Four weeks and two days (and two hours and eight minutes, but who’s counting) ago, I had my right knee replaced.
I recount how difficult that first week was here, and also how some of my pre-surgery assumptions were quite far off.
Here is where things stand now.
Turning The Corner
During the first couple of weeks I was asking anyone and everyone as many questions as I could formulate.
One of the most basic was, “How will I know when it starts to get better, and how long will that take?”
The answer I got was more or less the same: “You’ll know. You’ll turn a corner and you’ll know you’re starting to make progress.” No one ever explained how I was supposed to know this, but I would know.
Guess what? They were right. About ten days ago, I noticed it hurt a little less and moved a little more. And I noticed the swelling had gone down some. And over about three days, there was a marked improvement. And that’s been the case ever since. For all practical purposes I stopped using my cane about a week ago. I limp/shuffle most of the time although I try to focus on walking normally. That is, I try and put my right leg out, bend my knee, bend my ankle and push off my toes just like I do with my left foot. It’s weird having to consciously focus on how to walk, but it’s also easy to get into a bad habit of flaring my leg out so I don’t have to bend the knee, and that can become permanent if I don’t do it the right way.
I had two weeks of in-home physical therapy, mostly a series of movements that made me both bend the knee as much as possible, and straighten the knee as much as possible.
I’ve learned that it is easy for the knee to heal in a bent position. Having a pillow under the knee, for example, is forbidden at any time. A rolled up towel under the ankle is the norm, as that straightens the leg. One of my PT exercises is to lie on my stomach, put a foam roller under my right thigh, and let the leg hyper-extend and hold that for five minutes or more.
This week I started outpatient physical therapy. So I get the advantage of machines like a recumbent bike that allows the range-of-motion I can’t get at home.
The therapists at the PT clinic have said I’m ahead of the curve, which was nice to hear because when you have nothing to use as a baseline, there is no real way to know if you’re ahead of behind where you “should” be.
OH, and PT isn’t just when the therapist is around. I’m supposed to do six sets of one exercise (heel slides, which are all about bending the knee) each day. Six sets of thirty reps. Plus three other exercises three times a day. Physical therapy is a full-time job with not a lot of free time. I’m supposed to ice the knee after every session, plus I’m encouraged to walk whenever possible.
This Week's Goal
Actually, this week’s goal is to visit a putting green and, for the first time since surgery, have a golf club in my hand. I don’t care if it’s just a putter.
I won’t be able to spent a lot of time there, as being on the knee for long periods still causes it to ache and swell. But everyone needs putting practice, and just getting out and feeling a little normal again will be great.
My wife and I do have a couple of golf trips planned for late June and July, so the ultimate objective is to be hitting balls by mid-June, and easing back into the game by mid-summer.
It’s been a slow process- much slower than I had anticipated before having it done. But now I can saw I’m cautiously optimistic that it’s going like it should go.
It’s been quite an experience. And I’ll know it was successful when I can walk a half-mile or more and that cramp/ache that would cause me to stop and rest doesn’t show up.
Thanks for reading and Enjoy Shooting Your Age!