Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Knee Surgery 101

Hello everyone!
I have not personally had a knee replacement but this is what I've learned from taking of care of my husband through his.
We've known for years that Jeff needed a knee replacement but because the prosthetic joints wear out, just like natural knees, doctors won't do replacements until you get "old enough" Jeff just turned 53.

Before the surgery, find about your hospitals policies. And you might want to ask more than one person there. I asked the nurse who did Jeff 's pre-admitting if visitors could stay all night at the hospital. She said absolutely not.
So I went home the evening after Jeff's surgery. He had a very bad night and I decided I would sleep in my car if I had too, but I was going to stay close. That pre-admitting nurse was wrong and family members were allowed to stay there whenever they wanted.
That same nurse also said all the rooms were 3 people rooms and the hospital was almost always full capacity. So we were pleasantly surprised when Jeff had a private room and most all the rooms around him were also private rooms.
Jeff stayed in the hospital for 7 days. His surgery was on a Friday. Most of the hospital activities seem to almost shut down over the weekend so he pretty much stayed in bed all weekend except for going to the bathroom at first with a wheel chair and then on crutches.
On Sunday, he talked to the head of physical therapy. He set Jeff up for a week of intense physical therapy in the hospital. Physical therapy to get the joints working again seems to be equally important to regaining mobility as the surgery and Jeff was ready to do everything they asked of him.
Now that we are home, he is going to out-patient physical therapy 3 days a week as well as exercises at home and slow walks around the block.

Hospital food is not wonderful. Neither is the cafeteria food. Both are edible but only if you are hungry.
The hospital had lots of vending machines but none took paper money larger than $1. I took quite of few with me but ended up needing a few more.
I wish I had taken a few snacks with me too.
Lots of equipment comes with surgery. Besides a wheelchair for a little while and then crutches, we have been using these things too....
DonJoy IceMan
this is an electric ice pack system that works great!
a shower chair -

before the surgery, Jeff installed hand-held shower heads in both our showers.

A raised toilet seat because squatting is not allowed or even possible very soon after knee surgery.
Jeff also had a pile of medicine including different pain relievers and a blood thinner. He also learned to give himself injections for blood thinning to prevent clots. We thought these would of been a big deal but he learned to do it quickly and had no trouble giving them.
While having all the tests before and after surgery, Jeff's blood pressure and blood sugar levels were somewhat elevated so he got instructions to eat low-fat, low-salt and lower calorie.
Trays for eating at home are nice.
Store up extra ice for icepacks.
Nightlights are good - both for the patient and the caregiver.
Easy to prepare meals at home are essential. I had planned a few ahead and wish I had planned more.
Any loose rugs that will be in the main path of a person walking with crutches should be put away to prevent slipping.
Have some thank you cards and stamps on hand.
Jeff feels good and his new knee does not pop, lock up or give him constant pain like before.
The new knee does not move quite the same as a natural knee though. He is working on his range of motion but so far, it is limited. When he rides his recumbent exercise bicycle, he cannot make a full revolution yet with the pedal.
All in all, we are both glad he had the surgery and are looking forward to more active and normal life.


  1. Hi Rhonda,
    I am with you. Dave and I learn so much. Next year when he has surgery again we will be prepared. Bryan's surgery was rescheduled.You know how the goverment is. Someone esle needed it worst so he got bumped. Is Jeff doing better?

  2. Well, my husband has had two hip replacements. I remember the first time he had this little bell. And we had this old two story house at the time. He would ring that little bell when he needed something. And I decided about then as we aged I didn't want a two-story house! Ran up and down; down and up!

  3. You have learned a lot. I am just tickled that he is doing so well!

  4. All the little things you only know from experience! Glad he is on the mend! I'm sure you're both ready to get things back to normal!

  5. You are learning alot! My husband needs either hip or/and knee replacements but he hasn't went to the doctors yet. Where he works they like you to wait also. He is 55.

    Glad Jeff is doing well!

  6. This is a great post! Good info to pass along to folks. Knee replacements are so common now.
    My mom has had both knees replaced. She's 81, and had the second one done three years ago.
    She also was determined to do whatever they asked her in therapy and she had done great! Still going strong:)

    Blessings to your husband (and you:)- hope his recovery is smooth.

    Linda C


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