It’s been 6 weeks since my double knee surgery and all I can say is thank God I didn’t have to have replacements! I don’t know how anyone that has had to have knee replacement does it. You are rock stars! This has been the most physically challenging thing I have ever had to go through and to think I did this voluntarily. I thought when I blew out my knee that was the worst, but no this is harder. Harder than my hysterectomy. This was harder than giving birth to 3 kids. Recovery is tough but I would do it again and it could be so much worse.
It has been a little bit of a roller coaster ride. I’ve laughed, I’ve cried, I’ve been frustrated and mad and every emotion in between. I can’t begin to describe it. There are days I just want to cry all day from pain and frustration. I have a new-found respect for my husband and two daughters. They have all had knee surgery and even though I was here to help them through it all, it’s really different when you’re the patient.
Everyone wants to know what the worst part is. For me, it wasn’t the surgery, it was having to get stitches removed. I’ve never had stitches before and I cried like a baby before the doctor even started to remove them. Seriously! I started crying when he was unwrapping my knees! I am a baby and I’m ok with that. My husband held my hand and the doctor thought I was going to pass out. It really wasn’t bad, I was just really freaked out about it. In all honesty, I actually felt a little better once the stitches were out. I lived to tell the tale!
I have to say I was a little shocked when the doctor went over my surgery and what they found. I knew my knees weren’t in great shape going in, but I didn’t realize they were this bad. I had two tears, one lateral meniscus tear and one under my knee cap in my left knee along with arthritis and lots of cartilage debris and lots of arthritis and cartilage debris in my right knee. He had to do a lot of work cleaning up my right knee. Apparently, my knees were one degree away from being considered completely blown out! Yikes! And to think I was considering canceling my surgery. Good thing I didn’t cancel, I could have been having knee replacement surgery if I would have put it off much longer.
So, how is it recovering from double knee surgery? It’s tough, I won’t lie but you can make it through, especially if you have help. There is no way I could do this without my husband and kids. Thankfully my kids are all adults and still young enough to be living at home. The hospital even called and said I qualified for in-home care, Meals-On-Wheels and the service where they pick you up to take you to appointments but since I had plenty of help I didn’t use any of it. That is how much care you need. Everything is hard. I used crutches off and on for three weeks and I highly recommend them or a walker. They kept me balanced and was a visual reminder to anyone around me not to bump into me. Although that rule seems to be totally ignored when in a Wal-Mart. It’s crazy! You can go to a restaurant and people are very helpful, but you step foot in Wal-Mart and even the employees would sooner mow you down than watch out.
You will also fall in love with ice packs. They are a Godsend. I love the ones my doctor ordered. They’re huge and wrap around your knees. I actually fell asleep with them on and so did my girls after their surgeries. I also slept in our recliner in the living room for the first few days and then moved into my bed with pillows under my knees and feet, but now I can finally sleep on sides and even my stomach. It’s the little things!
The thing that kills me the most is how much I want to do things, normal everyday things, and I can’t yet or it’s painful if I do, or it takes me forever. The first time I took a shower, it was a nightmare and I cried because it hurt so much to get in and out of the shower. I’ve cried because at times I’m so sore and exhausted and I can’t get out of the recliner without help. I’ve cried because I still have a lot of swelling at 6 weeks and my knees aren’t bending properly when I walk. So I walk like a drunk weeble-wobble at times which is kind of funny, and sometimes all I can do is laugh at myself. Thankfully every day this part is getting much better!
Right now my focus is getting my swelling to go away as much as possible and getting my range of motion back. I’m working on physical therapy at home and doing the exercises my orthopedist gave me. I’m also setting step count goals each week. Last week’s goal was 2000 steps which isn’t much, but after knee surgery, it feels like a marathon. I can get up to 4000 daily now and I even hit 10,000 one day. I thought I was going to die! I’m really excited about starting formal physical therapy next week. My quads aren’t working like they should be because they are so weak from years of knee problems. Officially they have atrophied and my hamstrings are doing all the hard work which makes them super tight.
The things that have helped me the most through the worst days have been all the prayers and encouragement from family and friends. When I get discouraged one of them is always around to tell me I will get through this and that each day will get easier. Believe it or not, 4 out of 5 of us have now had some type of knee surgery and my husband had double knee surgery, too. I also pinned some encouraging quotes on Pinterest before surgery. Remembering to use ice or heat helps and one of my friends made me this amazing homemade pain lotion that has been a dream come true. I also keep reminding myself this is a marathon, not a sprint and that it won’t be long before I can do everything that I did before and more.