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My Total Knee Replacement to Week Five

Updated on June 24, 2019
Lorelei Nettles profile image

Lorelei has battled OA for years and was first diagnosed with RA in 2014 although she probably had it for some time before.

The Surgery

When I went in for surgery they brought me to a curtained area to change clothes and answer all the necessary questions. They hooked my arm up with an IV port and wheeled me into the surgery room. Once moved to the surgical bed, which was very narrow, I received the knockout potion and was out within seconds. I awoke about two hours later in the recovery room. I was aware my leg was stiff and sore but was more aware of my grogginess. It was not too long afterward they had my husband pull up the car and took me out in a wheelchair. They had strapped a strong belt around my waist so they could hold me from behind as I got into the vehicle. They also had me bring a walker to use when I got home. We arrived home and made sure to park nearest to our house making sure there was a clear path to the door. I was walking very stiffly and was very groggy from the surgical drugs. I got home about 12:30 p.m. and quickly changed into pajamas and laid down.

That first day was kind of a wash as far as pain, the drugs have you numb to most of it. About an hour after I got home a nurse arrived. She checked my incision, my temperature, and blood pressure. Then she hooked up an IV with antibiotics. This was followed by an IV of pain meds. Then around 9:45 PM another nurse came and repeated the process. When she was done, she removed the port from my arm and that was the last of the antibiotics I received. The rest of the day I mostly slept.

Day Two

The second day is when I really began to feel the knee pain. That’s when I started taking the medication they prescribed. It is definitely something you do not want to miss, but it does make you sleepy and a bit dizzy. Getting up from a sitting position is the most difficult part. I had to have help in the beginning as I could not get to a standing position. They also sent a physical therapist to begin to maneuver the knee. Not my favorite part by any means. My knee was still very bent and that is something they instantly begin to work on. They get you moving and while I knew it was a must I was not happy. It was the most difficult part of my day. I suggest wearing some sort of shorts because the therapist does manipulate the leg and you do not want your fanny showing. A nurse also came to take my vitals and check my incision.

The physical therapist came twice a week for two weeks and then a couple more times. The nurse came three times the first week and then twice the second week. One very helpful thing I did was set a reminder on my phone to take my pills at the right time. I was taking the medication from the doctor as well as Tylenol Arthritis, which were taken at separate time intervals. I was so groggy from the meds it was easy to get confused as to when to take them, especially in the middle of the night, so the reminder was a must. I also made sure to say "take a pill" or "take Tylenol" to make it clear what to take. The pain was especially intense around my upper thigh. That is where they put a tourniquet to slow bleeding. That was probably the worst pain I had because it made it impossible to sit in a chair and the bruising was intense in that area of the leg.

Week Two

The bruising is crazy over the first and second weeks. It almost seems as if there is a new area of the leg in pain every few days. First the upper thigh, then behind the knee, then the top of the knee. I am sure that varies for people but it is an interesting part of the healing process to see which part of the body will be affected next. I would sometimes sit on the edge of my bed and my mind would argue with me about being able to get up due to the pain. I had to tell myself that since I could get up the week before, I surely could get up now. It usually worked. I also found it was necessary to lie down for at least a half hour each day around 1 or 2 o’clock. Even if I was sitting most of the day I needed that lay flat resting time. When I tried to ignore it, I paid for it physically. Ice is also your friend. Ice your leg as often as you can and follow all the physical therapy instructions.

Week Three and Four

By week three I was in the swing of things. I was still in a lot of pain but now coping with life and trying to get around a bit. It took me until this point to really start using a cane at home to get around. I was also weaning off the doctor’s medication during the day as I could. When I did need something for the pain I took one pill instead of two. Opioids can be addictive so I wanted to be careful and only take what I needed. Although I did take two before my now away from home physical therapy sessions and one when I had front leg pain. By this point, I had a kicked in the shins pain that was quite painful.

Week Five

This is the week most people wait for. Not because all the pain and tension is gone but because it is so much better. At this point, I regularly used a cane to get around both at home and when out. I was still not driving on my own but close to being able too. Pain meds were only taken for physical therapy and I had gone shopping albeit using the store’s mobile cart. I was also capable of walking a further distance. Although I went out a couple of times before this week, this was the real point of feeling I could go out regularly without a lot of worries. I was also able to do laundry, climb the stairs at least once a day if needed, and do light housework. I got so I would sometimes accidentally walk away without the cane as well.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

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