Total Knee Replacement – Week 1 at Home

by Pauline on May 31, 2010

It was Saturday and I survived my first night home. I called the Heartland home health agency as no one had contacted me yet about the visiting nurse. They ended up sending a nurse out on Sunday to go over my health history, check my knee wounds, and have me sign some forms. The home health nurse told me they would be in contact with my family doctor about my Coumadin doses based on the blood tests they would do and also have a physical therapist see me three times that first week. I was given a booklet explaining home health with phone numbers to call if I needed something or had a question. The visiting nurse and physical therapist did call me Monday to arrange times to come see me for the week. My husband was able to go to work after spending the first weekday home Monday with me once he saw I could manage on my own. I could not take my dogs in/out on my own yet so he tried to work shorter hours that first week. Besides trying to work full time, he had to do all the shopping, cooking, dog care, laundry, etc. as well as help me in/out of the shower assisting me with doing my knee dressings too. He was absolutely amazing!

The nurse and therapist who visited me advised that I was not taking enough pain medication and should take it faithfully every 4 hours. It is common to hear that health care folks often “undermedicate” themselves and are not always the “best” patients. They were concerned I was not sleeping well and despite my reluctance got a sleeping pill prescription for me for Ambien which ended up not doing anything at all to help me sleep. I gave up taking the sleeping pill after trying it for 3 days. My right knee wound kept draining which concerned the nurse (and me) and it was slightly “open”. The physical therapist did show me different exercises to do and one day even had me walk down 2 flights of stairs to my finished basement. That was an accomplishment!  He told me to only do the stairs once a day with my husband present. The therapist did push and tried bending my knees while I was seated and that was incredibly excruciating. My knees were still pretty swollen and as much as I wanted to bend them more they felt so “tight” and painful at one point I begged the therapist to stop. I was to start outpatient therapy the following week near my home.

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