Total Knee Replacement

(Written Friday, June 24, 2016)

My right knee has been bad for a long time. In it I have not only severe arthritis but Paget’s disease. This is a double whammy for pain. So I’m finally going to get a knee replacement.

See, your bones are always replacing old bone tissue with new tissue. In Paget’s, “there is an abnormal breakdown of bone tissue in specific areas. This is followed by abnormal bone formation. The new area of bone is larger, but weaker. The new bone is also filled with new blood vessels… [t]his results in deformity of the affected bones.” (Medline Plus)

My right knee is grossly deformed. It and the left knee look like they belong to two different people.

Top that off with osteoarthritis destroying the nice pads of cartilage between the bones and you have a very ugly and weak knee that hurts a LOT. Up till now, I’ve been treated with cortisone injections. The first one lasted 3 years. The second, 3 months. The third – 3 days.

My orthopedist told me when I got the third one that it was time to look at knee replacement surgery. I was all gung-ho for that. Over time my ability to do things has become more and more restricted. One day last week I needed help just to walk the 20 feet from my front border garden into the house.

So I wanted to get this done SOON. My mom had a knee replacement in winter, and it was murder getting her in and out of the car for appointments. She is going to be my role model for recovery, though. She really worked hard at her therapy exercises and regained full use of the knee more quickly than any of the doctors and therapists expected. And I have a big event coming here at my house next May 1st – meaning I have to be completely healed and active at least 2-3 months ahead of time.

I was able to get an appointment with the recommended orthopedic surgeon on June 21st, but then the office called and had to change it to the 23rd. That was a nuisance, because I had a physical scheduled for the 22nd, and now I couldn’t give the PA, Erika, information about the surgery. As it turned out the surgeon, Dr. Thadani, did need extra blood tests done via my primary care doctor’s office. So now I had to handle that.

At any rate, I did get the surgery scheduled for July 20th. I was happy, especially because the next possible date wasn’t until August 11th. I didn’t want to lose that much time before recovery could begin.

Then I found out just how much has to be done before knee replacement surgery.

Yesterday I called my primary care doctor’s office about the additional tests. They said someone would get back to me. No one did.

I spent half an hour today trying to fax the information Dr. Thadani needs to their office. First my fax needed an ink cartridge replaced. Then another cartridge. Then I found out I was dialing the wrong number – it had changed because the office moved. Then their fax simply never connected. I finally called them, spoke to 3 different people, and got an email address. That meant hooking up my scanner (that’s a story in itself), scanning Dr. Thadani’s form, and finally sending it off via email with my cover letter.

Today I also had a CT scan of the knee. A custom knee replacement device is going to be made, and it will be based on the scan, so the orthopedic office needs the results SOON, like yesterday, or else it could be hard to have the device ready by July 20th.

I got a call to set up a meeting with the physical therapist to plan my therapy regimen. That’s set for next Tuesday, the 28th, and I decided to go ahead and have my hair colored and cut after that – I’ll need shorter hair post-surgery.

On July 5th I have a pre-op appointment with Dr. Thadani AND a dentist appointment to have 3 new cavities filled (my teeth are going to hell). I signed up for a Pre-Op Joint Replacement Class on July 6th.

On the 11th I see my psychiatrist; on the 12th my organizer is coming to help make the house safe and convenient for someone with limited mobility and a walker. My friend Hetty is having a garage sale that weekend, and I have quite a bit of stuff to contribute, so that will occupy a lot of my time and energy. And a week before surgery I’ll see the anesthesiologist; that appointment hasn’t even been made yet.

I also needed to find out if anybody could come and stay with me immediately after I get out of the hospital, because otherwise I’d have to go into a rehab center. In the end, my son Joey is the only one who can do it, as no one else in my family can afford to take off work, while Joey works from home.

How fortunate my mother was to have me living with her when she had this surgery!

It’s only been one day since the surgery was agreed to and the date set. The gods only know how much more is going to be crammed into the next not-quite-four weeks.

Oh, and I forgot to mention this: I have to start leg and arm exercises now to aid in recovery and give me more strength to use a walker.

Dates booked from now until surgery

Dates booked from now until surgery.

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