Well, that was different.
I wake up in a perfectly nice hospital room, a 10-inch incision on my right knee and loaded with painkillers. I had just experienced a total knee replacement. And people were now insisting I get out of bed and walk.
Which I did. It went much more smoothly than I thought possible. My aluminum walker, like the one you see old people using to block aisles at HEB, made it easy as pie. I was momentarily hesitant to take that first step. I had just had much of my old knee removed, replaced by a shiny new one of titanium and plastic. Who knew what would happen? I took a step and then took another. Didn’t fall. Wasn’t blinded with pain. In fact, I didn’t have any pain, period. It was wonderful.
The nursing staff and hospital physical therapy guy smiled. Wait, they said. Your body is still pumped with whatever wonderful combination of anesthesia they used for surgery. In three days, it will wear off and you’ll experience the wonders of a wounded body healing from grievous injury. They were right. It wasn’t terrible pain, just something sharp and achy enough to remind you’d had major surgery.
I went in for surgery on a Monday and left Wednesday shortly afternoon. In that time, I learned some PT exercises and how to use the CPM — continuous passive motion — machine which mechanically flexes and extends the knee tirelessly for two hours at a time. Keeps the range of motion supple and muscles and tendons stretched out.
Wednesday, I went home with my exercises, my CPM and pain medication. Ginny kept me on the exercise regimen, as did a home PT guy. Between them, I walked, stretched, flexed, etc.
By Thursday, I was pretty convinced this was the stupidest idea I’d ever had and would never do it again. That’s a pretty common reaction, my surgeon’s office said. Healing is a process and the misery ebbs and flows. But it gets better. Just continue doing the exercises, keep moving and stay ahead of the pain.
True enough. Today is January 24. just shy a day of tw0 weeks since surgery. The pain is more annoying than hurtful and I keep moving. Today, Ginny and I took advantage of an amazingly beautiful Winter day to go to Denman Park and walk. There we traveled 0.37 of a mile and watched ducks play in a pond. That may not sound impressive, but before surgery, I could rarely get much more than a quarter-mile walk without grinding bone on bone.
Ginny and I now have one new knee each. By Summer, we hope, we’ll both have replacement knees all around and go a-traveling. Life, after all, means you keep moving.