18 May 2009

Knee Replacement: One Month Later

From what I understand, my new knee is made of titanium. The cushion that acts as cartilage is plastic. What does it feel like? My knee but without all of the bone rubbing against bone. There are times when it pops or clicks a little. I don't find this unnerving. My old knee did the same things, but my old knee hurt like hell each time it did those things. This knee seems to be a damn good facsimile of a human knee joint.

Normal things I can do:
- Lift weights (upper body)
- Swim with a pull buoy (kicking lightly if and when I feel like it)
- Cook a quick meal
- Sit comfortably
- Drive comfortably
- Swing my leg up onto the bed or into a car under its own power
- Take the dog to the dog park (and sit while he plays)

Normal things I cannot do:
- Walk or stand for long periods (although I have been to Target and the grocery store)
- Sit for long periods without the space to straighten my new knee
- Climb stairs comfortably
- Drive a stick
- Ride a bike
- Walk without a limp

I've been one of the lucky ones who has slept relatively well since the day I came home from the hospital. I get about six hours of sleep a night, usually in three-hour chunks. I wake up once a night due to the pain. I sit up for about five minutes, rub my leg and go back to sleep. I've read on the knee replacement forum that I frequent that some people have difficulty sleeping after the surgery. Many are on sleeping pills. Just as I've spent years playing through pain, I've spent years sleeping through pain—the pain of road rash, the pain of an over-taxed body, stuff like that. Of course, the wine and ganja don't hurt either. Since I'm no longer on prescription pain meds, I drink a glass of wine at night if I'm not feeling much pain. If, instead, the pain is severe, I take a little toke to take the edge off. There have been a few nights when I didn't turn to either substance and slept fine.

As of today, my extension is 12 degrees and my flexion is 102. My physical therapist understands that I had limited extension and flexion prior to surgery. We've both acknowledged that we may not be able to fight the past 29 years, that my flexion and extension may only get as good as they were before the knee replacement and not before the original injury. With that said, she still insists on torturing me!Once again, the dreaded weight was placed around my ankle, thus forcing the knee to extend as much as it could. It looks innocent enough in the photograph. What you can't see is me trying not to scream from the pain. I can't say I don't appreciate all of this effort. When I first saw the physical therapist, my extension was at about 30. We've both worked hard to get it to straighten out. Frankly, I'll be happy if I can get it down to 5 degrees. I think it's still straighter than it's been for the last few decades. I won't balk at any attempts to make it straighter still.

The joint continues to hurt. There will be some kind of pain down there for awhile. That I can live with. Recovery does not happen overnight. This first month was probably the hardest month. I can't say each day is easier than the one before it, at least not while I'm still being tortured by my physical therapist. I do believe that the improvements can be measured by each succeeding month.

The funny thing is I have not watched one surf video. A friend has volunteered to loan me a few oldies which I've never seen. Those I'm anxious to view. The more recent videos? Not so much. I'm at a bit of a crossroads in my surfing. Things that used to interest me no longer hold my attention. Perhaps that's why my head was turned by hulls and surf mats. I can't even explain what I mean. I just know I've mentally opened myself up to new possibilities with respect to my own surfing.


At 5/18/09, 9:39 PM, Blogger Retro hack said...

I got a wave for you tonight but you flailed...ok, I will give you left that had me switch stance four times-couldnt remember if you were goofy or regular footed so I mixed it up a bit.
Then I starfished in a foot of water.
Sound like progress has been made, flexion huh?
Mats are cool, hulls are fun too and open up more to surfing than trying to surf like Slater.
Trimming, climbing and dropping, reaching out and tickling the waves face...oh yeah.

So...what did they do with your old bones?

At 5/18/09, 10:24 PM, Blogger Surfsister said...

I suspect that the parts I lost were ground down during the surgery. They just made the tips titanium and they preserved most of the knee cap.

Sitting here after drinking my wine, that description sounds a bit gnarly.

Thanks for catching a left for me. I am goofy. A good left is all I ever want out of a session. One good wave.

At 5/19/09, 6:29 AM, Blogger Jolene said...

Just found your blog this morning - thanks for the info! I"m replacing my knee in August and just starting pre-surgery strengthening. You mentioned a knee forum that you visit - please share what site that is. Best of luck to you.

At 5/19/09, 6:38 AM, Blogger Surfsister said...

Bonesmart Knee Replacement Forum:


Good luck, Jolene. It will go well. It's not a piece of cake by any means. But neither is osteoarthritis, is it? Feel free to ask me any questions you have. The forum is great too. Go there now. Do not pass "Go". Do not collect $200.

At 5/19/09, 1:06 PM, Blogger pranaglider said...

i have been a regular watcher / reader of the whole process and never really felt squimish until retro mentioned bone soup.

Thanks Retro ;)


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