I Didn’t Have a Leg to Stand On
The day before I was to have both of my knees replaced, I wrote out a list of reasons that I was having the surgery done. The list included things like, “playing with the grandchildren,” “walking without pain,” and “traveling and going on mission trips.” The list included about twenty things that I hoped would become easier once my new knees were in place and my body had recovered. That morning, and every morning since surgery, I read and re-read the list to myself in order to keep pushing through this very difficult period of rehab and recovery.
In the years and months leading up to my decision to endure two total knee replacements, I visited three different orthopedic specialists in order to see what my options were. The pain that I felt in my legs due to severe arthritis continued to worsen, and simple tasks such as climbing a flight of stairs had become nearly unbearable. The first two doctors attempted a series of shots, but the relief that they caused was both minimal and fleeting. Both of those doctors told me to “come back when I was ready to have knee replacements.” As a last resort I saw yet a third doctor, hoping that he might have the magic potion that would further delay the surgery.
Instead he sat down with me as we looked at my x-rays, and showed me the permanent damage that the arthritis has caused. Further, he explained that since I no longer had cartilage in my knees, the bones were pressing against each other causing splintering and pain. They were also causing my lower legs to begin to “bow” outward, which was damaging even parts of my leg that didn’t have arthritis. He patiently told me that my only option at this point was a double knee replacement. Unlike the previous two doctors, he expressed willingness to do them both at once.
The most difficult part of this process has been the rehabilitation as my body continues to adjust to the new hardware. For the first week after surgery, I was on the rehab floor of the hospital where I was operated on. Therapy sessions included both occupational and physical therapy for approximately four hours a day. The second week I began outpatient therapy, where the sessions are three times weekly for about two hours each. Exercises are painful, but the therapists are wonderful about pushing me to my limit while motivating me to reach my potential.
For the two weeks after I left the hospital, I continued to rehab at my sweet momma’s house. Her house is completely handicapped accessible which made for an easy transition. There are walkers on every floor, grab bars where you need them, and chair lifts to manage the stairs. Not to mention the comfort of having my mother sitting in the chair next to me while I push through the pain. We enjoyed each other’s company; coloring in adult coloring books, watching Hallmark movies and reading together on the porch. Those are priceless moments that I will forever cherish.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention all of the wonderful support that Arnie and I have gotten from family and friends. From hospital visits to flowers and well wishes, we were supported all through my hospital visit. Since I have been home, we have had wonderful meals delivered in time for supper. Friends have driven me to therapy sessions so that Arnie could catch back up on his work. We have even had offers to help clean our house until I am able to do housework again. Feeling so much love and support has definitely helped me to get through the more difficult parts of the surgery.
As I write this, it has been four weeks since my surgery and I am back at home. Would I do it again? You betcha. For I am holding on to the hope that all of this therapy and hard work will one day pay off and these new knees will take me to places that my old ones couldn’t have. All of the literature and accounts that I have read have said to expect it to take from 3-6 months before I can comfortably get back to many of my normal activities. And it takes approximately a full year before everything is settled into place and fully functioning without pain. That is a small price to pay in order to have a future filled with all of the things on that list.