On 20 August, 2014, I finally was given a total left knee replacement at the Monfort Hospital. For the previous few years I had really suffered from shooting pains, weakness and the resultant lack of mobility so basically this was the only choice.
The drawing at left is a front-on view.
The one at right is from the side.
On the 12th of November, about 3 months after the operation I visited my surgeon, Dr.Chauhan, for a programmed post operative checkup. Evidently all is well in my recovery, and in fact he was very impressed with my progress. I have to keep up the home exercises of course, but basically the only real problems I still have are navigating down stairs and a bit of vertigo when I fully bend over. Also, I'll have to build up my stamina as the exercises are obviously knee-related and don't stress the rest of my old frame to any great extent! He indicated that by six months, all conditions should be back to normal.
I must confess that I didn't anticipate the complexity and stabbing initial pain that came with this operation! But now that things are improving at a constant, but albeit slow pace by my standards (military and engineering background), the question arises, would I have done it knowing the pain, etc. that came with the procedure? My answer is a resounding "YES"! I will have my mobility back and certainly not the pain I was enduring before.
Several folks have indicated that with the new metal parts in my body, it will be difficult getting through the airport checks! I questioned my doctor and he provided me with this document I can display to avoid any security issues:
Below is a copy of the e-mail we sent out to friends and family three weeks after the operation giving a summary of what was done and the progress to that date:
Thank you for your concerned phone calls and e-mails regarding the progress of my recovery. Until recently I haven't felt much like writing, as I have been dealing with more extreme pain than anticipated and I seem to need lots of healing naps. So, the following is a brief summary of events and where I stand now, almost three weeks after the operation.
As can be seen, they really had fun slicing and dicing!
First, a big thanks to my surgeon Dr.Chauhan, and the Montfort Hospital medical and support staff. Everything was fully explained prior to the surgery, as well as a multitude of tests conducted to check that I was OK for the procedure. I was partially awake during the operation as this was the better choice rather than being knocked out completely and suffering the anesthesia after effects! It was rather interesting hearing the sawing and hammering as they modified my knee for fun and profit. Regardless, the day following the operation is almost a dream world as it still took time for the drugs to kick in and out. After three nights, I was released and returned home with a plethora of instructions covering every aspect of my recovery.
As mentioned, the one big problem was pain control!!! The drug that was prescribed to counteract the serious pain from this type of surgery just didn't work for me! In addition there were some undesirable side effects to contend with such as nausea, rash and 'plumbing' annoyances. Frankly, I had not expected the high level of stabbing pain this operation generated!!! Unlike temporary pain at the time of injury or joint movement, this pain was 100% full-time, thereby ensuring that decent sleep was just about impossible! Judy managed to finally get the drug prescription changed thanks to advice from our friend Janet Weir, who had the same surgery a few years ago and was pretty much pain free during recovery. However we weren't able to get the new drug until after the Labour Day long weekend, so I had no choice but to 'suck it up', and appreciate what damaged folks have to handle. A good lesson in the long run!
Evidently to be fully effective the physio had to be started as soon as possible ... and I mean very soon. In addition to the series of exercises I received to be conducted twice a day when I returned home, twice-weekly appointments of an hour and a half were set up for physio at the Montfort Hospital Physio Clinic. In essence, the requirement is to get the full movement of the knee back before it locks up permanently! I'm pleased to advise that I'm doing very well according to the physiotherapists, much better actually than my (younger) physio class peers!
Also, the metal staples have now been removed and healing is going well!
As for mobility, I have used a walker to date, but probably will fully graduate to a cane shortly. Also, I can handle the stairs to our home 2nd floor reasonably well, employing a cane.
Nevertheless, I'm still somewhat hobbled and must remember to take it easy and be patient - not my best personal attributes as Judy can attest to! The eight inch scar is healing remarkably quickly, far faster than I thought it would considering what went on in the joint. Prognosis? I anticipate reasonable mobility in another three weeks or so. I should be good to go for golf by early spring. Of course it will be interesting to see how my game goes now that I will have left knee flexibility back (and therefore have no excuses). In summary, a much more complex procedure than I anticipated, but definitely necessary to return to an active life!
Of course, I must not forget to thank my dear wife Judy. She has been and continues to be my mentor, nurse, home physiotherapist, cook, chauffeur, psychologist, and much appreciated moral supporter!