Monday, July 30, 2012

#739 countdown to total joint replacement

Two weeks from today, I will have a new right knee joint.

It seems kind of crazy, because after living with the pain from the arthritis for all these years, I am actually going to go ahead and have the surgery to replace my crappy joint. I think of the surgery kind of like I think about cleaning a room. You have to make the room more messy in order to get to your end goal of having it really clean. You have to get rid of the old junky stuff to have a bright, shiny room, right?

MT and I met with the surgeon, Dr. F, on Friday. He seems like a good guy. The hospital where the surgery will take place is good, I think. They specialize in joint replacement surgeries. I feel confident in my choice of hospitals and I think Dr. F will be good.

I did ask the doctor about options other than surgery. He said I could lose weight and do low-impact exercises and he could prescribe a medication to manage the pain, but it wouldn't change the fact that both of my knees are just bones rubbing together. I don't have any cartilage in either one. My right knee is swollen and painful all the time. By taking the medicine, I would just be postponing the inevitable. And like I said in a previous post, I'm not enjoying myself right now. The pain in my knee sucks all the fun out of just about everything for me.

Even with all that, I am still coming to grips with actually having a surgery. It's a pretty involved procedure. I can't go into too many details - mostly because I can't remember everything the surgeon said - but it involves cutting into my leg from just above the knee-cap to just below the knee-cap, physically moving the knee-cap to the side, removing some millimeters or centimeters of bone, removing my ACL, replacing the missing bone and ligament with the artificial joint (which is made of some type of metal), shaving off part of my kneecap and replacing it with some plastic substance (new man-made cartilage!) putting the knee-cap back in place and sewing it all up. The whole process will take around three hours. And when I wake up, I get to walk on it that very first day - with the help of a walker.

I'll be in the hospital for three days and when I come home, the real fun begins. I'll have a machine that will bend my leg for me. I'll have nurses coming to the house to check my bandage, take blood samples, etc. A physical therapist will come over to help me with some exercises to regain my mobility. I'll have follow-up visits with the surgeon after two weeks, six weeks and three months. Then we'll talk about doing it all again with my left leg.

This Wednesday, I'll go to the hospital to take a pre-surgery class where they will tell me what to bring to the hospital, what to expect while I'm at the hospital and what to expect when I get home. After the class, I will meet with the pre-admissions people for lab work and to review my medical history. I'll also meet with the pharmacist who will tell me about all the medicines I will be taking while I'm recovering from the surgery. Interesting meds like anti-blood clot drugs and pain killers.

It's all pretty interesting and it makes me nervous, too. I even cried a little on Friday after the appointment. I think I just got scared. Everything will be ok. I'm younger than many people who have joint replacement surgery. I'm in pretty good shape and I am not worried about the work it will take in rehab to get back on my feet (literally!) It's going to be good. I'm going to be really glad that I had this done when I am walking around without a limp and without pain. It's been so long, I don't know if I even remember what that is like!

1 comment:

Kteach said...

All surgeries are scary, but joint replacement is pretty common nowadays and I am sure your surgeon is great and experienced (I googled him of course). I wish i could come and stay with you for a while but you know I will be with you in my thoughts.
Just think how great it'll be when you have no pain!!! :)