Monday, May 28, 2012

Recovery From A Total Knee Replacement Part Two

The Hospital Day One
  Waking up in the hospital. There's nothing wonderful or exciting about waking up in the hospital except the fact that you actually do wake up. The alternative is something I don't want to talk about just now other than to say that if I had not waked up in the hospital I know without a shadow of a doubt that I would be waking up instead to the glories of Heaven. Either one is great in my book. Here or There. Sometimes There looks a lot better than here. But I digress.
   Betcha you didn't know that just waking up from anesthesia is hard work. I vaguely remember someone hollering my name and telling me over and over to open my eyes when all I want to do is go off and have a nice little nap. But no. You have to wake up. They don't really give you another option.
    The next thing I remember is that I am in my room. And the comforting presence of The Husband is there. He pats my hand and tells me that everything went well. I look around. I have a drain in my knee, I am connected to an IV pump, there's an oxygen tube in my nose, and a lovely see-through catheter bag looped over the end of my bed. Finally there is a blood pressure cuff that looks like it's not going anywhere around my arm. I couldn't escape if I wanted to. The good news is that I feel NO PAIN. So I don't need to escape. Not yet, anyway. Okay maybe I am feeling a twinge of discomfort, but no real pain. They use these rating systems for pain now in the hospitals. It must be some universal protocol. They even gave me a sheet with little faces corresponding to the numbers on the pain chart. I guess you can always make the face if you are unable to talk. In the last two hours, they have asked me five times about my pain level. The nurses are hovering at this point. And they tell me that I can have some wonderful delicious ice chips to eat. My mouth feels like a really really bad hangover so I am excited to have ice chips, and since it feels like a hangover, I know that I do not want to eat...yet. By the way, I don't think my Momma knows that I know what a hangover is despite the fact that I am nearly 60 years old.
   But wait, I have this headache. I have not had any caffeine for like 24 hours. I know that I am going to develop a migraine. I tell the nurse expecting them to just pat my hand because a headache is relatively minor compared to everything else that is going on with my body, but no, she takes me seriously and puts something in my IV for my headache. Maybe it was liquid caffeine. I don't know but I start to feel pretty good.
   Some of my family comes to visit and then the doctor stops by. I ask about the femoral nerve block and he tells me that I got two blocks, so as far as the pain goes, I should be in pretty good shape...until it wears off, that is. He says the replacement went well and I ask him about my knee. He tells me that the knee was terrible and horrible. I immediately think about the children's classic, Alexander and The Terrible, Horrible, Very Bad Day. My knee has had its last Terrible, Horrible, Very Bad Day. I am thankful. The new knee has a good future. Maybe I should sing, "Happy Days are Here Again..."
   We discuss that I will have physical therapy later that day, and that I will likely go home on Saturday afternoon. Today is Thursday. I dread the physical therapy. I look at all of the tubes and think about walking around and I don't feel very excited. But Dr. Hodrick is very reassuring.
  Sure enough the PT folks - all three of them - come into the room late-afternoon. I think I am their last patient of the day. I am hoping that I will not be a doozy. We go through the exercises that I am supposed to be doing on my own in the bed: ankle pumps and butt squeezes. Exciting, huh. Then we do a few slides, and I actually get to see the dressing surrounding my knee along with my little drain. Then they tell me that they are going to get me up. That's why there are three of them. They drag out this knee immobilizer, strap me in and then get out this giant belt and tie it around my waist. It reminds me of something that has to do with a strait jacket. Mind you I have never seen a strait jacket and am not sure that they really use them anymore, but this belt reminds me of one.
This is the belt. See what I mean? They can tie you up good with this thing.

Ossur Premium Sized Knee Immobilizer - 16" Length
This is not a picture of my knee. I wish it were. But this is a picture of one
 of my favorite devices (not)..the knee mobilizer. I will be sleeping in this monster for six weeks. 

   I take a deep breath and up we go. Then I get cold. The room starts to spin and they are talking to me and saying open your eyes and look at us. I think I am back in the recovery room. They sit me back down on the bed. I get a break. Maybe we are not going to have to walk. But no, the belt is still around my waist. After I am fortified with delicious ice chips and some deep chest breathing, up we go again. I think I am doing well. One foot is going in front of the other, and I am using the walker to stabilize myself. Never mind that there is a therapist on either side and one in front of me. We start toward the nurses station. I am halfway there and all of a sudden I can feel my legs giving out. "Wake up, wake up, look at us." Who is hollering? They need to talk quietly. We are in the hallways of a hospital, after all. I come back to reality. I am standing upright. There are two people wedged up next to me and a third standing in front of me. We look like we are having an intense conversation. I finally put one foot in front of the other and make it back to the room. I think that they are all ready to go home for the day. I would agree. I am ready for them to leave. I make vague promises about doing my bed exercises and close my eyes. I am exhausted.
   The Husband sticks around until dark and then heads out. I am not my usual brilliant conversationalist at this point. I have actually resorted to grunting in response to his questions. He leaves. I go to sleep. It is the end of Day One.

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