Bilateral knee surgery — Five weeks and waiting for “normal”

Last Tuesday, when Mark’s physical therapist asked him how he was doing, Mark said, “I just want to be normal again.”

“If you were normal,” the therapist said, “you’d still be walking with a walker right now.”

As I’ve been pointing out all along, Mark has recovered to this point quickly. He can do most things, excepting the three prohibitions mentioned in the pre-op class. He stopped all prescription pain medicines and is back to taking only Motrin twice a day. We think the Lyrica really helped with the pain because Mark’s discomfort level has risen since he’s  been off of it.

Mark is scheduled for physical therapy twice this week and will need to go once or twice next week. After that, we don’t know. We expect he will be finished soon.

Then it is just a matter of time to heal completely. We were told initially that it takes three months, after that he is no longer prohibited from kneeling, etc.

I wanted to include a video of Mark walking down the hall, getting down on the floor and back up again, and walking down and up a flight of stairs.

I took the video over the weekend but somehow lost most of it in the transition to the computer. All I have left is Mark sitting with his legs up on his desk, sipping a Cosmopolitan, straightening up from getting off the floor, a laugh in the background, and a head shot as Mark approached me during his stroll down the hall. Since I think I was lucky to get the video in the first place, and I don’t believe my actor will be willing to do a retake, you will have to take my word for it.

All is well. And we feel lucky to have made it this far in Mark’s recovery so soon.

47 thoughts on “Bilateral knee surgery — Five weeks and waiting for “normal””

    1. Congratulations, Jolina. I’ll bet your life is hoppin’ now. I’m so envious. If only I could do those days again.

      I hope you are recovering well, yourself. Thinking of you.

  1. Recovery is tough isn’t it? Dirt Man also wants to be back to normal, and he is ahead of the average back surgery healer. However, it takes between twelve and eighteen months to reach that point. Though I think he’d be happy if he had the feeling in his left foot return. So glad Mark is doing well. I hope you’re doing well, too. Being a caregiver is not the easiest job in the world…lots less sleep than normal.

    1. I’m glad he is doing well. Twelve to eighteen months is a very long time. This is a big deal for you. I sure hope he can feel his left foot soon. That must be very disconcerting.

      I’m doing fine. I really got off the hook with this one pretty early. I hope you do too.

  2. Glad to hear all is going well. Recovery is different for everyone and reaching “normal” is different. My new knee is a definite improvement, but I would never say it’s exactly like my old knee. But it’s such an improvement over the descomfort I was going through before.

    1. That’s good to know, I think. I suspect Mark thinks it will be as good as new, but I’m not sure that will ever happen. Like you, he was in so much pain before that I believe when all is said and done this will be a big improvement.

  3. Glad, once again, to hear of the continued healing, especially at such a great rate! He is very blessed to be a TKR success story! He can inspire others! ~Terry

  4. Yay, good news. I certainly understand the desire to return to normal. It seems to take so long sometimes.

  5. Hi Christine .. sounds like Mark is doing really well – and now patience becomes a virtue!

    Have a happy weekend .. three months’ isn’t far away .. cheers Hilary

  6. I wanted to thank you for writing this post. I found it just this week. My wife, who is only 47 is having both knees replaced June 7. Bad knees run in her family and being a softball catcher for 3 years didn’t help. I have done lots of research online and your post gave me some more questions to ask the surgeon. I like to be prepared. Thanks.

    1. I’m so glad you commented. You, and others like you, are the main reason I documented our journey. I’m glad it gave you some things to think about. My advice would be to do the exercises beforehand and afterwards religiously. I think they made a lot of difference. And then we just got lucky that Mark healed relatively quickly.

      Tell your wife good luck with her surgery. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions about our experience.

  7. Hi Christine and Mark

    I decided to google TKR 4 week post op and found your blog. I have spent a good bit of the morning reading about Mark’s progress and it has helped me to follow the journey and how my own journey is progressing. Like Mark I had Bilateral TKR on the 13th March and I am 4 weeks post op yesterday. I have been surprised how pain free things have been and how much mobility I have already. I am walking a considerable distance with elbow crutches and have to wait on my first check up on 2/5 before asking about walking without them outside and of course driving! As you say faithfulness in the exercise program seems to do the trick although here in Scotland we do not have the advantage of the CPM Machines. I am going around the house without sticks and back to some cooking and light housework as I had to early retire some 6 years ago due to long term Psoriatic Arthritis and my wife work in the local Young Offenders Institution. I kept feeling I was doing too much but after reading your blog realise we are all different and my progress is as you suggest down to determination and will power and of course many praying for the success of my Operation and recovery. Except for an initial few weeks trouble with the waterworks and a reaction to an antibiotic like Mark things have been very much plain sailing. I will continue to follow with interest your blog and wish you both every blessing and all the best from Scotland.


    1. I’m glad to hear your recovery is going so well too, Ian. Some doctors here don’t use the CPM machines either, so I’m not sure how important they were to Mark’s recovery. It sounds like you are on a similar path as he was to recovering.

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. I hope you will let me know how things progress. You should be in great shape by the time summer is in full swing.

      Best of wishes.

  8. Hello. I’m into my fourth week post bilaterl TKR. I discovered your site about a month prior to surgery. It has been an inspiration and guide and continues to be durilng my recovery. I am doing very well so far. Thanks to you and Mark for documenting your experience.

  9. Thanks for this great blog. My husband had his bilateral knee replacement surgery three weeks ago today, and seems to be progressing on the same schedule you experienced. He just gave up the cane a bit yesterday. I had spotted him walking with the cane raised off the ground, so knew that was on the horizon. He had been using the cane since week 2.

    There were a few differences in what his surgeon did—he had no steri-strips because his incisions were glued shut (with internal sutures that will dissolve, as well). It appears that the scars will be minimal and thin. His surgeon also does not use a CPM on his patients and prefers to have them use a pedi-cycle, so it is active, rather than passive motion. He started it on day 2 and did it several times a day for a few minutes.

    Don’s surgery was done under epidural. He was in the hospital for four days—we live more than an hour drive from the hospital, so I was glad I had that much time to prepare for his return home. I was really concerned about getting him out of the car by myself, but my future son-in-law graciously offered to drive him home and assist with that adventure. No problems. Don is 61 years old, but very healthy and active, so that is probably why his recovery has gone so well. We have two huge vegetable gardens and a 400-tree citrus grove, and I know he is eager to get back to tending that on his own. I have had a day laborer here twice and have done the watering myself (ugh). Our property is hilly, so he hasn’t ventured down to the gardens, but has had me take photos so that he could watch their progress—I’m sure he is thinking my efforts are lacking, but has been graciously silent about it.

    Thanks again for your encouraging stories!


    1. I’m glad things are going well for your husband. I’m sure he will be back to tending his gardens and orhard on no time. It will probably be much easier for him now. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

  10. Had bilateral TKR on June 30, 2014. Walked too far in hospital so Rehab center refused me as had been planned prior to surgery. Off walker in a week and CPM machine at end of week two. Okayed by doctor to drive 3 days prior to 3 weeks. Attended outpatient Rehap for week and half and self discharged. Following up at home with exercises and walking (Home Depot is an excellent place to walk using a basket for protection). I keep a cane with me when walking on uneven ground such as grass in the yard. At the end of six weeks I have cut my 2 acre yard twice with the riding mower and operating a bush hog in the fields. Like Mark I have trouble believing the pace at which recovery is taking place. Steps are still a work in progress.

    Thanks for the blog and updates and pray that healing will continue.

    1. I’m glad things are going well for you Henry. I just hope you don’t overdo it. One thing the therapists told Mark was that in cases like his, where he recovered very fast, sometimes the patient overdoes it and ends up back in the hospital. We wouldn’t want that.

      I hope your recovery continues well. Thanks for sharing your story.

      1. Your right, it would be easy to overdo. My at home nurse (wife Joyce) negogiates with me when I go out to engage in work type activities. There is a time limit and then rest with ice on the knees. She has been real good at looking after me , as I ‘m sure you have been with Mark. Looking back I don’t regret doing both knees at once.

  11. Hello, I had bilateral TKR February 7, 2014. Things went very well for me. As of August 21, 2014 things are pretty much back to normal. I discovered your web site about two weeks Pre Op and it has been my everywhere companion since. For all of us who have benefited from your sequential log, I thank you 🙂

  12. Thank you so much for your posts, it is amazing and inspiring that Mark made such a beautiful recovery.

    I have to undergo the bilateral surgeries as well and keep reading horror stories. Your posts made me feel much better about my situation.


  13. So glad I happened upon your blog. I found it very interesting and informative as I will be having bilateral TKR in December this year. I decided to postpone my surgery until after my son’s wedding in November. It also gives me time to lose some weight, gain some fitness and follow suggested pre-op knee exercises. Thank you so much.

  14. What a great blog, and with pictures and videos as well!
    My husband is 4 weeks post-op from double knee replacement and also had a very fast recovery. He had an excellent 2 week follow-up, staples removed and told he could start practice driving. Due to having both knees operated on at the same time, Medicare was conducive to allowing him to go to the rehab wing of the hospital for up to a week post surgery. After 5 days in rehab the doctor deemed him ready to go home. He stopped taking Percoset before returning home and took only Tylenol for the first week at home which he now takes only as needed. His PT staff are amazed at his rapid recovery. He did lose weight and exercise at the gym for 6 months prior to surgery.
    However, after all this seemingly fantastic recovery…
    There has been a problem not mentioned in this blog with my husband’s personality post surgery. I would like to hear from others. Many of his symptoms post-surgery and lasting for about 3 weeks were: exessive talking (he’s usually pretty quiet), hyper sensitive to odors so that trash and food wastes need to be taken care of immediately, up all night with sleep patterns disrupted to the point I could no longer stay with him at night. And most distressing, a continuous demand for control over his environment, understandable, but this really took a toll on our relationship as his usual kind personality seemed to be taken over by a relentless verbal stream of demands with no sense of appreciation for anything I attempted to do to help.
    Now 4 weeks post surgery, he is much calmer and the worst seems to be over.
    But I hope that this blog will be of help to others who may be coping with similar experiences.
    Thanks for listening.

    1. Interesting. I have not heard of such dramatic personality changes before. Now that I think back on it, Mark was a little depressed/irritable for a short while during the early stage of his recovery. I attributed it at the time to some digestive problems due to side-effects of some of the medication. I think his legs were somewhat restless at night, but never to the extent that it kept either one of us awake. I’m glad things are getting better for you both.

      1. Thanks for your comments. Things continue to improve. My husband’s sleep patterns are now the opposite at almost 5 weeks post surgery. He is now sleeping 12-15 hours per night, and napping during the day, perhaps making up for the many sleepless nights preceding. We now have separate beds to accommodate our different sleep schedules. I realize every recovery is unique. This blog has been a wonderful help.

  15. Slo happy to have your blog to refer to at this time. I had a single knee done 5 weeks ago and am quite mobile now, almost ready to go back to work. My only problem has been my low tolerance for pain. I am interested in your comment about Lycra and how it helps with the pain, I have not used anything like that to this point but would consider anything to get me off the pain meds. my lower back has been a problem as well. Would welcome your thoughts regarding the use of lycra. thanking you in advance. larry

    1. Hi Larry. I’m glad to hear you’re doing well. Since I wrote this, I had a single knee replacement myself last June. Like Mark, I used Lyrica at first, but I don’t think it was a long-term medicine. I found the therapy and using ice were both very helpful. I bought a large soft ice pack like they used at therapy and I used it to the max. I’m not sure Lyrica is your answer. You should ask the doctor. Advil worked pretty well for me. Best wishes.


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