Physical Therapy

I conservatively estimate that I have been to 120 physical therapy sessions over the past 4 years.  That is 4 surgeries, at 12 weeks of PT each, at an average of 2.5 sessions per week.  So very thankful for good insurance!   Last April I had my final surgery and am now on the countdown to finishing my physical therapy.  Over the years I have heard people complain about how much they disliked physical therapy, how it hurts and how some even quit before they finish their program.  I have to admit that there can be pain involved and sometimes it is not very convenient to take time away from work to attend the sessions.  However,  I have been very fortunate to have great physical therapists who talk me through the exercises and encourage me to keep pushing through any pain I am feeling.  I definitely see the benefits and the progression (albeit slow) it has made in my recovery.

Christy

Christy has been my lead physical therapist through both of my knee replacements.  After my first knee surgery, we spent three months talking about the upcoming birth of my first grandchild.  This past three months we have been talking about the birth of her first baby.

updating the chart

I not sure she will be around for my final two weeks!  Warning, my matching scars are showing in this next pic of me working on the leg press machine.

leg-press

Like my first knee replacement, I am struggling with getting full range of motion in my new knee.  One of the tortures stretches I must complete involves the PT pushing my knee to help it bend more.  This is NOT my favorite exercise.

pushing

I still have hard work in front of me to meet my long term goals, but thanks to Dr. L and my very patient physical therapists(Christy and Lisa) my life has changed dramatically in the last four years.  I can walk around the grocery store and go to the mall without giving it a second thought.  I can walk around our neighborhood or local park for 30 minutes and have plans to walk a 5K next spring for the Arthritis Foundation.  Life is good and getting better each day!

 

A new countdown begins.

It was close to four years ago that I got the word from my orthopedic surgeon that there was not much left to do (after ten years of trying) for my hip and knee joints but to get replacements.  The news hit me hard, although I am not sure why since I had been battling arthritis for a long time.  I think it was the thought of having all four joints replaced that scared me.  Sure I know lots of people who have had one or two replaced but I have never meet or even heard of anyone who has had all four replaced.  Still haven’t for that matter, but Dr. L assures me he has other patients with all four joints replaced.

Having to endure four surgeries and four recoveries frightened me enough, but the unknown of what life  would be like after those surgeries scared me more.  How much would I be able to do?  Would I be trading off pain relief for a life of limited mobility?

I started this blog two and half years ago to chronicle my journey through the four surgeries.  At the time I was about three months out from surgery #1 to replace my left hip and I was preparing for surgery #2 to replace my right hip.  You can read about those experiences here and here. Those surgeries went extremely well and left me with so much more mobility that I just wanted to enjoy life for awhile.  I was able to do things I had not done in years, ride my bicycle on trails, get back on the motorcycle with the hubby, go shopping, go site-seeing,etc.

TKG-on-bike

I was able to go about two years before I knew it was time to start on the knees.  My left knee was replaced last April.  Everyone told me the knee replacement was a more difficult surgery to recover from and they were correct.  It took about four months before I stopped thinking about my knee with every step.  It is better all the time but there is still some swelling and occasional pain. I have been told by both my doctor and physical therapist that the healing process for a total knee replacement is about one year.

post-knee-surgery

The interesting thing is that this replaced left knee is now definitely my good knee.   It is funny how that happened without me really thinking about it.  The constant arthritis pain is now only in my right knee.  So in about six weeks, on February 18, I will undergo what I hope will be my final surgery, the total replacement of the right knee.  I am so NOT looking forward to that recovery, it is painful and seems to take forever.  Patience has never been a friend of mine.  I also hate relaying on everyone to take care of me, especially Dave.  He has been through as much as I have, with just a different source of pain :).

However, I am looking forward to the possibilities that the future holds, walks, hikes, bike riding and who knows what else.  The final countdown has begun.  Just one more time!

Seven Week Update

Long-Time-No-Chalk

I have been MIA from the blog for several weeks.  I was always taught if you do not have anything nice to say then say nothing at all.  (I really should remind myself of that more often.)   In the fourth and fifth week after my knee surgery I was in a dark place, not seeing much progress in my physical therapy and still having more pain than I anticipated.  On top of that, we have had the worst spring I can remember, torrential rains with no sunshine for days upon days.  Days without sun are not good for me.

However, these last two weeks have been much better and I have forced myself to participate in life and guess what happened.  I am seeing real progress in my knee bending (although still have a long way to go) and the pain has improved.  I am walking without my cane and even went to the gym pool yesterday to walk and do strengthening exercises.  I think I may actually survive this surgery!

I have even completed a project I have been thinking about for a while and that is creating a chalkboard for my kitchen! I love the idea of a changeable venue for menus, messages or inspirational quotes front and center in the room we live in the most.   Although I love reading, I have known for a long time that I am a visual person which is probably why I have always been interested in  typography (the art of making language visible).  I even have a “ChalkBoard Art” board on pinterest.  Look at some of these fun creations:

Children will be given

Source

Birthday Board

Source

Trust God

Source

The chalk board I made for my kitchen is even more special because it is a frame my dad made for me many years ago.  I painted it white and used chalkboard paint on the hardboard backing.  Easy!  I have another chalkboard I made hanging in my office that currently lists my goal categories for the year.  It is a great way to keep those items close 0n a daily basis.

Chalkboard-Goals

We have had several other fun activities going on here in the last week and I will be sharing those soon!

New spring look!

I have a new spring fashion to share with you, white compression hose, ace wrap and a built-in cooling system.  Isn’t it lovely?

post-knee-surgery

Let’s break this look down shall we?

1.  White Compression  Hose – This part of the assemble is pure evil.  Although presented by the medical profession as an important tool in preventing blood clots, the truth is they cut off total circulation in your leg.  No blood, no clots, no nothing is moving under these ultra tight,scratchy demons.  Trying to put them on after you have taken them off to shower is, well, no words can describe that fun!

2.  Ace Wrap –  Although this is an optional item at this point, it does play a wonderful role in keeping the cooling system attached to your leg.  This fashion item is just a part time addition.

3.  Cooling System –  Although this would be a bit cumbersome if you were very mobile,  it is perfect for this first week when you are doing very little except trying to articulate your pain on a scale of 1 to 10. Looking like my own personal beverage cooler, this unit delivers localized cold therapy by the use of a pump that circulates extremely cold water to the desired area.

As lovely as this look is, I certainly do not want to make this a permanent part of my wardrobe.

flowers1

According to the multitude of health professionals that have been traipsing in and out of my bedroom the last few days, I am doing great for a week out of surgery.  My only goals are to see how far I can get my knee to bend and how many laps I can make with the walker around the second story of my home.  I have NO desire to tackle those stairs again for while, although the therapist says we will be working on that by the end of this week.   The knee bending goal is 120 degrees over all, but only 90 for the first week.  I have been having a very difficult time with the knee bending,  but today with the therapist pushing and me breathing like I was about to give birth, the 90 degrees was finally achieved.  YEAH!!

Another issue I will be fighting over the next few weeks is the IMPATIENT MONSTER that lives in my brain.  I know when work and life gets crazy I often dream of a few days of downtime to do nothing.  Of course that downtime is usually more about sun, sand and beaches than pain, immobility and 25 staples.

I want to truly thank all of you for the visits, plants, phone calls, food and warm wishes.  I can not imagine going through this without the support of my family and friends.

Two years ago today….

Happy 2nd Birthday Ruminations and Reckonings!

2nd Birthday                                                           Source

Two years ago today I wrote my first blog post on Ruminations and Reckonings.  To celebrate the day I have decided to give R&R a little facelift.  If you are reading this in an email or an RSS reader, click on over to the site so you can see the new layout.

One of the changes you will see are the new menu items.  I created those a month or so ago and if you looked hard on the old site you could see them…..but now they are front and center.  Clicking on one of those menu items will take you back to all the posts related to that topic.

I wrote that first blog post about two months after my first hip replacement and about two months before my second hip replacement.  Interestingly enough, this anniversary corresponds with me preparing for yet another surgery, a complete knee replacement to happen on April 16.  Although I knew this was in my future, it came about a little faster than expected so I am having somewhat of a minor (ok major) pity party.  I know life will be even better a few months from now, but I do not relish the thought of slowing down to recover once again.

To get past this dark place I did what I do best…….make a list!!!  I am such a structured person that a list provides comfort; check things off, life is good.  I have about twenty things I need to accomplish prior to the surgery date not including a trip to Omaha and an Easter celebration.  Many of the items are related to finishing my basement makeover.

Speaking of the basement makeover, here is an update on the progress.  Remember this lonely corner I showed you…

Before-reading-nook

This is how it looks today, still a few more things to do but it is looking better.

reading-nook-almost-complet

Thank you all for reading these past two years!