Thursday, May 16, 2013

Time to Play Catch-Up and Move-it, Move-it, Move-it

I had the best of intentions, I really did.

My thought was that I could continue blogging right through my April 9 knee replacement surgery, and then day by day through recovery for two months or however long it took.

I could give others facing this surgery some idea of what it entailed. Maybe I could have offered hope, inspiration -- or just given a glimpse of what's what, as we heart-surgery survivors strive to do through the Mended Hearts support group.

Of course that would have entailed keeping up with my laptop computer at the hospital 24/7 --- not a realistic thing to do between dozing off and people coming into the room at all hours for my initial stay of four days.

Then there was the complication requiring a re-hospitalization stint of three extra days. It's probably best I didn't cover that in graphic detail  because I wouldn't want to give the impression that my experience was typical. Indeed, I think it was highly unusual.

My surgeon looked at my unusually swollen knee and feared we might be dealing with cellulitis, a really nasty infection. I don't know if he realized it or not, but I had a nasty bout with cellulitis nearly a half century ago from playing industrial-league softball on red-clay fields and doing a lot of sliding and diving for ground balls at third base. I got a dose of cellulitis in the (now-replaced) left knee and both elbows. I doubt that it lurked for 50 years waiting for a chance to take me down again, but who knows? It was weird -- but three days of antibiotics IVs plus a seven-day course of oral meds upon returning home seems to have knocked out anything that could have been threatening me and my bionic knee.

All that did put me behind in the physical therapy that is so crucial to success of knee replacement. A home-health PT came to my abode for five straight days to teach me the basics and get me going. And for the past month, I've been driving myself to out-patient PT three times a week. (I was able to resume driving within two weeks because my surgical leg is the non-driving one -- all that is required is being able to bend the knee enough to drag the leg into the driver's side.)

I find knee PT far more taxing and at times painful than I did cardiac rehab, which I pretty much laughed my way through eight years ago after open-heart surgery. But my therapists keep telling me that I am doing "fantastic" -- and I suppose increasing my flexion from 85 to 115 degrees in just a few weeks is encouraging. In another week, I'll find out how my orthopedic surgeon thinks I'm doing and how much more PT he may have in mind for me.

For now, I think I will save my observations about therapy and life with a new knee for future blogposts, as I play catch-up. I think I have learned a few lessons that might be worth passing on.

Am I glad I got the replacement ? -- yes! Is Superdawg? She will reserve judgment until I start taking her again on those long walks during which she dictates route and mileage.

© Robert G. Holland   2013


  1. Bob, I'm so glad you're on the mend, and hope you and Superdawg will be out blazing new trails before long. I finally broke down and went to the orthopedist this week to see about getting my torn meniscus repaired. After looking at the X-rays, he laughed and told me my meniscus is long gone, along with almost all the cartilage in my left knee. Looks like I'll be following in your footsteps sometime down the road. I will be seeking your counsel.

  2. Sure sounds a lot like the condition my left knee was in, Gary. Thank goodness the ortho says my right knee (the one I had a meniscus repair done on a few years ago) should be good for the duration. I just as soon not have a double replacement. I'm not going to tell you it's a piece of cake but I think mine was more complicated than most are. I'll be glad to offer any thoughts as you consider taking this step, Gary.


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