Your New Knee

Your new knee - some life lessons

So you're going to get a new knee.  It happens to the best of use; just don't wait until you are crawling up the steps in pain (like I did).  When the going gets tough, the tough get going - so make the appointment now.

After you find a good doctor, he will start giving you lots of information about pre-op procedures, exercises to do before the procedure and exercises you will need to do in the first few weeks after you come home.  What they don't tell you are the little life lessons that will make the first two months a little easier.

First you need to know that Medicare will provide a booster potty seat and a walker if you're over 65.  I know it's like having your first child and realizing that the nifty little sports car (let's all say "convertible") will have to be replaced by a minivan.  I know that you never pictured yourself waltzing along in a walker doing the "my knee looks like a watermelon" shuffle.  It is what it is.  If you're not 65, head for the nearest drug emporium and put your money down.  It will be worth it.

If it is at all possible, put a twin bed in a room next to your bathroom.  That way you can grab the walker you have parked right beside your bed and shuffle yourself right to the booster seat.  And you will praise the day that you are higer than normal, not because you will be able to see over the traffic, but because the booster seat has arms that you can use to maneuver yourself up and down.  This is a lifesaver because for the first several weeks you will need all the help you can get... and your housemate/spouse is sound asleep at two o'clock in the morning.  Yes, you will have to take a bathroom break in the middle of the night and when you get back to the bed, I encourage you to take the pain meds that are sitting on the table because if you want to sleep through the rest of the night, TAKE THE MEDS!

You will probably have gone to the library to get a stack of books to keep you company while you're trying not to think about how long you are going to be cooped up in the house.  Just a hint:  in the beginning the pain meds allow you to cope with the knee, but you certainly won't be writing the great American novel while you sit in the recliner.  The meds mellow your brain and you don't want to make the effort to read for more than two or three minutes at a time.  The answer is to find a telvision station that shows all old t-v shows all the time.  That way you will know most of the story lines and won't have to work too hard to keep up with the dialog.  My favorites were Matlock and Perry Mason.  And you might be able to watch a whole episode before you take another nap.  Keep the cell phone handy because everyone will call to keep your spirits up and let you know what you're missing in the big world that still exists outside your door.  Don't curse them until after you hang up.

One last little piece of information that no one in the hospital tells you:  heavy duty pain meds cause constipation.  Sometime in the week before your procedure, go to the grocery store and buy a container of prune juice, a a big jar of applesauce and a box of bran flake cereal.  In the first day or two after you get home from the hospital, mix one-half cup of each of these three items in a refrigerator container, stir it up and pop it in the fridge until meal time.  After you've eaten, put about three tablespoons in a cup/bowl and warm it in the microwave.  Repeat after breakfast, lunch and dinner (it tastes pretty good, believe it or not) and wait for the magic mix to do its work.  No one will fight you for it, but after several days of knowing things are backing up, it will be your new best friend.  It may take a week or longer for first results, but it's a very natural way to get Mother Nature to cooperate.

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