Carol talks about how managing her pain and realizing that she never went over a seven on a scale of ten during her recovery. She had lot’s of swelling to deal with, but was determined to get out of bed as many times as possible to walk with her walker and then crutch and ambulate to make sure that she was following her surgeons orders.
So, when I came home from the hospital, we have a two-story home. We have a bedroom downstairs. I went in there and spent the night there, and my husband was there with me. When I was in the hospital they put me on something called a CPM machine, which is moving your leg constantly. And so that same machine came home with me, and I p-had to put my knee on it for six hours a day for six weeks. It just keeps the knee moving and active. I liked it, and it was a way where I didn't feel like I was just lying in bed all day doing nothing, which for me is frustrating. I'm not a bed sitter. And I could space it any way I wanted. I would do usually three hours in the morning, and three hours in the afternoon. When I'm not on that, I could get up and walk on a walker or crutches. I preferred the crutches because they weren't as cumbersome. In fact, one crutch was better for me than two.
CAROL: The home therapist came two days later and talked to me about all my the-medicine that I was to take. I'm not a big medicine taker, so I stayed on the medicine a little bit. Every time the physical therapist came, they asked me "Where is your pain level?" And it's hard to judge, I mean, I don't know, you know, what really, really awful. I do know what no pain feels like, so I would say that I never went over a seven or an eight pain wise. And I did not take a lot of pain medicine just because I don't like the way the really strong prescription medicines make you feel. Or at least make me feel. I think the first week was the worst, and then it got better and better.
CAROL: It seemed to me that I had a whole lot of swelling. The incision was what I expected. It's probably about four inches long.
CAROL: The home therapist came three times a week, and then I had to go and have outpatient physical therapy or... Actually, I met somebody that would come and do physical therapy for me at home for a while because I didn't have anybody to drive me. Made it a lot easier. I progressed very well. They all said I did very well. From the time I started using the at-home physical therapist was about six weeks, and then I could drive. And I tried to make myself walk as much as possible because I knew that the more I walked, the faster I was going to get better. That being said, probably I didn't recover as fast as I thought I was going to. I'm pretty mild-mannered, so I knew as long as I was doing ten steps more than I did the day before, that I was progressing. I knew my limitations, and would push myself because I knew if I did that I would get better faster.
CAROL: I would say it was a good year before I really could walk for a couple of miles. To have the artificial knee in there doesn't feel any different than my other knee. I mean, they say it bends back as really, really well, and they have said that since six weeks. To me, it doesn't bend back as far as the other knee. I can't kneel on it. It hurts to be on my knees. To get back up again, I can do that. I'm working on that. I do Pilates and that helps me. I think at 70 I'm always going to be in the process of strengthening myself. I had to strengthen the leg and the muscles around it. I did, and that's what the physical therapy is for. I walk two miles a day now. Every day, or do Pilates. I think the more active I am; the better it is for me at the age of 70.
CAROL: When they're doing physical therapy, one of the main goals is to have you really be able to straighten your leg. More so, actually, than bend it. It was a fight to do it, but the more I did it the better it felt, and now it's pretty good and straight. I would say it's easier to straighten it than it is to bend it all the way back with the other leg. Another thing that the doctor has had me do, for the rest of my life, is take an antibiotic before I have my teeth cleaned. And you have to take a really strong one an hour before you have your teeth cleaned and the same does four hours after your teeth cleaned. And from my understanding it's because then if there's an infection, oftentimes it can settle down in the joint. The dentist is the one that reminded me. The doctor didn't tell me. At least it wasn't in the paperwork that I remember, and the dentist, I said something about having just had a knee replacement. She said "You need to take an antibiotic before, and we won't clean your teeth until you have."