Guest post by Jane Lurie.
I have been experiencing the miracle of a technological development in medicine and I am continually amazed and impressed with the results.
On Monday June 15 I had a total left knee replacement.
It’s been a week and one day since the surgery and I feel more fit than I have in years. Sounds crazy but even though I still have quite a bit of rehab ahead of me, my muscles have been responding so well that I could take steps without my crutches already (don’t tell Sharon or my PT but I actually have).
Backstory: I like to think of the surgery as caused by a sports injury rather then developing arthritis. The truth combines both causes.
In 2005 I ran the San Francisco Marathon, my first. I trained for 6 months with the AIDS Marathon training group, during which I raised over $2,000 to fight AIDS, ran the Wharf to Wharf run in Santa Cruz and we bought our place in Loreto. On that sales weekend, 2 1/2 months before the marathon, I got stung by a sting ray on my left ankle and then proceeded to sprain the same ankle badly…yes I was a bit out of my body in terror at taking on the financial responsibility of building our dream Casa.
When I returned to the Bay Area I saw an MD, who said I would never run the marathon…like I would go through all that training again another time. Sharon is a chiropractor. She worked on my leg, along with an acupuncturist and an osteopath and on the day of the marathon I ran the 26.2 miles….in 7 hours and 48 minutes. (Thank you Sharon for begging the officials to keep the finish line up until I ran in). I wouldn’t have missed that high, that feeling of accomplishment for anything.
The following year I ran again, this time a half marathon. Now, many people run marathons without requiring knee replacement afterwards. My advice would be work with a trainer to make sure your running form is correct. There have been many descriptions of my running style..I’m partial to the one that includes the words elephant and stampede.
The day after surgery, maybe even the day of but I don’t remember, I was walking with the aid of a walker. OK, at first, the image of me walking with a walker made me very uncomfortable..it screamed of a weakened state of an elderly person. But when I saw how I could move with that thing I embraced it..and soon I had graduated to crutches, while still in the hospital.
Most of my days were spent on a Continuous Passive Movement machine. This would bend and straighten my leg and I could set a deeper angle each day. On my last day in Alta Bates Hospital, day 4, I was able to walk on crutches with the physical therapist, across the whole building from north to south to practice climbing stairs with crutches. And when I got home, I walked in and then up the stairs to my bedroom/rehab gym.
I brought the Continuous Passive Motion (CPM) machine, my new best friend, home with me. The first few days the I was home, I must have been on an adrenaline high. I was zooming up and down the street showing off to the neighborhood. I eventually crashed and realized that I had to buckle down to a strict schedule of rehab exercises, the CPM and rest. And that is what I am doing now. I do the exercises, given to me by the visiting physical therapist, 5 times a day. I take my pain medication enough to stay ahead of the pain (very important…I learned this as I tried not to take the Vicodin, because I never normally use prescription drugs…for now, it’s another best friend).
My advice for anyone who needs this surgery? First of all get in the best shape you can. I worked with a personal trainer, who gave me home practice exercises I could do while I was in Loreto. Although I wasn’t as diligent as I could have been in Loreto, I did strengthen my upper body by kayaking. I also started a natural supplement regime 3 weeks before surgery and am continuing with the recommended supplements. The visiting physical therapist was shocked that I could do exercises that usually require her assistance at first. Of course my surgeon is my hero. I feel that I owe a great deal to his incredible skill and talent. And I couldn’t have been treated better at Alta Bates. Everyone there was caring and fun too.
Life is an ongoing adventure. When we agreed to go to the Loreto Bay, Bay Area Homeowners gathering on July 5 at Kaz’s winery, we thought I would have to be carried or wheeled in. Now I may just get out of the car, with my bionic knee, and walk in. Life is good.