he got tired of waiting for help to return. I think you will be surprised at how soon you are able to do things. Hopefully all goes well. Let us know.

      • Tammy says:

        Thank you so much! 10 days and counting to my double knee replacement. I was wondering if you had any tips for me for when I come home after the rehab facility after surgery? Since you were Mark’s primary care giver, I was hoping you could share any tips or tricks for me to get around better at home. Anything I can prepare in advance, items to have around, that sort of thing. I will be on my own and won’t have the luxury of YOU to take care of me! Unless you want to come to Florida for a couple of weeks?? lol…

      • CMSmith says:

        Sorry I didn’t get back to you sooner, Tammy. I haven’t been on my computer much the last few days. I’ve been thinking about it, and honestly, Mark was able to take care of his basic necessities pretty early. I don’t know if you will have the exercise machine. That might be something you want to think about where you will be able to put it so that you don’t have to move it back and forth from the bed.

        The other problem was that I had to go to the drug store and get him things. Hopefully you will be able to manage that through a relative, friend, or a delivery service.

        I had set up a card table in the bedroom for things Mark needed – he had shots to take, and hose to put on his legs. I think he had a lung exerciser. I thought it would be easier to keep those things in the room where he spent most of his time at first. I also had a basket of snacks for him and a large lidded mug of ice water.

        I suspect you will not go home until you are able to do what you need to do. The only thing I can really think of is meals. It was difficult for Mark to get around in the kitchen and do things while he was still using his walker. So if you can have some easy meals around, I think you will be glad you did.

        Good luck.

      • CMSmith says:

        I would love to come to Florida, but alas, have comittments here that prevent me. :) You will do fine.

  12. Robin Netter says:

    Christine,
    Thank you for posting your blog. I am 8 weeks post bilateral knee replacement and wish I’d read it sooner. Did your husband have weird feelings in his legs at night- different from the pain felt during the day? My doctor didn’t use the ice machine or the CPM machine. I was in inpatient physical therapy for 3 1/2 weeks and then went home with out patient therapy 2-3x’s/week. I started back driving at 4 weeks and back to work part time at 5 weeks just 2-3 hours/day since my job is standing for 8-10 hrs. per day. My knees stiffen up almost immediately after therapy and i’m at 105 degrees on each leg. The night time random weird feelings are worse than daytime pain and have been difficult to control. Finally got some relief from icing. Still have trouble standing for more than 3 1/2-4 hrs. unless continually moving. I am on norco 1-3x’s/day depending on how much i do- yardwork, painting, shopping cooking, and at the high end after too much therapy. They overworked me on Monday and I’ve been in alot of pain for 3 days. When can i expect all pain to go away and to be able to work for 8-10 hours again? My boss seems to think I should have been able to do more at 4 weeks… Thank you- Robin

    • CMSmith says:

      Hi Robin,
      I think it sounds like you are doing really well. Mark did have weird feelings in his legs that made it hard to sleep sometimes. I remember he asked others about it and they had the same problem too. It eventually went away. Mark got his flexibility to 120 degrees, so I don’t know if that is something you will need to work at or not. I remember it took his sister a year to regain her flexibility when she had one knee done.

      I don’t know what to tell you about all that standing. I would just suggest you use the pain medication, hopefully non-addictive over-the-counter stuff will work, as you need it and be patient with yourself. It quite a tremendous thing that just happened to your body.

      It’s too bad about your boss not being more understanding. Can you ice your knees at lunch break? I know I’ve found that ice really helps my knees (I haven’t had the surgery, and hope I never have to.) I have a couple of blue ice soft ice packs that I keep in the freezer. I wrap them around my knees with ace bandages. Maybe you could find a way to do that at lunch.

      But it sounds like you are doing great with all your activities. Keep up the good work.

  13. Susan Martin says:

    I just found this blog as I am looking for helpful suggestions and expectations. My bilateral knee replacement will be December 16th.

    I can see many changes in my house starting this weekend. We’ve already made some changes, but many more are looking like they’ll need to take place.

    Here’s hoping I can recover as quickly as Mark did.

    • CMSmith says:

      I hope you can recover quickly too. If you read through the comments on the various posts about Mark’s surgery, many others also had success stories. Best of luck to you. It was the best thing Mark ever did (outside of marrying me, of course). Stop back and let us know how it goes.

  14. Debbie Tunney says:

    Hi there, reading marks blog has given me alot of information as i am in the process of needing right knee replacement definately and possibly left. I am considering bilateral as I am out of work, and cannot keep putting off getting a job and waiting for surgeries. Wait times in Ontario Canada are terrible. One thing I was wondering did Mark have general anaesthsia or an epidural, and if he stayed awake what did he hear and smell. I have heard its not worth staying awake for, but i get extremely sick after being put out, so i have been thinking that would be better for recovery if I try to stay awake depending to on what my surgeon recommends. Thank you for all you have posted here.

    Debbie

    • CMSmith says:

      Hi Debbie,
      Mark had general anesthesia. I can only imagine what you might hear, and possibly smell if you were awake. Maybe there is some kind of compromise for you where you have something that dulls your senses, but doesn’t put you all the way out and an epidural. Your surgeon may know, or a good anesthesiologist. I have not heard of anyone staying awake for this surgery. Mark’s took a couple or several hours, I can’t remember exactly.

      Best of wishes making your decision. You will feel a lot better once you are through it all.
      Let us know what you decide to do.

      • debbie tunney says:

        hi there, well I have had my right knee replaced, I got a call a week and a bit ago, that there had been a cancellation for jan 14/14 I said book me…the doctor had told me that my left knee had a lot of life left in it and it was starting to show signs of wear he said that it had been compensating for my right knee and that was the priority.Well I have had it done and its a challenge to get back to the swing of things, I had an epidural with heavy sedation and it was fantastic, I remember the epideral then I remember nothing until I got to my room, no sickness no nothing….the exercises are hard, especially the knee bending, my physio therapist says I am above average for where I am considering its only been a week and a bit…..I walk with a walker, do my physio and hope for the best….I find it hard to fill my days but I am getting there….I get my staples out on jan 31 and I think that will help as I feel them shrinking and pulling….I need to be patient and it will come…anyways this part is done and on with healing now……

      • CMSmith says:

        It sounds like you are doing amazing. It’s pretty major surgery, it will take some time to get back to normal. Or in this case, hopefully better than normal. Patience. You’re doing great.

    • Arlene Raymer says:

      Debbie

      I had bilateral knee replacement in July 2013 and had nerve blocks. I was not awake during the surgery and heard nothing. I also had no post-surgical nausea which was wonderful. I am so glad I had the bilateral knee replacement. I returned to work after five weeks, returned to driving after a month and have done extremely well. One thing that I felt was helpful was four months of pre-surgical strengthening at a local health facility. I continue to work out 4-5 days a week and truly feel good. Best of luck to you.

      Arlene

  15. lIz says:

    Thanks so much for your blog! Like Mark, my family runs ‘creaky.’ My surgery is scheduled for the 20th. I have been to the classes, but your blog, has put my mind at ease. I can do this, yes I can.

  16. Michael Pratt says:

    On 2/20/14 I’m going in for bilateral total knee replacement, I’ve been working my legs and upper body every other day. I know I will come out better than ever with great result and advice to help would be great. Mike

  17. Bruce G says:

    Hi Christine:

    You and Mark have been an inspiration to me and my wife in reading your comments and your personal experiences as we prepare for my bilateral knee surgery on Feb 11/14. I live in Calgary Alberta so getting out and walking after the surgery will be a challenge given we have winter with lots of snow and ice until April sometimes. Our bedroom is also 14 stairs up off the main level, which I am not sure I will be able to handle for the first few weeks once home.

    I have been working hard building my leg muscles ever since being told of the operation date back in early January by riding my stationary bike morning and night 7 days a week. I ride between 10 – 12 km per day. I am a lot like Mark that when I go shopping with my wife I either have to stop and sit down after 20 minutes of walking or sometimes just go back to the truck and wait for her.

    My biggest challenge before the surgery are days that either one or both knees seem OK, which does make me (at times) question the decision for bilateral surgery. Then there are those days that I use my knees for an hour or so longer than I should and can hardly wait for the surgery. I find it is an emotional roller coaster between the good and bad days and continually question my decision to give up what God gave me for prosthetic knees. Both my knees have been damaged from many years of soccer in my younger years and having multiple orthoscopic surgeries to remove torn cartilage in both. I have been wearing a loaded knee brace during golf on my right knee for 4 – 5 years and I also find my knees are quite bowed now. Looking forward to one day walking the 18 holes and golfing with no pain.

    Again thanks for your efforts and time in sharing your experiences and in giving others the encouragement some may need, as I did.

    Bruce

    • CMSmith says:

      Good luck with your surgery, Bruce. It sounds like you are well-prepared. They told us at our pre-surgery meeting that if you needed to be able to walk up a flight of stairs, you would be able to by the time they released you from the hospital. I don’t know if that will be true for you or not. We were at Myakka River State Park in Florida recently and they had a lookout tower you could climb up over the top of the tree canopy. Mark went up, but I did not. When he came back down he said he would never have been able to do that before his surgery. He was not able to play gold before his surgery and now he can enjoy it again. So many things. Let us know how you do. Best of wishes.

      • Paul says:

        Here in Spain under the social security plan, they will not do a bi-lateral, I will have to wait for the second. My problem is I dont know which knee to choose because the doctors here say I have to decide….any suggestions ? I had left knee cartilage removal over 45 years ago, leading to damage in the right and another cartilage removal about 35 years ago. I have suffered chronic pain ever since now almost natural to bear, but no, it is getting worse and I am scheduled for TKR next week. Any suggestions ? Thank you for your blog. This has been great. I am going into it with optimism and I have always tended to heal well and I DO NOT WANT TO HAVE TO TAKE A LOT OF PAINKILLERS….time will tell and healing will convert !!
        Thanks Again,
        Paul

      • CMSmith says:

        I don’t have any suggestions regarding which knee to do first. I have known others who have had them done one at a time and seemed to do quite well with it. I think you will be very glad once you’re recovered. Good luck.

  18. RobinNetter says:

    Just make sure you use the best orthopedic surgeon, even one who is so good he does revisions for other surgeons mess ups. Take your norco an hour before therapy!! Good luck!

  19. Christine, I enjoyed reading your’s and Mark’s story of his surgery. I am having bilateral knee surgery April 1st. I am 63, had a hip done 1 1/2 yrs ago that went really well. I have a few anxious moments but am mostly excited to be through with all of this. I am in Santa Rosa, California, and am told that “they” do not use the CPM machines anymore, and I’m not sure how I feel about this.
    I have been working hard to get “quads of steel” and feel pretty good at my strength improvement.
    Following your blog has given me more insight than most articles I’ve read.
    Thank you very much for sharing this, and I am going to have my husband read it also.
    Kristin

    • CMSmith says:

      Thanks for stopping by, Kristin. I’m glad you found the blog posts helpful. I know everybody does things a little bit differently. It was something of a pain to use the CPM machine, so maybe it’s a good thing that you won’t have to. Good for you and your “quads of steel.” I know this will help in your recovery. Best of wishes to you on your surgery. I hope you will stop back and let us know how it all goes.

      • Hi Christine, well, I am finishing week 5 after BTKR and quite honestly the jury is out on whether or not to recommend bilateral. I KNOW that when it is all said and done, I will be glad I did it, but right now….pheww.
        “They” say I am doing well, I was strong going in and feel pretty strong now…it is just that whole bending thing. I struggle with the “fear, pain & depression” triangle sometimes as I wait for normalcy. I think what is getting to me the most is that my right knee has developed a “clicking” …. of a muscle or tendon…on the outside of the knee. It hurts during cycling (when I push the ROM) or simply when I try to push the degrees more…I am at about 100. When it clicks, it is like an electrical shock that takes about 5 minutes to stop hurting. The Doc saw it and says be patient, do more swelling control, etc. It scares the devil out of me. I read that clicking happens, but no one in your blog has mentioned it and I’m wondering if anyone has had it. It is slowing down that side and adds to the fear.
        Generally, I am OK, optimistic, upbeat,have good support, but sometimes I think this is as good as it gets. I constantly have to work my mind as much as my body.
        Thanks for the outlet. I enjoy reading other’s experience.
        Kristin

  20. Mary says:

    Just found your blog and it has been nice to read and compare stories. I had my TKRs on Ja. 24/27. My dr. Does them 3days apart. I was basically in the hospital for 6 days. I was able to take showers in the hospital about a day after each surgery. I was set up with a CPM machine at home, which I also agree was a lot of time each day but worth the time. I am doing great with bends (138-140 degrees) but struggle with my impatience of stamina. Pain the first two months was awful but feel like it’s getting much better, however I also got off my pain meds (using only IBuprophin) at 5 weeks because I didn’t like the way they made me feel. I pray my strength continues to improve and the pain diminishes. Congrats to Mark on his success.

    • CMSmith says:

      I never heard of that before. It sounds like you are doing well. Mark’s doctor did a good job with pain management, I think. Hopefully everything will just continue to get easier and better for you. It’s a big-deal surgery, but you are through the worst of it. Mark is so glad he did it. There is really no comparison to his life now. Thanks for stopping by.

  21. Shawn Barker says:

    Christine, I am a 53 year old who had bi-lateral last Tuesday, March 11. I have a couple of questions if you don’t mind. One, my doctor sent me home with two DonJoy ice machines. I basically use them 24/7, but am hearing that other say that is way over-kill. Did Mark use them and if so, how often? Did he sleep with them? Secondly, I have not taken off my TEDS and was wondering if Mark was able to take his off for 30 minutes a few times a day? Or did he just keep them on 24/7 until his post-op and then was done? My post-op is April 2. Thanks for any thoughts. I enjoyed reading your blog before my surgery and it has helped me a lot mentally. I’m doing great in terms of walking, exercises, etc. But pain management has been really tough and I think the constant ice and TEDS are my biggest challenges. Thanks again and hope you and Mark are doing well.

    • CMSmith says:

      Hi Shawn,
      I’m sorry it took me so long to respond. We were out of town and I fell behind. If I recall correctly, Mark had one ice machine (cooler, really), but he had a “Y” connection so that he could cool both knees from it. I’ll ask him and let you know if that’s different. I don’t think he slept with them, but again, I’ll ask. He cooled one knee while he used the CPM machine on the other. I don’t know if you are using that or not. I’m not sure what the TEDS are? Are those the white hose? I know he took them off at some point, because I remember struggling to get them back on him at first, until he could do it himself. I’m going to have to get back to you about that too.

      I think the ice is important because it reduces the swelling which can cause pain and discomfort. We got little bottles of water and I froze them, then replaced melted ones, with fresh ones from the freezer and kept recycling them. That worked out really well.

      I hope by now your pain management has improved. Mark is doing tremendous, better than me, actually, as I haven’t had my arthritic knees replaced. But they aren’t as bad as his were, and I’m hoping to get by with them.

      I’ll talk to Mark and get back to you. I think you’ll find this was all very much worth it, quite soon.

      • CMSmith says:

        Mark confirmed that he did not use the ice machines at night, and otherwise he only used them about half the time on each knee, because he was on the CPM machine with each leg most of his waking hours each day at first.

        He said that the leg hose were uncomfortable and he took them off for breaks often, but you didn’t hear it from me. :)

        Hope that helps.

  22. Mary Getrost says:

    Thank you for this blog. Going through this July 7th. This has helped me.

  23. Margaret Happe says:

    I was scheduled for a TKR on May 6th and the Dr. just recommended doing both..I am a little nervous.. I am having it done in Philly and I know nothing about any of the machines you are talking about. Do they supply them.. Did you get the higher toilet seat?

    • CMSmith says:

      Not all doctors use the same things. In fact, someone wrote that many doctors don’t use the CPM machine any more. I don’t remember how we got it, but I think the doctor’s office made the arrangements to have it delivered. The ice machine was a good thing to have. It’s just a small cooler with a pump and tubing attached to a pad. You keep the cooler filled with ice and water (we used frozen small water bottles that we could recycle in and out of the freezer) and it pumps cold water to the pads that you wrap around your knees. I think it helped with the inflammation a lot. You could ask your doctor about it.

      I got a higher toilet seat, but Mark didn’t want to use it. I probably would have used it myself if I had had the surgery.

      I would be surprised if you weren’t nervous. But as you can tell by many of the comments on this site, most people do quite well. Keeping up with the exercises and therapy is crucial.

      If your doctor has recommended you have both knees done, I imagine that means that you are really suffering now. If that is the case, you will be so glad you’ve done it once you’ve recovered. You will have your life back again.

      Let us know how you do.

      Good luck.

  24. Susan says:

    72 and had bilateral TKR 3/4/2014. I have always been active….health club several times a week…all pre surgery exercises done faithfully. Released from rehab 3/22 (left with 105 ROM) with walker…I have had 3 wks PT home care and in my 3rd week of PT at the hsp (129 ROM today). I am so disappointed. The pain getting up is still very very painful, walking more than 40 feet is very painful, standing is almost impossible after a min. I am know as very committed and I just seem to be far behind compared to others. My dr and PT say I am doing great and it’s not unusual to take 3 to 6 mos. YUK!

    • CMSmith says:

      Thanks for stopping by Susan. I’m sorry you are disappointed. I know some people have a harder time than others with this surgery. It took my sister-in-law a long time to get the flexibility she was hoping for. I think your doctor and PT should know if there was something more wrong. Don’t give up. But if it continues to hurt you, I would definitely be the squeaky wheel with the doctor, because sometimes things don’t go quite right. I hope you are feeling better now and continue to improve. Check back in later to let us know how you are doing. Best wishes.

  25. Mary Stephens says:

    Hi thd blogs have really helped. K am scheduled for bi later knee on May 28th. I am so nervous,not about the actual surgergy per se, but the pain in recovering. I am a rather large person, yet motivated snd young at heart. I will be 52 in June. Cant imagine not having a good leg tp stand on although its not really good at all. Question did ypu wear sneakers for rehab. Im npt really a sneaker person, they feel so heavy and hot on my feet, any other suggestions?

    • CMSmith says:

      Hi Mary,
      You are young for having this surgery, as was Mark. That should help you some, I would imagine. I think Mark did wear sneakers in rehab, but I think any good walking shoe with non-slip soles should be fine. I hope it all goes well for you. Let us know how you are doing.

      • Mary Stephens says:

        Hello its been 5 weeks post op. Only problem has been terrible muscle spasms in left leg, I woke up from surgery complaining and have been back to the hospital to make sure of no blood clots. Has anyone else experienced this? It holds me back from excercising,. I was at 98 bend now its 88, I sure don’t want to be moving backwards. Right leg is wonderful bending 110. I named my legs, frick and frack. Frack, the left leg is wack, lol.

    • Robin Netter says:

      Mary, I was 54 when i had bilateral knee replacements in 4/2013 and am considered morbidly obese and i was able to do all of the rehab with no problem. As I found out later, the tendonitis I was experiencing during rehab and to this day is because my ligaments stretched out. This doesn’t happen very often so don’t worry about it. Make sure they give you your pain meds an hour before therapy and ice your knees after!! Good luck!

  26. janet says:

    Hi Christine,
    I am set to have my surgery 6/11/14. My daughter is in nursing school and is scared to death that I want to do both at once. I was an OR nurse and I have have past surgeries and can psych myself up for this. My doctor has recommended this for me as he says both my knees are bad and it’s hard to choose which one is needed over the other.
    I want it over with and don’t want to go through it again…
    Thank you for your blog. I know now I am not crazy.

    • CMSmith says:

      Hi Janet,
      No, you’re not crazy. As you can see by many of the comments on this blog, you’re not alone either. Most people who have checked back in with us here after there surgery are doing well and glad they did it. I know Mark is. There is simply no comparison to what he is able to do now from before. I don’t know if you read any of the “before” posts, but we went to a pre-op meeting where we were told that Mark would be able to do everything he needed to do by the time he went home. I found it hard to believe at the time.

      Just do the exercises they tell you to do to prepare yourself. You probably will have a few rough days afterwards, but it won’t be that long before you reap the rewards. Good luck and let us know how it goes for you.

  27. Bruce G says:

    Hi Christine: Thought I would give an update after my Feb 3/14 note above, I am 62 and had Bi Lateral surgery on Feb 11/14 here in Calgary Alberta, Went home after 4 days, My surgeon here in Calgary believes in “passive” PT by the patient only at home and no therapist. Used the Polar Kodiak ice machine faithfully 24/7 to control swelling for at least 2 months on both knees. A must do I believe!!

    Went back to my office job in 5 weeks. With it now 3 1/2 months after surgery my right knee which has a much more restrictive implant is better than new, although still covering and swollen at times when I over use it, but zero pain. My left knee with a normal implant like Mark’s, I am still having some pain to the interior of the knee and I do get the click sound from a tendon on top of the knee cap when doing stairs. I am about to try golfing in a few weeks to see how that goes. I too have a clunking sound from time to time but everyone tells me to be patient. Although still recovering for another few months yet, Bi Lateral is the best thing I ever did and I recommend bi lateral for those that are questioning both the same time. Patience is virtue people say and with knee surgery it’s a requirement.

    Thanks again for the time you put into this blog

    • CMSmith says:

      Hi Bruce,
      I’m happy to hear you are doing so well. Most people who have responded have also have good success, although every now and then someone struggles. I’ve never heard of a more restrictive implant and would be interested in hearing more about it. I’m sure your golf game will be much more enjoyable now than before when you were in pain.

      Thank you for taking the time to let us know how you’re doing. Best wishes. Christine.

      • Bruce Gilbert says:

        See attached before and after. The move restrictive implant was due to a much more deteriorate knee joint from soccer days

  28. Regina says:

    Having had bilateral knee replacement five weeks ago,I am so surprised as to how quickly I am recovering.I am 65 years of age and was expecting a much harder recovery, my husband insists that a positive attitude helps greatly.having spent 2 nights in hospital the Dr’s advice was that motion was his advice,so I did as he said, one week home,out went the crutches ,haven’t seen them since,icing lasted two weeks,still wearing compression stocking,as the Dr recommended wearing for 6weeks,no swelling since the icing.I returned to house duties once I got rid of the crutches week one.It was very slow at first,but I was determined that I was going to followDr ‘s advice.The only PT I’ve had is the ones I had at the hospital,plus the booklet that was given on knee exercises that I door,i found that the exercise bike has been the best exercise for your knee.Of course keeping on top of the pain is super important,I have cut back on the strong medication to a chemist line medication.So at this stage I do lot and lots of walking,initially after DR advice I would walk around the dining room table, slowly at first till I was quite comfortable and no discomfit,I now go for long walks including up and down a small hill ,I am so happy with my progress,I have 120 degree bend in my knees ,so happy,occasionally my knees get tight,so on the bike I get ,relief is almost immeately. Can I just say the choice of your Dr is very. Important in this major operation,you must trust him,and follow his advice,oh! By the way,when you make your decision to go ahead with your operation ,as i did,did not read any any negative blogs and did not discuss my decision with friends as the soon start you off with negative we’ll meaning advice.Just keep your family informed. once the op is over,and your in recovery,then check on your expected recovery.
    then I found the internet was very informative.

    • CMSmith says:

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your experience, Regina. I’m glad things are going well for you. I agree that the choice of doctor is important, but unfortunately, it’s not always easy to know who is actually good and who is not. I hope your recovery continues to go smoothly.

  29. marygetrost says:

    I had my bilateral knee replacement on July 7th. They let me take a shower today! I am moving around very well. Pain is a toughy, but making it through. At 58 yrs old, I am very happy I chose the both at once route!

  30. Steve FitzGerald says:

    CM, jus a belated thank you for your Bi Lateral TKR experience from a couple of years ago. I’m just starting week #4 and with a couple of minor exceptions, my experiences have been amazingly similar – can’t tell from the pictures, but I may be a few years younger than Mark but your blog has given me a great reference point for my own experiences. Thanks again.

  31. CMSmith says:

    You’re welcome. I’m glad it was helpful to you in some way. Mark was 55 when he had the surgery. I’m glad everything is going well for you.

  32. marygetrost says:

    I had my bilateral knee replacement on July 7th. 4 weeks ago. It is going well. 102 for my left knee and 108 bend on my right. Everyone seems pleased. I must say, rehab, rehab, and rehab!

  33. Vicky says:

    Hi Christine thanks a lot for sharing your husband experience. My husband is 68 yrs old, diabetic and a couch potato… he will have bilateral knee replacement on August 21. His cardiologist gave him the ok but I am very concerned that he can’t recover well for his lack of shape/ exercise.

    • CMSmith says:

      Hi Vicky. I hope your husband’s surgery goes well. I think it is possible he will end up in better shape following the surgery than going into it. The rehab may snap him into shape. I wish you both well. Let us know how it goes.

  34. John Jones says:

    I had both knees replaced at age 50. My knees were terrible so it made sense to do both. After 7 days I walked without crutches, quit the pain meds after 8 days, drove to work at 14 days & started biking the streets of my city after 18 days – 40 minutes per day. I bowled 12 games consecutively after 30 days, and at 45 days am 90% recovered. I never did formal PT – except the constant motion machine for 6 days post surgery. I did the rest myself.

    After 4-5 days I had no pain in my knees – just swelling and stiffness. It is 75% gone now – and in 3 more months I should be 100%.

    For anyone considering bilateral knee replacement I strongly encourage you to do it and PT yourself hard! Good luck – best decision I ever made……… -S

    • CMSmith says:

      Thanks for sharing your story, John. I’m glad everything went so well for you. I was amazed at how quickly Mark recovered too. I hope your recovery continues well. I’m sure it will.

  35. Stephanie Menzies says:

    What a wonderful discovery this blog has been!! I am 36 and going to the hospital in a few weeks for the same bilateral procedure…I AM TERRIFIED, but looking forward to being pain free…THANK YOU A MILLION TIMES OVER!!!! I feel much better after reading this!!
    Stephanie

    • CMSmith says:

      Hi Stephanie,
      You’re pretty young to have to have this surgery. I guess that’s bad and good. It’s bad that you’ve had so much trouble so early in your life. It’s good that, at your age, you should recover pretty easily. And then you can enjoy your life a whole lot more than you probably have been. Best of wishes to you. Let us know how it goes.

    • jan says:

      Hi Stephanie
      I had surgery for bi lateral knees on the 19th June 2014. I am back riding my bike both stationary and moving on my left leg I have 135 degree band and my right 125 my physio are stocked as am I . it has been fairly easy dare I say ..and for me not a lot of pain ..I live 100ks away from Perth where I had the op done and was lucky in the fact that my mum lives there and I stayed there for 5 weeks after the op because I had an appointment with the specialist at 5 wks and would have cost a fourtune to fly home the back then home again….I ididnt do much in that first 5 weeks lots of resting tv and my physio 3 times a day. by the second week I was doing the floors for mum (she is 87 ) and the washing nothing else. I had no trouble with mobility and some times wasn’t using the crutches. I hasn’t been a bad experience for me and its 3 months in a couple of days the numbness it starting to wear off . I am off to new Zealand in 2 weeks for a quick holiday so hope the knees hold out. if I can help and you have any questions let me know. Good luck.

      • Patricia Brady says:

        I am encouraged by you report, Stephanie. I am nearly 71 and after 4 yrs of cortisone treatment on one knee and less on the other, am scheduled to discuss BKR w/ surgeon on 10/15. My goal is to be able to fully enjoy a largely walking trip in Europe a year from now. Am fairly active, go to Pilates and do weight training once a week, have “amplitude” but am not obese. I have discipline, have always healed fast, and expect to get through this as well as anyone. My biggest concern is surgeon may say one knee is not ready yet. I don’t fancy doing the replacements in separate surgeries. Thanks for your report! Keep up the good work.

  36. Jessica says:

    Thank you for taking the time to share your journey with us. I will have my surgery two weeks from now and I am nervous as can be. I was also informed that I would be giving myself blood thinner shots on my stomach daily for a period of six weeks! Did you have to go through that as well?

    • CMSmith says:

      Mark did have to give himself shots in his stomach, but I don’t remember it lasting for six weeks. And his shots were not like what you think of as a shot you get by a nurse at the office with a syringe and a long needle. They were more like a pin prick or poke. I worried about having to give them to him, but he did it himself, and it really wasn’t all that bad that I could tell.

      Good luck on your surgery. Let us now how it goes.

    • Val says:

      I just had surgery a few weeks ago….I had the blood thinner via needle while in the hospital but then took pill form after I got home.

  37. Val says:

    Just had bilateral knee surgery 18 days ago (Sept 16). I’m 51 and it’s the best decision ever made. So glad I didn’t do them one at a time. I have had little to no pain since the surgery. Pain level even the night of surgery was (on a scale of 1 to 10) between 0 and 2 and has remained that way ever since. I’ve been off all pain killers for almost a week now. PT is relatively easy – no pain there either. Every day I see more and more progress. Would definitely recommend both at once provided you have a good surgeon and so long as you are reasonably healthy.

    • CMSmith says:

      Wonderful. Lucky you. I would just repeat the caution that Mark’s therapist gave him: don’t overdo it and end up back in the hospital. Life has probably just gotten a lot more enjoyable for you.

  38. Sarah says:

    I am scheduled for bilateral knee replacement in 5 weeks. They talked about the CPM machine, did your husband just take turns with each leg and just keep switching or did he have two machines going at the same time? My doctor hasn’t done both at the same time, but after a lot of research I insisted that is what I wanted and he is willing to do it. I am 49 years old, have been doing injections for a couple years, but it just isn’t working anymore. All the cartilage is 100% gone in both knees, it runs very heavily in my family. At this point every step is painful! Looking forward to being able to walk normal again!

    • CMSmith says:

      Mark had only one machine, and I’m not really sure you could fit two machines side-by-side and that would work. I pretty much had to take care of moving the machine to and from the bed and helping him switch them out at first, although I think if we would have set it up in the spare/guest bedroom in the middle of the bed, he could have managed on his own. We kept it in our bedroom where I had a tray with snacks and his drink set up beside the bed and a nice TV with dvds to watch. We spent a lot of time in there at first.

      It runs in my husband’s family too. He can easily outwalk me now. Best of wishes on your surgery.


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