The pain David expected post-op was not as bad as he expected. David lost about 10 pounds since the pain medication suppressed his appetite. David’s wife was annoyed with how much David pushed himself; he was very stubborn and wouldn’t accept help. At his home, David saw a physical therapist that pushed him to the exercises he needed to get better. David started to work from home after about 304 weeks. He continued occupational therapy for several months. David was surprised by how well his knees held up when he went to back to his recreational activities.
DAVID: So the nerve blocks probably wore off sometime, uh, early the second day after I got out of surgery. And I began to feel more and more pain. The first day was actually less painful than the second day.
DAVID: The pain level, uh, I'd have to say I was expecting it to be really, really bad, um, based on my prior experiences with-with knee surgeries. And it was bad. It was significant. But it was not as bad as I was expecting actually. I have a pretty high threshold of pain. One of the things I discovered being on pain medication is that I had to remember to eat because the pain medication just suppressed my appetite. I didn't feel hungry. And in fact I lost 10 pounds so that was a-a good news situation.
DAVID: I was kinda stubborn. My wife didn't like it. I would get up in the middle of the night and take myself to the bathroom. Use the walker. She always got irritated with me 'cause I made a lot of noise when I did that. [LAUGH]
DAVID: I tend to push the limits of things. A-and I knew that there was very little I could do short of falling down that was going to cause a problem permanently for the-for the replacements. So the limiter was what I could tolerate. And so I pushed things pretty hard because I wanted to get back to my life as quickly as I could. I started going out for walks outside. We live on a private road so I was able to walk up and down the road with not too much trouble.
DAVID: It was painful. But I had enough pain meds that it was pretty, pretty manageable. And if it got to be bad I'd take something and generally take a nap and then [LAUGH] wake up and feel like I was ready to go do something.
DAVID: My biggest limiter probably in the first few weeks of my recovery was the anemia. I'd walk for, you know, a half a block and be tuckered out. I have to go back and lie down for a while. So it took a while to build that back up. So I had to eat a lot of things with iron in it and take iron supplements and monitor that for a while. So that was the biggest issue for me.
DAVID: I had therapy I think three times a week. I had a woman named Karen. Um, so if you ever get somebody by the name of Karen, this was my advice. Be careful, uh, she's a self described physical terrorist. And she would push me pretty hard to do the-the exercises that I had to do. So it was a good 45 minutes to an hour twice a day in just doing the exercises. And planning for them. Taking enough pain meds so I could do them and push them.
DAVID: I also set specific goals for myself in terms of what I wanted to try and achieve. I kept close track of how much flexion I had in my knees. And how much extension. Whenever the-the therapist came over she would measure those and I kept pretty close track of-of how we were doing and whether we were making progress toward whatever the maximums were in those cases.
DAVID: The doctor told me to back off because I was reaching the limits of the prosthesis. I was probably able to drive after two weeks. The only real thing is being able to lift your leg up and from the gas pedal to the brake. And so I was able to do that. The real limiter is not so much, at least it wasn't for me, my legs but the pain medication that I was on. Whether I felt safe driving.
DAVID: I did a lot of core exercises which, you know, whether you got one leg or two that's some of the things you're gonna have to do.
DAVID: A number of exercises which I had once I became an outpatient rather than in home is proprioceptor exercises. That's not something that-that people talk about much but proprioceptors help you locate your body in space. And they help your sense of balance in that sense. You have to kind of know where your body is in order to stay upright. And surgery affects your proprioceptors so that was one of the things that-that my therapist very hard on was standing on one leg, moving my other leg around. Um, learning to understand again where my body was at and where my center of gravity was. You have to relearn to-to-to balance yourself because has been traumatized by the surgery and...