Day 27

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[1]); this despite being 10 days post surgery.

The next day my surgeon prescribed me a new pain med [2]  and a strong antihistamine [3]  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 [4], 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


[1] Norco —

[2] Dilaudid —

[3] Atarax —

[4] Insane Sanity — Looney Merriment:


6 thoughts on “Day 27”

  1. Elle Rolfe

    Dear Joe, I hope your friend Kevin, is regaining consciousness. Your recovery is probably right in line, though I hold knee replacement surgery right up there with torture. It is considered “elective” surgery, but going through life with a knee that does not function and causes constant pain is hardly an option. For me, I am glad I did it, but never want to do it again!

    I am sorry you had the hives on top of this, I have experienced hives also, it is NOT fun! Just in case you have any further itching, though hives or just dry skin, buy the original anti-itch lotion called “SARNA”, an over the counter product.

    Thanks for including me in your posts, I always enjoy hearing from you, even if you are in pain.
    Very fondly, Elle

  2. Lee Webb

    I had no idea you were going thru all THIS! Please excuse me for not realizing how tough this has been for you. You’re one tough cookie to be taking it as well as this, Joe, as I would be screaming to the rooftops. Audrey must be a great help to you, be thankful for her. And Nimitz, too. Wish there was something we could do, just be aware that you have hundreds (maybe thousands) of friends and well-wishers out here who WANT YOU BACK, JOE — the guy we knew that was always quick with a witty funny remark that would tickle our funny bones. And thanks for keeping me on your email list — it’s great to keep in touch with your exciting adventures — my life is nothing but boredom city. Cheers, and may your immune system kick in and cure you ASAP! Love from the Webbs…

  3. Mark Murray

    Maybe a couple of lines of poetry will make you feel better:

    Sorry to hear all of the bad things that are happening to you
    But, it will be worth it and soon you will play golf like new

    I think I will try to play again on Wednesday at Little Fishing Creek. I think you played there when you were here. Keep us posted as you improve.

    Take care Mark

  4. Brother Don

    Congratulations on finally “getting over the hump” with the knee replacement. Your independent Joe side should see marked improvement! So sorry to hear about your old friend Kevin and may he get well. #5 p.s. Am sure Audrey is happy to see a happier and more physically active husband. Love that Aud’!

  5. Elle Rolfe, mother-in-law

    Audrey told me that your friend Kevin is still no better. I am so sorry for his family. Glad you are getting on the mend now. Just watched the Seahawks & Packers game, I am actually hooked! Never thought I would care about football.

    Yes, Sarna lotion is OTC, I never travel without it, always think my Hives could come back, and it sure helped all the mosquito bites at Mark’s wedding. Love Elle

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