Saturday, October 20, 2007

Total Knee Replacement - Surgery + One

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Total Knee Replacement

My day starts early. Right about 04:00. Time for the nurses to wake you up and take your vitals and distribute required medication. I’m glad of that. Just before the 24:00 set of readings the nurse informs me that earlier, while I was asleep, my respirations had been at a very low rate. So they were going to shut off the self medication button for the night. I still got my two Tylenol 3’s, but I can tell you that by four in the morning, they weren’t doing an excellent job any longer. I can see developing quite an affection for the T3’s, I can tell you.

Couldn’t get back to sleep after the 4 AM visit from the nurse, and it wasn’t because I am into nurse fantasies. My brain was just spinning with what I was going to do during the time off work, recovering at home. There is a lot of reading I want to do. (There’s always a lot of reading I want to do). There are some online courses I want to take. My son Trevor and I have a couple of writing projects we wanted to pursue. I have a completed book my son-in-law Gord and I have finished that I realize needs more work. And I thought about doing this blog.

I wish I thought of it right from the beginning. It wasn’t until just one or two days before I was scheduled to go into the hospital that a couple of people told me how interested they were in how things might go. Seems both of them were up for total knee replacements as well. I wondered if maybe a number of different people might not be interested. Why not blog it? Why not indeed? Already I had figured out some things that I could have done differently. Anyone reading this blog should be able to learn a few lessons based on someone else’s experience. Definitely the best way to learn. What’s that saying, a smart man learns from his experience. A really smart man learns from every body else’s.

At 06:00 the nurse agrees to hook my pain button up again. I don’t waste time getting that sucker going. Breakfast shows up around 08:00 with the next round of vitals and pills. Mmmmmmm, porridge. Last nights supper was cream of mushroom soup. So far, everything is falling in line with my plans to have no solid food at the hospital. I cut back on my eating Wednesday before coming in. I absolutely want to avoid having a bowel movement before the weekend; possibly the whole five days if I can manage that. The nurses let me know how constipating my pain control buttons morphine and the T3’s codeine were. So far everything is going according to plan. This porridge didn’t look like it was the high fiber kind. More like the Charles Dickens gruel type. That suits me.

After my breakfast, a hurried phone call home ensured that Lynn would show up with a box of granola bars. The good yogurt coated kind. Now they can do their worst, I’ve got enough supplies for a couple of days. Sure, granola bars aren’t really no-BM friendly, but the roots, berries and nuts that make up most bars would take a couple of days to work their way through my system. I calculate they would achieve their desired effect about the time I was back to the friendly throne in my own house.

Jeffrey is way more mobile than me. He assures me that this is what I should expect. “I was just like you yesterday. Tomorrow you will be just as mobile as me.” Off he goes in his walker for a spin down the hall. Hard to believe I’ll be that mobile tomorrow, but Jeffrey’s definitely the expert.

When the physiotherapist shows up she makes us both go through our exercises. They are for strength building and flexibility. It’s hard to imagine how much strength you lose when they make 25 cm slice down your leg and cut the ends off of two leg bones. The physiotherapist takes Jeffrey through his paces and he amazes her with his range of motion and recovered strength. (By strength I mean the ability to hold the injured leg out straight without jiggling too much for 5 – 10 seconds before resting, and repeating nine more times. The definition of strength changes after a total knee replacement).

Now they are talking about Jeffrey getting out early. He’s scheduled for Sunday release, but he really wants to get home Saturday. Maybe I can get out early too? Monday morning, my scheduled time, means Lynn needs to take another day off work. Sunday would work better.

My daughter Shannon calls. Thank you Darling. She’s having a reasonable day at work. She has received a couple of more enquiries about her wedding planning services, through her website at And she’s getting pumped about helping out at a wedding in Toronto tomorrow. It’s at a place called the Old Mill. They can do 4 weddings at a time. We have a nice chat. She knows exactly what’s going on because of her nursing background. Bye Doll, talk to you tomorrow.

Now the physiotherapist tells me it is time for me to get up into a walker. I blink my eyes a couple times until she explains it is just going to involve getting out of bed into a standing position, inside the walker, rotating 180 degrees, and then sitting down in a large mobile chair. They don’t explain that I will be stuck in the chair for several hours. Getting me out of bed cuts down on the chance of bed sores developing and, I think mostly, it gives them a chance to change the sheets, do some cleanup around the bed, and establish dominance over you. I mean I was getting to feel like the bed was my little territory, my home away from home. Oh well, so much for THAT level of comfort.

Lunch arrives while I am in my chair. Cream of mushroom soup again. So far my plans for no bowels movements are falling directly in line with their plans for feeding me.

Nice visit with Lynn. She has taken Thursday and today off as family medical days. What a great idea. Why didn’t they have those years ago? I guess they did. Just not paid.

I’m not really a good patient. Not that I am fussy or anything, but I don’t like people fussing around or for me. That means my inevitable response to “Can I get you anything?” is generally a “No, I’m fine.” This doesn’t make the person offering feel very helpful.

There aren’t even any chairs in this room. I don’t know if that’s because all the mobile patients have been going on late night scavenging runs and stealing chairs, or if the hospital is trying to actively discourage visitors.

I offer Lynn my pudding, so she checks it out. Apparently pudding aficionados can tell if it is actually cooked or mixed. This is cooked. But two spoonfuls are enough to convince her it isn’t cooked particularly well. The pudding goes back on the tray.

Lynn says goodbye and heads off to check out a horse she is considering buying while I am still in the chair. I wind up spending four hours in it. I am still essentially unmoving, with the bulk of my weight on my butt and back. Of course, the chairs extendable legs can’t extend enough to accommodate someone who is 6’4” or around 182 cm, so my leg is braced on a pile of pillows to get past the foot rest. I’m not sure how this is all better for me than lying comfortably in bed, but hey, I’m dealing with trained professionals. The nurses are probably just following some orthopedic surgeon God’s instructions.

Trevor calls. Nice surprise. He’s doing okay and let’s me know he has a get well present. No clues though. We joke around on the phone for a while. Then it’s time to move me back into bed.

Moving back into bed was easier than getting out. The 30 seconds or so of effort it required to get out of bed and into the chair left me sweating, light headed and encouraged the nurses to put the chair in a reclining position. Jeffrey assures me he went through exactly the same thing the previous day. Hard to believe. Watching him with the physiotherapist, he was obviously going to the next level. His range of motion and ability to do the lifting and bending repetitions were unreal to me, feeling the way I am. Jeffrey was doing all this with his bandage cut away. Next he went off for another scoot down the hall, with the physio in attendance. Hard to believe that man had gone through a total knee replacement only two days previous.


Dear Mabel said...

Mr. Stevens, thank you so much for blogging about your knee surgery. I just received my surgery date, and found your blog. I've been reading and reading - and enjoying and chuckling.

I am starting some leg exercises tomorrow, first thing!

Back to reading your blog. Thanks again!

--"Dear Mabel"

P.S. I am going to link to your blog. :-)

Paul Stevens said...

Thanks for the comment Mabel. Helping others is the whiole point.