Counting down to a new knee

Recently I spent 10 days in Hokitika, staying with Alan for a break. Penny and I made art & had lunch out (always love Monteiths), I rested, did lots of gelli printing and so on. If I stay home I don’t rest as much because there is always something to do, and I visit Tony every day.

The sun came up towards the end of my stay and Alan had gone out the back of the farm to work. Late in the day I decided to try going for a walk on the farm. Knowing my dodgy knee, and even dodgier sense of direction, I left a note saying where I was going and what time I left. I got quite a long way for me, taking care on the farm track and using my walking stick. Alan met me as he headed back and offered me a ride on the bike – no, I wanted to walk back. I’m nothing if not stubborn! I headed back and met him where he was seeing to the calves, then walked the rest of the way to the house with him. I did about 6,000 stops, which is not a lot for most people, but good for me.

Today I went over to the main admin building. It had been raining so I carefully dried my shoes on the mat, stepped off it … and my walking stick slipped. I wrenched my bad knee and now it hates me. I have to work very hard to stand up, and I’m limping like a limpy thing!

I am having my second total knee replacement in exactly two weeks. All going well, by this time of day I’ll have been for a walk on my new knee with the aid of crutches. I had the blood tests today so they can cross match blood just in case. It’ll be done with a spinal block, which is much safer for me. The only thing that could go wrong now is if Covid gets further down the island.

It’s 9 years since my car accident and 8 years since I started using a walking stick. I can’t wait to walk easily, not worry about steps and disabled carparks, and a million other things. I am so grateful this is being done.

This was the day after surgery last year.

Progress

I saw one of the registrars who works with Mr Pennington on Tuesday. They’re pleased with the wound, which no longer needs dressing, and the range of movement I’ve got. I asked if I should exercise just until it gets uncomfortable, or push through? Push through, but not to the point of tears. Ok then – onto it.

Speaking of tears, since a few days post-surgery I’ve had excruciating pain in my hip. I’ve cried a lot – very unusual for me – and am only sleeping a couple of hours at a time. The Dr said it’s bursitis in my hip, brought on by the change in how I’m walking. Normally they’d consider a steroid injection but it would slow down my knee’s healing. If it’s still really bad when I go back in 4 weeks, they’ll relook at it.

If I’m still progressing well at my 6 week appointment they assess me for the waiting list to get my left knee done. By May next year I could be the grateful owner of 2 two knees ❤

I must be starting to feel a little bit better; I’ve been finishing off some art journal pages I’ve had lying around. When I can’t be bothered with any art, you know I’m feeling pretty bad! This journal is now so thick it’s hard to get straight scans – they’re not as wonky & unevenly spaced as they appear…

No kneeling – yet!

My new knee is doing well. The joint itself is already less painful to walk on than my old damaged knee, and my leg is straight. Amazing!

The same can’t be said of the bruising, which goes from mid thigh to ankle, round half my leg, and varies from yellow to reddish purple. Combined with significant swelling, it makes movement painful. However, there’s only one very itchy welt left now, so that’s progress.

I had my first Physio appointment on Friday; Fiona was pleased with the range of movement I’ve got so far. I can bend it about 80 degrees, and she’d like me to aim for 90+ by the time I see her in a fortnight. I have 13 different exercises to do, and some of them are up to 3 sets of 10 twice a day – they feel like a fulltime job 😉

All up I’m so pleased with how it’s going. There’s been a lot of painkillers, and a couple of weepy days, and some tears in the middle of the night – but I know it’s going to be so worth it.

Two steps forward

I’ll try to keep this short but we all know I tend to write a book. After waiting 7 years I finally got my first total knee replacement last Thursday. We planned a spinal block instead of general anaesthetic as it’s their norm. I got very nervous about it but the Anaesthetist was excellent and said we couldn’t risk damaging my vocal cords any further. As it turned out, it was simple and painless.

Surgery wasn’t till midday so Thursday was a write off. I woke up towards the end of the surgery; younger bones are harder to break and drill, so the surgery can take longer. I could hear the staff and feel the surgeon doing things, but without pain. I told the anaesthetist and he quickly put me under a general.

Friday I got up and had a wash, the physios showed me some exercises and got me walking a few steps. One of my staff dropped off some V; bless you Katherine! Saturday I showered myself and started walking up and down the ward. Roger and Tony visited and I went for a walk with them. It wasn’t sore at all but was starting to itch a lot. A Dr had a look and said it seemed ok.

Sunday I was able to walk right round the ward a couple of times, and the surgeon was pleased, but the itch was getting worse. As I was being released the nurse redressed it, as it had bled quite a lot, and we could see welts. Everyone decided I was allergic to the dressing. Sigh… Roger and my bestie of 52 years, Sandra, came and got me. Home, really mobile, but the itch 😑 They’d given me a script for Loratidine but the after hours pharmacies were all closed.

On Monday Tony took me to Hawera to get the script filled. I’ll skip the details but, in trying to get the wound redressed, we saw two pharmacies, my Dr’s surgery, A&E and the new rural health project. They redressed it, after talking with the ortho team in New Plymouth. Late in the day I got a call asking me to go to Base this morning for the ortho team to check on it.

I had a rough night, in tears a couple of times because the itch was so overwhelming. Again, I’ll skip the details but, after a rocky start, the nurse used her intuition and decided to pull the whole thing apart. Turns out I’m not allergic to the dressing, I’m allergic to the steri strips on the wound itself. When she took the steri strips off we found huge welts under them. The nurse and Dr were horrified – no wonder I was so itchy.

I have a new PICO positive pressure bandage and a great deal less itching already. The surgeon had a look and is delighted with how straight my knee is so they’ll check it again next week. So, it’s been rocky, but essentially things are great as I’m already walking with less pain than pre-surgery.