Part 3 – Knee Replacement Surgery

In keeping with the way this past two weeks have gone, instead of leading off with more about my recovery, I’m going to share one more thing I learned as a result of this surgery – not so much having to do with the surgery itself but more having to do with being comfortable and less stressed during the recovery phase.

Without going into the gory details, when you are in the hospital on heavy duty pain meds you will likely be given a stool softener daily to counteract the pain medication’s amazing ability to create roadblocks where there shouldn’t be any. In the hospital they just give it to you and you take it. But when you get home you may forget. DON”T make that mistake. I can not emphasize the importance of keeping everything moving and the misery that can follow if you don’t. Enough about that.

Today marks four weeks since I had my surgery and I have improved according to schedule, though not quickly enough for me to feel like saying “Hurray!” On the contrary, and I suspect this is just my strange psyche, instead of embracing the improvements, I have become more and more discouraged with what I see as a lack of progress. I am forever aware of my knee, my leg, and my foot. I want to get out of bed in the morning feeling rested but instead I have likely wrestled from about 3:00 a.m. with the impossibility of finding a comfortable position. It’s not a horrible pain. It’s just a nagging awareness that every move I make creates discomfort. My doctor tells me I am doing very well. I haven’t asked him if he’s ever had knee replacement but I’d like to know. If he has, he probably has empathy and an understanding of the sufferings of his patients. But if he hasn’t, he can’t possibly imagine how difficult it is to remain positive in the face of this much pain and disability.

I’ve been thinking about everything I was told about this surgery before the fact.

“It will take four to six weeks to recover to near-normal activity.” Translation: You can move slowly and do almost everything you want except move beyond a snail’s pace and live pain free.

“Your knee should feel completely normal in about a year”. Translation: You won’t feel normal for 364 days – 364 days!

“Before too long you’ll wonder why you didn’t have it done earlier.” Translation: When your arthritis brings you to your knees with pain, you’ll do anything to make it go away. But then for a year you’ll try to remember which was worse – then or now.

“Six hundred thousand people have knee replacement every year and none of them want it.” Translation: After getting all the facts, if their pain would allow it, they would scream and run as fast and as far away as possible. Noooooooooo! And it is no wonder people who have this surgery on one knee promise themselves they will never have another knee replacement for as long as they live.

In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve stopped trying to put a happy face on this experience.

I mentioned earlier my strange psyche. For those of you reading this who kind of like my more personal style of writing, this is just about as personal as I have ever been. This recovery has been one of the most difficult I have ever experienced, not only from the standpoint of being a complete wuss when it comes to pain tolerance but because it has tested my ability to cope with even the smallest of life’s annoyances. As just a minor example, I lost a book I had been reading and still can’t find it. From the time I realized it was missing until I finally gave up looking I obsessed about that book. I have thought about it hourly and have slept only to dream about where it might be. And today, an acquaintance inquired about my “hip” and I replied, “It’s not my hip, it’s my knee!” I later apologized and explained that I no longer have a fuse.

Much of what I’ve shared in this article has been superficial but I think it’s only fair to end on a more serious note. This surgical experience has not been the only trial I have faced in the past few months. Many of you know that at the end of July my husband was hospitalized after a serious car accident. His injuries and the complications that followed took a strong, active man and turned him into a bedridden patient unable to care for himself. The timing of my surgery could not have been worse in terms of his recovery because in the last four weeks I have only seen him a handful of times and he is no longer sure who I am. The tragedy of his situation is inescapable and is always at the top of my list of things over which I have no control.

My faith in God has always been strong. My absolute belief that God is with me has never failed to provide comfort when things go wrong. I have never expected life to be without twists and turns and rough spots. And I certainly didn’t go into this surgery believing that my recovery would be pain free. But one day, probably the worst in terms of pain and coping, I started to wonder where God had gone and why I could no longer feel that comforting presence. Fortunately, I have wonderful friends and family with whom I can share openly. In expressing my sudden lack of faith I have been affirmed and given permission to work through these feelings without the weight of guilt that might otherwise accompany them.

During these months since my husband’s accident one of my daughters shared with me a song she thought might help me look at things differently. It has become one of my favorites. I end this writing by sharing the words. I hope they might prove as healing to you as they have to me. The words without the music are powerful enough but if you get the chance to listen to the music, it’s worth the effort.

Blessings – Words and Music by Laura Story

We pray for blessings, we pray for peace. Comfort for family, protection while we sleep. We pray for healing, prosperity. We pray for your mighty hand to ease our suffering. And all the while, you hear each spoken need. Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things. ‘Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops. What if your healing comes through tears. What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know you’re near. What if trials of this life are your mercies in disguise.

We pray for wisdom, your voice to hear. We cry in anger when we cannot feel you near. We doubt your goodness, we doubt your love, as if every promise from your word is not enough. All the while, you hear each desperate plea, and long that we’d have faith to believe. ‘Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops. What if your healing comes through tears. What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know you’re near. And what if trials of this life are your mercies in disguise. When friends betray us, when darkness seems to win. We know that pain reminds this heart that this is not, this is not our home. Not our home.

‘Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops. What if your healing comes through tears. And what if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know you’re near. What if my greatest disappointments or the aching of this life is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy. And what if trials of this life, the rain, the storms, the hardest nights, are your mercies in disguise.

Source: Laura Story’s song entitled “Blessings”

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