Helen's Bilateral TKR

Helenbothknees
Helenbothknees Member Posts: 487
edited 7. Aug 2012, 16:18 in Living with Arthritis archive
Here's a report of my experiences, as promised. I hope it'll help anyone else having both knees done, as we seem to be quite rare....

July 5th....I go for my pre-op assessment. I've already been told I can have both knees done (Consultant: "The X-Rays look horrible, and your knees look even worse; there's not much point in doing just one"); however, I'm expecting it to be in late August or September, as I've only been on the waiting list a couple of months. A few tests etc, then the young registrar asks: "When would you like them done?" When I reply, "ASAP", he tells me they have a gap on Sunday, ie in three days!!!! Otherwise it'll be August. I panic - theatre trips arranged, promised articles not finished (I'm a writer), cats' pills to sort out. David (my partner) says he'll take care of everything and my health is more important; of course I can make it. We agree...

July 8th...David drives me to the hospital for 7 am, still being given instructions on cats, phone calls, appointments etc. We control freaks don't let go easily. He stays with me till they wheel me in to theatre late morning. I'm having a spinal anaesthetic but refuse a sedative; I want to know what's going on - mad or what? The surgeon, who is quite a character, asks if I want a running commentary on what he's doing, and gives me one, along with his own brand of jokes ("Ok, we've cut through, and guess what, there's nothing wrong with your knee".) All goes well till late during the second knee, after about three hours, when I start to feel very cold and a bit strange. It turns out my blood pressure and temperature are dropping. For this reason they take me back to "Step Down" which is halfway between Intensive Care and the general ward. They tell me it's just a precaution, and I get mad when I find there's no TV in Step Down, as I want to watch the Wimbledon final.

Next day bp etc are back to normal and I get moved to the ward - to a private room as that's all they have. Private room and my own bathroom, on the NHS; I'm not complaining, though its almost too quiet. My legs are already moving quite well. This is probably due to the fact that as soon as the anaesthetic wore off it hurt to keep them still, so I just had to move them. I was also obsessed with doing the exercises as soon as I could, which worried the non-orthopaedic nurses in Step Down, whoc thought I should be resting. But I'm in a lot of pain, and demanding morphine every hour or so.

More in a moment; don't want to make this post too long.
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Comments

  • Helenbothknees
    Helenbothknees Member Posts: 487
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Next day physios turn up. I can already bend both knees past 90 degrees; they are delighted. They want to just get me up and sitting in a chair, but I want to walk a bit; I'm desperately worried that these new knees won't work and that I can't possibly walk on two metal joints. I try it round the room with a frame and it's OK. They say that's enough for now and to keep doing the exercises. I'm still in pain and can't sleep; some people say to ask for morphine whenever I need it; others are horrified at how much I'm taking.

    Over the next day or two I manage to shower sitting in a chair, walk with sticks etc. Then comes the bombshell on Wednesday morning - the consultant is delighted with my progress and says I can go home. I'm aghast. I don't yet know how to manage stairs, and I'm not sure I can manage the 100 yds or so from the car park on the estate to my house. And he says they can't give me morphine to take home, and I've still been taking it every couple of hours. I go into complete panic mode and refuse to go.

    To cut a long story short, they keep me till the next morning, and say I can have a small bottle of morphine to take with me. I insist to the physios that I have to walk the 180 paces I extimate I need to be able to do; they say they think it'll be OK, but think isn't enough! So on Thursday morning I go home...
  • Helenbothknees
    Helenbothknees Member Posts: 487
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    That was the Thursday before last, ie nine days ago. Since then things have been progressing well...I think. I was supposed to go for physio to the small local hospital in Ashbourne, but the appointment on Friday got cancelled as they're short of physios. Meanwhile the Derby physio phoned me up, and on finding out what had happened, came over to the house to see how I was getting on. Wow, these people really try hard, short staffed or not. He gave me a couple of other exercises, and said I could walk without crutches indoors if I wanted, so long as I didn't limp...so I abandoned them, which meant I could make drinks and simple meals and so on. Poor David is still doing practically everything, but I'm trying to stop him having to wait on me hand and food. Stairs are still awful; I was supposed to treat my slightly better left leg as a good leg, but it isn't one, and it soon complained. Luckily I can now do them alternately, though it's hard work. I get incredibly tired, and the pain is still awful; I stopped taking the morphine as soon as I could as it made me so forgetful; OK in hospital, but a nuisance at home. Staples came out last Thursday, thank goodness. And I have a physio appointment in Ashbourne this Friday.

    My main problem is overdoing things. I keep exercising too much, walking too much, doing too much - and I end up with horribly swollen knees and utterly exhausted. I'm trying to learn patience, but I'm not good at it. And I was feeling terribly isolated, until I found this forum yesterday. So thanks to all of you for being here, and especially to you others who've been operated on this month - Marrianne, Steve, and Julia. Let's carry on comparing notes....

    Helen
  • marrianne
    marrianne Member Posts: 1,161
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi Helen,just read through,Well I think you are a star,2 knees and walking unaided ,are you very slim ? do you have downstairs toilet ? .......I am a bit cross with my self today 1st at home as I gave myself a swollen knee last night ,guess its everything in moderation, just waiting for physio ,nurse has been to change dressing jab tummy ,do you do your own jabs ? love and luck to Steve and Julia ,hope all is going well with her operation ,Marrianne :) ....look in later .......phew its hots :oops: :oops:
  • stickywicket
    stickywicket Member Posts: 26,909
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    My main problem is overdoing things. I keep exercising too much, walking too much, doing too much - and I end up with horribly swollen knees and utterly exhausted. I'm trying to learn patience, but I'm not good at it.

    Don't do it, Helen. Believe me, I understand the temptation but try to focus on the end result and don't do anything to compromise that.
  • SteveBurns
    SteveBurns Member Posts: 177
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi Marrianne, Helen,

    What are the jabs you mention?

    Helen you make your two new knees sound a lot easier than my one new knee. I thought I was doing well but obviously not in comparison to you.

    I still get swelling but not as frequent now. I have learnt to do my exercises while the pain relief is working, I can do more then. If I try to exercise when in pain all I do is give myself lots of pain for longer.

    I had a walk outside today, around a park, my missus walked the dogs and I trailed a long way behind, but it was a walk. I must do more of them.

    Helen your bend after the op was incredible, there are people eight weeks after the op who can't get a 90?

    Marianne the knee will swell anyway during the first few weeks, just use ice when you can and keep the ice pack moving so as not to freeze the same spot. Keep the leg raised to stop the swelling travelling down toward your foot.

    Well done you all.

    Steve
  • marrianne
    marrianne Member Posts: 1,161
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi Helen Sticky and Steve dd everyone ,well hope you are al,l enjoying our suddeto to 90 n summer,Steve thanks for advise re swelling ,the injections are to stop the blood forming clots thrombosis the injections are dalteparin injected daily into tummy for 14 days in total,could be because I am r/a not sure maybe Steve they think you are more likely to keep active oh Sticky definately being much more careful with periods of rest and trying to exercise to bend of 70 without to much pain can get to 90 but it really hurts si shall build gradualy ,thinking of you all on a/c and Julia .......Marrianne :)
  • dreamdaisy
    dreamdaisy Member Posts: 31,520
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    I'm green with envy for all of you 'new knee' bods. I have another year at least of stuff deteriorating, the Clatterator is in constant use now as the crutches don't offer enough support at the moment. Both knees 'clonk' as I walk, the ankles are giving me grief as are the toes and as for the back of my left heel, oh stuff the lot of it. :lol: You have arthritis DD, this is what it does, get on with it.

    The only knee ops I have had so far are two open synovectomies on my left knee and one closed on the right. After the first open it took me at least a couple of months to get a 90 degree bend, and I slept in the dining room for at least eight weeks (we have a ground floor bathroom). Good luck to all of you, Julia too, your lives can only get better if you do everything right, so make sure you do. No races to beat each other to milestones, please. :wink: DD
  • elainebadknee
    elainebadknee Bots Posts: 3,703
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Helen

    Gosh after reading your above posts i think you should give up your current occupation and be a mentor for people preparing for knee replacement surgery and how to cope afterwards, you'd be brilliant!
    Like Steve says you really make it sound like a piece of cake but im sure it has been damn hard work too....Youve coped excpetionally well with having 2 days notice for surgery, having the blip whilst on the second knee and wanting to watch wimbledon (we couldve told you though Federer would win, sigh)....And coming home after 2 days on the ward...

    Youre a star and i hope you continue to recover as well as you have so far...

    Elainex

    (will be member of new knee club hopefully in nov 2012)...
  • loovechocolate
    loovechocolate Member Posts: 77
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    WOW WOW WOW WOW what else can I say I am 13 weeks only just got 90 still swell like a balloon and walk with a limp feel depressed now lol. Well done you
  • Helenbothknees
    Helenbothknees Member Posts: 487
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Wow, what can I say. Look everyone, please don't compare, get depressed, or turn this into a competition. I suspect my knee bend is largely because I was terribly flexible before the op, partly because it runs in the family and partly because I've done yoga for over 20 years. I'm nowhere near like I was before and probably never will be. In fact, my GP didn't want me to have the op because I was so flexible and he said I'd lose it all (as he sat looking at me curled up in a chair), but he didn't know what intense pain I was in, day and night, even on the strongest pain killers he could give me. I eventually convinced him, and the consultant didn't need any convincing when he saw the X-ray.

    I think this just shows that we're all different. I really, really have been trying to rest today - but I'm still exhausted. Come to think of it, I've always had a problem with stamina. I guess to some extent it comes down to what you were like to start with.

    To more specific comments...
    loovechocolate (great name!) please don't get depressed. My knees swell like balloons too. Then I use icepacks, and I start shivering all over. Oh yes, am I the only person whose internal temperature mechanism has gone crazy; I'm always either sweating or shivering? I even went to the GP thinking I had a fever; she said I was fine.

    Elaine, it was far from being a piece of cake! I think that's just the way I write. And in a way having hardly any notice helped as I didn't have time to go into it all too much. As for Wimbledon, I knew Federer would win too, but I'd been promised the op would be finished in time for me to watch the final, so I was annoyed. Hell, you don't think rationally after a three hour op!

    dreamdaisy, I really feel for you. I was in despair only a few months ago, when my GP said my knees weren't bad enough for the op. What did he want them to be like? Why do you have to wait so long?

    Steve, I too do exercises while the pain relief is working. It's hard enough with it; why make it even harder? Though I think I heard somewhere that you shouldn't push things to the point of intense pain anyway? Am I wrong? Anyone know? Well, I've been told to listen to my body, but doing that's not always easy.

    Hang in there everyone, and talk later....

    Helen
  • loovechocolate
    loovechocolate Member Posts: 77
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    don't care what you say I still say
    WOW WOW WOW you are my hero :lol:
    I'll just limp into the kitchen for a drink
  • barbara12
    barbara12 Member Posts: 21,274
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Helen
    Thats really does make good reading, anyone that is down to TKRs must feel so relieved reading this, has you say everyone is different but it is so good of you to share this.
    Mine are my hips and back, so I hopefully wont be going down your route, but whos knows.
    I do wish you well with your recovery, keep the post coming , and please dont forget the rest bit..xx
  • Helenbothknees
    Helenbothknees Member Posts: 487
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi Helen,just read through,Well I think you are a star,2 knees and walking unaided ,are you very slim ? do you have downstairs toilet ?

    Marrianne, sorry, just noticed that I never answered your questions. I'm reasonably slim now, I lost about two stone over the past couple of years, dieting like mad in the hope it would help with the pain; it did but not enough in the end. And since the op, like Steve, I eat very little, and my clothes are falling off me. Ah, it's an ill wind and all that; I'm probably the thinnest I've ever been - but I still wouldn't call myself "very slim". And we have two toilets, both upstairs and down, which is wonderful!
  • tillytop
    tillytop Member Posts: 3,460
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Belatedly "hello" Helen and welcome!

    I am so pleased that things are progressing so well for you - it is lovely to hear some positive news!

    Thinking of you.

    Tillyxxx
  • frogmorton
    frogmorton Member Posts: 27,827
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hello Helen

    Nice to meet another new person :D

    You sound to have done very very well :) . I hope you continue the way you are going.

    Love

    Toni xxx
  • marrianne
    marrianne Member Posts: 1,161
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi all,Those with new knees those with other things,Its hot humid and a bit uncomf the very tight support socks are driving me up the wall ,Helen are you still wearing yours all the time ,Steve are you not several weeks on now ,I am day 5 now and finding it hard going with the heat ,o/h is renovating our older house ,and our only toilet is up stairs ,like you Helen wieght has dropped off and after feeling hungry I now feel slightly of food ,I am wandering how Julia is and hope all is well I am sure she is glad its been done and she will be catching up with us ,wish I could sit in the garden but dust and cement and noise its not so good thanks to all for posting ,...Marrianne .. :)
  • diamond
    diamond Member Posts: 396
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Well Helen that is the ops out of the way.Nice to see a success story but please don't overdo things take it gradually.I had my knees done six months apart,last one three months ago still attending physio, hope to be discharged this week.My first knee i found difficult to get a bend beyond 90,but it straightened out not too bad.Second knee could bend easier but had problems straightening it as i developed a bruise and lump behind knee,this was investigated nothing serious but it held my progress back.With not having one really strong knee i feel it is taking me longer to recover but i will get there.I was advised it can take up to 1year to fully recover.Best wishes also to Steve,Marriane and Julia.x
  • lindalegs
    lindalegs Member Posts: 5,371
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi Helen and all,

    I have a good bend on my both prosthesis of about 120 deg. but I was very lucky because before my bi-lateral TKRs I was sent for intensive physio and hydro twice a week before and after the operation, 2 months either side. When I had my revision last year, of my right knee, I knew the exercises to do and diligently went on the exercise bike daily. It may not be possible to get a great bend but as long as the bend is the best you can get out of your new knee then that's what's right for you.

    You have to remember that after the surgery there's been a lot of soft tissue and nerve damage and if you over do things too much too often then you're not giving it chance to heal. You have to do the exercises but you also have to be sensible about it and be kind to your body. The resting and ice are just as important as the exercise, give yourself chance to repair also.

    I lost my appetite after surgery but this was down to the medication as well as the trauma of the op. It did take a long while before my appetite came back.

    Luv,
  • Helenbothknees
    Helenbothknees Member Posts: 487
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi marrianne. About the stockings, they took mine off in the hospital after two days because they were affecting my circulation and my toes were going icy cold. I asked about it and they said I didn't need them so long as I kept active. Needless to say I was delighted! I don't know what to say to you about that. They must be hell in this weather, you poor thing. I just don't know if they're necessary or not; everyone is different, and I'd be inclined not to go against medical advice - though that's easy to say for someone else.

    I've been sitting out in the sun, but only for short periods. I usually love the heat, but I seem hypersensitive to both heat and cold now, and I can't stand the sun for long. Also, although I rarely burn normally, the skin around my knee scars turns red at the slightest thing and I have to use high factor sun cream on it. Very odd. No-one tells you about these little strange things, do they?

    I too am wondering how Julia is? Which day was her op? Maybe she can't post in the hospital, and isn't home yet. I do hope everything went OK, Julia, and we're thinking about you.

    Everyone else, thanks for the good advice. Should I buy an exercise bike? Maybe that's a question for the physio on Friday...

    More later....Helen
  • SteveBurns
    SteveBurns Member Posts: 177
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi all,

    I still wear my support stocking on my "good" leg. Its right up to my thigh. I'll ask Physio tomorrow about taking it off.

    I love the sun and sit in the garden every chance I get. The scar is no problem in the sun, good for me :)

    My knee is a lot better this week, less painful and I can exercise more but only when the pain relief is operating.

    Still not sleeping properly but I do get a little longer, can sleep on my side but it hurts when I wake up, on the inside of the knee. :cry:

    Physio tomorrow and hoping to record a 90 degree bend.

    Good luck to you all :)
  • elnafinn
    elnafinn Member Posts: 7,412
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi Helen

    I got an exercise bike from Freecyle locally in 2008 after my first TKR and still use it every day because it is good cardiovascular exercise. I have two new knees, operated on 2 years apart. I did wait until I had used a bike at physio after the first op which did not take long as luckily my knee bend was good post op. I just had pain and discomfort for a long time instead.

    I could not help gleefully letting my consultant know because he told me I wouldl not get more than a 90 degree bend. :wink:

    Elna x
  • tjt6768
    tjt6768 Member Posts: 12,170
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi Helen, and the rest if the knew knee crew...
    Oh, you lucky bunch lol. My ones have been the biggest of my problems and have had trouble for almost thirty yrs with the left one, right one not too far behind..
    I've had many arthroscopies, done helpful, some not. The last one I had both ones at the same time done, neither helped :roll:
    Now the surgeon is using the excuse of not seeing me again until my inflammatory arthur is under control. I think it's my age..
    He said they weren't quite bad enough for replacements when I saw him last year.. Christ knows what they'll be like when they are then... My cartledge is a mess in both and that's after the clear out...
    I've photos somewhere..

    Sorry I'm complaining. I am genuinely happy for you folks that haver had them done and hope they bring much needed relief.. Knee pain to me is the worst..
    Best of luck to you all and well done Helen, great progress mi dear..
    I haven't seen Julia online.. Hope all is well.
  • Helenbothknees
    Helenbothknees Member Posts: 487
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    I could not help gleefully letting my consultant know because he told me I wouldl not get more than a 90 degree bend.

    Love it! I want to do the same thing with my GP; he told me I wouldn't get more than a 90 degree bend, and I have already...just need to keep it up now. The hospital doctors were brilliant; they said there's no theoretical limit to how far it will bend; it's designed to bend all the way; just start exercising early and keep going. So I did/do. Mind you, reading about everyone else, I can see I've been incredibly lucky so far too.

    Pain lessening very slightly; just as well, as I can't even get a phone appointment to speak to a GP about more pain relief. Physio tomorrow so may report more then.
  • elnafinn
    elnafinn Member Posts: 7,412
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi Helen :D

    My consultant also said that I may not be able to knee post op but I am able to do so but I do hear some cannot. It is of great bonus to me since having had a spinal op last year because now I find I cannot bend over too long craning my neck when trying to find something in a cupboard for example so to be able to kneel is a great bonus in many ways for me. :D

    Elna x
  • SteveBurns
    SteveBurns Member Posts: 177
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi all, physio this morning and disappointed with the measure of my bend. Only 85 and that after all the pushing and shoving. :(

    It was a different physio, a male who I think tells the truth whereas the female last week was a little too kind, if you get the drift? :?

    I have to do more knee bending exercises and try to beat the pain when doing them. :cry:

    He recommended Bio Oil for the scar, bought some on the way home, it smells nice and should make the scar look good, I also have some of the scar adhered to the tissue underneath and have to move that around to try to release it. :)

    One good point is I can get rid of one stick. :D

    He did not know about using the stockings and recommend I ask my consultant, that will be a week on Monday.

    Still happy with the improvement but wish the pain would go away.

    Take care all. :)

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