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Recovery after major surgery can look so different from one person to another. Going into my first four weeks of knee rehab after my partial knee replacement, I only had stories from my friends I met online and the doctor to go off of to know what I was getting myself into. Listening to stories and living through them was a completely different experience for me.
I truly feel I wasn’t as ready for it as I initially thought. Through writing this, I hope you can gain some insight into a real-life story of recovery from a partial knee replacement patient and also learn from a couple of the mistakes I made along the way. So here it is…. My surprisingly challenging first 4 weeks of knee rehab.
Knee Rehab Starts Off With Pain
My post-op instructions from my hospital stay were pretty simple. Do your exercises as instructed by the therapist in the hospital. Lay in your CPM (continuous passive motion) machine as much as possible. Walk around the bedroom (I have a huge bedroom) every hour or so. And of course, take all my meds, which there was a ton of them. I figured it would make for a pretty easy first week or two, so I thought.
The pain stayed rather high since surgery. The medication just dulled it slightly. The knee rehab exercises helped a bit but not enough to give me relief. I told the discharge nurse about it, but as I talked about in my hospital stay story, they couldn’t do anything about it at the time because they wanted me out of there.
I had hoped once I got home and in my environment, the pain would get better. Every day I did my best to do what the doctor ordered for my knee rehab, but it took everything I had to even walk around the room because the pain was so high. My husband urged me to call the doctor as early as day two, but the bullhead in me just kept telling myself this was all part of the process.
The Emergency Room Visit
Five days in my knee rehab had come and gone. I no longer could even lift my leg to get it into the CPM machine because of pain. Okay, I finally admitted to myself that this was not normal. Not even close.
I guess it was time to tell my husband he was right all along, and I needed to call the doctor. I really do not like admitting when he is right. HA! The doctor instructed that I take an extra pain pill, and if that did not lessen the pain by at least half, I would need to go into the emergency room.
One hour later, my husband was driving me to the hospital. I swear that was the bumpiest, most prolonged, and most painful car ride of my life. After being checked in and led to a room, I only had to wait a couple of minutes to see a doctor. Apparently, my surgeon alerted the ER I would most likely be coming, and told them the next steps to take. Now that’s one great surgeon if you ask me. Caring about his patient and the care she receives even when not by him directly. I was rather impressed.
For the sake of boring you will all the details, I ended up staying in the emergency room for approximately six hours. It took four rounds of different types of medication to relieve the pain to a manageable level. When I asked the ER doctor why this had happened, he explained my brain was still sending the chronic knee pain signals to my knee along with the new surgery pain signals. These two signals together are what was making the pain so unbearable.
The rounds of medications did a “brain reset” shutting off the chronic pain signals going to my knee. When I left that emergency room, I still had knee pain, but boy was it different and so much more tolerable. I wish I would have called sooner. Heck, I wish I would have spoken up more during my post-op hospital stay and never went home in the first place! I would have saved myself a lot of pain and suffering if I had.
Two Week Knee Rehab Delay
After the ER adventure, the doctor advised me to take it easy for another two weeks. This news was a bit discouraging as I was ready to get moving. I was going to be two weeks behind compared to other partial knee replacement patients.
Now deep down, I knew it wasn’t a competition or a race. The weeks didn’t really matter, but that competitive edge I had, that most of the time, helped me was eating at me. This was terrible news, and I was now set up for failure.
It sounds ridiculous now as I write this, but those feelings were so real at the time, and I was very flustered. Never the less, I followed the doctor’s orders and only got up to go to the bathroom and did my prescribed time in my CPM machine. That was it until close to the end of the four-week knee rehab mark. The days were long, the pain was still high, and I cried often. I did make it through, though one day at a time.
What I Hope You Get From This Part Of My Knee Rehab Story
Though my first few weeks of knee rehab from partial knee replacement are not as standard as most people’s, I hope by reading this, you see it is not okay to be in excruciating pain. That amount of pain is not normal, and you should call and talk to your surgeon about it. Learn from my mistakes! Also, I hope you see it’s okay to be frustrated when things don’t go as planned but also not to give up. This stressful time will pass, and things will get better.
Do you have a unique knee replacement rehab story? Share it in the comments below or contact me HERE. I’d love to hear it.
Take care until next time! To continue reading the next part of this knee journey click HERE
To read from the beginning of this journey click HERE
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I had spine surgery on June 24, 2022. Then I had total knee surgery on November 7, 2022. nothing went right. The pain levels were high since day 1. Three days after knee surgery, I was rushed to the hospital for very low blood pressure. When they did blood work, my red blood cell count was 6. It is supposed to be 12 or higher. My kidneys had shut down and my muscles in my body went to jelly. I was given a blood transfusion. I knew I had pernicious anemia and so did my surgeons. I don’t know what went wrong. When I got home a few days later the pain was horrible. At 4 weeks out, it still is. I live for ice packs and my hydrocodone, but it’s not enough. I sit here crying and pleading for help. I end up taking twice the drugs and only then will I get some relief. Sleeping is so hard as one position my knee is sort of comfortable, but my spine is hurting. Another position and my knee are hurting but my spine isn’t too bad. There is nowhere for me to sleep and be comfortable. I shake all the time as I am so cold, the pain is relentless, and no sleep makes me very angry. My last knee replacement was not like this at all. By week 3, I was taking care of my mother who had severe dementia. I don’t know why it is so different, especially with the pain. Sometimes I just want to die rather than face another day.