Sunday, December 27, 2009


I drove! First time in over 5 weeks! Felt a little odd at first, but I got the hang of it quickly. It doesn't hurt at all. Just a little slow getting in and out of the car is all. Yay :)

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Maybe I Just Worry Too Much...

I'm kinda having a down day. I almost feel like I felt better a week ago than I have the past few days. I read and participate in a knee replacement support bulletin board, and a lot of people have said they had similar experiences, but it doesn't make me feel much better. People talk about plateaus during the recovery process. Sometimes you feel like you're healing in leaps and bounds, and then other times you feel stagnant. I'm in a stagnant period. Plus my shoulder is still bugging me, which is making me feel worse than I would otherwise.

I am also feeling a bit apprehensive about returning to work. I'm sure a lot of my worries are unfounded, but I'm not sure how to deal with them. I think if I were feeling better, I would be more gung ho about going back. I'm not sure I'll be up to being cane-less. And my stamina and energy are still real low. I'm still having sleeping issues too. I don't go to bed late, but I wake up a few times during the night and have been sleeping til about 9 most mornings. Some people on the message board said not to rush back to work, but I feel guilty already about the time I've been out. I could technically take another week or two if I really needed to. I miss my kids and I miss the people I work with though. I'm torn and I can't figure out what to do.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry 5 Week Birthday, Knee!

Well today is not only special because it is Christmas. It is also special because 5 weeks ago, I was just coming out of surgery at this time with my brand new knee. I can't believe it's been 5 weeks already. I feel both like time has gone by super fast, but also like I've been through a ton in the past 5 weeks. I wonder if I am where I should be for 5 weeks post-op. My knee is feeling pretty good, bending well, not sore much anymore. I'm still using my cane about 50% of the time for walking. In a little over a week, I'll be back at school teaching. I can't believe it! It's my goal to be cane-free when I go back. I hope I can be at that point. I also feel like I have a lot to cram in to this last week. I need to get sleeping back on a regular pattern. I need to get my energy level up. And I need to get my shoulder pain under control. I'm going to try and get a massage next week I think. I'm kinda nervous about going back. I hope I'm ready!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

If It Isn't One Thing, It's Another

So a few things have been happening the past few days that are new. The knee is doing fine, my range of motion continues to get better at PT. However, since I've been walking a lot more, my ankle has been bugging me. I am sure this is due to the new alignment of my knee. My ankle isn't used to being walked on at a "normal" angle, so it's going to take some getting used to. I just hope it's not something that bugs me for awhile. I also had some back pain over the weekend, but that seems to have subsided. The biggest thing causing me pain right now is my right shoulder...

I'm not exactly sure why, but my PT thinks I tweaked it when I was using two crutches. It bugs me the most on days I'm really active - like last week when I wrapped presents for 4 hours, or last Friday or yesterday when I walked a lot. So maybe it's trying to heal up from being tweaked and when I'm active it flares up again. It feels like it's mainly muscle spasms. I've tried heat on it, but ice actually seems to be working better right now. It can get pretty painful when it's at its worst. Yesterday was especially rough. I'm trying to take it easy today -- not moving around as much and just relaxing. Watching Prince Caspian right now in fact.

I am thankful that my knee is doing well, but I just wish that I could be at the point where I'm not hurting somewhere. I'm hoping that all of this is just part of the recovery process and that in a month or so I'll be relatively pain-free.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

I'm Rambo!

Well not quite, Rambo... yet. Saw my surgeon today for my 4 week check up. He was very happy with my progress. He told me my knee was quite a challenge to replace, and I told him that I had to keep him on his toes and give him a challenge. He laughed at that. He is an EXCELLENT surgeon, I'm beyond pleased with him. He's very funny and personable too. He wants me to really push to get as much range of motion back as I can and strengthen the muscles around my knee. He told me I need to get Rambo muscles and that right now I'm only at Tinkerbell status. He gave me the OK to go back to work after the New Year. I also can start driving next week probably. I'll see him again in 7 weeks.

Went to PT this afternoon as well, so a busy day! My ROM numbers were better than last time: I was at -3 degrees on flexion (improved from 4 degrees on Monday) and at 105 degrees bending (improved from 90 degrees on Monday). My therapist was very happy also with my progress. He wants me to focus on trying to walk as normal as possible, maybe even use a cane instead of a crutch.

So overall, a very good day!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Physical Therapy, FINALLY

Well today was my first visit to PT, finally. Sheesh! I'm already at 3+ weeks, stupid HMO. But it was good to go in. I like my therapist; he really seems to know what he is doing. He was impressed by my quad strength, so he decided the thing to really focus on is improving my range of motion (ROM). He said he wants me only using one crutch to walk around, which is nice because I feel much more mobile. So the walker is being put AWAY! He gave me a set of exercises to do twice a day, and I'll be going in twice a week for the next three weeks. Next visit this week will be on Thursday. Thursday should be a busy day because I see my doctor for my 4 week check up that morning, then have PT in the afternoon.

After PT, Mom and I had lunch and then went to Target. I walked more at Target than I have since the surgery and I pushed the cart around too. I was tired afterward but it felt good to walk that much. I need to get my endurance up. Slowly but surely, however, I'm starting to feel back to normal :)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Getting Back to Normal...

Yesterday and today did a lot to make me feel like things are getting back to normal.

Yesterday my mom, sister, and I had a nice Thai lunch out. Then Mom and I went and saw New Moon. My first movie since the surgery! I did have to take a pain pill because I got a bit uncomfortable, but I think I did pretty well. We got there early so I could get a good seat.

Today, I had a visit from D, who works with me. It was really nice to see her. She brought me some stuff from school and we caught up. She even took a look at my incision.

Tomorrow we're probably going to take a trip up to my apartment and meet my other sister for lunch in Walnut Creek. It'll be nice to see it all decorated up for the holidays. It will probably be crowded, but that might be a bit fun too.

Monday starts my time at physical therapy. Hopefully it goes smoothly. Almost all my surgi-tape has come off, so I can nearly see all of my incision. Some parts of it are coming along nicely, while other parts are still a big gnarly.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Joys of Won Ton Soup

Had my first meal out today. Mom and I had to go up to my place to get the mail and get some clothes, so we decided to try lunch out afterward. Went to this good Chinese place we like (Uncle Yu's) and I managed ok through the meal. The knee got a little uncomfortable towards the end, but nothing major. I had a big bowl of Won Ton soup, which I couldn't finish. My appetite is still low, although I seem to be feeling hungriest around dinner time lately. It was nice to go out and feel almost normal. Bad idea to wear breathable pants today though... it's chilly willy outside!

Made my first appointment for physical therapy. They can't see me until next Monday though, so that's a pisser. I wish my insurance hadn't taken so long to get it all approved. My insurance is a pain in the butt sometimes to deal with.

After we drove back down we stopped at JoAnne's Fabrics and got two wreaths for the house and some yarn for me for a project I'm going to start. Excited to make what I'm planning!

My school's Christmas Party is this Friday. I am thinking of going for a bit depending on how I feel. My mom will have to come along, since I can't drive. But that will be fun. Have to see how I'm feeling tomorrow or Thursday before I decide for sure though.

Monday, December 7, 2009


Took my second shower today, boy is that nice! Granted, I have to use a shower chair, but running water is far superior over a sponge bath. I also went through the full getting ready routine today for the first time since the surgery - make up, hair, the boot. All to just go to the doctor. But hey, it felt nice to feel nearly normal again.

I am set to start PT this week. Tried to call in today but it kept going to voicemail... so I will have to try again tomorrow.

Might be taking another drive up to my place tomorrow to get the mail and maybe try and shop a teeny bit with my mom. We'll see how that goes. Anything to get off the boring sofa! I can only watch TV, play on my computer, and read so much!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Staples Be Gone!

Well that is a relief! Went in to the doc this morning for a 2 week check up and to get my staples removed. It didn't really hurt much. A few of them pinched. The alcohol they rubbed on the incision afterward probably hurt more.

The physician's assistant measured my range of motion. I'm almost to 90 degrees bending and almost to 0 degrees at full extension. She said I'm ahead of the game compared to where many others are at this point and was really happy with my measurements. She also said that my incision looked very good and will heal up well. I didn't want to look at it really yet. But I don't have to cover it any more and it's much more comfortable with the staples out. I have surgi-tape over it that will gradually come off over the next few days.

Tomorrow I can take my first shower since the surgery. Hurrah! I have to wait until tomorrow, otherwise I'd be in there today.

Physical therapy should start up next week if my stupid HMO could get their butts in gear. Things are looking up! Not a bad way to spend my 2 week new knee birthday! :)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Percocet is Both My Friend & Enemy

Today was rough, not gunna lie. And not because of pain in my knee really. In fact, I feel like I'm putting almost all my weight on my right leg when I'm walking now. I'm still using the walker mainly for balance purposes. I'll switch to crutches in the next day or two I think.

When I came home from the hospital my doc prescribed a duo of pain meds -- Oxycontin for long term relief and Percocet for short term relief. I took the Oxycontin twice a day until they ran out yesterday. The doctor said to only take that for the number of pills prescribed. So today was my first day with just the Percocet. And honestly I didn't need it that much. The knee isn't hurting as much and the calf pain is nearly gone. I'm feeling some twinges up around the staples mainly, although I have felt one or two deeper aches, but nothing major. I'm glad to be off the Oxy too, because there's such a negative connotation associated with that medication.

Now for the down side, the Percocet has a lot of side effects. I've really only dealt with some itchy skin and then the dreaded side effect that no one wants to mention -- constipation. Sure, it's embarassing, but this blog is supposed to be a true account of my experiences so I just gotta lay it out there. It's been probably the roughest part aside from the actual knee. I was warned by people to take fiber, drink a lot of water, and all that. I felt like I have been. But I've still had trouble with it. Today was pretty rough and I felt pretty bad. But, without getting in to details, I'm feeling better now. I need to be more aggressive with it from this point until I'm done taking the meds. I don't want to end up feeling again like I felt today.

Tomorrow I will most likely be going in to the hair dresser to get a really good hair wash and style, since I've been having to wash my hair in the sink since I've been home. Staples come out on Friday, so full showering can commence after that. I can't wait!

Monday, November 30, 2009

I Need a Hobby...

I'm starting to feel as if all these blog posts from the past few days are sounding the same. This is most likely because the past few days have all been very much the same. Same routine - get up, clean up as best possible, go downstairs, have breakfast, watch some TV, play on the computer, have lunch, have pills, watch more tv, maybe take a nap or two, have dinner, go upstairs, read some, go to bed. The monotony is becoming the worst part of all of this. I have considered knitting or crocheting some scarves to give to people as gifts. That might make the time pass more. I have other books I can read too, but I just don't feel like it right now. People suggest movies, tv series from netflix, etc, but none of that sounds interesting to me. I don't know how to break the boredom.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Another Day, Another Dollar

I've felt sleepier today than usual... wonder what's up?

Tomorrow already seems like it might be a busy one. I need to call the doctor and check if they sent in my PT request to the insurance for approval. I also need to ask if I should get a refill on one of my pain prescriptions or cut back to just using the one I still have pills left of. And Dad and I might take a trip up to my apartment to pay my rent, get my mail, and pick up a few things I need. I'm not sure if I can handle that long of a car ride yet, but we'll see how it goes.

Appetite is still low. My clothes are all feeling baggy, so I'm definitely losing some weight because of the lack of appetite. I'm not going to complain about that one.

Tomorrow will also be what WOULD be a return to school after Thanksgiving Break, except obviously I won't be returning. I already miss my kids some... this is going to be a long break away from them. Hopefully they'll be excited when I come back.

Pain level is fine today. One unexpected area of pain, however, is my palms. They're getting sore from my walker. I wonder if I can put any padding on the hand bars?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Lazy or Recuperating?

I feel like I've been sleeping a lot this week. But I think it's justified. I wake up 3 or 4 times a night to either use the bathroom, adjust positions, get a drink, or take pain pills. And I've been taking 2 naps during the day usually. I think that sleep helps with the healing though, so I'm trying not to feel too guilty about it.
In general, feeling a bit better today. It seems like that's a common trend - a bit better every day. Calf is better, knee is better. I'm starting to feel the implant in my knee some - I feel it shifting around a bit and clicking. It doesn't hurt, it's just a bit odd. I read that this happens as the muscles are tightening around the new joint and that it's perfectly normal.
I did some shopping today for Christmas. I'll have to do all my shopping online this year, which is slightly frustrating because I feel like I look through countless websites and find nothing that looks good. I need a good list of "best online shopping sites" or something like that.
The only bad news is that Saturday day time tv absolutely sucks. I have some books to read, maybe I'll try that.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Happy One Week Birthday, Knee!

Eek I forgot to post anything yesterday. Got a bit wrapped up in the holiday.

So this time last week we were just arriving at the hospital for what would be a loooong wait before the surgery. This week has seemed both very slow and very fast. One week down, five to go.

Yesterday I felt better in most ways. Calf is still swollen and sore, but less so than the days before. A new thing that came up yesterday was heart burn. Where did that come from? And it came like an hour before dinner, so I couldn't eat as much. My appetite in general has been a lot lower due to the pain meds.

One slight complication today - I need one of my pain meds refilled but the doctor's office is closed for the holiday. So I'm waiting for a call back from the doc on call to figure out how we go about getting it filled. The pharmacy is open today at least.

So back to the grind... and by grind I mean sitting in the recliner most of the day except for when I get up to walk or do my exercises.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

It's Better to be Safe Than Sorry... *sigh*

Well yesterday was a good day in general, until around 5pm or so. After sitting in a chair with my leg down or slightly propped up for much of the day, I noticed that my calf was feeling pretty tight. It has been swollen some since the surgery, but it felt even tighter. So I went and lay in bed for a bit, propping it up. It still was bugging me, so I asked my mom to come take a look at it. She agreed it seemed a bit more swollen and noticed it was also warm. This might have been because I was covered up in bed, but she checked the discharge papers and they said that if your leg gets swollen and warm to call the doctor.

So we called the doctor and got a hold of the doctor that was on call from the Orthopedic clinic (he wasn't very nice, but whatever). He said he wanted me to go to the ER in case it was a blood clot. So first I had to freak out because hearing that is scary. My parents decided that we should go back to the Stanford ER rather than going to the nearest one since Stanford is where the surgery was and they had all my records on file. So Dad and I drove up. After some tests and a lot of waiting, they determined there was no clot. They considered putting me on antibiotics since the leg was slightly warm, but decided against that too. They said to be sure to keep it elevated as much as possible today and to always keep my TED hose (for circulation) on and move my ankles a lot. We didn't get home until 1am, so I was pretty exhausted.

Today I'm feeling well. Made it downstairs for the day, cleaned up as best I could. My knee seems to be bending more today, which is good, and the pain is less. I'm trying to not take the pain meds unless I really need to. I don't want to rely on them just like a crutch.

Fingers crossed that today will be as smooth as possible! Here's a picture of Rudy and my knee. Rudy is confused as to why I'm using his bed as a prop for my foot.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Home Sweet Home

Well I arrived home from the hospital at around 6pm last night. The discharge process took awhile, which was frustrating, but it felt so good to be home. Managed to stay up until 8 or so, which was good. I made it up the stairs, which was my big goal. I wanted to sleep in my room, not on the hide-a-bed downstairs. It took me a bit to get comfortable, but I managed to sleep decently. Pretty much slept for 3 hours, woke up for a pain pill and readjusting the legs, then slept for 3, repeat.

Right now I'm siting in my parents' room watching the TV and having some breakfast. My appetite is still pretty low, so I'm not pushing myself to eat more than I feel like I need.

I'm on all oral pain meds now, as opposed to the push button IV pain meds I had in the hospital. So far it's working fine. It seems scary at first to see all these pain meds they want you to take because you always hear such negative things about them. But the nurse and doctor both assured me that if you take them as prescribed for as long as prescribed, you won't have a problem. So I'm going to trust their judgment. Plus, I know they are helping with the pain.

I'm still feeling sleepy a lot of the time, but I managed not to nap that much yesterday and I'm hoping to do the same today. Now all I need to do is take it easy. We'll look at starting PT early next week. The doctor said, interestingly enough, that PT isn't always that necessary with young people because they heal up really well on their own. He says I just need to focus on working on my range of motion every day.

So, feeling optimistic today. It's a new day.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Day Two

Day two with my new knee. A bit easier today than yesterday, but I have no appetite. Have gotten up 4 times and walked out to the hallway once. Home tomorrow? Not sure, maybe Tues. Sleepy again. Time to rest.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, November 21, 2009

New Knee +1

My sister is typing this for me because it is hard to keep my eyes open. Yesterday went fine. The biggest problem was the surgery got delayed three hours. But, the surgery itself seemed smooth and the doctor said it went well. He says my new knee is like the Mona Lisa and he can't believe I walked that long on my old, bad knee! I got out of bed today and stood for a little bit with a walker. Only threw up once. Not too much pain, although I did have a little trouble earlier. But I'm ok now. All the tubes and wires are more irritating than anything else. Some of those will be taken out tomorrow. The pain medication is making me pretty sleepy, so I'm not the best host to my visitors. Hopefully I'll be out of here on Monday. And hopefully I won't be too tired to watch the Ducks beat Arizona this evening!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Surgery Eve

Well this is it, my last day at school. Bittersweet for sure. I've already received some gifts from some kids, including a snuggie which is very cute. I'll miss my kids for sure. I hope they behave while I'm gone!

I almost told the people at Starbucks this morning that I wouldn't be in for awhile. They DO know my name and drink preference after all. But it was too busy so I didn't.

Packed up last night as best I could. Not sure exactly what I should take home with me. I know my parents and I will be going up to my apartment once a week or so probably, so it's not like I won't be able to get things I need. So I mainly packed comfy clothes -- sweatshirts, tee shirts, comfortable pants, slippers, my lined Crocs, etc.

Tonight I have to shower and scrub down with this iodine soap pack the doctor gave me. Have to do the same in the morning too. I remember doing that before I had my hip surgeries and thinking "this is the last time I'll see this part of my leg without a scar on it." In all honesty, I'm not that worried about the scar. I'd rather have a scar and an awesome knee than a bum, crooked knee with no scar. I will, however, miss this one scar I have had on my knee since I was about 10. I totally bit it on my bike and fell hard on the street and cut my knee up. I've had a little circular scar in the middle of my knee ever since. Oh well, good bye old friend!

I doubt I'll get a chance to blog tomorrow, but as soon as I am coherent and with it, I'll post my first blog from the "other side" :) Send me good thoughts tomorrow at around 10:30am Pacific time!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Let's Get This Party Started

I'm coming in to today feeling optimistic. For one, I physically felt better today than I have in awhile. I'm not sure why exactly. For two, I found a blog written by another young person who went through a TKR. Her experiences made me realize that my surgery and recovery should be smoother than what I am worrying about. I hope my own blog can provide that service to someone at some point. Sometimes all it takes is hearing about what someone else went through and internalizing it and realizing it will all be OK.

Almost through my 2nd to last day at school. Tomorrow will be my last, then I'll be heading down to my parents after school to get ready for the surgery the next morning. I have a feeling that last shower will be bittersweet.

But, I find myself thinking today, "alright, let's do this, let's get it over with." I'm READY to feel better. I'm READY to walk normally. I'm READY to be done with these limitations I have.

I can put up with pain. I put up with it every day. I can do it.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Avoiding "Woe Is Me"

Last night I had my first bout with feelings of "woe is me." I had been looking at some other blogs/message boards and started getting worried from some of the tales I was reading about people's experiences with TKR. I definitely had to snap myself out of it. The following thoughts helped:
1) My age should work in my favor in terms of recovery.
2) People don't rush to the internet to post stories of how easy and painless their surgery and recovery was.
3) I have heard from many people about successful, smooth TKR surgeries that their friends and family have had.
4) I can't get much worse off than I am right now in terms of my bum knee. I can only go upward.
5) Surgery and recovery might be tough, but it will be worth it in the end.

So I'm back in a more positive place today. Have three more days left of school before the surgery on Friday. Hoping I can stay positive until then.

Monday, November 16, 2009


I figured it would be a good idea to upload a "before" picture to record how my knee/leg looked before the surgery. I think one of my primary reasons for wanting the surgery, aside from the obvious benefits of increased mobility and lack of pain, is that my leg definitely has a "deformed" look to it now. At first I didn't like using that word, deformed. It has such negative connotations sometimes. But in all honesty, that is what it is. I am pretty patient with the looks I get when I walk. I realize people have the natural tendency to look at people who are different, and I know that it is definitely noticeable that I walk "funny" and have a crooked leg. I'm tired of being patient and understanding with the looks I get from people. I want to be able to just blend in to the crowd again. I'm really hoping I get that normalcy back with this surgery. So here's a picture of me from a month or so ago. You can see that despite my attempts to stand as normal as possible, the bend in the knee is definitely noticeable.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The journey begins...

I decided that it might be worthwhile to blog about my upcoming experience with total knee replacement surgery. I'm not sure who the audience of this blog will be. Maybe it will just end up being for me in the end.

First, some background. I'm 31 years old, female. I was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis when I was 14. I never know if I should say I have JRA or just regular RA anymore since I'm not technically "juvenile" anymore. When I was 16, I had both hips replaced. And my life was good after that. Real good until I was about 21. Then I got sick again. After a rough year or so, I got my arthritis back under control with medication. But my knees have steadily been deteriorating. My right one more so because it has been slowly angling inward so that now it is at about a 20 degree angle or so off of straight. My mobility has been declining as the knees have declined. I've tried my best to not let it slow me down, but I slowly came to the realization this past year that it was time to do something about it.

After visiting my local orthopedist, I was referred up to a specialist at Stanford University. I saw him in July and he confirmed that a knee replacement was the best way to go. He specializes in joint replacements, especially in young people with JRA. He's definitely one of the best people that could be working on my knee.

Now the challenges, aside from the obvious, come from my job. I'm a teacher. I scheduled my surgery for the Friday right before Thanksgiving break knowing that I will have a one week buffer from that break and another two weeks off for winter break. But I'd have to miss the three weeks in between. So I've been preparing for the past few weeks to have everything in gear for the sub. I'm going to miss my students for the 6 weeks I'm away too.

But back to the main issue at hand. My surgery is this Friday. I should be in the hospital for 3-5 days. I'm not sure what to expect from my recovery time at this point. I know that I won't be able to take a full shower until the staples are removed from the incision, which could be up to 2 weeks later. I'll have physical therapy of course. But how will I feel? How mobile will I be? Will there be much pain? These are the thoughts that are filling my brain as my surgery gets closer and closer.

I'll be staying with my parents for my recovery time. That will make a lot of things easier. I think, optimistically, my hopes would be that I would be relatively mobile as soon as I got home (meaning using crutches, able to go up and down the stairs, able to ride in the car easily, etc) and in relatively little pain. My thresh hold for pain is high right now anyway I think, because I'm basically in pain with every step I take.

My goal is to keep a semi-daily account of my recovery on this blog. I'll be able to have my computer with me in the hospital even, so hopefully I'll be coherent enough to use it.

My hip replacement surgeries were a brief inconvenience for an incredible amount of relief. I'm hoping this surgery has the same result.