Before going into a big surgery like knee replacement, it is always wise to be as informed as possible. I, of course, got a lot of the information from my surgeon and asked questions to a few people I knew who had the surgery before. But when I went online to feed my hunger for even more information, everything out there was from doctors basically saying the same things I already knew. That wasn’t going to do me any good before my big surgery day?!?!
Where were the stories from the people currently going through it? I had a hard time finding any. I told myself that once I had a few weeks under my belt, I was going to up as much helpful info as I could out on my blog so others could have information from a patient perspective. The real-life truths were one of the first things I wanted to write about which created this post, The 5 truths about knee replacement surgery from a patient’s perspective.
Having a Good Support System Helps
I really thought I would be fine after day 2 of being home. I figured I’m young, didn’t have any stairs, and my dog and kids would be gone until I was day 5. Well, it was a good thing my husband and close family knew better. They came and checked on me often. I probably wouldn’t have eaten or drunk much without their help. Those first few days are REALLY ROUGH. YOU WILL NEED HELP.
Make sure you have a sound support system set up before your surgery takes place. You’re going to need them, learn from my bullheadedness, okay? Especially those first few weeks, it is so incredibly important. This is the time for you to focus on yourself and your recovery. You are not weak by needing someone’s help. Take all of it that you can get. You can read more about how much I actually could do starting HERE. But really I was bedroom bound for the most part the first few days.
My husband helped when he wasn’t at work. My close family stopped by and made sure I was feed and watered. HA! Also, once my children came back, they too helped with chores, fetching me things, and really just being my company as the first couple weeks were really quite lonely.
Being Nervous is Natural
It’s okay to be nervous. This is an extensive surgery. Even though you are choosing to have the surgery, it is elective, so the doc’s say. For anyone actually dealing with the knee pain, it doesn’t feel very elective as every single time you step you’re in pure agony. But we are still making a choice to have this knee replacement done. That itself is very nerve-racking. How’s it going to feel? What is it going to be like afterward? How long is it going to take to recover? Am I just trading one pain for another type of pain? Is it going to go well? Am I gonna wake up and feel weird? And the most morbid… Could I die on the table? I get it. I had all those same feelings, and feeling nervous was an understatement really.
What helped the nerves? For me, it was to talk them out. I talked to all my family and friends about it. I reached out to family members who had the exact or similar surgeries. I spoke to my doctor about it. Asking him every single question I had. Need some ideas on questions to ask?Click HERE. He was great and really took his time with me to make sure all of the questions got answered and made sure I felt good about this decision overall. I took a week to spend extra time with my family, especially my kids. I even took some time to clean and organize, which always calms me. Weird right?
Do whatever you think is going to make you the most comfortable before you go in to have the surgery. Is it going to take all the nerves away? Probably not, It didn’t work 100% with me anyways, I still had plenty as I sat in Pre-Op, but at least the nerves were calmed enough to get me to the OR table, and I didn’t even sweat through my clothes on the drive-in.
Shorts Will Become Your New Favorite Wardrobe Item
Have some shorts ready to go. Now, I’m not sure when you’re going to have surgery. It might be in the dead of winter, but trust me on this shorts thing. I had surgery in the middle of summer, so you would think this shorts thing would have been easy for me. Nope, I ended up having to buy 4 pairs because the shorts I owned were not short enough! (Here is one of the pairs I liked) If you end up being anything like I was for the first 7 weeks, I did not want any piece of clothing touching my knee or the area around my knee. Fun fact, I have two little incisions about 4-5 inches above my knee along with the long incision right over my knee (You can see them here). I didn’t want anything touching those either, so hello short shorts. Short shorts were my best friend. I wore them all the time.
We were doing laundry every couple of days, so I had shorts to wear. I was not about to go pantsless… Now, depending on your doctor, you are going to wear compression stockings for the first couple of weeks. That, of course, touched the incision. But outside of that, I didn’t want anything else compressing against or touching my incision spots. It felt weird, it didn’t feel right, and it just added extra discomfort that I didn’t need in my life! Okay, I know that was probably the longest couple of paragraphs you ever read about shorts, but I being the fashionista I am, and with this point affecting you daily, I feel very strongly on this subject, haha.
Be Prepared for Post Surgery Insomnia
Post-surgery insomnia hit me hard. I still, at seven weeks out, am having one heck of a time sleeping at night. At this point, there are nights that I get 6 to 7 hours of sleep, but they are rare. More often I wake up every 3 hours or so because of feeling uncomfortable or in pain from a position my knee just doesn’t like yet.
Since the night after surgery though insomnia has kept me up from time to time and it sucks. The pain seemed to be the biggest reason for it. I tried watching TV on my iPad with my headphones in so I didn’t wake up my husband. I’ve tried moving to the couch thinking a different environment, and position for my knee would help. When I would actually fall asleep on my couch though I’d wake up with aches everywhere else so not the best solution. Pillow between my legs was the doctor’s advice, this would help at times. Some nights it wasn’t even just pain keeping me awake. My mind would race. I would feel left out of all the activities my family would be doing, and worry if everything would be getting done. The items I usually took care of. To help fight this, I would try writing in a journal and/or talking with my husband about how I felt and to check in on things.
What is my best advice for you if this happens after your knee replacement surgery? Do whatever you need to do. Have essential oils? Try lavender. Maybe the pillow or TV will work great for you. Or perhaps you’ll be like me, and combined them all to gimp you along for those first few weeks. Whatever it takes, find a way to get some sleep. Check out my post 5 Tips for Getting a Better Night Sleep After Knee Replacement Surgery for even more ideas.
The Pain is Real
It is going to hurt. I don’t care what anybody says. And there aren’t enough ice packs in the world! (Here is a post listing all my favorites) I hear from other knee replacement patients that had theirs done years ago say, oh it’s not that bad. Yeah, it’s pretty bad. Especially at first. The pain makes it hard to even concentrate on a TV show. Of course, I’m speaking from my experience, and everyone is different, but there is a reason they give you like 5 different types of pain relievers at first. If anyone calls you a wimp or says you don’t need them, have them look up total knee replacement surgery videos on the internet… they will change their minds. I’d bet on it. Obviously, you and your team of doctors and health care providers should be making the best choices for you when it comes to pain medication. Don’t trust me… I’m not a doctor. Ha!
I’m not here to get a big debate on the pain medication front. I’m just here to tell you it hurts a lot and it will for a long while. I was taking pain medication and using natural methods to try and help relieve my pain. Everybody’s pain tolerance is going to be a bit different. I was 34 at the time of my partial knee replacement. I thought I was going to breeze through the surgery. I figured my age would help not only in the recovery but also lessen the pain. HA! Boy, was I wrong!
The pain was horrible. I literally cried every day for four weeks. Just being real here. Am I glad I did it now? Yep. I kind of compare it to having a child. Having a child is fantastic, and after a couple of weeks, you forget about all that horrible 20 some hours of labor that you went through to get that beautiful little baby. Then you’d probably do it all over again to have another baby. Yeah, that’s kind of how it’s like with the knee surgery pain as well. I would probably have another knee done if I absolutely had to now that I’m seven weeks out, but if you would have asked me that question during the first four weeks? No way! Every night consisted of me screaming at my husband, Why on earth did I do this? I traded one pain for another kind of pain. It isn’t worth it. I am stupid. Why did I do this?
Now I sit here, still with a long way to go, but the worst pain is over. Grateful I had the knee replacement surgery done. I’m already able to walk half a mile without any knee pain, and that’s half a mile more than before the surgery! I play a little with my kids. Is it a little stiff, Yes. But trust me, all the pain so far has been worth it. All the stiffness and sore muscles in the future will be worth it. You’ll get through it, I promise. Along with the rest of your support system, know I’m here cheering you on as well!
Your Knee Replacement Surgery Truths?
Well, there you have it, my five truths about knee replacement surgery from the patient’s perspective. There are probably, even more, I could add to the list, but I didn’t want this to grow into a small book! Leave a comment below with a truth you would add to this list! Everyone has a different perspective to share. You might even see it in a future post. Take care until next time.
Want to read my journey from the beginning? Click here to read Surgery Day, Pre-OP
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