Surgery Update

Some of you may not be aware that I recently opted to go for a total knee replacement surgery.   I injured my right knee 40+ years ago, had surgery in '91 and  '12 cleaning it up and trying to make do but a replacement was the next option.    I rocked on another 5 years but the past year was increasingly difficult, with a reduction in things that I could continue to participate in without pain and swelling even with medication.  Acts like sitting in a car or airplane or standing all day long to quilt had become increasingly difficult.   I could not put it off any longer.   I planned surgery 30 days out to give me time to try to get things in order with work prior to surgery and formulate a plan.

The timeline for recovery is quite long but so many people told me they were back to their routines so quickly, I was hoping for the same for myself.   Unfortunately, my recovery has been very slow (but average per statistics).   Personally, I had no understanding of how limited my range of motion would be during this time or how painful and dependent I would be on others! Stats say 6-12 weeks with a walker, cane etc.   At my age, I encounter quilters that use a walker for outings but they are perfectly fine, just need a little balance control or they have the seat in case they tire and need to sit.   I rather imagined having good range of motion, just needing to be very careful to not to over extend myself.

Anyway, today marks 4 weeks since surgery.   I still can't get my leg extended straight.   I droop from the knee down.  Getting the leg straight also goes along with increases in the bending of the leg as well.   While after stretching and with much positioning, I can get the bend to about 110 degrees and my straight line at -4.  But a relaxed natural posturing, I'm not at that 90 degree bend for sitting in a chair, placing my feet side by side to stand or lower into a chair.   I'm still at elevation, ice and my exercises as occupying my day and night.   I find it difficult to even be comfortable enough to work on handwork most days.   I can only be in bed about 4 hours and must get up to move my leg.  My life is consumed with trying to make my leg comfortable.

I never imagined at 4 weeks I would be so incapacitated.  I believed I would be doing some things around the house, sew a little, but not have full power to jump back into the working world just yet. The nurse had stated the earliest I could drive would be 3 weeks.   I thought that would be dependent on taking pain meds!   Not the actual ability to move my leg and drive!   That is the furthest thing from my mind right now is to even think about driving.  I'm told I need to go to a large parking area and practice moving my foot from the gas to the brake and back to the gas before I hit the roads too.

I had 3 nights in hospital, then 10 nights in a rehab hospital.  I started this journey with extreme swelling, bright redness, headaches and throwing up for the first 6 days.  The swelling in particular made it difficult to make progress because it was swollen so large, no space to bend and flex!  After release from rehab, I continue with outpatient physical therapy 3Xs week and personal home exercise 3Xs a day with some stretches about every hour because they help me feel better.   PT is aggressive but I love it.   I especially love working resistance with the machines as opposed to my own self because I can push myself harder on the machines.   Progress every day but they are baby steps.  My family has had to do so much for me and I am so grateful I have my husband and 1 son still living at home!

I have to take it day by day.   I fear I will be re-working my revised quilting schedule as I had planned on being able to fully return to work in 6 weeks which at this point seems entirely impossible.   I will keep you posted!

Flowers at rehab

binding complete


Nancy said…
Oh my, Valerie, this has been a slow process, and sounds as if it's less than you expected or at least hoped for. Our bodies are truly a wonder, but your continued and attentive efforts will be the ticket I surmise. As quilters, we are so busy and involved in wonderful activities, that things like this just "cramp our style" I think. Who would have thought that even doing the handwork would loom so large a task? Phew. Blessings to you, and hoping for a steady pace of recovery for you. All the best.
Maureen Ronolo said…
Hello Valerie,
I myself fell while crossing the street a year ago in February. I broke my femur (hardest bone in the body to break) and this necessitated a hip replacement. I was only 63. I had other health issues, and felt like a guinea pig with them giving me drugs for this and drugs for that.

I spent a month in rehab. But apparently I needed that month so that I could make it around my own apartment. When it came to going up and down stairs, even the little mock-up scared me to death. I was crippled by fear.

My 92 year old aunt fell and broke her hip, had it replaced and was doing much better than I. I couldn't let her show me up. But it seemed everyone else that had a hip replacement recovered much sooner than I.

The reason I share that is that it seems like there is no progress, but I realize everyday I am doing things I wasn't able to do before. Breakthroughs happen. And you have a new accomplishment as your starting point for the next bit of progress. I know it's frustrating, but someone with your talent is much more driven than I am. I know you'll do fine. Best wishes for your recovery.
Valerie said…
Maureen I wish you continued success as well. Little victories, today 1 lb weights were added to an exercise that 3 weeks ago I couldn't even do without weights. Daily progress at our bodies pace.
Patsy said…
Best of luck to you!! Time moves slowly when you're walking uphill, but you will reach the top and life will be yours once again.