Bi-lateral knee total replacement surgery — One week later

This time last week my daughter Anna and I were waiting to see Mark in the recovery room following his knee surgery. Today Mark is sitting in the recliner beside and slightly behind me. He just this minute asked me if I knew where his wallet is. So he’s starting to perk up and re-enter life.

Mark has made incredible progress, which in turn has helped me a lot. Last week I had to lift his leg into his CPM machine in the hospital, after I carried the machine to his bed. (The nurses were not able to keep up with the schedule we were trying to keep of getting it on each leg 6 hours every day, so I often just did it myself.) I had to help him with his exercises on his right leg, because he wasn’t able to lift his leg at all. His left leg did well from the beginning. I had to attach the cooling pads to his legs. Basically, the nurses and I had to do everything for him. Everything I did for him, I did bending over his bed, which quickly took a toll on my lower back.

Today, Mark put his own legs in the CPM machine, he got up by himself to use the bathroom and give himself a sponge bath (no showers until after he sees the doctor on the 15th). He got his own clothes (from the basket I’ve left on the bench in the room). He completed all of his exercises by himself. And importantly, he put his therapeutic hose on all by himself. (Halleluia, praise the Lord).

He is taking care of his own medication needs. He is mentally alert and reliable. He’s got his care needs down and is able to perform his exercises physically. We’ve come a long way in a week. I’m basically back to just moving the CPM machine to and from the bed, keeping his ice machine stocked with frozen water bottles, preparing and serving meals, cleaning up after him, laundering his towels and clothing, and refilling his water and beverage glasses.

Mark is using the CPM machine at 120 degrees, which is the goal. He started at 60 degrees last Monday. We’re both looking forward to removing this device from his therapy and our lives as soon as possible.

I like to stay positive and not complain, but that wouldn’t be honest or helpful. I flatter myself by imagining that some day these posts may be helpful to someone else. I would be remiss if I gave everyone the impression that this has been an easy week, although it hasn’t been as difficult as I imagined it might be.

Mark has been pleasantly surprised that he hasn’t had as much pain as he anticipated. I have been pleasantly surprised that he is able to get himself up from a sitting position, in and out of a car, and is able to walk without any kind of assistance.

Neither one of us had planned on his physical reaction to the surgery and/or medication. With the exception of the day of the surgery when he first got into his room and was ravenous, he hasn’t had an appetite, and getting him to eat the nutrition his body requires to heal has been an ongoing challenge. Initially he had severe heart burn and acid reflux, now he suffers from chronic nausea. I think the nausea is probably due to the iron supplements he is required to take to boost his hemoglobin from the blood loss.

Mark feels well enough now to be losing patience with lying on his back on the bed with his leg in the CPM machine 12 hours a day.

I hadn’t planned on him being irritable.

Mark hadn’t planned on wearing the two leg braces overnight to prevent him getting his knees in a prohibited position or twist of some sort, but that often also prevent him from actually sleeping.

I hadn’t planned on the physical stress the care-giving would place, on my knees, hips, and back.

Mostly I feel much calmer than I did last Monday, and happy that Mark is well on his way to a new set of functioning, and hopefully eventually pain-free knees.

He goes to outpatient therapy for the first time today. Wish us well.

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

36 thoughts on “Bi-lateral knee total replacement surgery — One week later”

  1. Glad to hear things are progressing. It’s NOT an easy surgery or recovery! Mark’s lucky to have you there to care for him. Just remember to take care of yourself! …Did you get my private message via Facebook?

    1. I’m not sure what private message you’re talking about. I got one earlier that detailed a lot of helpful things. I think I responded. I’ll check again.

    1. My back is better today, now that Mark is doing most of his own care and especially now that he is putting on those dreaded stockings by himself. Thanks for your concern.

      1. I’m meant to let you know my dad had his surgery 3 days ago and your posts make the future seem better… They help my understand what is to come and how I can help him.

        -17 USA, Alexis

      2. Thanks for letting us know. I hope his recovery is progressing nicely. I’m glad you found the posts helpful.

  2. I’m glad things are progressing for you…soon will be doing similar things here as hubby has back surgery.

  3. Outpatient therapy, what is that, Christine?

    These weeks are a heavy burden, on hips, knees and patience. Some day, you will look back and laugh about the small, silly things that happened. And be thankful for the surgery and the new knees. But for now I wish you both much humor to battle the irritations. And hugs and love.

    1. Out patient therapy is simply when you live at home and go someplace for about an hour’s worth of therapy. This is instead of actually living someplace where they do therapy with you. Mark’s mother lived on the therapy floor of the hospital for about a month after she had her bi-lateral knee replacement. That was about 20 some years ago. I don’t know if they even have that floor anymore at the hospital. There are places like nursing homes you can go to where you can live and get therapy until you can make it on your own.

      In Mark’s case, I am here to help him, so he came home.

  4. Mark’s progress sounds impressive! And I’m tired just reading about all the things you both need to do, so I can well imagine the stress and irritability. So much to do! Happy to read the posts and hope it’s helping to write them!?

    1. We made it over that irritability hump. I think his nausea was putting him in a bad frame of mind. We are settling in to a doable routine. I am still tired and not able to keep up with my writing, blogging, blog-reading as much as I would like. But that will come with time.

  5. glad to hear Mark is doing better. I am sure each day will get easier for him and you!! Thanks for sharing so much of your life with us Christine!! {{{hugs}}}

  6. Glad that things are progressing so well. Hope his appetite returns . . . and his irritability fades in short order.

    Take care of yourself too! That massage sounds like just the ticket.

  7. I’m glad to hear of Mark’s progress. I guess we can’t plan for everything that will come our way when surgery or illness strikes. I’m pretty sure I would be irritable, too. How did today’s appointment go? Keep up the good work–both of you. Soon this will all be a memory.

  8. I’m happy to hear that your husband is recovering well. You are a very strong and brave women. You inspire me. I cannot imagine going through that while in the midst of marketing a book. Life really is about going with the flow, isn’t it?

    1. Well, I’m not exactly doing it in the “midst” of marketing a book. The book has gone to the wayside I’m sad to say. I hope to be able to restart my promotional efforts at some point, but I’m not sure how much energy I will put into it.

  9. Hi Christine .. in general it all sounds like good news – to be progressing is the most important thing – the nausea sounds unpleasant ..

    I’m certain your blog posts will be of value to someone in the blogosphere one day .. or even in a self-published small booklet for Knee replacement surgery – care-giver’s notes .. or something ..

    Good luck and long may improvement continue and ultimately extra sleep time … cheers Hilary

  10. It sounds like you are both doing better than expected ~ although
    I know it must be quite difficult at times. “This too shall pass”.
    Thinking of you both and sending lots of love

    1. I told Mark this morning that I felt like the time has gone pretty fast. It has been almost 10 days since his surgery. I think the scariest part is over. I know we have a lot of drudgery ahead, because healing takes time and there is only so much you can do to rush that.

      We’re doing well. Thanks for thinking of us.

  11. I just wanted to let you know that I’m reading your 3-year-old blog in preparation for my hubby’s knee surgery. Thank you so much for posting all the little hints and comments– I know it’ll help ME get through his surgery.

    1. I’m glad you’re finding the posts helpful. There is helpful information in many of the readers’ comments. You have better days ahead. No regrets here.

  12. My doctor is against using the CPM machine and I want to use it. I think that Mark made a lot of progress because he was using that machine. Do you think that it contributed a lot to his recovery?

    1. It seemed to help, but we didn’t have anything to compare it to. Others have commented that doctors are not using it so much anymore. I really don’t have any medical knowledge about whether it helped Mark or not. Sorry. It was rather a hassle to use.

  13. Many, many thanks, Christine, for the warmth, humor & important detail you included in your new knees narrative. It has been mostly a delight to read, tho’ in parts I read it thru clenched teeth as I hope to have both mine done next month–awaiting a call from scheduling. I agree that it would make a nice published booklet but I know that can be a large cash outlay for an uncertain return. Reading about it–and I’m not quite finished yet–has given me some needed relief from the anxiety I felt about what lies ahead for me & my nurse-to-be-husband. It has done a lot to shore up my courage!


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