Weeks 6-10 after the TKR

In the sixth week after my total knee replacement, I knew that I had to work on improving my range of movement and I started a new regime of physiotherapy and hydrotherapy at the local independent hospital.  My new physiotherapist was reassuring as I was so worried about my range of movement. On examining my knee and my showing her how far I could move it, she could see that there was springiness  there and that I would be able to bend and straighten ignore in time.

Garden of Lamb House, Rye
Garden of Lamb House, Rye

She showed me exercises to do to get more bend in the joint and to make my leg straighter. I would need to lengthen and stretch muscles which I hadn’t been using properly for the last few years because of the way I had been walking ie, my former limp. I had been overcompensating by using other muscles too much. My quad muscles needed strengthening and this would lead to my being able to move my knee more in time.

HYDROTHERAPY

I didn’t realise that I could have done hydrotherapy right from the beginning if I had asked someone to drive me to the pool. Hydrotherapy is not swimming and it’s not being sprayed or hosed with water as friends have asked me.  It’s simply doing a set of physiotherapy exercises especially designed to do in warmer water than in a normal swimming pool.

The advantages are

-that the warmth of the water and the buoyancy of the water make stretches more effective;

-it’s less painful;

-it’s easier to stay upright because the effect of gravity is less

-it requires less physical effort.

After an appointment with a physiotherapist to learn the exercises, I went to a couple of supervised group sessions to consolidate my learning. After that, I could book to go to the pool in times that were designated for self help when I could go through my routine on my own. I felt better after each visit but it was unexpectedly tiring as I was working much harder than I realised.

View from Golden Cap, Dorset
The Two Sawyers, Pett, Sussex

WALKING AND SWELLING AND PAIN AND SLEEP

I started venturing out more, using both buses and trains and tubes. I’ve written more about this here. In retrospect, I was probably doing too much but in the best English summer since 1976, I didn’t want to stay in the house. I felt that it was worth having a go, even if it didn’t always work. A long bus trip up to the centre of London was fine on the way there but after sitting in restaurant for two hours, the journey home was painful and I ended up standing up.

The River Thames from Tower Bridge

For my birthday, I went to the theatre. I had booked expensive seats with plenty of leg room on the end of the row. However, I had made the basic error of having seats with the aisle on the right hand side of me and not the left so I couldn’t stick my leg out. I started to get pain in my hips and we had to go home at the interval.  But being out in the centre of London on a warm summer’s evening,  the streets crowded with people enjoying themselves made me feel as if I was back in the real world.

I still felt tired a lot and had to intersperse any activity with plenty of rest. My knee swelled up from time to time if I inadvertently overdid it and so I was continuing to elevate and ice it.

PROGRESS 

I have an exercise bike which we put at the end of the living room but at the beginning, I didn’t have enough range of movement to be able to pedal all the way round. I borrowed my brother’s bike which had the seat at a different easier angle but at first, I couldn’t do a full circuit of the pedals on his bike either. I just pedalled as far as I could backwards and forwards as exercise for my knee. By the end of Week 10, I could pedal all the way round on both bikes and I had increased the amount that I could cycle for from a measly 5 minutes to 20 minutes. My range of movement was slowly increasing to around 95 and more in the hydrotherapy pool.

Barnes Pond

THIS IS WHAT I LEARNED

-I had to learn my twinge limits and let people know what I could and couldn’t do. It was a  case of knowing my limitations and telling people.

– If I couldn’t sit on a stool in a cafe and needed a chair with a back on it; if I needed to be dropped off at the entrance to a car park; if I couldn’t walk to someone’s favourite pub that they thought was just round the corner, then I had to speak up.

-I found this hard as I didn’t want to look weak and I didn’t want to be a nuisance and feel that I was spoiling the plans

But I learned there’s a fine balance between being a martyr and being brave and I had to find that line.St Hubert’s Church, Idsworth

 

 

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