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.