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Teacher Can't Teach

Submit an Entry: I Wish I Knew Before Knee Replacement...

By mpurc

Updated September 17, 2011

What Made You Decide to Have Knee Replacement?

I could no longer move without severe knee pain. I am an elementary teacher, and need to be able to walk, but even with a cane and constant ibuprofen, cortisone shots, Otho-Visc injections and PT, there was no other option but to replace the arthritic knee.

What Were You Not Prepared For?

My doctor emphasized, "There will be pain," but that was an understatement. The pain during recovery is excruciating, and though pain meds reduce it to a bearable level at best, you must be ready to face 6-12 weeks of pain that is MUCH worse than the pre-op arthritic pain.

I also endured a nightmare withdrawal from the narcotic pain meds I was on, sick for a week with chills, sweats, vomiting, diarrhea, and anxiety. (Not everyone will have this reaction, thank heaven).

Last, I did not know that part of the recovery in Physical Therapy is sheer brute-force bending of the scar tissue to increase range of motion. I thought it odd that my PT asked as I first came in the door, "Have you taken your pain meds?" but I doubt most patients could endure the manipulations without meds.

Lessons Learned

  • I live alone, but could not have done this without constant in-home support the first 3 weeks post-surgery.
  • Prep your home: A toilet riser will be your best friend. I rented a hospital bed and loved it.
  • Do not consider joint replacement if you are fragile, or unwilling to work HARD every single day on therapy.
  • I thought I would be "healed" in 6 weeks. A more realistic view, say the knowledgable nurses, is that you will feel "normal" in a year, though by 12 weeks post-op, most patients start to feel much less pain. (I can hardly wait!)
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