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Thanks to TKR I learned a few new things about myself at the age of 67. TKR was definitely a learning experience and there were good and bad lessons.
I learned that I didn’t have to live with pain. I learned that good preparation makes the transition from the hospital to home much easier
I learned that there are many kind and considerate people who made my recovery very smooth. I learned that I had the personal fortitude to persevere when the going got tough
My hospital stay reminded me of the professionalism of the medical staff and also reminded me that there were other people in the hospital that were not going home after one day. I learned what a blog is and surprised myself when I discovered that I could write a successful blog that can be a help to others facing TKR
1. The Less Time In The Hospital, The Better
Prior to TKR, my only experience being a patient in a hospital was when I was in my twenties. I had a spiral fracture of my right tibia and stayed in the hospital for two weeks
The first stay in the hospital recovering from the fractured and pinned tibia eventually led to two more overnight stays for knee surgeries and then, years later, total knee replacement.
I appreciate all the good folks that were part of my medical team. They made my stay as comfortable as possible despite my discomfort
I was only in the hospital overnight but I was anxious to get home to familiar surroundings and to start my recovery process. Hospital stays, operating room
Thankfully, my medical insurance paid for all my knee replacement bills because the total cost was astounding.
2. It Pays To Prepare For TKR Surgery
You may have read my article ”16 Ways to Prepare Your Home for Knee Replacement Surgery”. When you come home from the hospital you’ll be glad to be in a familiar setting.
You will want to settle into a space that has everything you need nearby. I was diligent about preparing the spaces in my house where I would spend most of my time
I ended up spending more time in my recliner than in my bed. Having all the necessary items at hand right off the bat made recovery much smoother
Cleaning the house, washing your clothes, having meals in the freezer all make the recovery process easier but having extra space by your chair and your bed stocked with all the necessary items you will need is the key.
3. The Toughest Days Are Right After Surgery
It is nice to get home from the hospital, but the work of recovery begins as soon as you arrive home. You must adjust to a new routine and rely on the help of others
Two days after my surgery my home physical therapist showed up at my door and put me to work on the road to recovery. The pain from the surgery was one thing, but adding 3 daily workouts that emphasized strength and range of motion compounded the pain
I was reminded of high school basketball practices where the coach pushed us to the limits. During practice I always wondered why we were pushing our bodies so hard
Once the season started it was evident, in the 4th quarter our team was in better shape than most of the other teams. We always finished strong
As I look back on my early days of physical therapy post TKR I see some similarities. I did have a home physical therapist and an offsite therapist that coached me 3 times a week through the first 8 weeks
That helped, but for the other daily workouts I was on my own and I had nobody looking over my shoulder. I always had little voices telling me to take shortcuts or to just quit, but thankfully I hung in there and was diligent about my workouts
Similar to the 4th quarter in basketball, I now look back on all that hard work and see how important it was in my recovery process.
4. Having Family/Caregiver Helps TKR Recovery
Family and/or a caregiver were crucial for me during knee replacement recovery. If I had made adequate preparation before surgery I may have gotten by on my own but it would have been difficult
Preparing meals, washing dishes, washing clothes, help with icing and physical therapy are just a few things I would not have wanted to do on my own.
The encouragement I received from my caregivers and family was also an important boost to my moral. Keeping me company in the house and on walks was also a big plus to help keep my mind off the pain and the random negative thoughts than can affect you after TKR with so much down time on your hands.
I have mentioned some of the gifts that my son gave me before my surgery that I thought at the time were unnecessary. The icing system and the wedge pillow were two items that I now know that I could not have done without.
5. I Was Still Up For A Challenge
TKR also reminded me that I still can give that extra effort for something that I want really bad. After accepting the pain and the limping for so many years, the thought of walking normally and participating in activities that I enjoy pain-free put the fire back in the belly
I remembered sports injuries in my younger days when I listened to coaches and therapists, followed their advice and worked hard in order to return to the playing field as soon as possible. I learned then that hard work and patience were important
The first several weeks were indeed trying. Looking back now 9 months later, I am very satisfied and proud of all the hard work and the time that I am devoting to my recovery
6. Why Did I Accept The Limping And The Pain For So Many Years?
Until I began walking normally again without a limp or pain, I did not realize how the quality of my life could be improved.
For forty plus years I just lived with the pain and discomfort, the swelling and the restrictions my knee put on my favorite activities
I enjoy all of my favorite activities and even routine exercise post-TKR since I am now able to participate pain free. Because my mobility has improved I not only compete pain free but also at a higher level of play.
7. Writing A Knee Replacement Blog Was Good Therapy
Following TKR surgery you will have a good deal of time on your hands. Physical therapy is most important but it will only take up a small fraction of your day
My son suggested that I write a blog about my TKR experience and I began doing research.
I wasn’t looking forward to the writing early on, but I figured it would be like writing a journal and I thought I could do that. I made a point to write about events and topics as soon as possible after my experience, so I wouldn’t forget them
Writing about each step in the process, pre and post-surgery helped me capture all the small
Writing has been good therapy and it helped keep me busy.
Many of my articles mention the importance of physical therapy and exercise and how important it is to work hard and to stick to the routine. The writing continually reminded me to do the same.
As I look back at my blog, I have a detailed record of my TKR experience and I have been able to share my experiences with other people who are considering TKR
8. The Best Advice about TKR is Word of Mouth From Former TKR Patients
When I was doing research prior to my TKR surgery I searched the Internet and found very few articles about patient personal experiences. Most of the articles contained information written by medical professionals with general information about what to expect.
My best information came from friends and acquaintances that had previously experienced TKR. They gave me valuable information that helped me prepare for my surgery and what to expect during my recovery process.
No two stories were the same and it was good to hear several different personal TKR experiences. I took their advice when selecting my surgeon and also the time of year they suggested to schedule my surgery.
If you don’t know anyone who has undergone knee replacement surgery, I hope you can learn from me.
9. The Affect TKR Can Have on the Entire Family
Prior to my surgery I must admit that my thoughts pretty much centered on myself. I made TKR decisions based on what was best for me.
Now, after my TKR experience I see the need to think of what is not only best for me but also what is best for my family and especially my caregiver.
My caregiver (my wife) had her own interests and commitments that were definitely impacted by my surgery. She had to miss regular exercise sessions, and meetings she was involved in.
She encouraged me, prepared meals, helped with the icing, took walks with me and was basically at my beck and call.
Initially, she even had to drive me to physical therapy appointments until I was finally able to use my right leg well enough to drive on my own.
10. Recovery Is An Ongoing Process
The TKR process once again reminded me of the remarkable healing abilities of the human body. Even though time seemed to pass slowly, I was amazed at how quickly my wound healed and how soon I was back on my feet on the road to recovery
I also learned that the recovery process does not end with your formal physical therapy. It is up to you to determine what the final outcome will be
I am now in my 9th month of recovery and I am still working hard to strengthen my knee and to improve my range of motion. I honestly do not see an end to the process
Above I wrote about the importance of working hard during basketball practice during my high school days in order to prepare for the fourth and final quarter of the game.
At age 67 I know that I am in the final quarter of my life and I want to finish strong. I will take to heart many of the lessons I learned from my TKR experience
The recovery process for me will go on forever, or until I reach my goal of two matching knees and legs. If that happens, I will still continue to work hard to maintain my fitness