Yesterday was a banner day for my new left knee! First, I was released from PT! Grady, my Physical Therapist, said there was nothing more he could do for me, as he’d given me all the exercises and I was doing them with zero problem! That was nice to hear! An hour later, I had my 5+ week post surgery appointment with Dr Zabinski. I had three X-rays taken, and Dr. Zabinski is thrilled with what he saw, with the way my scar is healing, and with the progress I am making! He even agreed with our time table of having the right knee done when we return from Florida in April! Like I said, a banner day all around!
So, as a way to wrap up this journey, thought I’d write one more blog and look back on our experiences (make no mistake about it, Susie was as much or even more involved in this procedure than I was!). Things that I worried about up front, that retrospectively I wasted time worrying about!
Any time you embark on something you’ve never experienced before, there is always an element of fear involving the unknown. I mean, they are going to cut open my leg, remove the knee I’d had since birth, and replace it with a man-made implant! Now that was certainly something I’d never experienced before!
I guess the number one fear was, “Would I survive?” Even in simple surgeries, things happen and the unthinkable becomes reality. I will freely admit that there were a couple of days pre-surgery when these kinds of fears did enter into my brain. Perhaps it was a stupid path to take, but rather than dwell on it, I used the fear to a good end. I spent a good part of one day collecting all of our bank account information, including banking websites and sign-ons. I did the same thing with Susie and my Life Insurance policies, creating a document called Money and Insurance. The next day I started to write another document called Paying Bills. In this one, I noted all the different ways I paid bills every month, including a step by step checklist, that if followed, should allow the user to do everything I do every month. In creating these two documents I gave myself peace of mind that should something happen, Susie would know what to do. It was a good exercise, a good use of the fear, and in the end, totally unnecessary!
I also had some worries about the anesthesia. When you put someone under General Anesthesia, there is always the possibility that there will be complications. When going to Pre-Op Testing at the hospital, we were told however, that they did the operation under a Spinal Block, and a Nerve Block, and that you were in an induced Twilight state during the surgery. The day I found that out, another of my fears came off the table!
So, they put in a brand new knee…would I be able to walk the stairs? There are 14 steps from the sidewalk to our front porch. Was I going to be able to get up to our front door the day after surgery? Piece of cake! Another stupid thing to unnecessarily worry about!
Was it going to hurt? I am definitely one of those folks that has an issue with Opioid drugs. No, its not that I’m afraid I’ll get addicted to them, it’s that I know they stop-up my plumbing! So let’s make this a double headed fear…Managing Pain and Constipation! I came home with 2 prescriptions, and did take them on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, but I also didn’t go to the bathroom. Now, on the pain front, with the exception of the first day or so, I wasn’t really in pain. It was more discomfort, so it was pretty easy for me to transition from the Opioids to Tylenol and Ibuprofen. Susie did have to call out the big guns in the fight for regularity, but after one dose of Dulcolax, I was back in regular action. Scratch a double-headed concern!
In so much of your pre-op orientation, they make a huge thing of Preventing Infection and Swelling, so you can’t help but have that in your mind. The act of inserting the knee prosthetic into your body, has become so matter of fact, that the biggest concern they have post-surgery is preventing infection and swelling. We did everything pre-surgery we were instructed to do, and after the surgery, Susie made sure that I religiously elevated it (your leg above your heart), iced it, and that we kept the environment clean. The end result is that this issue, which we really think was more of the scare tactics they employ pre-surgery, than our own mental state, never came to pass!
Other things lower down the fear/concern ladder, included PT and the horror stories we both had heard! My Physical Therapist Grady was the absolute best, and at no time was there even the slightest issue with either my home, or at the facility PT! Another area was sleep…would I? Honestly, I’m not the best sleeper when I don’t have a new knee, and Grady had told us before the operation that I’d probably be sleeping on and off most of the day, because you just don’t sleep that well at night. And that was it..
I told Susie going into this, and I will say it anytime I’m asked, we are rule followers, and that’s exactly why we did what we did, and why my recovery was so successful! We bought everything we were instructed to do up front. I took the prescribed vitamins pre and post surgery. We had the house set up as per our instructions. When I came home from the hospital, we kept my leg elevated above my heart for the 20-22 hours a day we were instructed to do. Susie made sure to apply ice as instructed. The bottom line is that we did what we were told to do, and that’s why, along with Dr. Zabinski’s excellent work, Grady’s perfect PT for me, and being married to the world’s best caregiver, this knee replacement was as successful as it was!
And what did this all cost, you may wonder. Well, by the time you add up the Hospital Costs, the Doctors’ bills, the cost of Physical Therapy, as well as the cost of everything we had to buy pre-surgery, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s very close to $100,000. I mean the cost for the actual implant that now lives where formerly my left knee was, cost a whopping $22,028 and the Operating Room for the 2 hours or so it was dedicated to my knee was just over $24,000! Thank God we have great insurance, and in the end, if I’m responsible for anything, it will probably be pennies! Wonder what the Six Million Dollar Man would cost in 2019 dollars??
My final take? I sit here 5 weeks and 4 days after having a Left Total Knee Replacement ready, and willing, to have my right knee replaced next Spring! I have no fear that it won’t be as successful as the left one was, and no concern that Susie and I aren’t up to the task! Thank God we live in a time when operations like this, and so many others are common procedures that give us our mobility and our life back! Anyone who’s reading this, please don’t let your fear of the unknown keep you from getting the help you need to return to the life you were meant to lead! I’m looking forward to chasing my Grandchildren Layla, Henry, and Anna down the boardwalk! Life is too short!