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Knee & Hip Problems Message Board

Knee & Hip Problems Board Index

I am the wife of a recent Total Knee Replacement patient. I came across this website and it was so helpful to me that I felt that I needed to make a post. My husband is 58 years old and had surgery 13 days ago. I was not at prepared for the recovery period and neither was he.

He recently visited the doctor that performed the surgery and after taking x-rays they determined that he would be a candidate for surgery. Because he is only 58 years old, we opted for the partial knee replacement. Because he is overweight (over 300 lbs.) the doctors were slightly concerned that a partial may not be able to support his weight, but we were hoping that this would buy him a few years before eventually having a total knee replacement.

On the day of surgery, the doctor scoped the knee before starting and found that his knee was in such bad shape (due to arthritis) that he would need a total knee replacement.

The surgery lasted about 2 hours. He was not put to sleep, but was given a nerve block. Although they gave him some oral medications, he was awake during the entire procedure. He heard the sawing, drilling, etc. After recovery, when he returned to the room, he was smiling, talking, and hungry. That night they brought him a "liquid" diet tray, but told us that if he felt that he could eat solid foods that was fine. So, I went and picked up some fast food and he ate it with no problems.

The following morning, 2 physical therapists showed up to get him up. He walked around the floor and did all of the exercises that they asked him to do with no problems. (We realized later that the reason he was able to do those was because the nerve block was still in effect.)

After exercising and having company, he felt that it was time to get back into the bed. He had done so remarkably well, that I thought it would be no problem at all helping him myself. They had made his bed while he was up and had raised the bed and we didn't realize it. So when he went to get back in it, it was so high that he had a hard time sitting on it. After he sat on the edge, he told me that he was feeling light headed. I had him around the waist and he passed out. I was afraid that if I let go that he would slide right off the bed, so I just held on tight. I tried to reach the nurses' button, but couldn't reach it, so I had to holler for help. Within a minute or so, some people came rushing in to help me. He came to a minute or so later and began vomiting. The nurses seemed to think that this was due to medicine and trama to the body - they weren't overly concerned, but I was shaking by the time it was all over.

The following day, the physical therapists came back again and he was still able to do all of the exercises again with no problems. He spent most of that day in bed. He was beginning to feel pain and needing to ask for pain meds.

On the next day (3 days after surgery), they told us that they were planning to discharge him. We got up and dressed that morning ready to go home, but by the time the doctor came by and did all the paperwork we didn't get home until that evening. Prior to leaving the hospital, they made sure that we had access to a walker and also had a potty chair delivered....I began to get a little worried.;)

My mom drove him home in her car because she has more leg room in hers than in mine. We got him into the house and put him into his recliner. My parents left and when it was time to get him up, we had problems! Because there were not hard armrests on his chair, he was unable to get out of the chair. I called our daughter to help and even with her help, we could not get him up. (You have to realize that for several months prior to this, he had been EXTREMELY INACTIVE because walking and standing was so painful.) We had to call his sister to come and help, so between the 3 of us and him, we finally got him out of the chair. Needless to say, he is still not using his recliner. He has been sitting in a chair from our back patio.

The doctor's assistant had told me that by Day 5 he should be able to take care of himself (because I had plans to attend a conference out of town). By Day 4, I realized that he had definitely NOT prepared us for what we were about to face.

By Day 4, he was so unsteady on his feet that I felt that I needed to be there to assist him anytime that he was trying to get up or sit down, and he was unable to get in or out of the bed without help! In addition to that, I had to help him do the exercises that the physical therapist had told him to do. He was unable to lift his leg on his own at all. For the straight leg lifts, I had to lift his leg for him and he would attempt to hold it in the air as long as he could (which was basically no time at all). I also had to take care of the potty chair duties. We had chosen to rent a "game ready" device that is sometimes used on sports injury patients. It is a wrap that goes around the leg that is attached to a machine that is filled with ice water. The machine has a timer and every 30 minutes, it circulated cold air through the wrap and also slightly inflate to provide pressure that would help reduce pressure. The ice in the machine only lasted 3-4 hours, so I had to empty and refill it every few hours. So, to say the least, my schedule was busy around the clock. (I realized that day that I would need to cancel my trip.) Fortunately, my job is flexible and I was able to take off of work a few extra days.
I also had a total knee replacement 14 days ago now. I do not know what I would do without the help of my husband. I was reading about your husband and it sounds a lot like me, I also could not help myself in and out of bed, the chair or do much when I first got home.
And, while in the hospital I vomited every day due to the pain medications.
I will say, it is a lot of work, my husband is just now going to the store and running errands and leaving me alone.
I am able to walk with my walker and get myself up and down from the chair or bed.
I know when I was in the hospital the discharger planner did ask me if someone was going to be at home with me because, if not, they would need to send me to an nursing home for rehab.
I feel very fortunate to be at home and have help. Also I had a girlfriend visit for several days and therefore my husband could take naps and just relax as she was very helpful. If you have any friends, neighbors or anyone who can stay with your husband so that you can shower, nap, run errands, etc it is very helpful.
I wish you and your husband the best. I do know this recovery is very difficult and I have had times where I feel like it's overwhelming, however, the desire to walk again with out pain outweighs whatever I have to go through to get there.
Thank you for caregiving because being on the other side of this, I know how much work it is.

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