Three days after bilateral total knee replacement surgery

Thursday, February 2, 2012
8:00 a.m.

What should I blog about? I’ve asked this question before in a different context.

When I started this blog I claimed I would write about whatever was on my mind in the morning. The reality is that I’ve extended that to included whatever is on my mind at some point in the previous day or two or three.

I recently had an idea to post my lifetime bird and wildlife sightings, so I made a page for that. Those posts are typically not what I’ve had in my head upon rising in the morning.

Earlier I thought it might be helpful to share my self-publishing journey, so I have a series on that. I felt the same way about Mark’s bilateral knee replacement surgery and recovery. I know it was helpful to us to talk to others who had had knee replacements.

Mark’s mom is the only person we know who had bilateral knee replacement surgery and that happened over 20 years ago. So much has changed. I remember visiting her in the hospital after her surgery. Her room was empty because she was at therapy. In those days rehab was done in a rehab room. All of Mark’s rehab has been done in his own room. Mark’s mom returned to her room sobbing from the pain. She stayed at the hospital on the rehab floor for a month.

Mark is going home today, three days after his surgery. A lot has changed in the past 20 years. The pain medicines are better; the implants, the procedures, and the therapy are all better now.

Don’t get me wrong, we still have a long road ahead of us. My biggest concern at the moment is getting Mark into and out of the car. I was going to bring the truck because it sits up higher, but I talked it over with his therapist yesterday and she thought he might try to twist himself getting into the truck since he usually swings one leg up first. I brought the car.

This morning before I left the house I removed all the throw rugs from the bathroom and the pathway to our bedroom from the front door. We usually come and go through the garage, but for now we will be using the front entry because of the step situation. I also pulled the top covers off the foot of the bed so that Mark will be able to sit down and get into the bed right away.

Although I made the best effort to obtain all the medicines he will need in advance, we are leaving the hospital with instructions for Mark to take iron pills. His hemoglobin continues to be low. Fortunately our youngest son will be helping me get Mark home today and will be able to run any errands I did not foresee.

I never intended to make this blog a family newsletter. But it feels disingenuous right now to post about the cardinals on my bird feeder or the most recent book sales numbers and promotional efforts (which have fallen completely by the wayside), when the first thing on my mind in the morning, the last thing on it at night, and what occupies it most of the time throughout the day is Mark and his needs.

So in some ways I’m being more true to my initial plan than ever.

4:30 p.m.

We’re home now and Mark is resting comfortably in bed with the CPM machine running on his left leg. The ice machine is cooling off his other knee. He did a great job of getting in and out of the car. Our son Joe was here to help and he also got us the items from the store we still needed. Now I’m settling in for a house-bound stay with my recovering hubby. It’s good to be home.

You can find links to the entire series on Bilateral knee replacement surgery here.

40 thoughts on “Three days after bilateral total knee replacement surgery”

  1. Hi Christine,
    Hope you are doing well this evening and Mark is resting comfortably (sp) lol I think I must be the worst speller, sometimes even tho I get it right it looks wrong!!
    Take care, hugs,

    1. It’s truly amazing to me. His left leg is doing really well and he is out of the brace. His right leg is very weak and he can’t really even do his leg lifts all that well. It will be better for him when he can get rid of both braces.

    1. Thanks, Susan. I’m trying to keep things in balance. Some of what is required of me is hard for my back and my siatic nerve is acting up. I’m just trying to be smart about how I lift things and what I am doing. I’ll admit it though, I’m ready to be horizontal for a while.

  2. I laughed out loud when you said, “Now look up and smile” . . . instead of “way to go, champ!”

    Glad he’s walking and home. Hope all goes well.

  3. Personally, my blog gives me a vehicle with which to rant…but the ME is all over it. Real life intercedes and a blog is there to tell the story. My thoughts are with you and Mark.

  4. I’ve been following but haven’t had a chance to comment. Just want to say that I’m glad things have gone well, and I hope that continues.

    I wouldn’t be able to blog about birds at the feeder under such circumstances either. Your blog is about real life. Nothin’ wrong with that. 🙂

  5. Wow, Christine–Mark’s recovery seems so fast (I know, probably easy for me because I’m not there…). I’m so glad to hear about his progress!

  6. Hi Christine .. I’m so pleased Mark is home and your sons are home with you both .. long may all continue along the road of improvement .. thinking of you – cheers Hilary

  7. Hello,
    I have also undergone a bilateral TKR, on 6th july. I was discharged on 11th july. My knees are swollen and they give a helluva lot of pain. They get a little fine with painkiller but I cannot sllep. I have not slept more than half hour since my day of surgery.

    1. I hope you are feeling better today. Do you have an ice machine that continually pumps ice cold water into pad placed over your knees? I think ice will help with the swelling. My husband used this cooler/machine almost non-stop at first.

      He also had some trouble with sleep at first, now that you mention it. Not from the pain, but I think it was more from just the trauma of such a major operation.

  8. Today is day 3 for my wife after bilateral knee replacement. So far, so good. I found your blog while searching for more info about the CPM machine. As you said, the recommended time adds up to 9 hours per day! I was hoping to find a bilateral machine that worked both legs at the same time! Anyway, thank you for your wonderful blog. I’ve just started reading it and it’s very helpful. I know my wife will enjoy when she starts using her laptop again. She’s 60 yrs young.

    1. I hope your experience goes as smoothly as ours did. Six months later and Mark is doing everything, and more than he did before. He feels great.

      I’m glad the posts have been helpful. Let me know how it goes.

      1. My husband just had complete knee replacement too, and just came home yesterday.
        I’m wondering how many weeks does it take to feel somewhat normal?
        He thinks 4-6, but I don’t think so.

      2. I’d have to look back through my posts to remember, but I do know that Mark got better a lot faster than I anticipated and was able to start preparing his own food and taking care of himself completely, pretty early. But I think Mark heals fast. I also think 4 to 6 weeks is a reasonable estimate for feeling somewhat normal. It will take a long while before he isn’t constantly aware of his new knees. That took Mark several months. Maybe 4 or 5.

      3. Thanks, Christine that helps because right now it is hard to look too far ahead. His nurse and physical therapist stop by tomorrow. He does seem to be doing a little better.
        We are moving September 17th and he plans on driving down south….

      4. I don’t remember how soon Mark was allowed to drive, but I think it might have been in the 6 week range, so he may be pushing it on that one.

      5. Oh, oh I don’t dare tell him that. He has it all planned out.
        Thanks for all your replies, it really helps.

  9. Hi Christine. I am having bilateral knee replacement on Jan 31. I can’t begin to describe my fear – I am an OR nurse and have seen the surgery ~~ your blog was very informative, along with the comments from others. My husband is doing everything to help. I hope I am making the right decision!

    1. I’m glad you found the blog informative. I know I was scared when my husband had it done. It was the best decision he ever made. Wishing you a successful surgery and quick recovery. Best of wishes.

  10. I am 32 and getting my first TKR in 3 days. I’m a little nervous and looking for personal accounts of the surgery – have found your blog and Marks experience helpful, thank you:-)

  11. I’m having bilateral knee replacement August 5. Several friends having had the same surgery recommend inpatient rehab. I’m 77 and in good health and have a very capable husband, but I also live about 3 hours from the hospital including an hour ferry ride. We do have a physical therapist nearby but I would have to go to her. I understand inpatient rehab is pretty intense but gets you on the way to recovery. Much as I’d rather be home and my major rooms are all on one floor I wonder if a few days in rehab might be a good choice. Any input? Mickey

    1. I don’t really know what to tell you. Mark and I are in our mid-fifties, so I’m guessing we might have a little more energy than you and your husband do. And Mark has good upper body strength. I think if you have any doubt at all, it might be wise to take advantage of the help you can get at the beginning in rehab. You’ll be home soon enough. Let us know how it goes. Best wishes.

  12. Hi Christine, it’s 2 AM and I am watching over my “seventy-something” 🙂 year old mother on Day 2 post-op. Today we have struggled with pain and have learned to ask for pain meds with conviction! If we do not ask, we do not receive… Anyway, reading your blog has helped make the waiting bearable. I plan to share it with her in the morning! Thanks for your insight…kbs

    1. Hi Karen. Sometimes I think being the care giver may be as difficult as being the patient. I hope the pain management has gotten better for your mother. I have heard that it is a good idea to write down the times you take the medicine and ask for them on time. I remember Mark being told that it is easier to keep up with the pain meds and therefore the pain, than to try to catch up later if you are late on a dose and have gotten yourself into a bad place. I wish you both well. Let us know how it goes.


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