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.

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