Total Knee Replacement: Day 27
I had tentatively committed to an update on Dec 31. That’s when I’d expected to transition from in-home physical torture, er, ah, physical therapy, to out-patient physical therapy. Well, that was overly optimistic and I had some setbacks.
A shout out to my dear friend of 52 years, Kevin Shepardson. I’ve written of Kevin a few times before: he is as kind, thoughtful and loyal 52 years later as he was as a lad when I was most in need of an understanding friend.
On New Years Eve day Kevin suffered a severe heart attack; in fact, sudden cardiac arrest. He survived, thanks to the fast thinking and acting of his employees and co-workers. He still lies in hospital, in intensive care, unconscious, with an uncertain future. I am still in shock, as is his family and many other friends. This has provided some distraction during my many sleepless nighttime hours, when the pain and discomfort persistently keeps sleep just out of reach.
This has also provided inspiration for a valid and unselfish New Years Resolution: get re-certified in CPR and First Aid.
Setback 1. A day or so before Christmas my skin started to itch. During the afternoon of Christmas Day, I broke out in an intense rash that covered nearly my entire body. Then it turned to hives. My hands and ears swelled. My legs, arms, shoulders, feet — almost everything — was covered in hot, itchy, bumpy, bright red hives.
We immediately identified this as an allergic reaction, probably to my pain medication (Norco); this despite being 10 days post surgery.
The next day my surgeon prescribed me a new pain med  and a strong antihistamine  similar to, but stronger than, benadryl. That took about six very itchy days to clear up.
Setback 2. Perhaps I’ve been a bit too diligent and aggressive in my home self-directed therapy sessions. I’ve not been shy about causing almost as much screaming and tears as the paid therapists do. (This terrifies our 12-1/2 year old dog, Nimitz). The weekend after Chirstmas, while working on increasing my flexion, I pushed it too far. So that was followed by a week of big-time swelling and pain.
Progress. After the setbacks, my out-patient PT started on January 7. Over the past two weeks I’ve made considerable progress; I am pretty much past the “helpless, self-pitying, woe-is-me” phase. I can now usually walk and negotiate stairs without so much as a cane. My extension and flexion are improving. My quad is slowly waking up and strengthening, although the inside of the quad is still “sleepy.” I think this is the main cause of some knock-knee that I now have.
Some research shows that at 27-days post TKR (Total Knee Replacement), the average patient has lost 62% of his quad strength. I can assure you that I’ve lost more than that. I had worked hard to get in shape for several years pre-surgery; call it pre-hab.
Still, I remain committed to my self-directed daily therapy sessions (I call it “homework” and “work outs”), and my therapists assure me that I am healing well.
Sleep remains difficult, although it’s improving every so slowly and steadily.
More or less, it’s been as promised. Two weeks of hell. Two weeks of inconsistent but steady improvement. Then gradually phase into real life and in six to twelve months I’ll be glad we went ahead with the surgery.
Meanwhile, my headaches continue to slowly, steadily abate. For those who read my mind map essay , they seem to be mostly in the Shirley, Daffy Duck and Porky Pig regions.
My expected “return-to-work” date is now penciled in as February 16.
Until next time, I wish you peace, health and and good friendships in 2015.
Joe Girard (c) 2015
 Norco — http://www.drugs.com/norco.html
 Dilaudid — http://www.drugs.com/dilaudid.html
 Atarax — http://www.drugs.com/atarax.html
 Insane Sanity — Looney Merriment: http://girardmeister.com/2014/11/16/insane-sanity-looney-merriment/