After years of bone-on-bone knee pain, I had my right knee replaced this past June. I was more than pleased with the results of the surgery, physical therapy, and the rate at which I was able to walk without pain. It was only natural that I would schedule the left knee to be replaced as soon as possible because that too was terribly painful and prevented me from fully participating in life. I was expecting to be back to my prime self by Christmas. Enter reality.
The left knee replacement took place the week before Thanksgiving, and I was ready to be relieved of the pain that had been plaguing me and begin rehabbing the new knee. Well, things didn’t go quite as easily as the first time around. The doctor noticed that my MCL was very loose and needed some tightening. That resulted in me being in a knee immobilizer 24/7 for three weeks. This made everything so much more difficult – walking – sleeping – showering. I was disappointed but glad that I would not have to go back for a second surgery. The biggest surprise was the foot drop that resulted as a result of the surgery. It is a rare side effect – less than .79% of patients end up with this as a result of TKR surgery. Lucky me! I wish I were that lucky when playing the lottery. I am now in an AFO brace to help prevent me from tripping over my own toes as I am unable to lift my toes off the ground yet. We are hopeful that the foot drop will resolve itself in a few months with PT. Fingers crossed!
You may not be aware, but patients may not get dental work done during the first three months after joint replacement surgery because of the risk of infection. After that, they take an antibiotic before any dental work for about a year. Well, my molar that has been on “crown watch” decided that it couldn’t hold on any longer and a chunk of the tooth came out leaving some sharp edges and the filling intact. After calls to the surgeon and the dentist, it was decided that I would live with this tooth as is until it began to hurt at which time the dentist would fit me with a brand-new crown. We are hoping to make it to the middle of February. Fingers crossed!
So if that was not enough excitement for this holiday season I would spend the night of 1/1-1/2 in the ER. We had eaten a lovely dinner with my sister and her husband on New Year’s evening and returned home at around 8:00 PM. Just after 10:00 PM, I started having pain in my chest. At first, I thought it was heartburn, but it was not going away and was actually getting worse. It radiated from the middle of my chest to around my right side just under my ribcage. The pain was so intense I thought I was having a heart attack – even though it was on my right side. Off we went to the hospital. After an EKG, chest x-ray, and ultrasound, it was determined that I was having a gallbladder attack. Since there was no inflammation or infection present I was allowed to go home once they got the pain managed. I have to follow up with another surgeon, but I am hoping that by watching what I eat I can hold off surgery until the summer since I have already been out of school for six weeks. Fingers crossed!
They say bad things come in threes, so I hope that this is it for me. None of these things individually were actually that bad (well the gallbladder pain was pretty bad), but the timetable they used to appear could have been better. I think they need a penalty for “piling on.”
There is always a lesson to be learned in every situation, and I learned several.
- Expectations can lead to disappointment. I would still tell anyone who was thinking about a TKR (total knee replacement) to do it sooner rather than later. After all, not everyone can be as lucky as I was to have the added bonus of a foot drop! It was naive of me to think that my two knee surgeries would have identical outcomes.
- Don’t take your life for granted. I have a new appreciation for people who have permanent disabilities that make daily life a challenge. I knew that I would eventually be out of the immobilizer, but I was still frustrated. The same goes for the foot drop. Many people don’t have that hope, and sometimes their lives are difficult.
- My body apparently doesn’t tolerate unhealthy eating as it did when I was younger. I need to do the hard work of eating cleaner.
- Getting older means adding new providers to the ever-growing list of doctors I need to see each year.
I am returning to school next week with a new appreciation for having time at home to recover, the women who were my subs, and the relatively good health I am in. Who knows what the rest of 2023 has in store for me? What I do know is I have learned that I need to go with the flow and take care of myself because you can’t plan for everything. I hope I am on my way to a great rest of the year. Fingers crossed!