I've given brief updates both here and on Facebook, but now it's time to tell the whole story! It's early Tuesday evening as I write this, not yet a week after my surgery. With the last knee I was still at the hospital at this time. I came home Sunday afternoon.
Where to start? Where to start? Oh! The photos above! There I was checking Vincent into Best Friends in North Plainfield last Wednesday when I happened to notice the video screen above the reception desk had these photos rotating! How cool is that? I love this place for boarding. Every single worker I've talked to there seem to love their work.It's clean, roomy, the dogs are away from the cats and they send photos of your pet via email while it's in boarding.
They are as reasonably priced as any boarding place I've ever used and Vincent was in good hands in a comfortable 3-story cat condo. In addition to the photos, they give you a report card when you pick your pet up. Vincent was "a regular guy," as well as being on his best behavior and I should be proud of him (I am). He did gift them two hairballs, though. Oops.
Onto the meat of the skinny ...
There were a lot of changes at the hospital in addition to the group therapy coach, etc. stuff. A nurse went through a lot of trouble hooking a fancy-schmancy IV into my left forearm. Last time it was the back of the hand. She told me she was particular about the placing. And, she must have been, because everyone using it down the line complimented it.
Instead of a huge electronic IV thing and monitors, I had a gazillion electrode doohickeys attached all over my chest and stomach and a finger thing. All of the wires were hooked into a heavy but small box and they could monitor me wherever I went. I found that I could fit the box in my pocket, but it was very annoying.
This time they wanted to use a spinal with a femoral block for anesthesia. The last time I was told I had to have general. Although I'm not keen on spinal taps, I prefer this to a general. I think the general anesthesia was part of my really sick problems last time around. They gave me happy juice before messing around with my spine. This time I actually remember the recovery room, the last time I knew nothing until I woke up in my room. Except for the bottom half of my body being numb, my mind and tummy were fine.
My doctor came to me in recovery and told me the operation went well but was longer and harder than my other knee was. He said there was an incredible amount of damage within the knee and, had he not known I was walking prior to the surgery, he would have thought I wasn't mobile.
Thankfully no catheter this time, nor was I really bed-bound per se. I was supposed to call for the nurse any time I wanted to get out of bed. Again, no offense to nurses, but I don't really care for them so much. I don't like people coddling or hovering around me in fear that I'll hurt myself. I prefer my own orthopedic surgeon and the therapists whose reaction is, "Cool! You can do that? Great!"
I had one male nurse I enjoyed and I think he was the same one I liked the last time. Supposedly with this new program, every employee in the Joint Surgery Institute is hand-picked. Thankfully that means that the old head of physical therapy who acted like I had a blood clot just to mess his day up is gone.
I actually enjoyed the group physical therapy sessions and meals. Only ONE person out of the six joint replacement patients had a coach! Heh! I wasn't the youngest, but the patients were definitely older for the most part. One woman (hip) seemed like a nasty curmudgeon but I immediately figured out it was her sense of humor. So I would get up on my walker and invite her to "twist like we did last summer" and such.
One guy, younger than me (also hip), voiced some of my own sentiments and I loved him for it. They made such a big deal about how we're not sick so we can wear our own clothes and all ... yet the nurses acted like we were total invalids!
I was hauled off for a Doppler test to check for blood clots one morning. NO blood clot! Woohoo! Since she had my previous record with her, she told me she liked the challenge of looking for the old one. Most of the time blood clots don't go all the way away and just lodge solidly along a vein wall. Nope. My old one totally dissipated.
At the hospital, before leaving, my ROM (Range of Motion) was 83 degrees. When I left the hospital the last time, it was 61. 90 is considered successful with 120 being the ultimate goal. My first knee is all the way up past 150 now amazing my doctor, the physical therapy people at the hospital and home PT this week. None of them have ever seen such a great bend.
I'd be amiss if I didn't throw in thanks to my friend Barbara for once again being my transport, my steady visitor, my bringer of the bag and more. She's a godsend. Work sent me flowers with a Get Well balloon attached. Said balloon is stuck drifting across my ceiling now as Vincent promptly attacked the ribbon and set it free on Sunday evening.
What really surprised me is that a woman I hired last fall and trained showed up every day, called, brought me two homemade Chinese dinners (I'll never be able to eat Chinese delivery again and like it as much!) and fruit. She has always been so grateful to be hired and had been unemployed for a while. She speaks English fluently with a heavy Mandarin accent and apparently that was a stumbling block for employment. But she learns well and has definitely been a good hire. I know that she has always appreciated the time I spent training her and such, but she went above and beyond!
Okay, so now I'm home. The last time my insurance allowed two weeks of visiting nurse and home physical therapy. Since I had blood draws due to the blood clot, the nurse was a definite need! But I had the nurse twice a week and PT twice a week.
So there's another change with this. With the new program, I'm considered a "Gold Standard" client. I still have the two weeks. The nurse came yesterday and will come next Monday. PT is five days straight this week, three times next week. After that, I'll go to out patient PT. They bill the insurance company directly, so I won't know for a while what this might cost me on this end.
My PT is amazed at how well I'm doing. I'm not a week out yet, mind you. My building's intercom is broken, so I told them to call when they get here and I'll take the elevator down and let them in. "You can do that already?" "Sure."
So today the PT (a different one from yesterday but the one I'll be having the rest of the week) called. I got my walker and went to the elevator, pushed the button. thing. ACK! I walked my walker to the top of the stairs, couldn't figure how to get it and me down the stairs, so abandoned it there. I really didn't have a problem with the stairs. Sure, it was bad foot down first and one step at a time while holding the railing, but no problem.
Then I realized I didn't have my walker and had to walk about 60 feet to the door. I did it. She was shocked! She could see the elevator door open on the first floor through the door so she knew I couldn't be taking it. She thought I was trying to get someone else to go let her in. It turned out someone had used the emergency stop button (which I use with groceries and such) and hadn't flipped it back. So we took the elevator back up and she retrieved the walker for me.
The therapists both today and yesterday both said that I'm doing fantastically well, probably the best they've seen. I feel good (well, except for the knee pain which is expected). While I measured 90 degrees today, there's no guarantee that that I'll have anywhere near the flexion I have on the other knee. But I'm very optimistic and thrilled that I see improvement each day and I'm already more mobile and alert than I was for more than a month the last time. As a matter of fact, the last time it took me over two months to get a 90 degree bend. I can do leg lifts, too. I couldn't do them for weeks before.
My appetite is still a bit off. Friends brought me some watermelon today. That appeals to me. I finished off the last of the homemade Chinese food earlier today. I'm also sleeping weird, but that's expected. Getting dressed takes me nearly a half hour but I can do it. Like before, I get exhausted really easily yet can't sleep an entire night. Yet again I fall asleep unexpectedly!
I feel good, though. I want to thank everyone for the kind words!
Gross photos ahead, skip over if you want!
The yellow band next to the standard hospital band declares FALL RISK! I suggest we get them for the druggies and street drunks in town! I had matching yellow hospital socks also declaring me a FALL RISK!
Look at all the pretty colors! Yes, it's very swollen and yeah, it hurts a lot. The PT measured the incision ... only 7 1/2 inches. I counted the staples, but forgot how many. It's around thirty.