Apologies for the gap between blogs but no-one warned me about Day 2. It is the most painful post-op day, apparently. It had better be.
if I recall, the last instalment of my saga ended at the point where, after a completely sleepless night, I was checking out the results of my online Christmas shopping. I shall continue. Shortly after realising that I had paid a fortune for some flowers for The Unfeeling One (loads of Brownie points in the bank) my breakfast appeared. I had a pot of natural yoghurt, a bowl of fresh fruit salad and a pot of black tea. I would not recommend having a full English as your first meal after major surgery. My neighbour did and the wailing and groaning kept me awake all morning. Very inconsiderate. It will also cost you a couple of intra-muscular jabs into your thigh so you aren’t sick.
My feeling of contentment was further enhanced when another lovely lady came to help me wash myself (something which, you may remember, The Unfeeling One swore she would never do) and, almost magically, changed the bed sheets without me noticing. The moment she left there was a gentle knock at the door and another lovely lady, with much apologising, asked if it was okay to clean my room. Within 10 minutes, it was gleaming. Throughout all of this, one question was asked continually: ‘Have the physiotherapists been to see you yet?’ After the 3rd time I was asked this I began to suspect that the arrival of the physiotherapist would be a Bad Thing. I was right. Having managed all the exercises with the greatest of ease (little realising that Day 1 was a day of false hope) I announced that I needed to go to the loo. With 3 ladies in the room, my natural shyness precluded me from using a cardboard pee bottle so I grabbed my walking frame and, with a certain degree of nimbleness, shot into the en suite. As I was standing there I looked down, only to see a huge pool of blood spreading out from around my feet. I was bleeding and it was going all over my brand new John Lewis slippers! It was the first time I had worn them. My shrieks alerted those outside to my plight: ‘Don’t worry, you’ve just got a bit of leakage around one of the bottom clips’. What? Leakage? I’m bleeding to death here! It was everywhere. My room looked like the site of an especially gruesome murder by the time they had finished cleaning me up and had re-dressed the wound. Fortunately, the blood stains on my slippers were limited to the inside so won’t be noticeable when I’m wearing them. Thus ended my first physiotherapy session.
One of my many followers had warned me that the drain which would be put in during the op would be painful but I hadn’t noticed anything hanging out in the brief moments that my wound had been visible (I did manage to snap a quick picture of the wound with my phone but it is a bit too gruesome to display in a family show). In researching this mysterious drain that I didn’t appear to have, I found an article in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery entitled ‘The use of a closed-suction drain in total knee arthroplasty’. It concluded that, whilst 94% of consultant orthopaedic surgeons in the UK routinely used a closed-suction drain, there was no evidence to support its use. One to ask my surgeon, I think. He must so look forward to that part of his ward round when he gets to me. When asked, he very patiently explained that there had, recently, been a very positive move away from the use of drains. in short, there is now a very good chance that you won’t have a drain put in. I have to say, that the amount and type of numbers used in the article was very impressive. For a trade whose tools appear to be hammers and saws, I am beginning to realise that there may be some real science behind it all.
Day 2 kicked in mid-afternoon with no warning. Come 7 o’clock in the evening, if I had had a saw I would have taken the whole leg off myself. If you are offered pain relief, take all you can get. Don’t be heroical or stoical, get as much as you can, as often as you can. My whole night was just a cycle of sleeping, pain, and pill popping. There really is no need to be in pain and don’t feel that you are disturbing someone by asking them for help. It took me a while to overcome my natural unwillingness to summon someone by pushing a button (I’ve seen them on Downton) but there’s no stopping me now. Both my surgeon and anaesthetist have told me that a knee replacement is the most painful operation you can have, and it is worse the younger you are. As you all know, I am very young. Man flu doesn’t even come close. Hip replacement? A stroll in the park by comparison.
Another reason for ensuring that you get loads of pain relief is so that you can manage to do your physiotherapy. If you don’t do the physiotherapy properly, you will have wasted the whole procedure. As the more perceptive amongst you will have realised, I have a pretty low pain threshold and, without the physios there to push you, it is all too easy not to bother. I am lucky, I will have The Unfeeling One at home who will, I have no doubt, bully me into doing the exercises. My physio is going quite well and I graduated onto sticks today. Stairs tomorrow and, hopefully, home on Friday.
Two other side effects to be aware of. The anaesthetic and the opiate based pain killers have made me very itchy. I didn’t think I had got fleas, but Piriton started appearing with all the other pills. My continual scratching had been noticed by others. Apparently, one in five patients react this way. The other side effect hasn’t resolved itself yet, despite having had prunes for breakfast two days in a row with further supplements of Senokot. ‘Nuff said. Kneedyman.