Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Knee Replacement day: Not bad ... So far

Even though I've had many surgeries before this one, my anxiety level was embarrassingly high this morning and even the night before.
The nurse said waves of heat were coming from my body. BP was 154 over 125. I was assured "we have meds for that." It is a hospital after all. Deep breathing, distraction, talking with my wife - nothing calmed me. What's with this? Wife Colleen chalked it up to old age; I thought it was related to having too many experiences. Been down this road before and all went well. What are the chances I keep escaping complications.
Then there was the filling out of the Living Will. Did I just awaken a subconscious fear of mortality? I'm 62. People my age read the obit section; there but for the grace of God, etc.
But the medical staff was reassuring, confident and very thorough. Knee area shaved, tubes put in and information collected all mixed in with cheerful small talk.
The gurney journey to the OR was bright, cold and busy with everyone readying their respective stations. Lots if talk, instrument alignment and one warm blanket. Did I mention it was cold?
Then when all was ready I sat up on the table, legs dangling off the side. I leaned forward with my forehead resting on the chest of a staffer and stared at the floor.
Behind me, hands were searching out the right spot using the telemetry of the hip bones and then a finger selected the right spot and stopped.
"You'll feel something cold on your back for a minute." it was the numbing medicine prior to the epidural. If something happened after that I don't remember. No counting back from 100. No spinning OpArt. Just "zonk." It was 6:50 a.m.
At 8:20 I woke up in the OR feeling absolutely relaxed and in no pain ... And numb from the waist down. How long this is going to last no one could be sure. But it eventually will be the last comfort I get and most of the day I enjoyed it.
It was a short visit in recovery. I was pretty clear and lucid so they sent me up to my room on the second floor, a short walk to physical therapy the next day.
At about 1245pm, I got my first taste of exercise - moving from the bed to chair. "That's it? I'm raring to go and I merely hop one step?"
They want to ensure I don't get dizzy, faint and crash to the floor. At my 240 lbs., who can blame them?
Meals so far have consisted of coffee (decaf), broth, Jello and juice. Later I can graduate to a solid piece of toast. Oh joy.
All in all, this is a much better experience than eight years ago when i had my first replacement. A lot has changed since then.
Now therapy will be the true test.
That's tomorrow. Later
Earlier Post


  1. Jim,

    I am glad your surgery went well. I enjoy reading your blog! I am certain this is therapeutic for you in being able to express your feelings and what you are going through in writing these blog posts. As a writer, I enjoy expressing myself through writing, art and photography. :) It is helpful for me!

    I understand the anxiety and having the blood pressure spike. That may have been from the medication you were on and what they used to make you fall asleep before surgery. That can cause varies side effects. Your body may have been reacting from that and also because surgery is serious and the body reacts to it.

    After I had thyroid surgery back in May of 2011, before they wheeled me over to my room at the Methodist Hospital, my blood pressure spiked really high. They brought me to this recovery room and put blood pressure meds through my IV and they kept a very close eye on me for two hours until my blood pressure went back to normal. I don't remember much of it at all. I was so out of it.

    I do have a memory of the surgeon trying to wake me up after surgery. My parents told me that he called my name out about five times before I opened my eyes....he was little concerned as well because he couldn't get me to wake up after surgery right away... I was alive, but just really drugged up and out of it.

    I am glad I woke up. There is always risk when it comes to any type of surgery.

    I understand writing your will and all... talk about anxiety. Prior to my surgery, they gave me information about filling out a will as well. My parents said, no... don't worry about it, everything is going to be ok...it kind of scared me since I am in my twenties and didn't want to think about planning for death yet. I think it scared my parents when the nurse brought that information to our attention. We kept positive and everything turned out fine. My dad's reaction was to the nurse, why would she have to fill that out? They must do that to all patients go through serious surgery.

    They were able to successfully remove the tumor that was wrapped around the right side of my thyroid and they also removed the right side of the thyroid. They kept the left part of the thyroid alone. They studied the tumor and tissue and freeze it.

    I got very lucky because it came back benign. When going into surgery, my family and I had cancer on our minds. I was told originally in Mankato that I had follicular thyroid cancer. So, they sent my case over to Rochester. The pathology team over in Rochester studied the biopsy slides and they said there was a 25% chance it was cancer because abnormal cells appeared. They had to go in and remove the tumor and study the organ to make rule it fully out. If it was full-blown cancer, they would than remove the whole organ instead of just one side.

    I believe that God was watching out for me because I had people praying for me and even strangers prayed for me. It really meant a lot to me. Prayer helped me keep positive and strong. It really helped me get through it and I was able to keep strong.

    The night before surgery, I went out with a friend and took over 300 photographs. I got in at 10 p.m. and had be up by 3 a.m. I just wanted to enjoy having fun in doing what I love and not think about the surgery the next day. I wanted to do what makes me happy which is photography. It centers me and I feel at peace in being outdoors with a camera in hand and the capturing the beauty of nature.

    If I ever need surgery again on any part of my body, I am going to Rochester. They took good care of me! I was extremely grateful that my tumor came back non-cancerous.

    I am happy to read that things are going well for you and I hope physical therapy goes well too. Keep the positive attitude! Before you know it, you will be able to eat solid food. They gave me liquid food too at first, but the next day, I ate a delicious veggie burger and I was happy! :)

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