Waking up after my partial knee replacement surgery was nothing like the movies. Maybe it depends on the type of surgery, I suppose. There were no beeping machines. A nurse was close by and came over quickly after my eyes opened, but she wasn’t staring down at me as I expected. My initial reaction was to try and wiggle my toes, but everything was still numb from the nerve block I opted into during Pre Op Prep.
Surprisingly, I was not tired or loopy feeling, like I had been in prior surgeries. If anything, I was a bit nauseous. Eager to get up to my actual room to see my husband and dad, I asked the nurse for some nausea meds and water. Once the meds kicked in, off to my regular room and out of post-op, I went. This is how the start of my partial knee replacement hospital stay started.
Continue to read more to see how the rest of my hospital stay went.
The Comfort of Loved Ones
My husband and Dad were there to greet me, and they were a sight for sore eyes, after the loneliness I felt in Pre Op. It was so good to see their faces. My dad gave me a big hug and kissed my forehead. I tell you a dad’s embrace is one of the most comforting things, no matter how old you are.
I felt a rush of emotions come over me, and even some tears. I thanked him again for coming to support me and keeping my husband company while I was in surgery. He said “anything for my little girl” and then explained that now I needed to rest, and he needed to head into work.
My husband watched and waited patiently for his turn, and when my dad walked out, he came over to me and kissed me one of those knock you off your feet, kisses. That is if I wasn’t already lying down. It was so good to see him too. All the fears that I had been building up for two weeks could be released a bit. My husband has a way of calming me. Evan, his presence at that moment, let me know everything was going to be alright, now and in the future.
Pain in My knee… and Bladder?
I figured the rest of the hospital stay would consist of on and off sleep. Chatting with my husband and asking for pain meds. None of that was true, sadly. That fancy nerve block and local pain shot they gave me in Pre Op did not last the “possible 12 hours” with me. At least it lasted the length of the surgery plus a couple more hours, I suppose.
I was in a decent amount of pain (so I thought at the time) shortly after making it to my hospital room, and pain meds were dulling it but not making me anything close to comfortable. I called the nurse in to tell her the amount of pain I was in and to mention that my stomach close to my pelvic area hurt so bad. Come to find out that’s what it feels like to have a really, really full bladder!
I came to find out quickly, my lower half hadn’t fully woken up yet, so I had no idea I had to pee. What an odd feeling. Apparently, the bladder and surrounding areas are one of the last things to wake up after the type of nerve block and sedation I had. Too bad the knee area wasn’t the last thing!
The nurse said she would check on the pain meds. (I bet they get sick of saying that on a daily bases) She also said I either could try and get up to go to the bathroom or get a catheter. Yeah, I was uncomfortable enough, no thanks on the catheter. I’ll try and go I told her.
Getting up and putting weight on a newly replaced knee is the most unique sensation I’ve ever felt. It wasn’t that pinching, stabbing pain I had grown used to for so many years. This new pain was pressure and soreness and I was told it was very expected after knee replacement surgery.
Do you know what was terrific about those first few steps to the bathroom? They felt more stable and steady than before surgery, and the buckling sensation in my knee was gone. I couldn’t believe that so soon after surgery, that much of a difference could already be felt. Maybe all the pain and uncomfortableness will be worth it, after all.
Rest of My Hospital Stay Day
The rest of the hospital stay day wasn’t fascinating. It consisted of laying in bed, getting up to pee, and never (I’m totally serious here), never turning my CPM machine off. CPM stays for continuous passive motion. If you haven’t had surgery yet or never had one of these machines, this is the gist of it. You strap your surgically repaired leg into it, and it slowly moves it through the range of motion. I highly recommend you have this machine!
During my hospital stay, mine was set to zero degrees extension and seventy degrees flexion per doctor’s orders. These numbers changed throughout my first few weeks with the machine as I could tolerate more movement. That machine brought more pain relief than any drug ever did during my whole hospital stay, and really the entire two weeks into my post-op, I had one in my house as well. But we will talk more about that in a later post.
It Might Be Night, But Noone is Sleeping
I stayed one overnight during my hospital stay. From the people I have spoken to, this is pretty much the norm for partial knee replacements. Whereas if you are getting a total knee replacement, you are likely to stay 2 to 3 overnights. Notice how I do not mention sleep in any of this. Unfortinently, I might have slept an hour here or there, but that was it during my whole hospital stay.
It’s already hard enough to sleep at the hospital in the same room as a stranger in most cases, plus the nurses are coming to check on you and then add the machine noises. I think you get the picture. On top of all that, I had post knee replacement insomnia. (not a medical term, but that’s what I call it) I wish someone warned me about how hard it is to sleep after surgery. I know everyone is different, but I want to give you a fair warning this could happen, and it is rough!
Time to Bust A Move and Get Out
The next morning arrived, I ate my breakfast I brought with me. #glutenfree The nurse comes in with my morning meds. She discusses with me the plan for the day. I was happy to hear that as long as physical therapy went well, I was going home by the afternoon! My husband had gone home late the night before and squeezed in a few hours of work before discharge, so I decided to drift in and out of sleep in between doctors, nurses, visited from my husband until the man of the hour, really the day came, the Physical therapist.
I somewhat knew how the session was going to go because of the mini-course the hospital made me take before the surgery day. What I wasn’t sure of is how I was going to feel about moving my knee to do the exercises, along with walking a longer distance than a few steps to the bathroom. I knew though; this therapy session needed to be done for both my knee health and to get the heck out of the hospital.
Physical Therapy Reduced My Pain Levels
The Physical Therapist was patient and kind. He explained everything as we went. I shockingly walked with my walker down to their therapy room.
The exercises consisted of the same ones they had already been advising me to do at home. Ankle pumps, straight leg raises, and of course, all the fun knee bending and straightening ones.
After that, the therapist asked if I wanted to walk back too. Sure, why not? I thought. I made it about halfway before, not pain, but flat out muscle fatigue got the best of me.
Speaking of pain, surprising with the help of pain meds and my CPM machine, I started therapy around a six out of ten and ended at a four. I think moving it helped knock out the swelling and stiffness that contributed to a lot of my pain and discomfort. I could manage at a four pain level, but I worried it wouldn’t stay there for long.
I Went Home But Maybe I Shouldn’t Have?
I got back to my room, where the nurse and my husband were both waiting for me. The nurse explained they were going to start the discharge process. Yippee, I thought. I was so ready to get out of there. Maybe I would get some real rest and sleep at home. My husband started packing up my hospital bag as I helped gather all my electronics.
At that moment, is when the pain began to get intense again. Probably some of the worst pain I had ever felt. I called the nurse in, and she told me I was maxed out on pain meds for the time being, if I wanted to go home. Meaning, either I go home as is or I get hooked back up to an IV and stay longer…
Well crap, I decided going home was more critical, as I sat listening to my roommate moan and scream in pain.
I learned later, I probably should have stayed in the hospital until my pain was better under control. Read more on this HERE. For now, let me just say, if your pain isn’t under control, don’t go home yet.
Ok, that was really it for my hospital stay. We packed up and went home. Getting into the car was an exciting experience. The last tip for this post, make sure you have a vehicle that has the correct amount of legroom where you will be sitting. You do not realize how much you bend your knee to get into a car until your knee does not bend normally!
Until next time, Take Care!
To continue reading the next part of this knee journey click HERE
To start reading my journey from the beginning click HERE
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